Tuesday, December 24, 2013

HO HO OH NO! Tips To Ensure A Safe Holiday

Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving are the top three days for cooking fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster on average every eight minutes, and the vast majority of them are home fires.

Don't let your time with loved ones be turned into a tragedy. The Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can follow to prevent home fires around the holidays:

Holiday Entertaining
  • Test your smoke alarms.
  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.
Holiday Decorating

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some strings of lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both
  •  Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
You can also download the free American Red Cross First Aid app, which provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to

And if you have a little downtime during days off,  log on and test your knowledge on how to prevent home fires by taking the Fire Safety Quiz!

Wishing you Happy, Safe Holidays to you and yours,
All of us at the American Red Cross of Colorado

Friday, December 20, 2013

Colorado Red Cross Continues to Monitor and Respond to Emerging needs as Part of our Recovery Efforts

In response to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management's media release regarding specific flood center needs, the American Red Cross of Colorado donated several items to the Flood Recovery Center in Loveland for survivors, and to aid in continued recovery efforts.

The Red Cross continues to respond to the needs of communities affected by the floods as part of our recovery efforts.

Items that were donated include:

  • 22 bottles of Clorox
  • 28 boxes of trash bags
  • 1 box of masks
  • 2 boxes of canned goods
  • 120 comfort kits
  • 60 family comfort kits with bath toys
  • 30 rubber gloves 10 cotton gloves
  • 100 chapsticks
  • 50 bags full of toys, to include puzzles, action figures and games,
We were able to do so thanks to the generosity of everyone who made a donation over the past three months.

Affected by Colorado Flood? Help Still Available

The American Red Cross of Colorado would like to remind residents affected by September’s devastating floods that help is still available to assist with recovery.

Residents with flood-related needs can call the Red Cross Colorado Flood Relief Hotline at 888-635-6381 to speak with a caseworker who can:

  • Connect individuals with useful referrals for needs such as furniture, clothing, food, government assistance programs, clean-up assistance and more
  • Provide qualified disaster survivors with Red Cross assistance to help with unmet, disaster-related needs such as transportation, move-in assistance,  temporary storage, furniture replacement and clean-water storage
  • Track additional needs callers may have for follow-up resolution when additional resources become available or new/expanded recovery programs launch.
The Colorado Flood Relief Hotline is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.*
* In observance of holidays, the call center will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, and will close at noon on Dec. 24 and 31.
“Recovery from a disaster of this magnitude is a long-term process, and the Red Cross will be working alongside our community partners to deliver aid, identify emerging needs and provide solutions for those needs for months to come,” said George Sullivan, Community Preparedness and Resilience Director for the American Red Cross of Colorado.
In addition to helping individuals affected by the floods, Red Cross recovery workers are working with numerous local long-term recovery groups to identify and implement community solutions that will support the long-term success and resilience of affected areas. The Red Cross role in supporting these community-led efforts could include providing expertise, training, resources or funding.
For example, in early December the Red Cross purchased and delivered a dozen 450-gallon water tanks and accompanying de-icers for residents of mountain communities who had no access to clean water; local volunteer groups distributed the tanks to Big Elk, Pinewood, Drake and Glen Haven and will continue to transport the tanks into Estes Park to be refilled until water supply infrastructure is repaired and/or contaminated wells are deemed safe to utilize again.
Today, in response to a community need (described here by the Colorado Office of Emergency Management), the Red Cross delivered cleaning supplies, toys and hygiene items to help resupply the Flood Recovery Center in Loveland.
In addition to the Flood Relief Hotline and individual and community relief, the Red Cross also offers informational resources online to help with flood recovery: 

The Red Cross Honors the Local Military with Thank You Banner

By Arnett Luce and Bill Fortune

The words "Thank You" can be powerful in almost any situation. Combine them with the words "for your service and sacrifice" and they take on a whole new level of impact. On Dec. 18, 2013, members of the American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program presented a large banner with those words inscribed on it to the Airman and Family Readiness Center on Peterson AFB.

The 5 foot by 7 foot banner was created by the Red Cross Colorado Service to Armed Forces Program to show support for those who serve, and have served, in America’s Armed Forces. On Veterans Day and following weeks the banner was posted in public forums to allow members of the community to also express their thanks and appreciation.

