Friday, November 15, 2013

Local Volunteer on International Assignment


Cristina Hammond, a 20-year volunteer from the Upper Valley, is currently on a 5 week Red Cross deployment in Vietnam.  This is her 9th overseas deployment to 7 different countries.  Cristina is in Vietnam to assist relief and recovery activities in the wake two other recent typhoons.  After striking the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan was steaming toward Vietnam.  Cristina set her assignment aside and headed into the region of Vietnam expected to be most affected, preparing to assist in an anticipated recovery process. Here is Cristina’s journal entry as the typhoon approach, as well as a brief postscript.  It exemplifies the dedication and compassion shown by our volunteer corps.

November 8, 2013  -- The Night Train to Hue
As I boarded the train last night to Hue, an old slogan flashed through my mind:  Do something every day that scares you.  Well, I did.  I am one who is so terrified of things like roller coasters, that I can’t even watch others (especially my own children) stand in line for them.  And I always duck out of line before getting to the front.  Yet, when a disaster strikes, I am the first on the ride to go help assist.  In this case, it was a night train from Ha Tinh, Vietnam to Hue, Vietnam.  Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel fear.  I just didn’t step out of line.
As word came in of the approaching Typhoon, my Vietnamese co-worker Linh and I spoke to our boss in Hanoi.  With the typhoon approaching, planned activities for our cash grant program had been cancelled so Michael gave us options:  1) return to Hanoi until we can restart our activities, or 2) move south into the path of the storm and help the Viet Nam Red Cross (VNRC) in these Provinces prepare and respond. One thing disaster response teaches you is to be flexible.  Another is to put humanity first.  Of course, always we are to put our own safety as a priority, but after that, do I want to be safe outside the affected area if I believe I can not only be safe but also be useful within?
Arriving in Hue, Linh and I soon saw the first visible signs of storm preparation:  A few young men climbing a tree to cut it down so that it won’t be blown over.  Throughout the day, we see many more trees being trimmed and people taking down street ornaments, removing loose sheet metal, and closing up shops.  For our afternoon, I did my laundry in the tub and checked my supplies while watching CNN report on the destruction just starting to be assessed in the Philippines.  The hotel staff came in to tape the windows.
Later in the afternoon, we had a meeting with the Vice Chair of the Provincial Chapter of the Viet Nam Red Cross (VNRC).  He explained the evacuations and other preparedness activities underway.  Over 100,000 evacuated in this province with a total of 600,000 in evacuation centers along the Central coast. We had an excellent conversation about the good work being done and a review of past typhoons and floods.  Lessons have been learned; new procedures to release water and who and when to evacuate are in place.  It feels a little surreal to be at the hotel now and waiting for the storm.  But that is part of preparedness.  Expect (and prepare for) the worst, hope for the best, and flexibly deal with whatever the day’s reality throws at you.
So here I am.  Not in line – nor on the train – just in the path of the eye of the hurricane.
Postlude:
Thankfully, Haiyan veered sharply north and skittered along up the coast of the Central Provinces.  The intensity reduced to a weaker category 1 tropical typhoon as landfall occurred in the Northeast.  As the path changed, the alerts went out and another 200,000 people evacuated in the northeastern province coastal areas.  The total of over 800,000 evacuees was the greatest Viet Nam had ever done before.  We experienced heavy rains and seas with high winds but, luckily, not the kind of devastation many feared. It was still a significant storm event with 10 dead and more than 50 injured along with millions of dollars of damage to homes, agriculture and aquaculture.
With that storm past, the 5th in the last 7 weeks, I went back to the work I came here to do:  assist the IFRC and VNRC with relief and recovery activities associated with Typhoons Wutip and Nari.  These typhoons caused significant damages (over $700 million US in economic loss) to many coastal communities in 9 Central Provinces (nine provinces of Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai) destroying homes and wiping out livelihoods.  The American Red Cross deployed me here as a technical advisor to support the distribution of household items and cash grants to assist some of the most vulnerable (elderly, disabled, single-headed households, etc.) who had been severely affected by the typhoons and did not have sufficient resources or coping capacity to recover on their own.

