Monday, June 30, 2014

Dirty Jobs You Didn't Know The Red Cross Did...

by Patricia Billinger

Sometimes, the Red Cross is in the limelight, like when we’re opening shelters and driving through disaster-devastated neighborhoods delivering hot meals, supplies and hugs. And sometimes the Red Cross is working quietly in the background, kicking in support in ways that you might not think of.

Porta-potties and refuse fees, for example.

As one children’s author so astutely pointed out, everybody p… well, you know. We know it, too. So when the Little Thompson River Coalition, UMCOR and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) organized a recent volunteer clean-up day to remove flood debris in Weld County, one way the Red Cross supported the effort was to pay for portable toilets to ensure the comfort and health of the volunteers. (We also chipped in tools and funding to keep the heavy machinery going.)
Taking care of basic needs. It's what we do.

Other behind-the-scenes efforts focus on junk: making it easier for flood-affected residents to get rid of the tons of refuse and debris that were washed downstream during September’s floods. On June 28, a river clean-up day was planned by Larimer County Long Term Recovery Group, UMCOR and VOC, this time along the Little Thompson where it flows through Loveland. All that junk has to go somewhere – some could be recycled, but the rest went to a dump.
The September, 2013, floods created literally tons of debris
that must be cleaned up and hauled away,
like the pile in the background of this photo.
Waste doesn’t magically disappear; it comes with a price that we often don’t think about when considering “disaster costs.” That cost, in Larimer County, is about $50 per ton. So, to defray the cost to the community, the Red Cross paid for all waste disposal fees from the clean-up day.

In flood-affected Estes Park, the Red Cross paid for rollout dumpsters for a similar clean-up project.

“Porta-potties, dumpsters and junk yards aren’t very glamorous aspects of disaster recovery, but they’re a very real need and a very real cost for communities that are still recovering from the floods,” said Sabrina Amon, Disaster Recovery Manager for the Red Cross of Colorado. “At the Red Cross, we look at the full picture and seek to find those unmet needs that we can fill; we’re removing road blocks to recovery.”

Amon paused, raised an eyebrow, and added, “Well. We’re removing nastier stuff than road blocks. But the point is: we’re contributing to getting rid of the bad stuff so these communities can focus on moving forward with their lives. And we’re pretty proud of that.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Partnerships in Preparedness

The Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership (CEEP) held an important meeting today at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO in an effort to improve the preparedness and resilience in Western Colorado.

The American Red Cross was an active participant in the meeting.  Troy Staples, Ready Rating Manager for the Red Cross Colorado & Wyoming Region presented information about the Ready Rating program that is designed to promote preparedness and resilience for businesses, schools and medical facilities.

Colorado has experienced a number of disasters in recent years that have had a significant impact on the state's economy. "Building a resilient community starts with developing a continuity of operations plan for each busines, school and hospital,"
Troy Staples talks about the Ready Rating program
 at the CEEP meeting in Grand Junction, CO
Staples said. "Recovering from a disaster is much easier if you have a plan in place."

The Colorado Office of Emergency Management presented information about how Colorado has been hit by disasters and how we have learned from each event. Resource databases have been developed to connect resources with those in need. "If a disaster occurs in a community and they need a search and rescue team, for example, we have the ability to locate the team and deploy them," said Chad Ray from the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.

Agility Recovery, a company that specializes in preparing businesses for all kinds of disasters, both internal and external, presented 10 steps to business recovery. According to Trevor Mickelson, a spokesperson for Agility Recovery, making sure that your employees are part of the planning process is vital to a successful continuity of operations plan. He also strongly recommended that businesses develop a crisis communication plan so that during a crisis you can stay in touch with your employees. "Research tells us that seventy percent of employees feel that their company is not adequately prepared for an emergency," he said. "Having a well publicized plan that is tested and reviewed regularly can ease the recovery process."

The Red Cross is committed to making Colorado the best prepared state in America. Being an active member of the Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership serves that goal. If you want to learn more about how your business or organization can be better prepared for emergencies visit our website at To learn about preparing your family go to

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Preparedness Round-Up: Preparedness Resources in Multiple Languages

by Cari Wheat, Community Preparedness & Resiliency Manager

Colorado has a significant population of residents for whom English is not their first language.

Please take a look at our long list of free downloadable disaster checklists for all kinds of hazards  Many are available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and  Vietnamese.

