American Red Cross Seeking AmeriCorps Team Members

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is currently seeking individuals to serve as full-time AmeriCorps team members.  There are currently 21 full-time positions available at offices across the state of Illinois. Anyone looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the community while gaining new skills and experiences is encouraged to apply.

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Safe Families AmeriCorps member Jessica Chencinski says joining AmeriCorps was a great opportunity for professional development as well as her own personal growth. People who have an interest in public health and helping others will thrive here gaining experience serving local communities.

“There is no greater feeling than knowing you can help someone even in the slightest of ways. My service with Safe Families allows me to work with the whole population including children and the elderly,” Chencinski said. AmeriCorps members say the work is rewarding because they have daily interaction with community members regarding safety and emergency preparedness while also serving people of all ages through teaching lifesaving skills.

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Safe Families AmeriCorps members will serve to organize community members across Illinois in making their cities, schools, organizations and households more resilient to emergencies. The member’s primary responsibility will be to present free American Red Cross courses on emergency preparedness, disaster-specific safety, and basic first aid and CPR to both youth and adults in Illinois’ most vulnerable and under-served communities. Safe Families members will also work with local disaster clients to deliver Red Cross services to impacted individuals.

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Illinois’ Disaster Corps

Disaster Corps members will support impacted communities with spontaneous volunteer management and donation coordination in the event of a local or state disaster. Members will work hand-in-hand with local and state government entities, non-profit organizations, and other community organizations to provide timely and meaningful service opportunities to those seeking to assist their own communities after a disaster strikes. Though these positions will be based out the Chicago American Red Cross office, members will have the opportunity to train for and respond to disasters across the state of Illinois. Members will also be involved in local or statewide disaster response activities, community preparedness education, and may be deployed for up to two weeks at a time in the case of a disaster.

There are currently up to 6 full-time positions available, served as 1700 hours in an 11-month period.

BENEFITS:

  • Invaluable experience from a nationally and internationally-respected organization for school, a future job or new career
  • Educational grant of $5920 at completion of service (or max yearly Pell grant, subject to change)
  • Living stipend paid bi-weekly ($15,500 total over 11 months)
  • Basic Health Insurance for AmeriCorps member
  • Subsidized childcare
  • Student loan forbearance (on qualifying loans)

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Successfully serve in the position, serve 35-40 hours a week and meet the 1700 minimum requirement for a full term of service
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Must be 18 years of age at the start date of service
  • Have a valid Driver’s License & clean driving record
  • Pass required criminal background checks
  • Members should also be comfortable working with a wide variety of people from all walks of life and backgrounds, and respect the American Red Cross fundamental principles.

TO APPLY: Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis. Please apply at https://rdcrss.org/2PMar9y

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Through the Heart of a Red Crosser: Touching the lives of the people

Steve Wise is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois who recently deployed to Marshalltown, Iowa after a tornado devastated part of the town in July, 2018. Steve is now sharing some of the experiences he had after helping coordinate resources to help the hundreds of people affected by the tornado.

Whenever the Red Cross responds to a disaster…we often touch so many lives. After the Marshalltown tornadoes hit, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago dispatched two ERV (Emergency Response Vehicles) to help out with feeding those so negatively impacted within the community.

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These teams would drive through the hard-hit neighborhoods and pass out both lunch and dinner with food that was cooked and donated by the Hy-Vee Supermarket Company. On any given day, one ERV would pass out on average 400 plus meals – often times to families that lost everything. And they were able to touch their lives.
As the days wore on, it was common for those assigned to these ERV’s to strike up friendships with those that they would meet and talk with. They would often hear the stories of where residents were when the tornadoes hit – and how they survived. They would see neighbors helping neighbors – no matter what condition their house was in.
Jeff Dorn remembers one day when a car stopped them while driving their route to say “thank you” for what they were doing. In addition, Jeff and his partner Kyle started a “Marshalltown Wall of Fame” – where they recorded the first names of the Children that they met along their way.

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At times like these, touching the lives that you meet – means so much. It can help take away their feelings of despair and hopelessness. And it gives such lives, the chance of better tomorrows.

Through the Heart of a Red Crosser: One year ago in Dallas

Steve Wise is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois who has helped with many disasters including tornadoes, floods, fires and more. Now he is sharing some of his experiences on what it is like to be a Red Crosser and reflecting on the disasters happening one year ago.

Coming up on one year ago, magic happened …within the walls of a what would become a shelter.

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The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas was stood up as a Mega Shelter in response to Hurricane Harvey.  It was set up as a shelter to house and accommodate 5,000 people that were displaced from their flooded homes in the communities surrounding Houston.

The “KBH” as some of us called the space– was basically transformed into a small city.  Inside it you would find housing and feeding, a Walmart popup store, a library and day care, an infirmary with its own pharmacy, and a pet shelter.

Within these walls were many agencies that provided recovery services ranging from – charging or replacing cell phones, to establishing temporary mailboxes, to replacing vital documents that may have been lost, to replacing clothing and personal items that were ruined by water, to registering for FEMA benefits, and to relocating people that were choosing to make the Dallas area their new home.

Within these walls…evacuees found an army of staff and volunteers to greet them…that would take care of them.  On any given day they would have seen 100 plus individuals that were ready and able to provide various recovery services with the skills and talents that they brought.  They came from all over…even from outside our borders.  They came with an open heart…and the willingness to share it with those so needing their help.

As the days turned into weeks…we got to see tears of joy replaced by eyes filled with hope.  We were able to answer the many questions that the evacuees so often raised. We connected people with family members that they were separated from.  We gave people the chance and desire to recover from the odds that they faced when they went back home.

We shared our hearts with those so needing and walked away with many blessings ourselves…from within these walls.

