Friday, September 28, 2012

Donors See Their Gifts at Work at Wildfire Stewardship Events

While the devastating wildfires across the state inspired many to donate funds to the Red Cross, many donors may not know the whole story of how the Red Cross uses their gifts in response to such unprecedented disasters. Many of us know the basics of disaster response (blankets, food, water and other necessities), but the Red Cross' response to this year's fires involved much more. Two events in September honored donors who made this response possible, and offered an inside look at how donor gifts were put to good use.

Eric Corliss, who served as the Red Cross job director for the Red Cross Colorado wildfires disaster relief operation this summer, gave a presentation at the Denver event, held Sept. 25 at the Brown Palace. Corliss detailed the wide range of assistance provided by the Red Cross throughout this year's wildfire season. From sifters (for use in ashes, to find whatever items a house fire has left behind) to services that provide evacuated children with toys and other comforts from home, the Red Cross efforts at fire-affected areas went well beyond meeting the basic needs of food and shelter.

Corliss also presented at a similar informational event in Fort Collins, hosted by New Belgium Brewery.  At this event, held a short distance from where disaster response efforts were focused during the High Park fire, Eric's presentation was joined by testimonies from a resident who lost his home during the wildfires and by volunteer Adam Rae, who told what it was like to volunteer during such a major response.

Donors in attendance at the Denver event included Joann Alam and Marion Wells, who made the trip to Denver from Parachute for the evening. Wells stated that she is a regular donor to The Red Cross, citing a family history with the organization. Karen Suhaka, a Denverite, was inspired by the wildfires to make a larger gift than usual. "I'm usually a $10 per tragedy kind of girl," she said. "But when it's close to home, it's different."

Also included in the program were these two videos from clients involved in the Red Cross wildfire response. The first tells the story of Patti and Jerry Ellman, who continued to volunteer while evacuated, and the second is a testimonial from Waldo Canyon evacuee and Denver Bronco Ben Garland.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month!

It’s Hispanic Heritage month, and we are highlighting some of the amazing people in our community who help the Red Cross fulfill its mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Dora is a Red Cross volunteer who lives in Boulder. Read her story of how she decided to get involved.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Emergency Kit Cook-Off Still Looking for Recipes

Whether you’re an aspiring iron chef or a completely uninspired lover of all things frozen and microwavable (like myself), there’s still time for you to submit a recipe in the 2012 Emergency Kit Cook-Off.

The Cook-Off is a fun way to get involved during National Preparedness Month, and will put your mixing, whisking and seasoning skills to the test. It’s inspired by the contents of a 72-hour emergency kit, a kit that includes enough supplies for three days and should include first aid supplies, non-perishable food, drinking water, a flashlight, batteries and a radio

After perusing a few of the already submitted recipes, I tried one of them out for myself. A disclaimer here: I tried the easiest one that seemed to require the least amount of effort. Remember I said earlier I’m the opposite of an iron chef? I went with the “Must-have GORP recipe” submitted by Victoria Harp of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s SO easy. You take peanuts, mixed nuts, raisins, M&M’s and mini Oreos, put them all in a plastic bag and shake it up. My philosophy is you can never have too much chocolate, so I added mini chocolate chips, too. And tada – you’ve got a yummy treat that can be made in an emergency when you might not have access to that Kitchen-Aid mixer or electric grill. It’d be a pretty good snack for hiking, fishing or camping, too.

The Mile High Chapter had its own Cook-Off this month with employees and volunteers cooking up a storm with disaster-proof supplies. Our winners, Jenny Cown and Mary Hastings, made no-bake peanut butter cookies and five-minute green chili. Yum!

If you want to submit your own recipe, here are the rules:

  1. Your recipe has to highlight one or more of the 2012 Kit ingredients and use other non-perishable pantry items, including (but restricted to) seasonings, condiments, sweeteners and potable water.
  2. You must use manual appliances like can openers and whisks where feasible. If you have to use the microwave or stovetop, you can, but please use manual appliances where you can. 
The last day to submit recipes is September 30, so get cooking and preparing!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day of Peace and A History of Humanitarianism

Mary Jacoby Hastings
Sept. 21 is the International Day of Peace, which is traditionally marked by a ceremony at the United Nations. The occasion got me thinking about war and peace—not the novel, but the ideas of each.

The International Day of Peace is the only official commemoration ever declared by the United Nations. Devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, the day was first established in 1981 by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly as a time of non-violence and cease-fire, calling upon people throughout the world to reflect for a moment on the universal goal of peace.

