Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Preparedness Paid Off for the Sharp Family (And It Will for You Too)

Personal and family preparedness is important, just ask the Sharps. For the last 15 years, Jessica Sharp has kept a box of important documents in a specific location so she could easily grab it in the event of an emergency. And that planning recently paid off when the Sharps experienced a fire followed by flooding in their home in Saratoga, Wyoming.

In February, Jessica was at work when her husband, Kevin, called to tell her there was a fire in their home. The wrong combination of wind speed and direction caused an electrical fire to ignite, and in response, the fire department pulled away part of the wall, exposing the house to the outside, to put out the flames. After the fire was extinguished, the family was able to briefly enter their home to retrieve necessary items and that’s when Jessica grabbed the box of important documents.

And it’s a good thing she did. That night the interior of the house was partially exposed to below zero weather. Although power had been reconnected to sections of the house so that heaters could prevent freezing, they couldn’t keep up with the winter conditions. Jessica said a pipe burst on the third floor, causing flooding throughout the house. They once again called the fire department, had the electricity company shut off power and were given a chance to recover personal items.

Jessica said she learned from her mother to keep important information at the ready, and it’s apparent that preparedness is something she’s also passing onto her three children. In the go box Jessica stored Social Security, insurance and home information, as well as birth certificates and irreplaceable photos — “basically anything that would be extremely difficult to get ahold of.”

“The less that you have to worry about, the better off you are because you’re so stressed,” she said. “If you’re able to put that out of your mind and know that those are OK, you can focus more on making sure that your kids are OK and taking care of everything else.”

In addition to keeping the box of vital documents, the Sharps ensured their children knew the safest way to exit their home during an emergency. They would cover the best emergency escape routes and actions to take if a fire were to break out in different parts of the house. “The kids always thought it was silly and we didn’t need to do that,” Jessica said. But their opinion changed after the fire: “They told me, ‘Mom, I always thought it was stupid when you were telling us what we needed to do, but I am glad that you did because we knew what do to.’”

The Sharps are currently moving into a new home, and it’s safe to assume that preparedness will continue to be an important part of their lives.

The American Red Cross recommends three steps for preparedness: get a kit, make a plan and be informed. In addition to important documents, it’s recommended that emergency kits contain: water, nonperishable food, flashlights and batteries. See the complete list of recommendations, and follow the Sharps’ example of preparedness.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Weekly Preparedness Roundup - Extreme Heat and Water Safety

by Cari Roberts, Community Preparedness and Resiliency Manager

A happy hot week to all of you (does anyone even remember that we had snow on Mothers’ Day??)

As we wrap up Memorial Day Weekend festivities, the unofficial kickoff to summer -- this week’s Roundup is all about extreme heat and water safety. As the weather heats up here in the inner-mountain West, both are great topics with which to get familiar. Red Cross has been teaching Swimming Safety Education for 100 years now, so we've got some goodies to share.

I started my time with the Red Cross as a trained lifeguard in high school – lo those many years ago (not quite 100 years ago, but close!). So I thought I’d give you all a bit more info on water safety and how the Red Cross and other partners are working to keep us all above water while we’re having fun in our rivers, streams, lakes & reservoirs this summer.

100 Years Ago (do you see me in the background?)

Our friends at the US Coast Guard offer these safety tips for those of us lucky enough to be out boating this summer -

Did you know that May is National Water Safety Month? These guys did!

More info on what we’re doing nationwide to help all of us stay safe this summer:

And, finally – your American Red Cross & the National Swimming Pool Foundation have an online pool safety course for those of you with backyard pools or hot tubs. In about 2 hours, this course provides information to help make pool and hot tub care easier for home owners as well as steps to help prevent, plan for and respond to emergencies in and around the home pool.

 Safety first friends – never swim alone!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Future Military Leaders from the Air Force Academy Win National Title in International Humanitarian Law Competition

The Air Force Academy Class of 2014 will be graduating as military Officers May 28, 2014. For all, it was a long, hard earned journey. Each Officer has prepared for new assignments, many involving international posts. 