FEMA & friends have some fantastic resources as well:

And we’re thrilled to announce that the American Red Cross now offers Spanish-language versions of six of its free mobile apps, which offer lifesaving information families need to prepare and respond to emergencies – big and small.
  • The First Aid, Hurricane, Tornado, Earthquake, Wildfire and Flood apps are available with a feature that enables users to easily toggle between English and Spanish language. 
  • All of these Spanish-language apps are available for both iPhones and Android devices in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. They can also be found at (English) or (Spanish). 

Lightning safety tips: Stay safe when skies threaten

Story by Andrea Stone/American Red Cross

When lightning strikes, it can be dangerous, even deadly. That fact hit home in July 2013 when 12 Fort Carson soldiers were injured by a lightning strike while at a training area. The incident happened just days after nine farm workers were struck by lightning in northern Colorado.

“People should seek shelter immediately once they hear thunder, see lightning or observe threatening skies,” said Steve Hodanish, a lightning expert with the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

In Colorado, there are more than 490,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes every year, ranking the state 26th in the nation. El Paso County and the Colorado Springs metro area have the dubious distinction of ranking first in the state for lightning incidents. Colorado also ranks fifth in the nation for fatalities due to lightning.

But there are things you can do to protect yourself from lightning.

At the first sound of thunder, stop outdoor activities and move to a safe shelter – a substantial building or an enclosed metal-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.

In the past, meteorologists recommended the 30/30 rule, advising people to seek shelter if they cannot count to 30 between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. That advice is no longer given.
“People wait too long to seek shelter. Most people who are struck waited too long to seek safe shelter and were injured or killed. We now recommend that you seek shelter immediately when lightning threatens,” Hodanish said.

One part of the 30/30 rule still holds true, however. Stay in a safe shelter until at least 30 minutes after you’ve heard thunder.

If you’re caught outdoors in a thunderstorm, run for the nearest safe shelter. If there is no safe shelter or vehicle around, immediately get off elevated areas, such as hilltops, and stay away from lakes or other bodies of water. Don’t shelter under an isolated tree or rocky cliff or overhang. Don’t lie flat on the ground and avoid any objects that conduct electricity, such as power lines. If you are nowhere near a shelter or a vehicle, then squat down. If you can run for a shelter, that’s the better choice.

“No place outside is safe when lightning is occurring,” he said.

To stay safe indoors, stay off corded phones,
computers and other electrical equipment. Avoid plumbing, and stay away from windows and doors. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.

One of the best methods to stay safe in a thunderstorm is to pay attention to weather forecasts and avoid planning outdoor activities when the risk may be greater. For preparedness information and to get severe weather warnings at your fingertips, download the Red Cross tornado app, available for iPhone, Android and tablet. You can download the app from the Red Cross at

Friday, June 20, 2014

“Regrow Salina” event plants hope in disaster-devastated community

By Mary Steffens, Red Cross Recovery Specialist

On a recent June weekend, more than 60 people came together to change the landscape in the small Boulder County enclave of Salina from one of devastation to one of hope and renewal.

The “BoCo Regrow Salina” event on June 7, 2014, was a community tree-planting project that really reinforced for me the wonderful things that can happen when you combine local community ownership, a few great leaders, and widespread coordination and collaboration towards disaster recovery.

In addition to being impacted by the September 2013 floods, the Salina community was also hard hit by the Fourmile Canyon fire and a previous flood in 2011. So, the Boulder County Long-term Flood Recovery Group (LTFRG), local case managers and Colorado Spirit came together to explore ways to help the struggling community and build community strength. They organized a tree-planting volunteer day in Salina with two goals in mind: to provide trees to households that had lost most of their trees to recent disasters, and to provide a boost to the spirits and community health of Salina by bringing the residents together in a collaborative, positive, empowering experience.

A local resident, Kay Cook, worked with individual Salina residents to pick out the trees. A case manager with the LTFRG was a former landscape architect and thus was able to secure trees at a discounted whole-sale price. The LTFRG also recruited and brought in 31 youth volunteers from Breckenridge to help with the tree plantings. The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado provided $5,000 in funding for most of the trees. And the American Red cross contributed about $2,800 in support for the project by providing shovels, gloves, soil, trees and lunch for the volunteer workers.

In order to “keep it local,” the Red Cross turned to Anne Brady to prepare lunch and snacks for the project - - Anne is the owner of the Salina CafĂ©, which was destroyed in the floods. Anne volunteered to make lunch for the volunteers and residents helping with the tree planting event. Local community leaders said they asked her to “prepare sandwiches and other things for the Saturday planting, since she is our cafe person, and we miss the breakfasts and dinners and her presence.”

