Thursday, May 19, 2016

Home Fire Required a Little Extra Care

Scene from Quail Cove Apartment fire in Colorado
Springs, CO. Photo courtesy CSFD PIO
By Walter Palmer

Relica discovered the Red Cross the way many people do; through a home fire. She was at work on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 when she got a call from a neighbor that there was a fire outside the apartment. By the time she got home 20 minutes later, she had lost everything! Fires spread quickly on wind-whipped days and in this case it spread into the Quail Cove Apartments in Colorado Springs, leaving eighteen people homeless. The Red Cross arrived quickly to help those affected find temporary lodging and begin their first step toward recovery.

The Disaster Action Team (DAT) began interviewing clients and when they got to Relica they quickly saw that she would need support beyond what is normally provided for disaster recovery. Her fiancé needed to be contacted and he was more than 7,000 miles away in Kuwait. DAT Captain Robert Rose knew exactly what to do.

Using the Red Cross Emergency Communications Service, an emergency message was sent to Army command in Kuwait to report the home fire. They contacted the service member and through that effort, he was granted emergency leave so that he could help Relica secure a new home. "We helped her make the call to the SAF support line," Rose said. "You could see the relief in her eyes knowing that the wheels were already turning to bring him home."

Fire fighters spray hot spots at Quail Cove Apartment fire
in Colorado Springs, CO. Photo  courtesy CSFD PIO
Relica, a native of Bulgaria, was very pleased with the support given to her by the Red Cross and was especially grateful for the effort to contact her fiancé.  “American Red Cross has been very helpful,” she said a few weeks after the fire. “Not only did they give me money to help me get clothes and food, they also helped get my fiancé back so that I didn’t have to do it all alone.” She has also been grateful for the follow up calls that have provided her with referrals for additional support and helped her work through the emotional stress.

The Red Cross responds to a home fire nearly every day in Colorado and provides support for the most immediate needs of those affected. It also supports our military service members, their families and veterans with emergency communications anywhere in the world so that families stay connected. Whether the need is money for temporary lodging or clothes, or the need to make contact with a loved one thousands of miles away, or both, the Red Cross stands ready to provide that support so that you don’t have to do it alone.

You can learn more about Red Cross services available to the military at You can find out more about Red Cross emergency assistance

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Mother's Day Story:Mother and Daughter Volunteer to Support Our Armed Forces

By Linda Julich

Women have always played a vital role in the Red Cross, from founder Clara Barton to today’s CEO Gail McGovern. Many of these women are mothers who may have had to sacrifice time with their own families in order to care for and nurture others in their community through their Red Cross volunteerism. And many mothers also made Red Cross service a family tradition – a passion that they pass down from mother to child, sometimes for generations.

One such mother is Pierina Aaron. She instilled a love for volunteerism from an early age in daughter Patricia. The two volunteer with the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program, helping veterans and members of the military and their families. .

 On Saturday, April 23, the Red Cross honored their dedication and service with the Service to the
Patrica and Pierina are flanked by Colonel Joel Hamilton(L)
Fort Carson Garrison Commander and Command Sargent
Major Clinton Reiss at the 2016 Volunteer Recognition
in Colorado Springs. Photo by Arnett Luce/American Red Cross
Armed Forces Family Service Award for their positivity, willingness to help and dedication to the families of Armed Service members. They have touched the lives of service members and their families in countless ways.

Pierina, 80 years young, was raised in a convent in Italy where she learned the value of service to others. She married a U.S. military member and while raising a family began volunteering at their school in Germany. All totaled, Pierina has been volunteering for 45 years; 20 of those years have been as a Red Cross volunteer here in Colorado at the Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson.

Her daughter, Patricia, learned the value of service from her mother and also volunteers at the Evans Army Community Hospital. While mom works in the allergy clinic helping patients, tracking and logging information and helping with patient charts, Patricia works in the volunteer office logging volunteer hours, preparing flyers for mailing and just helping wherever she is needed. Patricia uses a “talking computer” and a wheelchair due to her disabilities but that has never slowed her down. “I know that what I do helps our service members and their families.”

Patricia(r) and her mother, Pierina(c), confer with volunteer
Tom Pardee(l) while working at the Evans Army
Community Hospital.
Photo by Joe Coleman/American Red Cross
Together these two strong women have learned from each other and gained from their volunteer experience. Their weekly trip to the hospital gives them a feeling of community and is a source of pride that they are helping our service members and their families. They have given hundreds of hours.

When asked about words of wisdom they could offer to others, Pierina encourages people to have compassion: many people need help, in many ways.  Patricia advises others that if you are willing to learn, you can learn to do a lot – regardless of your physical abilities.  She encourages others to volunteer with the Red Cross.

As for the award and recognition, “We were honored to receive the award and we both had tears in our eyes when it was presented,” Pierina said. “We love what we do. It’s all about giving back to someone needing help.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

American Red Cross of Western Colorado Backyard Bash a HUGE Success!