In preparation for these international posts, many cadets complete international studies and gain knowledge in International Humanitarian Law – a set of rules and guidelines that the International Committee of the Red Cross played a foundational role in creating, and which to this day form an essential element of the Red Cross mission.
Air Force Academy Faculty coach Maj. Amer Mahmud with Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition National Champions Ashleigh Hammer, Adalys Ramirez and Benjamin Pearson inside the American Red Cross National Headquarters. 
Local Cadets Ashleigh Hammer, Benjamin Pearson and Adalys Ramirez will be among the 2014 graduates entering the military as 2nd Lieutenants. They recently united together to compete in and win a first-ever nationwide Red Cross International Humanitarian Law competition.  It was quite a feat for the local team: they beat out competitors including older graduate students from the top 10 U.S. law schools.

For these three local Cadets, the competition represented the most significant and inspirational aspects of wearing the Air Force uniform:  saving lives, and developing highly skilled knowledge of international humanitarian law. 

“I hadn’t had any legal exposure until my pre-requisite law course. However, I felt passionately about legal rights and how it can save lives,” Cadet Hammer said.  

Air Force Academy team in their professional civilian attire
after four rounds of the competition in Washington, D.C. 
The Air Force Academy has a tradition of entering international humanitarian law competitions in Italy, Switzerland and Thailand. “This year, our coach notified us about the first Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law competition in Washington D.C.,” Hammer recalled. “We were so excited because we thought all the competitions were over… it’s crucial to have a competition like this to bring about more awareness for IHL in the U.S."

Hammer teamed up with Ben Pearson, who has extensive knowledge of IHL criminal court cases, and Adalys Ramirez, who was their competition research lead as well as the costume and design expert. 
“It was the additional details in our arguments and the willingness to respond quickly to scenarios that gave us the edge over law schools like Harvard,” Hammer said.
The National Champion
trophy for the AFA team.

“Getting involved in the IHL competitions with the Academy is very competitive,” said Ramirez, who is originally from Humacao, Puerto Rico. “I had been working on a number of moot court, mock trials and really identified with preparing for the roles of the witness. It is important to me to consider the whole identity of the witness including the details of their lives. I think that’s why it was natural for me to assume the role of the researcher in our Clara Barton IHL competition and fill-in the details with props, costumes and roles for the scenarios where we were the ICRC representatives inspecting a prison camp.”  

Other teams were impressed and often asked the team “How do you know so much about international humanitarian law?”

“We could only tell them that as military service personnel, it is our job to know international humanitarian law. We have to know it because it saves lives,” Ramirez said, echoing Hammer’s passion. 

Hammer was one of two officers, out of 1,000, appointed to a Juris Doctor program at Texas Tech. Ramirez will begin training for an language immersion assignment in Chile after graduation. Her position required prior human rights and IHL work to build a career as a Security Officer.

The Red Cross wishes the Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition National Champions, their coach Major Mahmud, faculty sponsor Chad Austin and all the Cadets success in their pursuits and thanks them for their dedicated service.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Summer means sizzling heat and swimming fun!

Debby plays a game of
goggles while teaching a
Story by Andrea Stone and Debby MacSwain

Debby MacSwain is a a water safety instructor for the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross and has been teaching water safety for over 40 years. Knowledgeable and passionate, Debby has offered some water safety tips to help make this a fun and safe summer.

Tips on how to stay water safe and water smart this summer.
Too much sun is no fun. Be sure and check the expiration date on your suntan lotion. Everyone needs to take precautions against sunburn. Remember to take your hat, sunglasses and lotion.

Be cool; follow the rule. Running on a deck, slipping and hurting yourself is one of the quickest ways to ruin a swim outing. Go over the rules of the pool or facility with your children. Don’t forget to point out the lifeguard and let your children know to yell “Help” if they need help.

Debby swims with student
"teaching them early makes
them better swimmers."
Know the layout. Where are the restrooms? Where is the shallow end of the pool, the lifeguard stand and steps or ladders into the pool?

Look before you leap. For waterfront areas, know the depth of the water and if there are obstructions like rocks in the area.

Don’t just pack it; wear your jacket. If you are going boating, make sure everyone is wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket.

Think before you sink. Know your limitations. If you or your children have not been swimming in a while, you may think that you can swim a longer distance, and get tired before you are at the edge of the pool or lake.

Check out the Red Cross swimming lessons near you. Red Cross water safety instructors are trained and certified to teach Red Cross swim lessons and water safety.