BoCo Regrow Salina Event By the Numbers:
  • 31 volunteers (youths from Breckenridge) 
  • 30 Salina Residents
  • 18 homes 
  • 101 trees planted
  • 56 shrubs planted

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Youth Leadership Workshop Coming in July

The American Red Cross Mile High Chapter is offering a new Youth Leadership Workshop in July! This workshop will aim to develop youth leadership skills, while getting youth involved with different leadership opportunities with the Red Cross. Students will begin to view leadership as a process involving collaboration with the community and taking part in positive social change. After learning about the many opportunities that youth may be involved in with the Red Cross, students will learn about effective project planning strategies that will help them get engaged with the community. Students will also learn goal setting and how to get in touch with local resources.

The Youth Leadership Workshop will take place on Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 at the Mile High Chapter from 10am-3pm. All youth in grades 9 through 12 are invited and encouraged to sign up. The workshop is free, and lunch is included.

Sign up using the link here:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Experiencing Foreign Culture Through the Eyes of a Refugee

Simulation participant Katie Lynn-Vecqueray holds up some
of the paperwork used as part of the exercise
By Katie Lynn-Vecqueray

As a volunteer interning with the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links Program, I recently participated in a Refugee Resettlement Simulation where I was given a brief insight into the experiences of recent refugee arrivals as they work to navigate a country foreign in its language, its culture, and its expectations.

For an hour, I was an actor in a simulated reality, but my emotional responses of hopelessness, fear, and frustration were authentic.

American society reveres autonomy, and such autonomy is often expected of refugees as they experience the resettlement process. In the pursuit of freedom and security, many refugees experience a journey in which cultural orientation and integration are equally inspiring and exhausting. The simulation sought to teach its participants that resettlement is a daunting endeavor; every day is a struggle, filled with new challenges, new concerns, and an unsettling feeling of instability.

Each participant was given a folder, and our life stories were summarized on a single page. This made me wonder: How often are refugees and their histories condensed to a conscientiously consolidated word count? With file in hand, we were asked to complete a list of given tasks within our new destination of Aunkmar. This list was simple in its requests, but impossible in its completion. Language courses were indecipherable, and applying for medical benefits and cash assistance were complicated by confounding documentation and the impatience of “native” employees.

At the simulation’s conclusion, I was torn; I felt unnerved by the experience, and I felt relieved by my ability to separate the simulation from my own reality. Above all, I felt humbled by the recognition that for the Bhutanese refugees who enacted the night’s lesson, my simulated experience was their everyday existence.

Following the simulation, the participants reflected on the night through conversation with the refugees, and these individuals’ stories embodied the truth and heart of courage. The need to correct the imbalance of cultural dissimilarities was an imperative that surfaced with many refugee families, and their tireless perseverance served as a gift to teach their audience humility.

I was offered firsthand accounts of how these beautiful, loving, and inspiring people had struggled to overcome discrimination and a feeling of powerlessness at every turn of their cultural assimilation. Predictability and security were unobtainable luxuries, but their tenacity to find the beauty in potential opportunities was unrelenting.

It is my hope that through experiences such as these, our Red Cross Restoring Family Links team can learn and better understand these individuals’ initial encounters with American culture. In seeing the resettlement process through a new lens, RFL can appreciate the importance of connectivity. As a service, we can find ways to gently support and encourage these incredible individuals’ journeys through mindful advocacy and conscious networking. We have the resources to touch lives. And in the process, we learn so much about ourselves.

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Red Cross Story: A Taste of Home While Serving Overseas

My name is Bryan Vibert and I am a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force.

Our Air Force team is currently deployed to Jordan to a somewhat austere location. We don't have a lot of "goodies," (cookies, snacks, etc.) so we signed up through, a conduit to the American public that generously supports all branches of the military who are deployed.

Shortly after signing up we started receiving care packages from Girl Scout Troop 4258 in Colorado with cookies and homemade cards. The troop was able to ship these touches of home to us thanks to help from the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program in Colorado.

Being in the military is great, it's the being away from home and family that is the hard part. Reading the home-made cards the Girl Scouts made was absolutely AWESOME. They were so genuine and so cool, with messages like "You are a Star," "Thanks for keeping us safe," "You are a Hero," "We want you to know we are thinking of you," and "A troop is a busy person, take a vacation."