 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Two Vermont Women Honored for WWII Service with Red Cross


Veterans Day Weekend Poignant Time to Acknowledge Service to Red Cross and Country

 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE… (Castleton and Putney, Vermont – November 8, 2013) This Sunday, November 10th, the Red Cross will honor two local World War II era Red Cross workers who gave so much for their country; one giving their life. Veterans Day seems the appropriate time to pay tribute to their war-time service. Events in Castleton, VT and Putney, VT will provide the backdrop for Red Cross leadership to re-affirm its commitment to the Armed Forces and those that support the organization’s efforts to serve the men and women in uniform.

Maxine Loomis, who was born and raised in Putney, Vermont, received training as a nurse at a Springfield, MA hospital. At age 26, she volunteered to be an American Red Cross nurse and to serve overseas at a hospital in London, England. The year was 1941 and war raged in Europe. While the United States had not yet entered the war, the American Red Cross headed to Europe in support of the organization’s humanitarian mission. Maxine’s commitment and passion for her work was cut short when, in late June 1941, aboard a ship bound for England, her life was lost as a result of a German submarine attack.
 
Maxine Loomis was one of six with the Red Cross, one house mother and five nurses, who lost their lives when the SS Maasdam was torpedoed. To honor her service, the American Red Cross gave the family a plaque that read: 

To Maxine C. Loomis
In honor of
her courage and resolution
in crossing the sea to serve
with the American Red Cross
Harvard field hospital unit
England
1915 – 1941

This plaque was affixed to a grave stone in the family plot in Westminster, Vermont. In 2011, that plaque was inexplicably stolen. Maxine’s surviving sister-in-law, Marilyn Loomis recently reached out to the Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley American Red Cross. To ensure that the memory of Maxine and the bravery and compassion she exemplified are not forgotten, the Red Cross has had made a new plaque, inscribed with the same message as the original. On Sunday, as part of a 2:00 p.m. Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park at the Town Hall in Putney, VT, this new plaque will be presented to the Loomis family and soon will be affixed to Maxine’s grave stone.

If there are questions about other facets to the program scheduled for 2pm Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park at the Town Hall of Putney, contact Laurel Ellis of the Putney Veterans Memorial Committee at 802-387-4489.

The commitment and dedication of Marjorie Burditt Anderson of Castleton, Vermont will also be honored this Sunday as part of special service at the Federated Church of Castleton (504 Main Street), which is slated to begin at 11:00 a.m.. Mrs. Anderson is still an active member of that church and will be on hand to receive a pin and certificate honoring her World War II service with the American Red Cross.  

Marjorie’s tenure with the Red Cross involved service both at home and abroad, including that as a Red Cross Service Club Director assigned to Camp Herbert Tareton near LeHavre, France. Upon her return to the states, she worked for the Red Cross at the VA hospital in White River Jct., buoying the spirits of wounded soldiers. Both abroad and at home, she helped provide relief and a piece of “home” for America’s soldiers. At times this was simply setting time aside to play a game of cards, while at other times it meant sitting down with a wounded soldier and helping to write a difficult letter home.

The American Red Cross honors those who served overseas through the “Our Legacy Continues” project and will present Mrs. Anderson with a pin and certificate this Sunday. In addition, Mrs. Anderson is set to receive a copy of Senate Resolution 471, provided by Senator Patrick Leahy. The U.S. Senate Resolution is an acknowledgment of the work of Red Cross Clubmobile women. It was the Clubmobiles that delivered hot coffee and, as the Resolution says, “a vital connection to home to thousands of servicemen . . . .” While Mrs. Anderson was not a Clubmobiler, those women were her close friends and S. Res. 471 reflects on all of the women who “went to war” in support of our military during World War II.

For further information Sunday’s event (11 a.m.) and the plans of the Federated Church of Castleton to recognize Mrs. Anderson, veterans and others who give to their community and country, contact Rob Noble at 802-558-2293. Noble is the Church’s minister.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Red Cross Recruiting Addison County Volunteers


For the American Red Cross, volunteers make up over 90% of the organization’s work force and are key to fulfilling our humanitarian mission.  The help extended to neighbors in our communities, whether it is in the wake of a house fire down the street or large-scale disaster response, is possible due to this corps of dedicated and compassionate volunteers. 
 