Download the free swim app offered by the American Red Cross, designed to help parents and caregivers of children who are learning to swim.
The Swim app, available for iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire, enables parents to track children’s progress through swim lessons, promotes water safety and entertains children with water safety games. In addition, swim stroke videos and performance charts can assist young swimmers in learning proper technique. The app is free to download from the iTunes store, Google Play or Amazon Kindle store by searching for “American Red Cross,” or just go to

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Red Cross Story: Reconnecting with My Niece after 30 Years

My niece in Hungary and I Skyped just the other day, and she was so excited to see me for the first time in over thirty years! She is now in her sixties in Ivanca, Hungary, and my life has led me to Denver with my wife Gretchen. I could not have reunited with my niece without the help of the Red Cross Restoring Family Links program.
George Kantor in his Denver home meeting with
Restoring Family Links volunteers. 
My story of resettlement outside of my native country of Hungary began when I was discovered without a passport or papers as a stowaway on a British ship in the English Channel.

I was fleeing political instability after the Hungarian anti-communist uprising of 1956 and I feared my personal security after being discovered as a messenger between student groups in Budapest and my grandparents’ town. My father, brothers and sisters were murdered civilian casualties from USSR and German conflicts during WWII in my childhood during the late 1940’s. When I fled Hungary, I left my surviving mother and older sister behind.

I was nearly sixteen. I had escaped via a French contact to the European coast, then on to the ship to London. The ship’s officers were aware of what was happening in Eastern Europe and decided, “He’s made it this far, let’s let him keep going!”

Although I remained in contact with some family while I lived in London then South Africa and the U.S., I was completely severed from my family after my mother’s death in 1987. The mail system collapsed and it was nearly impossible to communicate efficiently. I received word of my mother’s death six months after the funeral.

During the 19 years I lived in Colorado, my wife Gretchen understood my unresolved, and hidden grief but encouraged me to try to reconnect. I am now in my early seventies and recently had a long and difficult recovery from surgery. It gave me perspective and I decided to return to Ivanca to investigate my past. I wanted to know what happened to my sister and find my niece.
George and his wife Gretchen looking at their first contact
Red Cross note from Karolyne, George’s niece, since 1987. 
In August 2013, I visited my mother’s grave and the old Inn that my family had operated. Kind residents led me to the town halls of my home village and the village where my sister reportedly lived. The secretary of the town hall even greeted me on a Sunday, which was gracious. I left word of my interest in finding my niece. It had been so long since I had been to Hungary and I strained to recall my native language. I was virtually a stranger. By the time I had to return to the United States, I had seen where my mother was put to rest, but I couldn’t trace my surviving relatives.

In February 2014, Red Cross volunteer Robbe Sokolove knocked on my door in Denver to tell me that the niece I had been searching for wanted to establish contact! I learned that several weeks after I left my hometown, my niece had also returned to my mother’s grave. The business owners and the town hall employee explained to her that I had been visiting from the U.S. and looking for relatives. It was a cultural imperative after decades of communism to keep my personal information and my niece’s privacy secure.  During that period, Hungarians and the Ivanca community had always trusted the Red Cross. After my visit, they helped my niece send a message to me through the Red Cross humanitarian network.
Robbe Sokolove and George Kanor, laughing about how they
met through the Red Cross Restoring Family Links contact started
by George’s niece in Ivanca, Hungary with the Hungarian
Red Cross. 
I had always known of the Red Cross, but it was a shock to have them find me at a time when I needed help reconnecting to my family. I am still in shock that I can hear my niece’s voice and her excited laugh on the phone now that we have reconnected. She wrote my wife Gretchen a hand written note in English already. Although she could see me on our Skype call on May 13th, her computer did not have a camera. Now, I have to figure out how I can see her face for the first time in nearly thirty years!
The request for contact sent through the Red Cross
International Services, Restoring Family Links
humanitarian aid network. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Teaming Up with Colorado Army National Guard to Improve Preparedness

On May 18, 2014 teams from the American Red Cross presented Be Read Cross Ready (BRCR) training and Service to Armed Forces information to the Colorado Army National Guard (COARNG). Over 200 COARNG members attended the training at five COARNG armories around Colorado as part of their military readiness training effort.

Red Cross Service to Armed Forces volunteer Phyllis Marvin speaks
 to COARNG soldiers of the 3650th Maintenance the
Firestone Armory in Loveland
Being prepared for emergencies is an important part of everyone’s life but especially for those families who have deployable family members. In an effort to better prepare the soldiers and their families the Colorado Army National Guard has partnered with the Red Cross to bring the Be Red Cross Ready preparedness program into their training with the expectation that the soldiers would take the information to their families.