Many people don't realize that the American Red Cross helps members of the military and their families. The Red Cross Service to Armed Forces Program delivers emergency communications between local families and their deployed loved ones. The Red Cross is a valuable asset to military members, both home and deployed. I have been on multiple deployments where a young Airmen received devastating news (death of a loved one, etc) and the Red Cross was right there willing to help.

A special thanks to the team at the Red Cross for supporting us. Your kindness is just what some of our folks need when they have one of those lonely days!

BRYAN K. VIBERT, CMSgt, USAF 407 ESFS Chief Enlisted Manager

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2014 Month of the Military Child Essay Contest

Story by Bill Fortune
Photos by Arnett Luce

Every year in April, the American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program celebrates the Month of the Military Child. As part of that celebration an essay contest was held for children of military families. This year marks the third annual Month of the Military Child essay contest in Colorado. The theme this year was “What does it mean to be a military child?” There were 21 entries in the contest with ages ranging from 6 to 17.
Allison Drown accepts
her prize from
Brig.Gen Limoge for
 best in grades 6-8 and
 best overall essay

Zach Polliard receives his prize
from Brig.Gen. Limoge for
winning best in grades 9-12
 and second overall best essay
A ceremony was held Monday, June 9, 2014, at the Elkhorn Conference Center, Fort Carson, Colorado to give the children an opportunity to share their essays and to announce the selection of the best overall essays. Each entrant received gift items from the Red Cross including an iPod and a Kindle Fire. The entrants were grouped by school grade, K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Each child stood before the audience of more than 60 people consisting of family, Red Cross volunteers and staff, and military members to read their essay. In each group one essay was chosen as the best and of those best essays two were chosen as the overall winners.

Laurie Burke, program coordinator for the Colorado National Guard Child and Youth Program and Tim Bothe, Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program manager served as the masters of ceremony. Brig. Gen. Jerome Limoge, Colorado Air National Guard., was on hand to present the gifts and awards.

“The essay contest is an opportunity for military youth to share their feelings about their lives as a military child,” said Tim Bothe, Service to Armed Forces manager. “As a military child myself I can empathize with their stories.”

The essays were heartfelt stories about their experiences. Similarities were evident in the stories with frequent references to opportunities to travel and meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. There were also multiple references to the support from the military community that seemed to lessen the stress for the families. In each case the proof was in the writing that the military community has focused on the strong family unit to make sure that they have cared for the service members and their families.

Touching phrases came from these children who have struggled through frequent transfers and long deployments. Especially the stress associated with long deployments to combat areas was evident when Cyierra Lood-Davila said, “…you don’t know when, or if, they are coming back.”

David Acosta won first place
 for grades 3-5
Seventeen year old Zachary Polliard was the Second Overall Winner of the contest. In his essay he said that being a military child meant you would have to overcome "hurdles, lots of hurdles" but that in the end it would be worth the effort.

Allison Drown, age 14, was selected as the First Overall Winner of the contest. In her essay she said that her life was very different from nonmilitary children. “When other kids list their emergency contacts at school they list family members like a parent, a grandparent, or another family member,” Allison wrote in her essay. “When I do that I list my parents and then friends of the family or members of the unit because family members are too far away.” She also wrote about the “grandparents tour” when the family vacations centered on visiting relatives hundreds of mile away just before her father’s deployments.

Isaac Olson accepts the prize for his sister
Jocelyn Olson who could not attend
Winners of the Military Child Essay Contest were:
• Grades K-2 - Jocelyn Olson
• Grades 3-5 - David Acosta
• Grades 6-8 – Allison Drown
• Grades 9-12 – Zachary Polliard

Overall Winners of the Military Child Essay Contest
• Allison Drown - First Overall
• Zachary Polliard - Second Overall

These children whose fathers or mothers are members of America’s Armed Forces have truly seen it all. They have seen the good days and the bad, the difficult separations and the heartwarming reunions. But through it all they have valued the family unit and made the best of it. In her essay, 14-year-old Aislin Graziano summed it all up with a quote from Muhammad Ali, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.” That is how she handles the challenges of being a military child.

You can see more photos at the Colorado Red Cross Flickr page. To learn more about the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program go to

Weekly Preparedness Roundup - from Your American Red Cross -- Summer Safety Edition

by Cari Roberts, Community Preparedness and Resiliency Manager

I don’t know about you, but summer feels like she’s here and ready to play! Wild weather aside, it’s that time of year when we’re meeting friends at the lake, by the pool, around the backyard BBQ, etc.

To that end – and to ensure that your summer fun stays that way – please see and share the below swimming & grilling tips with your circle of friends. They just might thank you later!

