Celebrating Alden Cohen, long-time Red Cross Volunteer

Celebrating Alden Cohen, long-time Red Cross Volunteer

Celebrated volunteer, Alden Cohen, passed away on December 24th at the age of 82. Alden was a Red Cross volunteer for 65 years and taught thousands in First Aid, CPR, AED, disaster relief and community preparedness.

“Alden was one of the nicest people you would ever be fortunate to meet. I knew him for more than 10 years, and worked with him in his role as a volunteer instructor. He was a compassionate, hard-working, and dedicated volunteer for the Red Cross,” says Yvette Alexander-Maxie.

He was an active DAT responder, assisted during major disasters, and volunteered his time to help with fundraising. Alden was also well known for the thoughtful gifts that he would leave for colleagues – each left with an uplifting note and anonymously given.

“Alden trained me as a Red Cross Responder. We did several fires together and through him I learned to be kind and patient with clients. He will be missed. I enjoyed seeing him just come into the office always with a smile,” says Ray Carter.

Alden found time to volunteer with other organizations including the Evanston Police Department and Community Emergency Response Team. In 2006 he was recognized as the Evanston Senior Volunteer of the Year and in 2011 was given the Spirit of Service Award. For over 10 years he volunteered with Literacy Chicago teaching immigrants of all ages English, American culture, history, and civics. Alden was a US Army veteran and was awarded the Army Commendation Ribbon for his service.

His humor, wit and creativeness was valued so much by everyone who worked with him. He was an incredibly generous and kind person and will be missed by his Red Cross family.

“I am truly heartbroken to hear this news,” says Michelle Patel. “Alden was a great volunteer, mentor, friend, and gift to our world. His generosity and patience changed me. He showed me how to make a difference in our clients’ lives. He showed me how to inspire other volunteers. I will never forget the impact he had made on me and countless others.”

Thank you for donating blood!

Thank you for donating blood!

January is a critical-need time for blood especially when holiday breaks and seasonal weather often reduce blood donations.

ABC 7 Chicago once again generously hosted the annual Great Chicago Blood Drive on Jan. 9, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency and the Drake Oak Brook Hotel. While helping to save lives, participants enjoyed entertainment from Medieval Times and received a free ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive T-shirt.

The event collected a total of 684 units of blood! Watch live coverage from ABC 7 Chicago.

Thank you to all blood donors, volunteers, and sponsors for your generosity!

Couple Recovers After Destructive Home Fire

Couple Recovers After Destructive Home Fire

“We hit rock bottom,” said Nick Tedeschi. “And the Red Cross gave us a start.”

Nick and his wife, Shirley, were going about their daily routine on Feb 13, 2016, when their condo caught on fire. They were left with the clothes on their back. “You never expect, when you leave for the day, to come back and have lost everything,” said Nick. Their Valentine’s Day plans were derailed as they tried to recover.


Nick and Shirley lost everything in the home fire.

The Red Cross responded to the fire, caused by a next door neighbor’s cigarette, to help them get back on their feet during the immediate recovery after their loss.

Nick reflected on that time, “I was totally gutted out.”

He talked about the months following the fire as a very difficult time. He would wipe his tears away and keep it inside while he was at work, delivering supplies to customers throughout the loop. He didn’t want anyone to know.

Nick and Shirley showed resiliency, and even humor, during a difficult time. Nick said he watched his house burn down while eating a bowl of chili he had picked up on the way home. He laughed, looking back on it, because the chili was from a local chain called Firehouse Subs.

They moved into her daughter’s basement for a few months until they were able to purchase a new home. “We were blessed tremendously,” Nick reflects.


The house that Nick and Shirley purchased after a fire destroyed their previous home.

Now, he and his wife live in a house and, Nick says, they do things differently. They triple check everything before leaving the house, they put in new smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and they keep flammable things away from their house – they don’t even have a grill. “We have backyard BYOF parties: bring your own food,” said Nick.

In 2017, Nick plans to volunteer for the Red Cross to answer telephones at a Red Cross telethon. “You guys did so much. It gave us a starting point.”

Learn more about the American Red Cross Home Fire Prevention Campaign.