The Red Cross and COARNG have a long standing partnership that serves similar missions when it comes to disaster response. One member of the COARNG expressed it this way, “When you see the National Guard and the Red Cross on scene you know two things — 1) that something really bad has happened and 2) that it’s about to get a whole lot better.”

The BRCR preparedness program is designed to provide individual preparedness information with the focus on the three steps to emergency preparedness. The course is interactive and designed to help families develop their 72-hour emergency kit and their family emergency plan.

In addition to the BRCR program, each of the locations were presented with Red Cross Service To Armed Forces information about how to get Red Cross services when needed. "We wanted them to get to know us before they needed us," said James Griffith, Service to Armed Forces manager. "We also talked to them about the Red Cross Safe and Well program so that they know how to keep their family links in place."

The Red Cross has been providing a variety of services to our armed forces and their families for 100 years and offering the BRCR program is an extension of that service. To find out more about the Be Red Cross Ready program, or the Service to Armed Forces program please go to

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hometown Heroes

Lyons Elementary School third graders celebrated local heroes last week. Students in Debbie Simms’ third grade class each chose a hero to recognize during a special gathering at the school to honor the heroes for their dedication and assistance to the town in the wake of September’s floods.

Maya Caplan chose Red Cross Recovery Specialist Mary Steffens as her hero. Steffens volunteered to help with the Red Cross flood relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the floods, and she has been coordinating Red Cross recovery efforts to help Lyons and surrounding communities recover from the floods.

“Really it was about the immediate response,” Steffens said. “It was the local community that did everything in the beginning before outside help could access Lyons.”

Steffans was one of about 20 heroes honored by the children, who gave presentations on the admired locals on May 6. Among the honored were Lyons Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen and Lyons Elementary School Principal Andrew Moore; another student chose to honor Man Street School in Longmont, whose teachers, staff and students opened their doors to Lyons students for the two-and-a-half months Lyons Elementary was closed last fall.

Denver photographer Peggy Dyer was another hero honored; Dyer photographed 400 Lyons Elementary School students, teachers and staff as part of her “1 Million Faces” project. Subjects held a whiteboard which displayed a message they wished to convey to the world. Some messages included statements such as, “I survived the flood,” but subjects were not asked to focus on the disaster.

“Sitting in this room, I felt so humbled,” Steffens said. “It was an honor to be recognized as a hero
among such amazing community members.”

Lyons Elementary School reopened in December 2013 and construction continues to restore the mountain town.

1 Million Faces Project at Lyons Elementary School

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Turn the State Red" Calendar of Events

This month, the American Red Cross in Colorado is making a push to "Turn the State Red" in honor of our 100th birthday. There are several fundraisers and events all month long; check out the calendar of events below to see what's going on near you!

World Traveler to Discuss one of Most Powerful International Symbols

What does the symbol of the Red Cross and Red Crescent signify across international borders? For emergency services volunteer Claudia Giannetti, it is a symbol of trust that transcends language, culture and geography. Giannetti, who will speak on the theme of “Universality” at this month’s Lunch & Learn event, knows the global implications of this trust better than most. Giannetti began her volunteer career with the Red Cross during the Colorado flood relief, and has since volunteered in emergency situations in Mexico and her native Argentina. Her professional career has taken her abroad throughout Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South America, including a recent stint in Nairobi, Kenya, where she worked for both the Argentinean and American Embassies.
Claudia Gianneti, volunteering in  Argentina

“If you walk into a situation, it doesn’t matter what country you are in, if you tell people, ‘I am from the Red Cross,’ there is a relief and a trust from people because they know that you’re there to help,” Giannetti said. “That was my major strength when working abroad.”

For Giannetti, “Universality” encompasses the many ways that the Red Cross/Red Crescent mission is achieved across international boundaries. She explains that although each country’s approach may be adapted to the unique needs of a local situation, the end goal remains the same: to prevent and alleviate the suffering of those affected by conflict and disaster.

“There is that universality,” she said. “Every country and every chapter, even, needs to adapt to serve those goals, but the fundamentals are the same.”