Colonel John Shaw, Commander, 21 Space Wing (left) and CMSgt Rich Redman, Command Chief, 21 Space Wing (right) accept Thank You banner from James Griffith, Red Cross Service to Armed Forces manager, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 at Peterson AFB, Co. Photo by Arnett Luce/American Red Cross.
The banner was inscribed with the phrase, "Thank You for your Service and Sacrifice" at the top, and the silhouette of a serviceman in the center followed by the words, "from the American Red Cross and the Residents of Colorado." Over a three week period hundreds of people wrote touching thank you notes to the banner. "The idea was to give our community a chance to say thank you to those who serve," said James Griffith, Service to Armed Forces manager. "It may seem to be a simple gesture but it carries a strong message of support."

Colonel John Shaw, Commander, 21 Space Wing, accepted the banner on behalf of the Airman and Family Readiness Center. "Thanks so much for recognizing and supporting the outstanding service of our Airmen," said Col. Shaw.

The banner will remain on display in a classroom at the Airman and Family Readiness Center where Airmen and their families receive support and information before they deploy, during deployment and when they return. MSgt James McClung, NCOIC of the Airman and Family Readiness Center was on hand at the presentation. "As a military member who has deployed many times, a banner such as this reminds me of the support I have from my community," said MSgt McClung. "We are honored to accept such a gift so that our deploying members will always have a reminder of the support they have, and will continue to have, from the local community and the Red Cross."

The American Red Cross has provided humanitarian support to the United States military, veterans and their families for more than 130 years. Through the Service to Armed Forces program, the Red Cross provides emergency communications, supports military and veteran health facilities, and provides social services to the more than 2 million military members to include National Guard and Reservists, 23 million veterans and their families. To learn more about the Red Cross and the Service to Armed Forces program visit:

Airmen recently returned from deployment and other attendees pose in front of the “Thank You” banner that was presented to the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Peterson AFB, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Pictured from left to right are Colonel John Shaw, Commander, 21 Space Wing, SSgt Keenan Mondragon, MSgt Walt McClung, SSgt Warren Smith, SSgt Gerald Basel, SSgt John Kroll, MSgt Derrick Dembrowski, Capt Ewa Gray, CMSgt Rich Redman, Command Chief, 21 Space Wing, SSgt Evan List, Maj Joel Trejo, James Griffith, Red Cross Service to Armed Forces manager. Photo by Arnett Luce/American Red Cross.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Red Cross Instructor Honored For 50 Years of Service

Doing anything for half-a-century is amazing and worthy of recognition all on its own. Few careers would span that length of time but when the career involves the teaching of lifesaving skills the recognition becomes that much more important.

Terri Seiple, a Licensed Training Provider who has lived and worked in Grand Junction, Colorado for 12 years, was recognized recently for 50 years of service to the American Red Cross as a Health and Safety Instructor. The recognition came as a surprise to her when she went to the Western Colorado Chapter office under the auspices of a supervisory meeting. Matt Reeves, Training Specialist for Health and Safety in Colorado was the mastermind behind the trickery. "We had to surprise her because she is not the type of person that wants public recognition." Reeves said.

Terri Seiple receives plaque for 50 years of Red Cross
service  from Matt Reeves (left) CEO Eric Myers (right)
Terri began her career as a Red Cross instructor teaching water safety in Sunbury, Pa., in 1963. Her affiliation with the Red Cross actually began much sooner. Her parents were Red Cross volunteers serving as disaster responders and instructors. As a child she was "dragged along" to Red Cross activities. "I began teaching as soon as I reached the right age," Seiple said. "Teaching water safety was just a natural thing for me to do."

Over the years Seiple has taught thousands of people how to save lives. She has taught water safety, lifeguarding, wilderness first aid, and cardiopulminary resuscitation (CPR) at the basic and professional levels. She has seen the changes in medical science that have improved the effectiveness of CPR and truly believes that every person in America should be trained. Seiple is certainly doing her part to spread lifesaving skills across western Colorado. She teaches hundreds of people each year, as many as 750 in some years, as a Licensed Training Provider for the Red Cross and as an Approved Provider for the Colorado Mountain College. She also serves as a volunteer trainer for others who want to be Red Cross instructors.

Seiple is proud of the work she does and extremely proud of her students who have taken the skills they learned in her Red Cross classes and applied them to save the lives of coworkers and loved ones.