We also want to thank our friends at the American Academy of Pediatrics for a GREAT list of summer safety tips – from bugs to burns and lawn mowers to skateboards, they’ve got some solid advice for you and yours.

Have fun out there (send us some photos of you being safe and yet having a fantastic summer).

See and share these tips!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Red Cross Participates in Pet Sheltering Exercise

Story by Kathleen Rowland. Photos by Walt Palmer

The American Red Cross participated in a pet sheltering in disaster exercise Saturday, June 7, 2014. The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR) conducted the pet sheltering exercise at the Humane Society’s main facility on Abbot Street and also at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church on Tejon Street in Colorado Springs.  Twelve Red Cross volunteers participated in the sheltering exercise working closely with HSPPR to learn more about how the two organizations can work together during disasters. The Red Cross volunteer also helped by serving breakfast, lunch and snacks to the Humane Society volunteers at the two exercise sites. 

An ongoing partnership between the Red Cross and the Humane Society springs from a shared mission to shelter all members of affected households during disasters, including pets. 
Dogs were willing participants at the
HSPPR pet shelter exercise in
Colorado Springs
According to Red Cross volunteer and Mass Care Co-Lead, Peggy Schnurr, “One of the biggest challenges for the Red Cross is what to do with animals during a disaster…co-locating is difficult due to space and facility limitations.”  The partnership between the Humane Society and the Red Cross is critical because it helps find safe places for pets when they are unable to be with their owners in a shelter. An exercise like this helps the Red Cross anticipate needs and develop support mechanisms to make sure that those in need get the proper help.
Red Cross volunteers served lunch
to animal rescue volunteers during
the HSPPR Pet Shelter Exercise
in Colorado Springs

The Community Animal Response Team (CART) is the division of the HSPPR responsible for mass sheltering of animals.  CART coordinated the care of 1200 animals during last summer’s Black Forest Fire and the exercise today allowed CART to practice their mass sheltering procedures in anticipation of meeting animal needs when future disasters occur.
Gretchen Pressley (l) talks with Kathleen
Rowland at the HSPPR Pet Shelter Exercise
in Colorado Springs

In an effort to expand services for animals in the Pikes Peak Region, on December 31, 2013, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region purchased a property adjacent to the current shelter on Abbot Lane in Colorado Springs.  Jan McHugh-Smith, CEO of HSPPR, says the former retail greenhouse will be used as a future shelter for animals involved in disaster.  “We cared for 24,000 animals last year and maintain an average of 400 animals each day at the main facility.”  The new building will help provide additional space and animal friendly facilities when mass sheltering is necessary.

Are you prepared with a disaster plan for your pets?  As part of your household’s disaster preparedness plan, check out the Red Cross Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist at and go to the HSPPR website at for details on their Ready Pets program.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Targeted programs prepare Colorado and Wyoming Children

The Simply Safe Program, a Denver Public Schools initiative to deliver safety information to students in elementary school, just wrapped up its fourth year of successful programming.

Simply Safe comprises five key community partners, including the American Red Cross, who collaborated to design and implement the high-impact safety program. The goal of Simply Safe is to provide critical fire, natural-hazard, and household safety information to students and their families in Early Childhood Education through fifth grade.

The program draws on the expertise of fire educators, community preparedness professionals at the American Red Cross, curriculum specialists, and risk management staff. While previously the Denver Firefighter’s Museum, the American Red Cross and the Denver Fire Department each presented individual programs to youth in the school system, the collaborative partnership of Simply Safe offered a full suite of age-appropriate programs to almost 35,000 elementary and middle school students in the Denver Public School system.

Evaluation results reveal that 70% of the students who received the preparedness and fire safety training talked to someone at home about what they learned through Simply Safe, and more than 65% of the students talked to someone at home and completed a family disaster plan to better prepare themselves for emergencies and disasters.

Building on the success of Simply Safe in Denver Public Schools, the American Red Cross Colorado and Wyoming Region is launching a new, grant-funded national Youth Preparedness Program called The Pillowcase Project.

The Pillowcase Project was created by the American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter and implemented in New Orleans schools following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. New Orleans CEO Kay Wilkins had learned that Loyola University students carried their valuables in pillowcases when they were evacuated for Katrina. This inspired Wilkins and her team to work with an art therapist to create a program around decorating pillowcases for the children living in makeshift communities across New Orleans during Katrina recovery. Soon, their Pillowcase Project became a preparedness education program for elementary school students, and in just a few years had been adapted and implemented by several other Red Cross chapters with substantial success.