The Lunch & Learn lecture will be presented Wednesday, May 21, from noon to 1 p.m. at the American Red Cross, 444 Sherman St. RSVPs are requested by 12 p.m. Monday, May 19 to Tim Bothe at WebEx options are also available for remote audiences. For more information, contact Tim Bothe.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Red Cross Sending Local Disaster Workers to Help with Texas Wildfire Recovery

Denver, CO – Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Five Colorado volunteers are deploying to support American Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Texas in response to devastating wildfires.

The American Red Cross is responding to wildfires in the Texas Panhandle that have forced the evacuation of hundreds of people around Lake Meredith near Amarillo, Texas. Sunday night approximately 170 people spent the night in Red Cross shelters. The Red Cross is also providing food and water to the responders who are battling the fire.

Debra and Daniel Swanson from the Red Cross Northern Colorado Chapter will travel to Amarillo, Texas, in support of individual client services. The Swansons are a husband-and-wife team and they have been disaster responders since 2006.

Janice Lewis, from the Red Cross Northern Colorado Chapter, will travel to Amarillo to serve as a member of the financial and statistical team. Janice has been a disaster responder for more than two years.

Phil Tomlinson, from the Mile High Chapter, will travel to Amarillo as part of the disaster assessment team. Phil’s wife Elaine is currently deployed to Meridian, Mississippi, as part of a Red Cross staff services team. Phil and Elaine have been disaster responders for more than 16 years.

Charles Raines from the Pikes Peak Chapter will travel to Amarillo to serve as a member of the logistics team. Charles has been a disaster responder for less than one year.

The Red Cross Colorado & Wyoming Region already has six disaster responders deployed to assist with Red Cross efforts across the nation: two are in Arkansas and four are in Mississippi. Wednesday’s deployment will bring the total number of deployed responders from the Colorado & Wyoming Region to 11.

"Deploying to a disaster is never easy,” said Gino Greco, CEO for the Colorado & Wyoming Region. “We are proud that our volunteers have stepped up to help.”
Typical disaster deployment is 14 to 21 days depending on the needs of the disaster and the availability of the volunteer.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit, or join our blog at

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Humanitarian Aid Concepts Introduced through a New Class - “Raid Cross"

Minefield and tight maneuvers

It wasn’t a normal ice-breaker in the Red Cross 444 Sherman Street auditorium as student humanitarian aid workers guided a blind-folded colleague through a mine field. It took minutes to move several feet. At the end of the obstacle course, a border guard demanded a visa form in an unidentified language and nonspecific fees. 

What would it be like to have a humanitarian aid mission to deliver medical supplies for a severe epidemic outbreak in a refugee camp? Would you know your specific rights as an aid worker? What might delay your progress while navigating through unspent artillery and addressing unidentified border patrols?

Humanitarian rights, prisoners of war camps, artillery and unnecessary suffering, injured on the battlefield, international criminal court and other scenarios were presented to 12 people on the April 23rd to pilot a new educational training know as “Raid Cross.” The course title play-on-words indicates the objectives for international conflict education. The French and Belgian Croix Rouge began the program in 2005 to explain modern warfare and the need for international humanitarian law.  
Raid Cross class identifying the four principles of artillery
described in the first protocol of IHL. 
The movement of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) can now be simulated for youth and adults learning about international humanitarian law (IHL) in Colorado. Training and simulation games for "Raid Cross" will be offered up to six times through the Red Cross Mile High Chapter in Denver starting in July 2014. The first "pilot" training gave valuable discussion tools to humanitarian workers, family assistance organizations employees, and leaders with international clubs for youth.

Blind folded humanitarian
with “interpreters” guiding to safety.
Representatives from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Lutheran Family Services, Jewish Family Service and the Red Cross Restoring Family Links volunteers participated. The aim for the pilot simulation was to streamline the class for future Red Cross volunteer trainings with larger audiences. 

The simulations incorporated innovative games. “Raid Cross” turned battlefields, military targets, prison camps, land mines and border crossings into simple group activities emphasizing teamwork. Each exercise educated participants on the challenges of neutral peacekeeping humanitarian aid work. 

Alexa MaGee describing the artillery
principle of distinction.
After explaining the purpose of the wounded on the battlefield role-play to the class, the Raid Cross co-instructor Alexa MaGee emphasized the importance of neutrality to the ICRC humanitarian work. All wounded on the battlefield must be recovered, no matter their origin or affiliation in armed conflict. Alexa says “Neutrality is the foundation of the four Geneva conventions and the three accompanying Protocols. From this foundation, other international treatise and compromises have emerged. Future work needs to address health care during armed conflict, acts of terrorism and upholding the international criminal court. However, the fundamental requirement for neutrality will be the bedrock for every international humanitarian law initiative.”