Through the Heart of a Red Crosser: Inside a Red Cross shelter

Steve Wise is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois who has helped with many disasters including tornadoes, floods, fires and more. Now he is sharing some of his experiences on what it is like to be a Red Crosser.

Many of us have heard of the many Shelters that were put up in response to last year’s Hurricanes and now this year’s Wildfires.
In such Shelters you will find people of all backgrounds and races. They will be young and old…in good health and in very poor health. They will come with some belongings that they were able to grab before leaving their home. Or they may come with very little…and only have what they are wearing on their back.
They may come with family members…so thankful that they are all safe. They may come with their pets who are an integral part of their family. Or they may be alone and by themselves – desperately seeking someone to comfort them.
They may come and want to tell you stories of how they escaped the flood waters or fires that engulfed their home. They may know that if and when they go home – they most likely will find utter destruction. Or they may not know how bad it could be or possibly how lucky they are. Which will weigh heavily on them until they are able to see with their own eyes.
But now it is up to us as a Shelter Worker or Volunteer…to hear them, comfort them the best that we can…to give them the time that they need to share with us…and to help in whatever way that we can to get them on their road to recovery.
It is common for our Shelter Residents to be sleeping on cots next to people that they do not know. But as the days wear on…these strange faces will soon become their neighbors…looking out for each other. They will form bonds with each other – and most likely us as well.
As a Red Crosser – we unfortunately will see some very sad sights in a Shelter which will weigh heavily on our hearts. It is not uncommon to see one of our fellow Red Crossers sitting and crying with the arms of another Red Crosser around them. But we must push on and do our best to stay strong…because there are so many people that are counting on us for our help.

Through the Heart of a Red Crosser: The Resiliency of a Community

Steve Wise is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois who has helped with many disasters including tornadoes, floods, fires and more. Now he is sharing some of his experiences on what it is like to be a Red Crosser.

It is truly amazing to see and watch a Community recover from a disaster.  Whether it be a tornado that devastates blocks and blocks of a town – or a fire that destroys many units of an apartment complex – you will see how a community comes together.

Large disasters can affect so many people – and often times those that will struggle greatly to recover from it.  They may not have the means or resources to repair or replace what they lost so quickly and without warning.  So, they depend on others – and often their own community to help them out.

Being out in a hard-hit community like in Marshalltown, IA – it was common to see neighbors helping neighbors.  Whether picking up debris from the many trees that were blown down, to helping repair items torn from a house – you would see a group affair.

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Drone view of the destruction in Marshalltown, IA after a tornado in July, 2018.

For those that were lucky and not impacted – you would see them donating food, clothing, or simply their time however they could.  Local residents volunteered in many roles, often requiring them to be on their feet all day.  They went out of their way to help their fellow resident – and were back the next day to volunteer some more.

We stood up a Resource Center (MARC) to help those in the community that had damage to their homes.  Twenty plus organizations came to provide free assistance – many of which were from outside Marshalltown.  They listened to, may have cried with, and did whatever they could to help out the many families that sought their help.

Such stories are repeated time and time again when tragedy strikes.  Learn to be prepared not only for any disaster that may come your way – but also be prepared to help out your neighbors when they may need you the most.

Through the Heart of a Red Crosser: Being There When You are Needed Most

Steve Wise is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois who has helped with many disasters including tornadoes, floods, fires and more. Now he is sharing some of his experiences on what it is like to be a Red Crosser.

It is commonplace to see Red Crossers responding to all sorts of disasters.

Whether it be helping the residents of flooded homes – to sheltering city residents displaced due to severe storms – to those that have lost everything in a home fire – the American Red Cross is there to help.

When we respond to such events…we are often meeting the families involved  on the worst day of their lives.  It is so common to hear them say that they don’t know what to do or where to turn to for help.

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You can easily see their pain and sorrow in their eyes and hear it in their voices.  Sometimes it is hard for them to put into  words what they have been through or what they will need to help them take the next steps to recover.   And like the majority of us – we always think that that it can’t happen to me.  Imagine for a moment being in their shoes…what would you do?

But we come prepared to share their pain…and share our heart with them…when they need it the most.  We come with open ears and open arms.  We come with supplies to help them get their home back in shape.  We come with food for those so needing.  We come with external partners that can offer them free services to help them recover.

We know at times like these, it can be and often is very emotional for those involved and with much uncertainty.  But we know that if we can provide them initial assistance – it can help mend their broken heart…and give them the chance to regain the life that they lived…before that disaster came their way.

 

Through the Heart of a Red Crosser: The People We Meet on a Disaster Response

Steve Wise is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois who recently deployed to Marshalltown, Iowa after a tornado devastated part of the town in July, 2018. Steve is now sharing some of the experiences he had after helping coordinate resources to help the hundreds of people affected by the tornado.photo 1.jpg

Every time that we respond to a disaster – whether locally or nationally – we often meet people that touch our hearts.  They can be someone who lives in the community affected and just wants to lend a helping hand.  Or they could be someone that has a role or position in a place where the Red Cross stands up a particular event or response.

They could be someone that has not volunteered before and has been touched by the negative impact that a community has suffered.  Or they could be someone that lives outside the area – and felt compelled to travel to the area affected to just help out.

Such people come from various cultures and backgrounds and from places that we may not have heard about.  They may do things differently than what we are used to and may have looked at us as an outsider prior to the disaster that occurred.  But now they are there with us – to help us out with our response efforts in any way that they can.

These people are like angels to us – and to those that we are trying to help out.  We may spend time talking with them, laughing with them, and sweating with them.  During our time with them – we will get to know them and see what they are all about.  They may touch us deeply and most likely leave a lasting impression on us.

We may not see them again which may be uncomfortable for us – but we are so thankful that we were able to meet them and that they shared their heart with us.  And we also hope that one day again…our paths will cross.