Today we’re recognizing our 2013 Hometown Heroes event. Here’s a clip from the ceremony http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEhjdanYYZM
Patricia Hamel, of Traverse City, Michigan, is no stranger to being deployed to national disaster relief operations with the American Red Cross. She says that since 2007 she has been deployed to 15 different relief operations across the country. So it came as no surprise when she was asked to travel to Colorado for several weeks this past October. Flooding in parts of the state had caused widespread damage and the Red Cross was looking to its national network of volunteers for help.
(Photo Credit: Robert Miller)
While the nation may have seen Red Cross workers delivering life-saving food, water, and medical supplies on the front lines of the disaster, Pat’s job was largely behind the scenes and away from the cameras—yet just as important to the residents of Colorado. Her role was as a manager of disaster health services. Disaster Health Services, or DHS, is a department of the Red Cross which works to assess residents’ medical needs in a disaster and replace lost medications and medical supplies.
Pat worked primarily out of the Red Cross relief operation headquarters making sure that the disaster assistance centers where residents could go for help were adequately staffed by Red Cross DHS workers. In addition, she was responsible for coordinating the Red Cross emergency aid stations that were sent out to smaller, more rural communities that had been cut off by the floods.
“My job was to make sure the delivery of services to clients goes smoothly and effectively,” she added.
While being on deployment is nothing new to Pat, she also recognizes the unique challenges and features each relief effort brings to the table.
“They (disaster relief operations) are all very unique,” she observed. “They’re unique to the event that took place. They’re in unique parts of our country and they’re unique to the culture of the local people.”
Part of what made the relief effort in Colorado unique was the spirit of the state’s communities.
(Photo Credit:Robert Miller)
“As we were meeting clients’ needs, we were very impressed the resourcefulness of people,” Pat remarked. “This was…a culture that really reached down to help one another.”
Indeed, it takes one to know one, and Pat surely knows what it means to lend a hand to those in need.
For the next few days, Facebook is making it possible for users to donate directly to the American Red Cross either through a notification in News Feed, or directly on our Facebook page. We’re excited and grateful that they are activating this feature to support the massive global response effort following the impact of Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines this past week.
If you visit your Facebook News Feed, you will see this at the top of the screen:
Clicking Donate $10.00 will bring you to a simple payment screen, where you will be asked for your payment information.
Just follow the simple directions to complete the donation, and you’re done!
If you’d like to give a different amount, you can also visit the American Red Cross Facebook Page to make a donation.
100% of the funds raised through Facebook will go to the American Red Cross. All of the donations will be provided by the American Red Cross to the Red Cross groups that are working on the typhoon response. The Philippine Red Cross has been leading this response effort, aiding with search and rescue immediately after the disaster, providing shelter, food, and water, and distributing relief supplies. However, as we mentioned earlier, this has truly been a global response effort. Specialized emergency response teams from Red Cross societies across the globe are moving into the affected area to assist. These include teams with expertise in logistics, disaster assessment, shelter, health, water and sanitation.
To read more about the response so far, please visit this page.
Have more questions?
Why did Facebook decide to do this?
Facebook is a place to connect to the people, places, and things they care about most. In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones, get updates, and to learn how they can help. We regularly work with relief organizations, government organizations, media partners, and private industry to be part of this effort so we can all improve preparation for disasters, contribute to relief efforts, and bring to the forefront the needs of those directly impacted. This is just another way for us to help – and make it as easy as possible for people to help those impacted by the typhoon.
Why hasn’t Facebook done this for other natural disasters?
Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. We regularly work with relief organizations, government organizations, media partners, and private industry to be part of this effort so we can all improve preparation for disasters, contribute to relief efforts, and bring to the forefront the needs of those directly impacted. This is just another way for us to help – and make it as easy as possible for people to help those impacted by the typhoon.
We’re always exploring various options for helping people contribute and assist during a time of crisis. This is just another step towards making the assistance even easier, and we’re committed to evolving our products to find new solutions over time.
Will Facebook offer this for other causes other than natural disaster?
We’ve always exploring various options for helping people contribute and assist during a time of crisis. This is just the latest evolution, and we’ll continue to keep finding new and different solutions.
Why are people in New York and California unable to donate through Facebook?
We are currently working to get approval from NY & CA regulators for direct donations. We hope to have these states up and running as soon as those state regulators give their approval.
Does Facebook get a cut of these donations?
No, all of donations will go to the American Red Cross.
How secure is my payment information?
Your payment information is completely secure. When you make a donation on Facebook, your payment information will only be stored with Facebook and not shared externally.
For additional information on the security of your payment information, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/help/241215262666597
Will my donation be broadcast to my Facebook friends?