By Karen Martsolf, Board Member
Photos by Brian Wise/American Red Cross

Congratulations to the American Red Cross on a wonderful event! The Backyard Bash was a fun and interactive evening. I loved everything about it. From the more casual feel to the fact that people could bring their children and they were entertained throughout the evening.

Guests talk and learn about Red Cross services at
at the Western Colorado Backyard Bash.
This year’s theme suited the mission perfectly. Guests left the event more knowledgeable about the mission of the Red Cross than ever before. The staff and volunteers did a fabulous job highlighting the vision of the Red Cross. It is paramount that people know the Red Cross is there no matter where someone’s backyard may be.

Enjoying the food at the Western Colorado Backyard Bash.
Food was provided by Sodexo of Grand Junction.
The change of venue was refreshing. Colorado Mesa University staff did an excellent job helping execute this important event and the food prepared by Sodexo was second to none and tied into the theme flawlessly.

The silent auction items were so much fun this year and complimented the Backyard Bash theme. Some of the items were handmade by volunteers or staff members which made them even more special. It was fun to watch bidders vying for some of the same items with a lighthearted competitive spirit to benefit the mission of the Red Cross.

Guests to the Backyard Bash have fun playing games,
eating great food and learning about a great organization.
One of the most inspiring elements of the evening was learning about what the many dedicated volunteers are doing in the community. This year was no exception. The stories are always extraordinarily compelling and heartwarming. It underscores the fact that the Red Cross provides help when it’s needed most, whether it is in a backyard down the street or across the country.

I am so proud to be part of such an amazing organization. Congratulations to the American Red Cross of Western Colorado on a stellar event!

You can be part of the American Red Cross as a donor or a volunteer. Go to or call 1-800-REDCROSS.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Southeastern Colorado Volunteer Recognition Awards

By Jennifer Marsh

Red Cross volunteers are generally the kind of people who get up in the morning, get the job done, and do not make a big fuss about it. But when you pack a room full of volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, you hear some amazing stories, and a big fuss is made.

The Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado celebrated its best and brightest April 23. Group and individual awards celebrated the diversity of the Red Cross mission and the creativity, passion and dedication that volunteers put into their work.

Larry Cornett, Volunteer of the Year Award.
Photo by Richard Firth
The Chapter Volunteer of the Year went to Larry
Cornett, who in four years has doubled
the size of the instructor cadre, organized training academies, deployed to Texas and run multiple classes. He has taken almost every Red Cross class available. Additionally, he has taught numerous classes in rural Colorado areas, teaching people how to take care of their own until additional help can reach them in the event of an emergency.

Chaffee County Disaster Response Team. Photo by Richard Firth
The Chaffee County Disaster Response Team deployed to open a shelter to assist those affected by the Cottonwood Lake Mudslides on July 2, 2015. Lead by Cheryl Rasuchke, Bill Zollinger and Jim LiVecchi, this team served their community in a time of need and for that received the Ready When the Time Comes Award.

Barbara Bunn  received the Debby MacSwain Passion
for Service Award. Photo by Richard Firth
The Debby MacSwain Passion for Service Award went to Barbara Bunn who has been with the organization for more than five years. She is a licensed mental health counselor who gives her time helping people recover from disasters. She is a leader in the Chapter and a dedicated volunteer.

Over forty awards were given out to volunteers who not only gave of their time and talent in 2015 to help Red Cross fulfill the promise to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of disaster.Thank you to all our volunteers, but hats off to our 2015 volunteer recognition award winners.

More pictures are available on our Flickr page so click here to see all of our award winners.

Lori Hetherington
Air Force Rookie of the Year
Janice Douglas
Air Force Star! Award
Irmgard Cates
Air Force Volunteer Lifetime
Norma Butler
Air Force Volunteer of the Year
Scott Defebaguh
Army Volunteer of the Year
Peggy Johnson
Bright New Star
Rick Levis
Bright New Star
Terrance McWilliams
Clara Barton Award
Barby Bunn
Deborah MacSwain Passion for Service
Fran Amos
Exceptional Volunteer
Jimmy Jenkins
Exceptional Volunteer
Jennifer Marsh
Exceptional Volunteer
Robert Rose
Exceptional Volunteer
Jim Sim
Exceptional Volunteer
Yenli Tanhaynes
Health &Safety Volunteer of the Year
Volunteer Services
Management Team
Key to Success
Arnett Luce
Key to Success
Army Community Service
Military Partner Organize of the Year
Abbagail Doris
Military Youth
Roberta McCoy
Rookie of the Year
Chaffee County Disaster Response Team
Ready When the Time Comes Award
Ann Carpenter
SAF Exceptional Volunteer
Patricia Aaron
SAF Family Service
Pierina Aaron
SAF Family Service
Leila Roche
Star! Award
Paul Lucas
Team Hero
Mike Baker
Unsung Hero
Richard Firth
Unsung Hero
Nancy Snyder
Unsung Hero
Larry Cornett
Volunteer of the Year