Over the past year, we have responded to 150 house and apartment fires across our region, which includes all of Vermont and 12 Upper Valley communities in New Hampshire.  At present, in Addison County, we have only a handful of volunteers.  We are working to build out this volunteer corps to ensure that we can provide timely responses to county residents.  There are times now where volunteers from Rutland and Chittenden counties provide our response in Addison County.

Anyone interested in learning more about what the American Red Cross is accomplishing in Addison County and how they can be a part of this work is encouraged to come to an information meeting being held at the Middlebury Fire Station, 5 Seymour Street, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, October 28, 2013.  Meet with Red Cross Deputy Chief Response Officer Bruce Pollock and a few of the current members of the organization’s Addison County Disaster Action Team.  Drinks and snacks will be provided.
 
Becoming a Red Cross volunteer does not require any specialized experience.  Any training a volunteer will need is provided at no cost.  Red Cross volunteers come from all walks of life and all ages.  The work of a Red Cross volunteer may not always be easy, but it is rewarding.  “I hear it from our volunteers that the reward for their efforts is knowing that they have helped take care of a person in need during what may be the most trying experience in their life,” said Deputy Chief Response Officer Bruce Pollock.

We hope you will share information about this upcoming informational meeting with friends, family and colleagues in Addison County.  If you have any questions, contact Debbie Lee at 802-773-9159 or debbie.lee@redcross.org.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


RED CROSS PREPARES FOR HEAVY RAINS; 
URGES OTHERS TO DO THE SAME
Heavy rains expected to soak already saturated ground 
 
June 27, 2013 -- The American Red Cross of Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley is urging people to be alert and take steps in advance of the heavy rain expected over the next 24-hours.  A few steps taken before, during and after potential flooding will help ensure people weather the storm safely.  The Red Cross is heeding its own advice as it takes steps to prepare for a potential response to anticipated flooding. 

Already saturated ground that is expected to receive significant rain in the coming days creates a potential need in communities across the region.  The steps being taken by the American Red Cross of the Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley to ready itself include: 

  • Red Cross volunteers have been asked to advise of their availability through the weekend; more than 60 have already responded
  • Vehicles and equipment are being readied
  • Outreach has begun to potential shelter sites
  • Lines of communication are open with State and local emergency planners
  • Red Cross disaster services workers are being lined up to staff the State Emergency Operations Center
As conditions warrant, the Red Cross will look to open shelters to serve communities that may be hard hit by the anticipated severe weather.  Additional services to impacted towns will be assessed in consultation with local and state officials. 

While the Red Cross, locally, is hard at work to ensure it is prepared should the need for its service arise, the organization is urging individuals to take steps to prepare for the potential for rapidly rising water along streams, rivers and in low-lying areas.  The Red Cross suggests: 

  • Before -- Ensure that you have available and ready to go items that you may need if you must evacuate your home.  This includes everything from a flashlight, to a fully-charged cell phone, baby and pet supplies, medications and more.
  • During -- Stay informed and safe during a flooding event by ensuring you have a crank or battery-powered radio; head to higher ground as warranted; stay away from flooded roads while driving; and keep curious children away from flood waters.  Just six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep a person off their feet and a car can be swept away in less than two feet of water.
  • After -- Only return home after it has been declared safe; look for and avoid downed power lines; wear protective gear (gloves, boots, mask) during clean up; and ensure your water supply is safe.
A great deal more preparedness information is available at www.redcross.org.  The Red Cross strongly encourages people to go to this site, take the time to review their safety plan, create an emergency kit for their home and car and to stay informed before, during and after storms.  To put much of this helpful information right at your fingertips, the Red Cross also encourages people to download its free First Aid and other preparedness apps from the iTunes Store or Google Play for Android users.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

SHAFTSBURY FAMILY OF FIVE LOSES HOME TO FIRE
Red Cross Volunteers Provide Hope and Help to those Displaced 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE(Shaftsbury, VT – June 9, 2013)  Last night, a Shaftsbury, VT family of five, including three children ages 5 to 15, lost their home to fire.  The Cleveland Avenue blaze devastated the home, causing the family to lose everything.  Red Cross disaster services volunteers with the organization’s Bennington County Disaster Action Team took action to extend a helping hand. 

