Tag Archives: Community

Who’s Your Hero? | Hometown Heroes Event Series 1

This post is a recurring series celebrating the heroes in our own community. As we count down to the 2016 Hometown Heroes Celebration, we would like to take a moment to recognize that while not all heroes are alike, all heroes impact our lives. 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 21 from 6:00PM-9:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information, please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

It occurs to me that the word “hero” may mean different things to different people. I hadn’t really considered the word other than in a lighthearted “you’re my hero” to my husband until I went to a fundraising lunch for a local nonprofit adult skills-training center.

The lunch speaker, a recent graduate, shared her life story and achievements as a single mother in her late thirties who lived in the inner city of Grand Rapids with her two boys. Life wasn’t easy; in fact, it was incredibly hard. Upon hearing about the school-to-work program, she decided she wanted more for her two boys and took a huge risk. While maintaining her low-paying day job, she signed up for the pharmacy technician program and worked hard each day to lift her family single-handedly out of poverty, graduating at the top of her class, and securing a well-paying pharmacy job in town.

As she told the story of her journey, she shared how she noticed the difference in her two boys. As they saw how hard she was working at school, they too became better students. She became a role model to her next generation and those around her as she changed her family’s economic trajectory.

As a mother myself, I listened to her story with tears in my eyes. Her hard work and perseverance became my inspiration. This woman, whose story lives in my heart even when her name has been forgotten, became my hero that day.

These are the heroes of our community, every community—these men and women who overcome almost insurmountable odds to provide their family a better quality of life. They may not get the public recognition they deserve, but these men and women make our community the great place it is today.

 

Ellie Frey Zagel is the Director of the Family Business Alliance and 3rd Generation Trustee of the Frey Foundation. She along with her husband and 2 year old son live in East Grand Rapids with their dog, Via. Ellie can be reached at Ellie@FBAGr.org.

Fighting HIV/AIDS is a Grassroots Effort

Thursday, December 01, 2011 —

December 1st is World AIDS Day. For the past 23 years, organizations and individuals across the globe have united on this day to fight one of history’s most deadly and feared diseases and show their support for those living with it.

But fighting HIV and AIDS is more than just a health issue. It’s a human issue. For all of the medical advancements in understanding the physical causes and nature of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the disease remains one of the most stigmatized illnesses, particularly impacting people who are already vulnerable and marginalized. In other words, those most susceptible to contracting and spreading the virus are also the least likely to have access to prevention and treatment options.

For that reason, the American Red Cross and the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network are making significant efforts to bring HIV programs to marginalized communities at higher risk of infection in 14 countries.

“Around the world, the Red Cross is well poised to reach vulnerable communities,” says Andy Meléndez-Salgado, the senior HIV advisor with the American Red Cross. That’s because in addition to providing funding to HIV projects, the American Red Cross has made behavior change a key focus in its prevention education programs.

“Before you can enable people to seek help, you have to make sure they’re in an environment that supports that connection,” says Marianna Kuttothara, an American Red Cross program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean. To help curb the spread of HIV, as well as to reduce social stigma associated with the disease, the American Red Cross is working to improve HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviors.

The Caribbean region is home to the second largest percentage of people living with HIV. In 2009, the American Red Cross launched the Caribbean HIV and AIDS Program which works with the Red Cross in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Guyana. The goals of the program are to increase knowledge and understanding about the disease, change local attitudes and build prevention capacity. It provides peer education, condom distribution, counseling, testing and other support to those living with HIV. It also trains local people to be HIV educators, to lead support groups and perform one-on-one outreach to youth, sex workers and other populations at higher risk.

In recognition of World AIDS Day, HIV peer educators are taking advantage of technology to provide additional outreach opportunities. They are using social media and text messages to expand their outreach and to target anti-stigma messages to specific communities.

The American Red Cross is dedicated to providing support for persons living with HIV and to preventing the spread of the disease through promoting understanding and de-stigmatization among higher risk communities.

You can not Get HIV by loving me.
You can not Get HIV by loving me.
Seven fundamental principles.

Last month, Red Cross representatives participated in the 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference where they presented seminars and displays of their work in combating the spread of HIV.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Volunteer Recognition Picnic Today

Dear Red Cross Volunteers,

Thank you for all that you do to serve the American Red Cross. Thank you for the dedication, the hard work, and the care that you show the Grand Rapids community. We hope to see you all today at the Volunteer Recognition Picnic from 3PM-6PM at Little Pine Island, Grand Rapids, MI. There will be food, games, and festivities along with a time to recognize our extraordinary volunteers from this year. Please bring a dish to share at this potluck picnic.