She gets "goose bumps" when she talks about a recent event when students that she taught saved the life of a co-worker. "These guys did everything right," Seiple said. "One called 911, another took safety vests and arranged them so that the helicopter could find them, and another administered CPR." The workers did CPR for 50 minutes while waiting for emergency medical services. "The person survived the cardiac event because these people knew what to do," Seiple said. "Not because I trained them, but because they had the skills and the courage to do the right thing."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lunch and Learn Lecture to focus on International Humanitarian Law

Although the iconic Red Cross is a symbol for comfort and care worldwide, it is perhaps less well-known that the Red Cross is actually implicated in some of the most important International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) currently guiding global humanitarian policy. In fact, the very formation of the Red Cross is related to a specific component of the Geneva Convention that required the creation of a neutral body to provide care to those wounded on the battlefield.

The history of the international humanitarian services of the Red Cross, as well as current issues affecting the organization’s services abroad, are the subjects of this month’s Lunch and Learn lecture, featuring a presentation and Q&A session with IHL expert and International Services manager Tim Bothe. For Bothe, the Lunch and Learn talk is a way to help uphold the Geneva Convention’s responsibilities for the Red Cross.

WHAT:            Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Lunch and Learn
WHEN:            2-3 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 18
WHERE:         American Red Cross, 444 Sherman Street, Denver, CO
RSVP:             To

“The Red Cross is the only non-government entity that has any specific roles as spelled out in the Geneva Conventions,” Bothe said. “So, we are to educate the populace as to the Geneva conventions, as well as perform our specific roles during wartime.”

Bothe has instructed courses in IHL for the Red Cross for five years and is an international IHL mentor with the organization. Bothe has an academic background in international humanitarian work, and “jumped at the chance” to apply his education to specifically international work at the Red Cross.

Part of the lecture planned for Wednesday will include a discussion of how International Humanitarian Law plays a role in the daily lives of American citizens. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may not have a direct impact on everyday life,” Bothe said. “But they have an indirect impact, in things like The Patriot Act and Drones, The War on Terror. Those things do impact our daily lives, so we want to talk about the policies impact our lives and what IHL says about those policies.”

The Lunch and Learn lecture is aimed at raising awareness and volunteer interest as well simply as informing interested parties of the effect of IHL on the services of the Red Cross. Bothe said that International Services is an essential component of the organization, and one that needs informed volunteers for casework and outreach.

“When you ask people what they know about the Red Cross, people think disaster, health and safety courses, very rarely do you get someone who knows about international services, or the services to the armed forces, so we always need to educate people on the breadth of what we do as an international organization,” Bothe said.

Lunch and Learn events are free and open to the public. Attendees must RSVP to the event, but for some events, Webex or Skype may be used to remotely connect to the conversation. 

Partnerships Deliver Clean Water to Flood-Affected Towns

by Patricia Billinger
Three months after historic flooding devastated dozens of communities in Colorado, the American Red Cross and a number of local community partners are still active meeting basic needs by providing safe drinking water for flood-affected communities.

Due to a variety of flood-related circumstances, some residents in Big Elk, Pinewood, Drake and Glen Haven remain without access to a local source of safe, clean water. In some cases, private wells have tested positive for contamination caused by the flood, including e-coli.  In other instances, damaged infrastructure has cut off the local water supply.

Red Cross recovery specialists have been participating in disaster recovery assessment and planning efforts being coordinated by local communities throughout the flood-affected area, and those efforts identified the need – and the solution – to ensure flood survivors have access to clean water.
It took a partnership of many to pull it off.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, Red Cross volunteers delivered a dozen 450-gallon water tanks and a dozen accompanying de-icers to a staging area at the Rocky Mountain Evangelical Church in Estes Park. The Red Cross had purchased the water-tanks at a discounted rate from Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply in Longmont and secured a large truck to deliver the tanks to the central distribution point in Estes Park.

From there, community volunteers from Big Elk, Pinewood, Drake and Glen Haven – including members of the Big Elk and Glen Haven volunteer fire departments – loaded the water tanks onto their own trucks to transport them to each of their respective communities.

When the water runs out, those volunteers bring the empty tanks back to Estes Park, where the town refills them at a minimal cost that is being covered by the Rocky Mountain Evangelical Church.
“This collaboration between local volunteers, community leaders and regional  agencies exemplifies the  type of partnership that is essential to successful recovery for disaster-affected communities,” said George Sullivan, Director of Community Preparedness and Resilience for the American Red Cross of Colorado. “When a disaster of this magnitude occurs, we must all come together to meet unmet needs and build a stronger, more resilient future for our neighbors.”