Knowing that a displaced family’s recovery begins the moment disaster strikes, the volunteers responded quickly to determine the family’s emergency needs.  The Red Cross made arrangements for the five to stay in a local hotel for the next few nights and provided financial assistance to replace food and clothing lost in the fire.  With these immediate needs addressed, the trained Red Cross caseworkers set a follow up meeting for today to determine what other forms of assistance or referrals can be offered to help in the recovery process. 

“This family, as with each family that loses their home to fire, faces a difficult road ahead,” said Doug Bishop, spokesperson with the Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley Region of the American Red Cross.  “We are thankful for the work of our volunteers and for the support of others in the community that help ensure a Red Cross response is there for each family in need.” 

Red Cross volunteers with the 12 Disaster Action Teams throughout our region strive to meet with disaster victims as soon as possible, ensuring that both emotional support and immediate assistance are available.  In addition to the lodging, food and clothing support that is traditionally provided, volunteers can connect the displaced with Red Cross disaster health and disaster mental health services and offer referrals to state, local and charitable resources in the area that can help the impacted residents as they begin their difficult road to recovery. 

A vibrant volunteer corps helps the organization maintain its ability to provide timely and compassionate assistance to people across our region that have been impacted by disaster.  To be a part of our group of dedicated volunteers, no prior experience is necessary and all the training that is needed is free and will be provided.  To learn more about the American Red Cross volunteer experience, go to www.redcross.org/vermont or contact Angela Russell at 802-660-9130, ext. 107 or angela.russell@redcross.org. 

To help people affected by fires as well as devastating natural disasters, a donation can be made to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief.  Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org, call 802-660-9130, ext. 111, or mail your contribution to American Red Cross, 29 Mansfield Avenue, Burlington, VT 05401.

 

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Friday, May 31, 2013

NEWS RELEASE 

RED CROSS CONDUCTING OUTREACH TO FLOOD-AFFECTED TOWNS
Volunteers to perform damage assessment and provide client casework

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE(Jericho/Underhill, VT – May 31, 2013)  A week ago, heavy rains and flash flooding struck several Vermont towns, perhaps none as hard as the communities of Jericho and Underhill.  While a few affected families have reached out to the Red Cross for assistance, the anecdotal reports of damage would suggest that greater need remains to be addressed.  Tomorrow, the Red Cross is sending three teams of volunteers to Jericho and Underhill to conduct damage assessment and provide client casework services as needed.

 Volunteers working out of the Underhill Town Clerk’s office at 12 Pleasant Valley Road as their base of operation for the day’s work will be supported by three teams going directly into the field.  The damage assessment data will help inform the Red Cross as to what additional supports may be needed in the affected communities.  Members of these volunteer teams will also provide client casework services as necessary, sharing information as to how the Red Cross may be able to support recovery and offering information about other resources that may be available to help a family through the recovery process.

WHO:       American Red Cross

WHAT:     Damage Assessment and Support to Communities Impacted by Recent Flooding

WHEN:     Saturday, June 1st, 9am – 5pm

WHERE:   Jericho and Underhill Vermont

HOW:       3 Mobile Teams and an Operations Headquarters at the Underhill Town Clerk’s Office  (12 Pleasant Valley Road, Underhill).  Community members in need can look for our mobile teams, go to the Underhill Town Clerk’s Office or contact a temporary hotline (tomorrow only) of (802) 355-1209.

While the focal point of the mobile teams will be Jericho and Underhill, members of surrounding communities impacted by last week’s flooding can stop by the Underhill Town Clerk’s Office between 9am and 5pm or call our temporary help line (tomorrow only) at (802) 355-1209.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

RED CROSS MOBILIZES IN WAKE OF DEVASTATING STORMS
Moore, OK tornado and other recent storms create need

The American Red Cross is working around the clock to provide food and shelter to all of those whose lives have been affected by the deadly tornado in Moore, OK, as well as other tornadoes and storms over the past several days in Texas, Kansas and other parts of Oklahoma.  Shelters, food, supplies and other resources have been, and will continue to be, brought to bear.