Click “Volunteer Recognition Picnic” for more information!

Enjoy the picnic! Thanks again for all you do!

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Red Cross Rushes to Help the Devastated South

Wednesday May 4, 2011 — As the scope of the tornado damage becomes clearer each day, the American Red Cross remains hard at work to help the thousands of people affected by this disaster.

Preliminary estimates indicate that last week’s storms destroyed or damaged more than 13,000 homes across six states; more than 10,000 in Alabama alone. According to NOAA, April 27, 2011, now holds the record for being the deadliest single day for tornadoes since 1925.

On Monday night, more than 1,200 people spent the night in Red Cross shelters. The Red Cross currently has 153 emergency response vehicles traveling through seven states to provide residents hot meals. Sixty-two of these are in Alabama, and more than a dozen additional vehicles are headed to the state. Since March 31, more than 3,700 Red Cross workers from all 50 U.S. states have assisted with recovery efforts in 16 affected states.

The Red Cross is working closely with its partners, including the Salvation Army and Southern Baptist Convention, to set up kitchens where meals are prepared before being distributed to affected neighborhoods. Five kitchens are currently serving meals in Alabama.

In addition to providing a comforting meal, Red Cross response vehicles are also distributing thousands of relief supplies to affected neighborhoods, such as blankets, toiletries, gloves, rakes, tarps, coolers and shovels.

With such widespread devastation, having emotional support is vital, so Red Cross nurses and mental health workers have traveled across the country to help people cope with this tragedy.

Muriel Minkler of the Oregon Trail Chapter of the Red Cross traveled to the Belk Activity Center shelter in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to work in the First Aid Clinic there. She and other nurses not only check on people’s physical health, but are also there to listen to their stories and even share a laugh, as she did with James Herrington.

Herrington was visiting Tuscaloosa from Mississippi when he saw the tornado coming down the road at him. He quickly jumped into a ditch and watched as the tornado took his truck into the air, never to be seen again. Although the tornado only passed over him for a few seconds, he said he heard the noise in his ears for six hours.

So far, Red Cross health workers have provided more than 6,200 health and mental health consultations. The Red Cross has also set up emergency aid stations in majorly damaged areas, and health services workers are also assisting people who have lost medications or items like eyeglasses.

How You Can Help
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people affected by disasters like wildfires, floods and tornadoes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcrossggr.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS, and people can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

At the Belk Activity Center shelter in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Red Cross
nurse Muriel Minkler takes a pulse from James Herrington.
At the Belk Activity Center shelter in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Red Cross nurse Muriel Minkler takes a pulse from James Herrington.
American Red Cross

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcrossggr.org or join our blog at https://redcrossggr.wordpress.com/

Severe Spring Weather Affects Most of Country

Thursday, March 31, 2011 —The arrival of spring brings longer days, warmer weather, budding flowers and trees, and thunderstorms. The American Red Cross has several important tips that can help ensure safety during dangerous storms.

Thunderstorms can be deadly. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), lightning injures an average of three hundred people and causes about 80 fatalities each year. As dangerous as lightning is, flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities than any other danger associated with thunderstorms.

At any given time, nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring somewhere on Earth. Thunderstorms occur more in the spring and summer months, but can happen year round. They are most likely to hit during the afternoon and evening, but can happen any time of the day or night.

The Red Cross recommends taking these steps if a thunderstorm hits your area:

  • Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts.

As the storm approaches, take shelter in a building. If you are driving, pull off the roadway and park. Stay in the car with the windows closed and turn on the emergency flashers. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity inside and outside of the vehicle. If you are inside, you should:

  • Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)
  • Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.

If you are caught outside during a thunderstorm and cannot reach a safe building, try to avoid: high ground, water, tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.

If someone is struck by lightning, check them for burns and other injuries. If the person has stopped breathing, call 9-1-1 and begin CPR.

Being prepared for emergencies can help save someone’s life. You can call your local Red Cross chapter for information about first aid and CPR training. For more information on what to do to stay safe during these dangerous Spring storms, visit the preparedness section of the Red Cross web site.