Through “Raid Cross” training, the Red Cross aims to create new opportunities for volunteerism, public awareness and public engagement in international humanitarian law.  “Raid Cross” simulations provide an understanding of:
  • IHL concepts and history;
  • Prisoners of War;
  • Rules of engagement for artillery, child soldiers and land mines;
  • Refugees;
  • The neutrality and impartiality of the ICRC;
  • Soft diplomacy and recommendations from the ICRC.
Why is this training relevant? We have only to look at historical and current conflicts to see how important it is for everyday people to understand these concepts as they apply in situations such as:
  • Wounded WWII soldiers on the beaches of Normandy or the Asia and Pacific theater; 
  • Syria; 
  • Cambodia;
  • Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi;
  • Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea;
  • Iraq;
  • Afghanistan;
  • Guantanamo Bay;
  • Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo events.
The training is very accessible and graspable for the lay-person and useful for the active humanitarian aid worker.  If your group or organization is interested in developing stronger awareness and a foundation of IHL through Raid Cross resources, please contact Tim Bothe, Red Cross Colorado and Wyoming International Services Manager, at
Point and counterpoint discussed for the rules of armed
conflict and humanitarian aid defined by
international humanitarian law. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Mom’s Red Cross Story: A Lifetime of Service

By Suzie Boyd

My late mother, Ethel Ritter, started her service with the Red Cross as a girl. She spent her late teens and early 20s rolling bandages during World War II.

After the war, Mom married and had 12 children who were the center of her life. She worked for a local engineering firm, Merrick and Co., and after she retired a former co-worker asked if she would be interested in volunteering with the Red Cross. Mom didn't hesitate. She began volunteering at the office on Havana Street every Thursday, performing administrative duties vital to the organization.

My mom’s Red Cross volunteerism continued for many years after her retirement, and she loved it. She loved it so much, in fact, that when my brother Bill (who you know as former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter) asked her if she would come watch him get sworn in as the Denver DA, her first response was, “Well, that’s my Red Cross Day.” We kids laughed because we knew: You did NOT interrupt that day. She was so loyal and believed in the Red Cross so much.

My mother did a lot of wonderful work for the Red Cross, but she got a lot from her service, too. She lived in the rural area of Strasburg, and her weekly volunteer commitment gave her a reason to come into the city. It got her out of the house and gave her purpose. When we went through her things after her death last year, we found a whole shadow box full of her Red Cross pins and memorabilia. It was such a big part of her life and something she felt really, really good about.

When my family is asked to take part in the Red Cross Ball, it’s a no brainer because the organization was so important to my mom. We are very aware of the work it does and the quick response – amazing, really – it provides for disaster relief. The Red Cross has been there through everything. It’s just such a great organization.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Conoco Suprises Red Cross With Free Car Wash

Red Cross volunteers and employees received a welcome surprise Thursday when Conoco set up an impromptu “pop-up” car wash. The idea was to surprise volunteers and employees with free car washes at the Colorado Red Cross headquarters in Denver in conjunction with the celebration of World Red Cross Day.

Conoco workers make it
Conoco Clean!
Conoco selected the Red Cross as one of the Colorado recipients of their “Conoco Cares” advertising campaign, which is focused on companies with hard working, committed employees who do good deeds and positively support the community they serve. To do this, Conoco brought in a “pop-up” car wash that consists of a mobile vehicle that transports water in a self-contained unit. Conoco workers apply environmentally-friendly soaps to wash and then rinse the vehicles.

Conoco's Seth McClammer scrubs the
ERV to get it clean and ready.

The first 50 Red Cross employees and volunteers to arrive were treated to a free car wash as a “thank you” for their hard work and service. Conoco workers were on hand to spray down, wash and dry the vehicles including the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle(ERV).

“We really appreciate that Conoco has recognized us as the kind of organization that provides a valuable community service,” said Eric Jones, Red Cross divisional disaster director. “It is always nice when that happens and who doesn’t like a free car wash.”

Red Cross volunteer enjoys he freshly
cleaned truck.
The Red Cross is commemorating a century of service in Colorado this year. In celebration of this milestone, the Red Cross will be “turning the state red,” offering a discount on lifesaving training and giving out free T-shirts to every person who takes a Red Cross CPR, First Aid or Babysitter’s training course in May.