 In early 2013, the Walk Disney Company funded the design and development phase of a multi-year effort to build on this success by creating a standardized, state-of-the-art preparedness education program. As a result, The Pillowcase Project can now be customized for use by Red Cross chapters, including chapters within the Colorado-Wyoming Region, and across the United States to reach hundreds of thousands of elementary school age children in both school and after-school settings.

Weekly Preparedness Roundup - from Your American Red Cross

by Cari Roberts, Community Preparedness and Resiliency Manager

Short and sweet this week (read: Cari’s in between vacation days!)…

1) I can’t stress the value and importance of our life saving disaster apps and a NOAA weather radio with all the wild Spring weather we’re seeing. When driving through the Grand Junction area earlier this week, my Flood App alerted me to the potential flooding along the Colorado River, just based on our location driving past. And the Tornado App came in really handy last night as a warning before we saw touchdowns in a number of our neighboring counties.

2) Our friends at The CELL are hosting multiple Community Awareness Program training this summer that are open to the public.  For more information and to RSVP - please contact

3) Want a feel good story to round out your week? We’ve got you covered – check it out our story about hometown heroes in flood affected areas of Colorado.

That’s it for now – see you next week.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Human Trafficking Activist, Scholar to Speak at Lunch & Learn

Human trafficking is a crime without borders, without a face, without gender or race or nationality. It affects men and women all over the world, from those in the poorest and most unstable nations to our very own American neighbors. This month's International Services Lunch and Learn speaker, Silvia Tamminen, has worked closely with human trafficking victims and has devoted her professional career to examining the threat posed by trafficking to vulnerable populations like refugees and migrants. In her experience, there is much that is misunderstood about this global violation of human rights.
DU's Human Trafficking Center works with victims
 of local and international trafficking.

“There are a lot of misperceptions,” she said. “When people think of trafficking, they think it’s something that only happens in Thailand, or someplace far away, like Africa. But it happens everywhere, including the United States. People also think only of sexual trafficking and exploitation, but labor exploitation is more widespread.”

Tamminen's graduate work has focused on international refugee and migration issues, and her position as a research associate at University of Denver's Human Trafficking Center has provided her with an opportunity to apply her academic background to real-world efforts to combat trafficking. A native of Finland, Tamminen previously worked with the International Organization for Migration's country office in Helsinki. Though her work to fight human trafficking and offer support for its victims has an international emphasis, she encourages others to learn more about how they can help with anti-trafficking efforts wherever they live. The Denver area, she says, is home to many populations who face a high level of vulnerability to traffickers.

“Some of the populations most vulnerable to human trafficking are undocumented migrants, those experiencing interpersonal violence, and those experiencing homelessness, especially youth,” she said. “You have a lot of people in these populations in Denver.” Tamminen's workplace, the DU Human Trafficking Center, works with victims of trafficking as well as volunteers who wish to contribute their time to the cause.

“We encourage people to volunteer to find out more about this issue by working in their own communities,” Tamminen said, “They can then find out for themselves that what they hear on the news about trafficking isn't necessarily accurate.” The Lunch & Learn lecture will be presented Wednesday, June 11, from noon to 1 p.m. at the American Red Cross, 444 Sherman St. RSVPs are requested by 12 p.m. Monday, June 9 to Tim Bothe at WebEx options are also available for remote audiences. For more information, contact Tim Bothe. For more information about the University of Denver's Human Trafficking Center, visit their Web site.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Flood Recovery Update: May 2014

In September 2013,  widespread flooding affected 24 counties and damaged more than 16,700 homes. The Red Cross responded immediately and provided shelter, food, emotional support, health services and relief supplies in the days and weeks following the floods. Our work has continued without pause over the past nine months, transitioning from response to long-term recovery.

Disasters of such immense magnitude can take years to recover from and result in complex needs that develop over time. The Red Cross continues to help residents affected by the floods – listening to their needs and providing assistance for expenses like mold remediation, furniture replacement, water tanks so they can have clean water, and gas cards to defray the cost of re-routing travel due to damaged roads.

Investing in local solutions for long-term strength
In addition to helping individual families, the Red Cross is supporting recovery at the community level and working to strengthen flood-affected towns and neighborhoods so that they’re more resilient in the face of future disasters.

We’re doing this by collaborating with local community members and investing in local projects and programs. We supply grassroots efforts with support and tools to help them implement the solutions that are right for their neighborhoods.