By: Cat Rabenstine

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

This has been a very busy year. So far in December alone, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois  has already responded to more than 100 home fires.

Fire responses are occurring at a rate of 4 fires per day, so we’re also actively helping families prepare for disaster. As a result of our efforts, nearly 7,500 smoke alarms have been installed in at-risk neighborhoods and over 40,000 have been provided youth education in 2016.

From the South Holland flooding, to national deployments to Louisiana and Tennessee, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois has been all over the region and the nation.

Thank you for all your hard work. Whether you are a staff member, a valued volunteer, or a committed donor, the Red Cross is so grateful for all that you do.

Please watch this message below and celebrate all the great work you have done this year, supporting people to prepare for disasters, providing direct response to those affected by disasters, and walking people through recovery after a disaster.

Red Cross Celebrates Holidays with Veterans

The holiday season is a special time for the valued partnership between the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois and the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center.

The Red Cross was honored to volunteer at the Lovell holiday party. Veterans like Nathaniel Davenport, who served in Vietnam, enjoyed a children’s choir and dessert, along with the company of friends and volunteers.


A volunteer, Nathaniel Davenport, and Chaplain Lyle Swanson at the holiday party.

“I hope we never have to do something like that again,” Nathaniel reflected with gravity on his time in the military. But while the children sang, he smiled. “The is the best one so far,” said Nathaniel, “The kids are great.”

Nathaniel sat next to a friend, Chaplain Lyle Swanson, a retired navy chaplain who used to deliver Red Cross messages (an emergency request to contact a service member). One time, he received a Red Cross message himself, telling him that his mother had a stroke. The Red Cross enabled him to get home with enough time to say goodbye to his mother before she passed away.

“It was 32 years ago almost to the day,” said Chaplain Swanson.


Ralph Barzowcsi and Gloria Cardenas.

Ralph Barzowsci, who also served in Vietnam, was enjoying the festivities with his care companion, Gloria Cardenas. They share meals together and do activities, like go to the mall.

The Red Cross also collected gifts for veteran families in need to make sure their holiday was a special one.

Learn more about both holiday programs in the video below!

Chicago Winters Bring Home Fires

Chicago Winters Bring Home Fires

Every year, Chicago winters bring frigid temperatures and an increase in home fires. The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois responds to 3-4 home fires daily. So far in December, that response has already reached 71 home fires.

On average, 7 people die every day from a home fire, 36 people suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day, and over $7 billion in property damage occurs every year.

Photos by Carlo Heathcote.

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Can your family escape in just 2 minutes? You can keep your family safe with 2 simple steps.

Step 1. Practice your 2-minute drill. Make sure your family can safely escape a home fire in under 2 minutes. Use our worksheets to plan and prepare your 2-minute drill today.

Step 2. Test your smoke alarms monthly. Make sure you and your family are alerted as soon as a fire is detected. If the smoke alarm isn’t working, change the batteries.

ARC Chicago Home Fire Responders

You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to safety tips for winter weather and power outages. The app also contains weather alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends in one free, easy-to-use app for mobile devices. The app can be found in the app store for someone’s mobile device by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to redcross.org/apps.


Volunteers Map the Unmapped to Aid Disaster Relief

Volunteers Map the Unmapped to Aid Disaster Relief

Missing Maps is a global effort to map the most vulnerable places in the developing world. It’s something the American Red Cross considers immensely valuable to aid disaster responders.

On December 8, Motorola Solutions organized a massive volunteer event where employees from around the world pitched in to create maps in Malawi in preparation for a measles campaign.


Volunteers for Motorola Solutions pitched in for Step 1 below. (Learn more about the process at missingmaps.org!)


Started by the American Red Cross, the British Red Cross, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, and Doctors without Borders, these free and open source maps are used by local NGOs and individuals to be able to respond to crises with solid on-the-ground data.

Mike Dwyer, a Motorola Solutions employee and Missing Maps volunteer for about a year, said that he feels motivated by the immediate impact of the work. He’s happy to help in a way that provides direct support for those on the ground. Listen to him talk about the event (it was a bustling, busy place, so there is background noise!).