Key Red Cross Activities in Affected Areas:

  • Shelters are open and emergency aid stations will be open where people can get food and snacks, mental health and health care services and information about what help is available.
  • More workers, supplies and equipment are on the way to help the people of Oklahoma. Almost 30 emergency response vehicles are enroute to distribute food, water and relief supplies to people in need.
  • The Red Cross is working with the Southern Baptist Convention, a frequent disaster relief partner, who is making two kitchens available with the ability to make tens of thousands of meals a day. The Red Cross also has kitchen support and relief supply trailers on the way to help those forced from their homes.
  •  Red Cross disaster mental health workers are available to help people cope with the aftermath.
  • We also are operating shelters and supporting people affected by Sunday’s storms in Shawnee and other parts of the Oklahoma City area.
  • The Red Cross will be on the ground in these affected areas for the foreseeable future to help people get back on their feet.
Activities in our Region:

  • For those who are looking to support the relief operations in Moore, OK and other areas hard hit by tornadoes over the past few days, donations can be made at www.redcross.org, by texting REDCROSS to 90999, or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.
  • Red Cross volunteers across the country, including our own region, have been asked to update their availability status so that this information is known as additional resources are mobilized in the coming days.
  • Our experience is that after a large disaster, many people have the impulse to learn more about how they can volunteer.  Throughout the region, over the next two weeks, we are offering a class entitled “Disaster Services:  An Overview.”  This introductory class is the first step in becoming a Red Cross volunteer.  It runs 3 hours and is being offered on the following dates and locations:
    • Burlington, VT – May 28th at 6pm – 29 Mansfield Avenue (Red Cross office)
    • Rutland, VT – June 3rd at 6pm – 117 Strongs Avenue (Red Cross office)
    • Brattleboro, VT – June 4th at 6pm – 81 High Street St. (Red Cross office)
    • Bennington, VT – June 4th at 6pm – 120 McKinley Street (Bennington Rescue)
To sign up for these classes, go to www.redcross.org/vermont and click on “Volunteer.” 
Reconnecting with Friends and Loved Ones:
The Red Cross “Safe and Well” website is active, helping to reconnect people with loved ones in the storm affected areas.  To access Safe and Well, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell.  Once at that site, you can click on “Search Registrants” to see if your friend or loved one has registered.  Disaster victims can also update their Facebook and Twitter status through the Safe and Well website.
Coping with Disaster: 

In addition to bringing mental health resources to bear in Oklahoma for victims of recent tornadoes, the American Red Cross knows that those far from the scene of a disaster can be impacted emotionally.  The following tips may be helpful to consider as we continue to hear the news of devastation: 

  • People may be experiencing a variety of difficult feelings and thoughts – fear, anger, confusion, shock, disbelief, sadness and grief. These are all normal feelings associated with experiencing a disaster like this.
  • Reacting to a disaster like this can affect not only how someone feels, but the way they think and what they think about, their sleep, their daily lives and the way they interact with others. Children and the elderly are especially at risk.
  • People should try to limit their exposure to the disaster.
  • They should reach out and accept help from others and stay connected with family and other support systems.
  • Allow children to feel upset and encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts.
  • Return to a daily routine as much as possible.
Red Cross and the blood supply: 
 
·    The Red Cross stands ready to help meet the blood needs of patients in and around Oklahoma City if needed. There is currently enough blood on the shelves to meet patient demands.
·    Type O negative blood is often used during emergencies, when there is no time to determine the patient’s blood type. A situation like this highlights the importance of already having enough type O negative blood on hand at a moment’s notice. We encourage eligible donors with O negative blood to make a blood donation appointment as soon as they are able.
·    The Red Cross has the ability to move blood around the country to where it is needed most during shortages, or in times of natural or man-made disasters. Through its national inventory system, the Red Cross is able to support the shipment of blood and blood products wherever and whenever they are needed.
·    We depend on generous volunteer blood donors to provide lifesaving blood for those in need – each and every day – not only during times of national disaster.  Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.