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Red Cross Assists With Santa's Workshop For National Guard Families

Jim Griffith hands a Red Cross donated hand quilted
comforter to National Guard Family Assistance
Specialist Airen Hall and Santa.
Story and photos by Charlie Mussi and Carolyn Sharp

Happy Colorado National Guard families and Red Cross Volunteers gathered on Saturday, Dec. 14th, for a Santa’s Workshop at the Chestnut Street Armory as Colorado Spring’s Citizen Soldiers prepare for the holiday season. The Red Cross and the National Guard Family Assistance group were handing out linens, toys and blankets and being Santa’s helpers for parents who had their arms filled.  Jim Griffith, Manager for the Service to Armed Forces program for the Red Cross Colorado & Wyoming Region said, “It’s a great way to support our National Guard families.”

Red Cross Volunteers and National Guard Family
Assistance Specialist pose with Santa
Santa’s Helper Karena Couillard, who is also a Red Cross volunteer and was handing out large wrapped hand quilted comforters, seemed to be in heaven as her Santa’s sack got lighter and lighter.  “I love seeing people’s faces lighting up. I love volunteering,” said Couillard. “I can’t afford to financially give, but I love giving my time.”

Christina Leydet is Colorado National Guard family member who brought her four children to see Santa. “I am grateful for all the help being provided by the Red Cross,” Leydet said.  “And the kids loved seeing Santa.”

The Santa’s workshop was organized by the National Guard Family Assistance group, in partnership with the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program.

Karena Couillard hands out wrapped Red Cross donated hand
quilted comforters to National Guard families at a Santa’s
Workshop at the Chesnut Street Armory.

Karena Couillard helps a National Guard family member
with her Christmas wishes

“Lacie” A Red Cross Therapy Dog gets some attention for
Brian Jenkins who stopped by the Santa’s Workshop

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hope and Butterflies from Australia for Colorado Flood Survivors

Yesterday, on the 3-month anniversary of the start of the Colorado floods, we received a surprise package in the mail from Australia.

The letter was accompanied by dozens of brightly-colored, hand-made butterflies and drawings that the children created to be shared with Colorado children affected by the floods to "put a smile back on your face."

The Red Cross plans to share the butterflies, drawings and letter with a local school affected by the flood.

Here's the full text of the sweet letter from far away:
"Dear Flood victims,
We are writing on behalf of all the staff and children from Honeybee Preschool Australia. We are aware of the floods that affected you and we have decided to help you by getting all of the children to make butterflies and drawings that will put a SMILE back on your face. We have chosen to make butterflies as they are a symbol of freedom. Although we can't give you a new house, we would like to give you this gift to lift your spirits and put a BIG smile back on your face. We know the sun will shine again, and we LOVE you very much."

We don't know about you, but our hearts just melted. Thank you, Honeybee friends!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Red Cross Paid and Unpaid Staff Celebrated at Awards Event

The Colorado and Wyoming Region (affectionately referred to as the "COW" region) held its annual recognition event for employees and volunteers on Friday, December 6th at the Denver Athletic Club. Below is a list of winners; congratulations to all!

Preparedness Health & Safety Services Volunteer of the Year Award: Derek Hodovance, Mile High Chapter

Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year: Mike Ring, Northern Colorado Chapter

Transportation Services Volunteer of the Year: Wanda Worrell, Mile High Chapter

Service to the Armed Forces Volunteer of the Year: Magdalena Delgado, Mile High Chapter 

Preparedness Volunteer of the Year:  Beckie Kenter, Mile High Chapter
Beckie Kenter, left, with presenter Luzon Kahler

Communications Volunteer of the Year: Justin Kenter, Mile High Chapter

Leadership Award:  Doug Constance, Pikes Peak Chapter

Volunteer Employee Partnership Award: Pat Chappell & Eric Jones

B.J. Coyle Passion for Service: Betty Kaan, Northern Colorado Chapter

B.J. Coyle Passion for Service: Bill Werner, Southwest Colorado Chapter

Honor Roll: Sandy Hill, Northern Colorado Chapter

Honor Roll: Phyllis Dunn, Northern Colorado Chapter

Board Member of the Year Award: Cori Streetman, Mile High Chapter

Employee Excellence Award: Tim Bothe, Mile High Chapter
Tim Bothe, left, with COW Region CEO Gino Greco

Friday, December 6, 2013

A small gesture to one person may mean the world to another: Emergency Kit distribution in Jefferson County

Last month, the American Red Cross was one of many partners that helped the Seniors Resource Center distribute 100 Emergency Kits to seniors in Jefferson County. Red Cross was part of a much larger program through the Aging Well Project in Jefferson County, a group that works to identify and address the many issues seniors in Jefferson County face in their day-to-day lives.  Fellow members of the committee include DRCOG, Adult Protective Services, JeffCo Long Term Care, JeffCo Public Health, Volunteers of America, and Seniors Resource Center. 