It was in a similar spirit that one of the greatest humanitarian movements in history was founded—although it was a time of violence on the battlefield, not peace—that led to the formation of what we now know as the Red Cross. Known as the “Father of the Red Cross,” Swiss businessman Jean Henry Dunant’s efforts led to the founding of the first Geneva Convention and inspired a humanitarian movement that is carried on today by 187 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world as well as by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In 1863, the concept of national relief societies was introduced. Participating nations agreed on a distinctive emblem marking persons and objects to be protected. The emblem was to reflect the neutrality of the armed forces' medical services and the protection conferred on them. Today that emblem can be found in three forms: the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal.

While national Red Cross/Red Crescent societies provide services to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross focuses its efforts on aiding people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence providing them with a meaningful response to their plight. ICRC reminds authorities and others of their legal obligations under international humanitarian law.

Members of the ICRC visit military detainees worldwide to see that they are treated with dignity and humanity. The ICRC is also tasked with a civilian protection role: making sure affected parties adhere to additional protocols added to the Geneva Convention in 1977 stating, “Civilians and all persons not taking part in combat may under no circumstances be the object of attack and must be spared and protected.”

The goal of ICRC’s Health Unit activities is to give people affected by conflict access to basic preventive and curative health care that meets universally recognized standards.
The ICRC Health Care in Danger project (set to run 2011-2015) aims to address the impact of illegal and sometimes violent acts that obstruct the delivery of health care, damage or destroy facilities and vehicles, and injure or kill health-care workers and patients, in armed conflicts and other emergencies. Lack of access to health care is probably one of the biggest humanitarian issues today in terms of the numbers of people affected.

As the United Nations commemorates the International Day of Peace, it is reassuring to know that the Red Cross is making every effort to protect those in harm’s way and alleviate suffering around the globe where peace does not exist.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Preparedness: Red Cross's New First Aid App

This past weekend, my husband and I took a much-anticipated trip to Wyoming. We spent most of Saturday exploring the mountain town of Jackson. The weather was great, so we parked the car and walked from our lunch spot (Snake River Brewery, which I highly recommend!) around to some of the shops for a few hours. On our way back, as we rounded the corner to the car, we noticed a drastic change in the view over Snow King resort - a big black cloud of smoke was looming overtop of the mountain. We were witnessing the first plumes of what would become the Little Horsethief Fire, which is still burning as of today. Yesterday, from Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park, the flames were still visible (in photo), and an Evacuation Advisory is in effect for part of the town.

The immediate danger posed to Jackson in such a short amount of time got me thinking about the importance of being prepared in the event of a disaster such as wildfires. What if the wind had been blowing a different direction that day? What if the fire had crested the top of the hill and come down into town? Would Dave and I have been able to jump into action, if needed? A big part of being prepared to help is having a sound understanding of First Aid and knowing how to react to injuries.  Most of us probably know very basic First Aid, but did you know that the Red Cross also has a FREE First Aid app?

The app covers dozens of different injuries, emergencies and illnesses, various human conditions you may encounter such as heart attack or shock, and even allows you to test your knowledge of different challenges to better ensure your preparedness. By educating yourself on the basics of First Aid, you can be prepared anytime, anywhere an emergency may happen - because, as I saw on vacation this weekend, you really never know when that time might be.

To download, text “GETFIRST” to 90999 or search “American Red Cross” in the iTunes or Google Play App stores.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Meet your Bloggers: Lindsay Haller

Hello my fellow Red Cross-ers! I am a Pennsylvania native, and have lived in the Denver area for the past five years.  Like many other transplants, I moved here for the skiing, but fell in love with the summers: mine are filled with backpacking trips, climbing, hitting up Rockies games, biking around town and soaking up the sun. 

Since I've been fortunate enough to explore and enjoy the gorgeous outdoor playground that is our state, naturally, the wildfires this summer were devastating to witness, and really hit home for me. I had always thought about volunteering but wasn't sure how to get involved, so I decided to reach out through the Red Cross volunteer website and check out the opportunities.  I initially chose Disaster Assistance, but with my degrees in Communications & English, and experience working in marketing/event planning, becoming a member of the Red Cross Communications team seemed like a perfect match for both my skill set and other full-time work commitments.

Even with a regular day job, I can see how people like me can donate their time and talents in a meaningful way, and I am really looking forward to contributing to the new Red Cross blog. I'll be blogging about Health and Safety, with stories related to CPR, First Aid, AEDs and other lifesaving skills that the Red Cross teaches. Leave me some blog ideas in the comments section if you have topics you'd like to see discussed!