To find out more about the Red Cross and its Century Celebration, visit

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Organizations Unite to Restore Grass and Trees to Black Forest

Lt. Jamal Davis, Eddie Bracken, Sally Broomfield, and
Melissa Chambless pose in front of the Red Cross
Disaster Emergency Response Vehicle May 3 at the
1144 Teachout Black Forest Fire Station.
Photo by Carolyn Sharp/American Red Cross
The Pikes Peak American Red Cross, the Black Forest Fire Department and the non-profit Black Forest Together collaborated May 3rd on recovery efforts to restore 200 acres of grass and trees to the Black Forest community.

One of the recipients, Judy von Ahlefeldt who came out to get seeds and trees for her own property said, “This project shows the dedication of the Red Cross, the Black Forest Fire Department and the Black Forest Together volunteers.”

Eddie Bracken gives Melissa Chambless a big
Red Cross hug.
Photo by Charlie Mussi/American Red Cross
One of the volunteers, Max Stafford with the Red Cross, said, “It was a pleasure to help everyone. We are here to help.” Andy Meng who took his seedlings home and immediately planted them said, “We lost hundreds of trees in the Black Forest fire. We are hoping for a total restoration from this donation. This is a new beginning for us and we greatly appreciate the help.

The whole event could not have happened without the assistance of the Black Forest Together non-profit. The Black Forest Together organization was founded by Eddie and Nancy Bracken. It started with 10 people on day 6 of the Black Forest fire. In less than a month they had 150 members.

Red Cross volunteer Max Stafford helps give out seed
and trees donated by the American Red Cross to those
impacted by the Black Forest Fire last year.
Photo by Carolyn Sharp/American Red Cross
Nancy said, “We connected with the Red Cross for this project six weeks ago. They donated $20,000 for seeds and seedlings. Gary Schinderly, a local Black Forest business owner, of Golf Enviro, then provided the seeds and trees for this community restoration project. We are hopeful to have another event like this in the fall.”

Eddie Bracken added, “We drive through the current barren land and now know soon it will be green and lush again. This gives people here hope and a new sense of transformation and instills a much needed positive mood.”

Red Cross Disaster Program Manager, Sally Broomfield said,  “I love the ‘whole community’ approach of this event. This effort is bringing people together to rebuild the forest. It’s not just one agency focusing on one project, it’s pulling everyone together to accomplish something good!”

Ellie and Andy Meng along with Red Cross volunteer
Jim Sim plant a new seedling in their yard.
Photo by Arnett Luce/American Red Cross

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Red Cross Tornado App: How It Can Help or Save You.

Story by Kathleen Rowland

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle
 brings food, water and supplies to tornado
 stricken areas
Recent severe weather in much of the country highlights the importance of disaster preparedness and staying informed.  The Red Cross is receiving testimonials on social media from people who have used the Tornado app recently and who have been helped and even saved by it.
While Traveling:
Sunshine 74063 – Apr 29, 2014: “Literally saved our lives. We were travelling from Florida to Oklahoma. We were 2 miles from Tupelo, MS when the tornado hit April 28, 2014. We took shelter at a Shell station in the cooler, along with 30 other people. The tornado did damage to our car but thanks to this app it saved our lives.”
While Sleeping:
Megan Sorrell on Apr 30, 2014: “I downloaded this app to wake me up in the middle of the night in case there was a tornado warning. this morning at 450 we got a tornado warning at 4:51 I got the alert. This app woke me up out of a deep sleep to warn me of the warning. I would recommend this app to anybody.”

While Far Away from Loved Ones:
Happy R. Pappy - Version 2.0.1 - Apr 29, 2014 “I live in Fargo, ND., with family in Alabama. Last night I received an alert, for Prattville, Al. Let me tell you, it WILL WAKE YOU UP!!!! Get this right now, do not hesitate, what are you doing still reading this??? Stop and down load NOW!!!”
Use these three steps to severe weather preparedness and current information:
1. Download The Red Cross Tornado App from or from your app provider.

2) Set your warnings using this quick step-by-step guide

3) review severe weather information and valuable preparedness tips at

Get prepared to take care of yourself, your family and your neighbors by downloading the Red Cross Tornado App today!