Recently, the Aging Well Project committee decided to focus on emergency preparedness for seniors and invited the Red Cross to help with planning.  As a result, Red Cross was able to provide first aid kits for inclusion in the 100 Emergency Preparedness Kits that were distributed.  The other parts of the Emergency Preparedness Kit items were donated by members of the committee and community partners. Items such as flashlights, batteries, weather radios, water bottles, and hand sanitizer were included in the kits in addition to first aid supplies.  

More importantly, the Red Cross committed to training the volunteers and staff that make up the Aging Well Project committee in basic Emergency Preparedness for seniors.  With this training, the people who delivered the Emergency Kits were able to talk to the 100 recipients about emergency preparedness. The recipients knew and trusted these people, as they were people who had helped them before via Seniors’ Resource Home Care Coordinators, Meals on Wheels volunteers and Adult Protective Services caseworkers. 

The primary mission of the distribution was “to talk to seniors about having an exit plan in case of an emergency,” said Bob Schrant, Home Care Coordinator of the Seniors Resource Center.

The distributors were trained in how to talk to seniors about preparednessabout having a plan in case of disaster. This 'train-the-trainer' model allowed the team to get useful information from the American Red Cross and disseminate it further than the Red Cross ever could have on its own.

“A lot of these people don’t have family members to take care of them. They can easily be stranded in their homes because they live in such remote areas,” Schrant said, explaining how the Emergency Kit candidates were chosen. Most of the kits were given to isolated elderly people living in the small mountain towns of West Jefferson County. The kit’s contents—such as a bottle of water— were items crucial to survival in the event one is stranded.

The kit included a brochure which explained disaster preparedness and listed the most important basic needs in the event of a disaster. The information was discussed with the recipients at the time of deliveryy, allowing the them to voice any concerns they still had. 

Some unexpected benefits came from this safety-based generosity as well. “To have someone come in and take the time to give you a gift,” Schrant said, “just touches peoples’ hearts.” Schrant reported that one woman just kept holding the objects in her hands, her eyes filling with tears.

At 70 years old, Schrant said the kits made him consider his own preparedness; he started taking note of crucial items he otherwise wouldn't have thought of. He ended his interview with by addressing the American Red Cross directly.

“Thank you for being there and thinking of all this stuff we may not have thought to include,” he said, “God bless you all.”

Learn more about the Aging Well Project on Jefferson County:  

Holiday Mail for Heroes Turns Soccer Holiday Party into a Successful Volunteer Event

When Christy Clark began to plan the annual holiday party for her daughter’s soccer team, she saw an opportunity to take a different approach than the usual snacks and gift exchange. “This year, I thought, they could do something besides opening a gift; they should do something for others” she said.
Christy found a natural fit for the team’s volunteer efforts in the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program. She received an email from her mother-in-law, Sherry Clark, an employee of Subaru, a generous donor to the Red Cross. In the email, Sherry described the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, in which the Red Cross delivers cards from the public to members of the military – both overseas and stationed at home – and veterans. “It was so easy to put together.” Christy said. “The girls love to do crafts anyway. It was their little party and social time, too. ”

The event resulted in three bins full of completed cards for service members, and the teams succeeded in collecting 195 pounds of donated food for the Arvada Food Bank. The event was coordinated originally by Christy’s daughter’s 11th grade team, but was opened up to welcome all players from the local Colorado Edge Soccer Club to participate. The event coincided with indoor soccer events at Arvada’s Apex Field House, so players passing by between games completed cards  and dropped off donations throughout the day.

Christy said her family volunteers together every year, and she believes the Holiday Mail for Heroes event sparked an interest in volunteerism for the players involved in the event. She said that players who dropped in to make cards were overheard discussing volunteer possibilities for their own teams. “It was so much fun, and the girls had such a blast. We’re going to start doing this every year,” she said.