Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Frederick Bw’Ombongi

View More: http://emilyraephotography.pass.us/wmrecc-5-28We are continuing a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

This year for our Hometown Heroes Celebration, we’re incredibly honored to recognize Frederick Bw’Ombongi for his contributions to not only the West Michigan community but also his efforts internationally. When I first met Frederick in his office at Spectrum Health, he was very humbled to be nominated for the Henry Dunant Global Impact Award, which recognizes an individual who has looked beyond their backyard to serve and improve the lives of people from around the globe. Frederick embodies this spirit and truly enjoys his work locally and internationally.

The Angel of the Battlefield: Clara Barton

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March is Women’s History Month!

Clarissa Harlowe Barton, Clara, as she wished to be called, is one of the most honored women in American history. She began teaching school at a time when most teachers were men and she was among the first women to gain employment in the federal government. Barton risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field during the Civil War. At age 60, she founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and led it for the next 23 years. Her understanding of the needs of people in distress and the ways in which she could provide help to them guided her throughout her life. By the force of her personal example, she opened paths to the new field of volunteer service. Her intense devotion to serving others resulted in enough achievements to fill several ordinary lifetimes.

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Restoring Family Links: Makiwa and Motema

MakiwaWritten by Alexys Lemans

International disasters, migration, war, and conflict leave millions of people all over the world in need of assistance each year. As a worldwide system,  the International Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are able to help families everywhere bridge the gap caused by these issues.

Makiwa Rashidi fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2002 due to the armed conflict around her. Fleeing can be a complicated matter and she was separated from her family—across countries and oceans; from DRC to South Africa to right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan—until the Red Cross helped reunite Makiwa with her loved one, Motema Dedieu.

Motema Dedieu had plans to follow Makiwa to South Africa but he never showed up. He wasn’t able to leave Uvira, the city where they lived together in DRC. For a short period of time, Makiwa and Motema were able to connect through telephone. They spoke daily to ensure one another’s safety until one day, Motema stopped answering. A group was sent to find Motema in Uvira but there was no trace of him or his family.

In 2012, Makiwa was relocated to the United States. She contacted the American Red Cross of West Michigan to start a case in October 2014—she wanted to find Motema and reunite with him.

Restoring Family Links (RFL) offers hope to families that are victims of conflict and separation. When separation happens, the Red Cross is there to help, whether it is to deliver a message to a loved one overseas, to locate missing family members, or even to reconnect Holocaust survivors to long-lost relatives. With the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations all around the world, the Red Cross case workers have helped more than 5,000 families connect with their loved ones. This includes searching for family members, restoring contact, facilitating reunions, and working to determine the fate of loved ones who remain missing.

“Restoring Family Links is a remarkable program,” said Daniel Kim, the International Services associate and the RFL caseworker at the American Red Cross of West Michigan. “It truly demonstrates the extent to which the Red Cross spans. It really is worldwide and it allows us to reach families who need help everywhere.”

Thanks to the Restoring Family Links program and the help of hard working Red Crossers, Makiwa reconnected with Motema early in March 2015. After he was separated from Makiwa, he fled to Uganda and is currently a refugee there. The Red Cross is working with Makiwa to take the next steps in uniting the two loved ones.

To learn more about the reconnection process, please visit here.

Please contact Daniel Kim at (616) 456-8661 ext. 5203 or Daniel.Kim@redcross.org for more information about International Services in the West Michigan chapter.

Hometown Heroes 2015 Profile: Sister Carmen Rostar

sistercarmenrostarThis week we are beginning a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

The American Red Cross is so pleased to present Sister Carmen Rostar with the Caroline Campbell Community Impact Award. This award honors an individual or organization that has made an extraordinary impact on the West Michigan Community.

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12 Days of Holiday Safety

1. Prepare your vehicle for traveling to grandmother’s house.

Make an emergency kit and include items such as blankets or sleeping bags, jumper cables, fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type), compass and road maps, shovel, tire repair kit and pump, extra clothing, flares, tow rope.

2. Drive your sleigh and reindeer safely.

Avoid driving in a storm, but if you must, keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.

3. Help prevent the spread of the flu.

Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Use sanitizing wipes to disinfect hard surfaces such as airplane tray tables, luggage handles, cell phones, door handles and seat armrests.

4. Prevent hypothermia by following Santa’s lead.

Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

5. Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities.

Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid; properly hold and feed a child; take emergency action when needed; monitor safe play and actively engage your child; and some may be certified in Infant and Child CPR.

6. Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts over an open fire.

Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking and be alert. Keep anything flammable – such as potholders, towels or curtains – away from your stove top. Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared or carried.

7. Be a lifesaver during the holidays and always.

The Red Cross recommends at least one person in every household should be trained and certified in first aid and CPR/AED. Your local Red Cross chapter has conveniently scheduled courses and can have you trained and certified in a few hours.

8. Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer.

When you designate a driver who won’t be drinking, you help make sure a good party doesn’t turn into a tragedy. A good host ensures there are non-alcoholic beverages available for drivers. The designated driver should not drink any alcoholic beverages, not even one.

9. When the weather outside is frightful, heat your home safely.

Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.

10. Cut down on your heating bills without being a Grinch.

Get your furnace cleaned by a professional; change the filters regularly. Make sure heat vents aren’t blocked by furniture. Close off any rooms you aren’t using and close heat vents or turn off radiators in those rooms. Use either insulating tape or caulking strips to surround your windows and door moldings. Put up storm windows or storm doors to keep the cold out.

11. Don’t move a muscle, until they buckle.

Each person in your vehicle should have their seat belts securely fastened before driving off. Ensure children are buckled up and their car seats are installed appropriately based on their age and size. Children 12 and under should always sit in the backseat.

12. Resolve to Be Red Cross Ready in the New Year.

You can take one or more actions to prepare now, should you or your family face an emergency in 2013. Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday from the American Red Cross.

http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-12-Days-of-Holiday-Safety