Cooking In The Dark

By Patricia Billinger

Every couple of years, Colorado gets clobbered by a blizzard that dumps so much snow that it’s days before the plows can clear residential streets, and  business comes to a stand-still. I remember during the most recent one a couple of years ago that I could only get out of my neighborhood by snowshoe. I trekked into Boulder, where I lived at the time, but the only food business still open was a take-and-bake pizzeria that closed moments after I arrived, sweaty and starving. Not even the grocery stores were open, because none of their employees could make it in!

A blizzard is just one of the disasters that could leave us without power or services. Tornadoes take down power and phone lines and can make streets impassable due to debris; chemical or terrorist threats may require you to shelter in place in your home; a flood could cut you off from all access. 

When I deployed Vermont after  hurricane Irene last year, I met a couple covered in mud up to their knees who had hiked to town from their mountain home after using up their three days of food supplies – roads were still washed out, so it was the only way they could get to civilization and more supplies.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Keep Up On Preparedness Videos Through YouTube

All through the month of September, we're bringing you videos of people on the street full of stories and tips related to preparedness. Check out the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter's YouTube channel for the whole series, and keep an eye out for a wide array of videos on all things Red Cross!

We also have a YouTube channel plug-in included on the right sidebar of this blog, so you can easily access our latest videos.

Friday, September 7, 2012

National Preparedness Month - Colorado Calendar of Events

In case you haven't heard, September is National Preparedness Month (check out this official proclamation from the President of the United States: Presidential Proclamation - National Preparedness Month 2012).

Take a look at this calendar of events related to Preparedness Month - it includes events throughout Colorado! While you're at it, visit the Preparedness Month homepage.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Submit Recipes for Kit Cook-Off by Sept. 30!

The polls are closed, the votes are tallied and the ingredients for this year’s Emergency Kit Cook-Off are decided. Now, in commemoration of National Preparedness Month, the American Red Cross encourages Colorado residents to don their aprons and their thinking caps and come up with a culinary creation inspired by the Emergency Kit ingredients.

Ballots were cast by people in communities throughout the Four Corner states and from as far away as Nantucket, Mass., and Columbia, S.C., and the Cook-Off ingredients chosen by the public are:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Meet Your Bloggers: Dayna Davis

I’m writing this introductory blog post with my 3-year-old niece. I asked her what she’d say about me if she was telling someone else and she said she’d tell them I’m silly. So there you go. In light of the fact that this is a blog for the Colorado Red Cross, I’ll share my Red Cross story instead of my silliness. Although I'm sure the silliness will come out soon enough.

I graduated undergrad from Colorado College and immediately went to work for WJFW, an NBC-affiliate TV station in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. In case you haven’t heard of it, Rhinelander’s a small town in Northern Wisconsin that’s known for its unusual mascot, the Hodag.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, our station did something they’d never done before: They sent two of us to Louisiana with a group of Wisconsin volunteers to cover the aftermath of the storm and highlight how local people were helping out. It was less than a week since Katrina had hit, and I toured a Red Cross warehouse that was storing food and other donations. I met Red Cross volunteers who were driving a mobile food truck around areas where not a single house was standing. I worked with a team of volunteers to cut down trees that had fallen in streets and in front yards. I ate dinners with local families who had no running water and no electricity, but were so thankful to have help that they found a way to feed us. It was much more than just a reporter’s assignment - it was a week of finding, telling and being a part of stories about the amazing resilience of the human spirit. And that was when I decided I’d become a volunteer for the American Red Cross.

I’m a Colorado native and I now work in PR and communications in Denver. I love all things Colorado, unsweetened black tea, chocolate labs, California Golden Bears football (Go Bears!), and freshly baked cookies. And nothing pleases me more than starting a brand new book.

You’ll see my posts on this blog a couple times a month. I’ll be writing mainly about preparedness – what emergencies or disasters you should prepare for and how you can prepare. If you’ve got blog post ideas, let me know. You can find me on Twitter, @daynalynndavis.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Meet Your Bloggers: Cassie Schoon


My name is Cassie Schoon, and I’ve accepted the challenge of being a volunteer blogger for the American Red Cross. In my work here, I will focus on issues surrounding fund development and volunteer services. While I’ve been blogging all around the Internet since 2003, volunteering is pretty new to me. I’d like to tell you a little bit about the journey that brought me to this corner of the Web.