No, your donation will be kept private. You can, however, let your friends know via a status update if you would like to share.
Being a Red Cross volunteer means being ready to adapt—just ask Robert. On a Saturday morning last month, Robert Miller received a call from his Red Cross chapter asking him for help. Due to the flooding in Colorado, the Red Cross had put out a call for 16 mass care feeding volunteers and the chapter wanted Robert to submit his name. He agreed and several hours later was informed he would be leaving for Denver the next day.
Leaving for Colorado wasn’t the last time Robert would have to adapt. After arriving at the Red Cross relief operation headquarters, he learned that his role had changed in the disaster operation.
“Upon processing in on Monday, my designation was changed to ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) driver,” said Robert. “I was assigned to the warehouse where ERV drivers were hauling bulk”.
Robert and another volunteer were tasked with delivering food and water to a town in the mountains about 20 miles away. What should have been a short trip into the surrounding mountains quickly turned into a several hour trek as many of the roads had been damaged due to the floods. They received assistance, however, from a familiar source.
As Robert and his partner sat in their ERV in disbelief at the seeming impossibility of their directions, a woman pulled up next to them. She explained that she was a former Red Cross volunteer and offered to help.
“She told us that she had driven ERVs before and that there was no way we would get to our destination the way the GPS was directing us,” said Robert. “Then she told us how to realistically get to where we were going.”
Throughout the week Robert and a team of volunteers delivered and distributed supplies to the communities surrounding Denver. Miller says he was surprised at the community of those in the mountains.
“There are all kinds of people living in these mountains…they all seem to look out for each other,” he noted.
Passing out food and supplies to residents in need, Robert also recognized the independent spirit of the Coloradoans.
“Most people seemed very independent, humbled by their current need and very grateful for what they were receiving, taking only what they needed,” Robert observed. “If we tried to give them something they didn’t think they had a need for, they insisted we keep it for someone who really did.”
Overall, the ten days Robert spent in Colorado were challenging and often unpredictable, but ultimately worthwhile—giving him a deeper perspective on helping others.
“The people who volunteer with the Red Cross are all kinds of people, from all walks of life, just like those we are there to help,” Robert reflected. “I have that in mind whenever I’m thanked for my work—I say ‘That’s OK, at any time I, my family, or my town could be on the other side’.”
- Look for flame-resistant costumes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends costumes made out of synthetic materials like nylon or polyester, which are less flammable than other materials.
- Plan the Trick-or-Treat route and make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children along the planned route.
- Make sure the Trick-or-Treaters have a flashlight. Add reflective tape to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing in order to be seen.
- Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
- Instead of masks, which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see, consider using face paint.
- Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
- Be cautious around pets and any other animals.
WELCOMING GHOSTS AND GOBLINS If someone is welcoming Trick-or-Treaters at their home, they should make sure the outdoor light is on. Other safety steps include:
- Sweep leaves from the sidewalks and steps.
- Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
- Restrain any household pets.
- Use a glow stick instead of a candle in the jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard.
LEARN WHAT TO DO People can download the free American Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. Features of the app include:
- Step-by-step instructions on how to handle the most common first aid situations;
- Videos and animations that make the skills easy to learn;
- Safety and preparedness tips; and
- Quizzes that users can take to earn badges which they can share with their friends on social media.
People can find all of the Red Cross apps in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.
Workers at the American Red Cross call
| American Red Cross volunteer and call center manager,
Leonard Garyson, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
It may or may not be a well-known fact that October is Fire Prevention Month, but the fact is, it should be. There are several unexpected ways a fire can quickly start and consume your home within minutes. Here are three common elements that tend to start house fires, and ways you can easily guard against this tragedy. 1. Flammable Items: Keep at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as stove tops and portable heaters.
2. Lighters and matches: Keep away from children, and NEVER smoke in bed.
3. Electrical outlets: Do not overload the sockets, try to avoid running electrical cords under any carpet or furniture, and always unplug portable heaters when not in use.
Practice Home Fire Safety:
Smoke alarms are the number one cause to fire devastation. There should be at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including sleeping areas. These alarms should be tested monthly, with batteries checked every six months when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.
Fire Escape Plans are important to both instill and practice within your household at least twice a year. For each room, there should be two exits available. Children should also know that firefighters are there to help them. Firefighting equipment can often times look big and scary, so it is important to stress that firefighters are the “good guys”!
If a fire does occur in your home, staying calm and having a plan will be the most effective way to handle the situation. Make sure to crawl low under smoke, checking closed doors by feeling for heat. If the door is warm, use your second way out. Arrive at a set meeting place to account for everyone in the building. Make sure to GET OUT, STAY OUT, and CALL 9-1-1
For more safety tip information, download the Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android.