"The role of the Red Cross in disaster recovery is intensely collaborative. Whenever possible, we seek to support local partners on the ground,” said Sabrina Amon, Recovery Manager for the Red Cross of Colorado. “We trust locals’ knowledge.  They’re not asking us to do the work for them; they just want the information and the tools to do the job,” Amon explained.

The Red Cross is providing funding and supplies for many small, local projects and groups in flood-affected communities. This not only helps meet today’s needs, but helps strengthen local residents’ ability to withstand future disasters and recover more quickly afterwards – particularly in places that may become cut-off during disasters.

For example, an existing Boulder County ATV club helped deliver goods to people who were isolated by washed-out roads after September’s floods; Rocky Mountain Assist has played a critical role in Glen Haven’s recovery since the floods, with material and financial support from the Red Cross.

Some of the local groups that have received Red Cross support include:
•    Lyons Volunteers
•    Saws and Slaws
•    Rocky Mountain Assist
•    Little Thompson River Coalition
•    Blue Mountain River Coalition
•    Various volunteer fire departments
•    County long-term recovery groups

Investing in local efforts builds capacity so that the communities we help are stronger, more self-sufficient and less reliant on outside agencies; as local residents take charge of their recovery and plan for the future, they are forming relationships and networks, gaining hands-on experience, and building the foundation of a community that is prepared for whatever may come next.  In short, they are empowered and in charge of their future.

Help that is flexible and Responsive
The Red Cross has committed to spending all designated flood donations to help with flood response and recovery;  how we spend those dollars is flexible and responsive to Coloradans’ changing needs. We listen and respond to needs, contributing to a myriad of requests that will fill gaps not being met by other agencies or funding pools.

The American Red Cross has spent or made commitments to spend approximately $7.6 million, as of May 19, on emergency response and recovery efforts for 2013 Colorado floods. That amount includes:
  • The disaster response and relief costs of providing food, shelter, blankets, costs, emotional support, health services, relief supplies, casework and direct financial assistance.
  • Recovery costs and commitments including direct financial assistance to individuals as well as suport for community recovery projects.
  • It also includes less visible costs that make relief possible, such as logistics, staff and technology expenses.
This is nearly 94 percent of the approximately $8.1 million in designated donations and pledges to the Red Cross for the Colorado floods as of May 19.
The Red Cross will continue to honor donor intent, and donations that we received that are designated for the flooding will be applied to our work in Colorado.

2013 Flood Recovery Update: Highlight on Lyons

The town of Lyons was completely cut off by flood waters during the 2013 floods. The way their community came together to support one another was so inspiring that the Red Cross honored four community leaders with a Hero Award in March 2013. Today, the Red Cross continues to work closely with Lyons residents to support their long-term recovery.

Lyons Volunteers (LOV) is an organic, locally-led community volunteer group that identifies where help is needed, equips teams of volunteers and "deploys" them throughout the valley to help with clean-up and rebuild projects.  LOV is one of several organized efforts receiving Red Cross support. To help their clean-up and repair projects, the Red Cross has provided:
  • Storage for tools and supplies
  • Portable toilets and sinks to support homeowners and volunteers while they work on clean-up and rebuilding efforts
  • Heavy-duty equipment and the fuel to run it
  • Chainsaw fuel and consumable parts to support volunteer chainsaw crews
  • Cleanup and repair supplies: wheel barrows, winter gloves, shovels, trash bags, shovels, tarps, rakes, buckets, ladders 
  • Pallets of water bottles and first aid kits to support health of volunteers.
The Red Cross has also provided supplies to support clean-up and repair of parks and trails that are of enormous economic importance to town’s long term recovery.

Mold mitigation in homes has been another important need.  Although the Red Cross does not perform mold mitigation, it has supported the mold mitigation efforts of Calvary Relief by providing them with fuel, N-95 masks and supplies.

One-on-one casework is another important aspect of long-term recovery. The Red Cross contributed building and office supplies that helped make it possible for a case management office to be built and staffed in Lyons.

Finally, the Red Cross has been helping to prepare the town for future disasters, including coordinating community preparedness workshops and dialogues.

"Recovery is a long-term process. We'll continue working with Lyons for months to come," said Sabrina Amon, Recovery Manager for the Red Cross of Colorado.

Buying Local Helps Economic Recovery in Wake of 2013 Floods

Lonny Clark had never personally been affected by a disaster prior to the 2013 floods. Lonny’s business, Clark’s Hardware in Lyons, was inundated with several feet of mud and water during the 2013 floods.

The flooding forced him to close business for 13 days.

Lonny Clark helps a customer.
The halt to business caused by the floods greatly affected Clark and his business, as well as the local economy.

The Red Cross recognizes that business play a vital role in the health of local communities: they are a source for goods and supplies before, during and after disasters; provide jobs and income for disaster-affected residents; and submit tax income that helps support municipal and county roads, bridges and recovery efforts.

So, in addition to responding to disasters with direct assistance to individuals and groups, the Red Cross has also helped the flood affected communities recover by purchasing supplies locally whenever possible.

The Red Cross has purchased many recovery supplies
from small, local businesses like Clark's Hardware.
Since the floods, the Red Cross has bought many items from small local businesses like Clark’s Hardware - items such as dust masks, shovels, rakes, two-way radios, etc.

“They not only helped me personally but also my business and the local economy,” said Clark. “I was so glad the Red Cross was there to help my community.”

Service to the Armed Forces Volunteer Recognition Event - 2014

Story by Kathleen Rowland
Photos by Arnett Luce

Colorado Springs, CO - June 3, 2014 - Service members and Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteers gathered at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs to honor the best-of-the-best 2014 Service to the Armed Forces volunteers.

More than 120 people were on hand to recognize a number of awardees and their families for their service to those who serve our Nation.
Guest Speaker, Jackie Norris, charmed the audience with stories of her life as a Red Cross Volunteer.  From her service as a “Donut Dolly” during the Vietnam Conflict to her current work as chair of the Mile High Chapter Volunteer Leadership Council, Ms. Norris painted a picture of a colorful life immeasurably enriched by Red Cross service.  She thanked each volunteer for their unique and invaluable contributions.

Clara Huff received the 2014
 Volunteer of the Year ward for her work
at Evans Army Hospital
Dennis Burdick received the 2014 SAF
Volunteer of the Year Award
Irmard Cates received the
2014 SAF Outstanding
Leader Award
To recognize special dedication to the Service to Armed Forces, a select few volunteers received Exemplary Service Awards.  Volunteer of the Year was awarded to COL (Ret.) Clara Huff and Dennis Burdick for their work at Evans Army Hospital and at the Pikes Peak Chapter, respectively.  Unsung Hero Award recipient Hugh Wilson was on hand to accept his award for his work on the Peterson Air Force Base Briefing Team, as was 32-year volunteer, Irmgard Cates who was given the Outstanding Leader Award.  The Evans Army Hospital Red Cross Office Team received the Outstanding Team Award, and Community Partner Award winners were Christopher Alfano, Beverly Price and Josesimo Bautista.

Time in Service Award recipients were acknowledged for their excellent work with the Service to Armed Forces.  Certificates were awarded for one year of service up to the 32 years of service certificate given to dedicated Red Cross volunteer, Irmgard Cates.

Time in Service Award recipients were recognized for more
than 10 years of service to the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces Program
Because of the work of these volunteers and many more like them, service members know with the American Red Cross you’re never out of touch - around the clock, around the world.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

CPR Saves Lives! Learn About Local Heroes During CPR Awareness Week

CPR Awareness Week is June 1-7. CPR DOES save lives! The American Red Cross knows of many stories of people who have taken Red Cross training and used their skills to save lives. In fact, just in the past month, the Pikes Peak Chapter has honored four individuals for their lifesaving efforts.

David Dixon, a local boy scout, received his Readyman badge training at the Silvercliff Ranch in Buena Vista. Less than a week later, his mother, Jennifer, got a chip lodged in her throat and began to choke. David noticed this and using his training, he began to deliver back blows to his Mom and within the first set the chip dislodged. Because of his training he was able to stay clam and assist his Mom during this event.

Jim Ungarvsky joined several other members of the VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa in Colorado Springs in a contest to see how many pushups they could do. Before long, he started having chest pains and within a few minutes collapsed on the floor in cardiac arrest. Billy Thompkins, Bobby Bernal and Leilani Akiyama - trainers at the facility who had taken CPR - quickly went into action. They immediately checked for breathing and pulse. Finding neither, they began CPR and defibrillated the heart using an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). Ungvarsky has made a complete recovery following the rescue and surgery.

Red Cross has also honored other lifesavers at our annual Heroes events around the state, including these heroes:

CPR skills are easy to learn, and you’ll never know when or where an incident may happen where you’ll be able to help save a life. In honor of 100 years of Red Cross service in Colorado, you can get 15% off Red Cross CPR classes through November 2014! Visit and use coupon code COREDCROSS1001114 at checkout.