Illinois Region Red Cross Volunteers Honored at Virtual Recognition Celebration

On August 19th, our region hosted the first ever Virtual Volunteer Recognition Celebration to honor the 3,225 dedicated volunteers in the Illinois Region! Our volunteers serve 12.4 million people in 88 counties across Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. They make the Red Cross mission possible!

The celebration was a way to share positive stories happening across our region, but also to honor those who have gone above and beyond. We were proud to hand out our Volunteer 5C Awards and the Clara Barton Award. The 5Cs stand for Compassion, Collaboration, Creativity Credibility and Commitment. Two winners in each of these categories were nominated by their fellow volunteers!

Compassion: This is awarded to a volunteer who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to improving the lives of those we serve and to treating each other with care and respect.

Winners: Angela Marinelli and Jim Maloney

Angela Marinelli has been described as thoughtful, committed and genuine. Her fellow volunteers say she shows compassion in every role she has taken on with the Red Cross. On the Service to the Armed Forces team, she works with veteran clients with the greatest and most urgent needs. She always goes above and beyond to assist these clients with understanding and warmth.Angela routinely navigates difficult subjects with veterans and their families in our communities.Her compassion extends to her colleagues, as well.She is the first one to show concern for her teammates during difficult times.

Jim Maloney has been described as strong, inspirational and kindhearted. Jim is wheelchair bound from a disability but doesn’t let that limit his dedication to the Red Cross mission. He works countless hours as the duty officer on weekends and holidays. He signed up for three four-hour shifts for the Sound the Alarm telethon and continually beat the other operators to answer the call. He is gentle and kind with those calling in for assistance and takes special care to ensure he is never late to any meetings. Even in a blizzard, Jim will make sure he has the transportation to get to meetings and trainings. Jim is an inspiration to all of us on how to live your best life.

Collaboration: This is awarded to a volunteer who has gone above and beyond to work together as One Red Cross family, in partnership with other organizations, and always embraces diversity and inclusiveness.

Winners: Sherri Parker and Scott Clarke

Sherri Parker has been described as dedicated and loyal. She has been a Red Cross volunteer for more than eight years. She is a retired nurse who began her volunteer journey as a Disaster Action Team member for Region Area One, however a few years into her role, she experienced some medical issues prohibiting her from taking part in DAT responses. This did not turn Sherri away from the Red Cross mission, as she then got involved with Biomed, supporting a long-standing bi-monthly blood drive in Princeton. She oversees the drives, schedules appointments, ensures that canteen supplies are provided, and performs the donor ambassador responsibilities on the day of the blood drive. Sherri shows exactly what One Red Cross truly means!

Scott Clarke has been described as dedicated and a champion. He serves as the primary American Red Cross liaison to the State of Illinois. He has spent countless hours in the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Emergency Operation Center and even more hours in meetings developing and improving response plans. What matters most to Scott is speaking up for and on behalf of those without a voice at the table. He views every policy and plan through the lens of what is in the best interest of the most vulnerable among us.

Creativity: This is awarded to a volunteer who demonstrated excellence in seeking news ideas, being open to change and always looking for better ways to serve those in need.

Winners: Mary O’Brien and Helen Blank

Mary O’Brien has been described as inventive, perceptive and steadfast. Mary primarily serves as the Onboarding and Engagement Lead in SAF but is also an exception volunteer for Development. She is a coach and mentor to staff and fellow volunteers. Her calm nature and creative spirit have been an irreplaceable asset to the team and when challenges arise, the team breathes a sigh of relief knowing that Mary is on our side and will find a solution. Mary leads the way during SAF’s Brew Crew coffee dates with volunteers, our Volunteer Engagement Incentive Program, revamping MEPS recruitment strategies, hosting fun and festive volunteer meetings, and adapting onboarding and training techniques to our new COVID-19 environment. Mary’s innovative and clever approach to empowering and equipping volunteers has undoubtedly led to a happier team and improved services provided by SAF to our clients.

Helen Blank has been described as adaptable, considerate and diligent. Helen assists with EDGE and is very technologically savvy. She is also a DPM volunteer partner, a member of the DAT team, an ERV driver and shows her creativity in so many ways. When a wrench gets thrown in her day, Helen forges ahead to tackle that problem. She is very imaginative, flexible and collaborates well with teammates and staff members. She is always looking for a solution and that requires her talent in creativity.

Credibility: This is awarded to a volunteer who made significant strides in ensuring we as Red Crossers act with integrity, are transparent guardians of the public trust and honor our promises.

Winners: Charlie Sharp and Dorean Stephens

Charlie Sharp is described as passionate, determined and reliable. Charlie became a volunteer during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Over his 14+ years of service to the Red Cross he has taken on many different roles and responsibilities. He is a volunteer that other volunteers look up to and respect. He has pride in his work and a deep passion for the Red Cross mission which he enjoys sharing with others in his community. Charlie is an integral part of the team, maintaining and strengthening our partnerships in the Dekalb and Sycamore areas. This was illustrated by his ability to forge a partnership with the Family Assistance Center in Dekalb county during the multi-unit fires in Dekalb and Sycamore in 2019. Charlie continues to thrive as a volunteer leader who we can count on when needed.

Dorean Stephens is described as having integrity, being honorable and dependable. Since Covid-19, she is only a phone call away. She is determined and committed to the Red Cross mission of serving people in a time of need or during a disaster. She is seen as someone that people can always count on to help out and carry out the Red Cross mission.

Commitment: This is awarded to a volunteer who demonstrates what it truly means to hold ourselves accountable for defining and meeting objectives, delivering on our mission and carefully stewarding our donor funds.

Winners: Sean and Kristen Flanagan and Susan Kuehl

Sean and Kristen Flanagan are described as committed, caring and concerned about their community. They both go above and beyond for their community! Sean has spent countless hours preparing himself as a leader and volunteer. Not only does he train for disasters through the American Red Cross of Illinois and other regions Red Cross training, he also recently took coursework to be certified in disaster preparedness and response through FEMA, all to be a better Red Cross volunteer. He aims to be the best prepared he can be to provide the best service to those affected by disaster. In May, Sean was part of DR that responded to flooding in Northeast Illinois. During this time, he handled the weather briefings for the whole Illinois Region. He continues to provide briefings now and trains others in what to look for. In May, Sean was asked to aid in a mass care feeding operation that took place during the same DR. His commitment went so far as refusing to find a substitute when he got a call telling him his father had died a couple hours before the feeding was to take place. Kristen was part of that effort as well. Her combined support and care for the Red Cross mission makes her a team player always. If there is a void, Sean and Kristen fill it and take ownership of duties with great care. Sean is the volunteer that can be counted on and strives to be a jack of all trades. He is forever checking and double checking his work to ensure nothing goes amiss. Above all, the Flanagans do all these things with impartiality, neutrality, and all other values under our American Red Cross umbrella.

Susan Kuehl is described as organized, driven and passionate. As the logistics lead for the region, Sue is constantly working to improve systems and set-up. She works non-stop often putting in 40+ hours weekly. She is quick to mentor new volunteers and has a vast understanding of systems and organization which she is always willing to helps understand. She spends significant time organizing Sound the Alarm events and is always ready to jump in when there is a need.

To end the evening, we presented the Clara Barton Award, one of the highest awards the American Red Cross bestows on volunteers. It recognizes service in volunteer leadership positions held over a period of years.

Winners: Claudia Blackman and Dave Boyles

Claudia Blackman has been described as steadfast, committed and caring. Claudia has served as a dedicated volunteer for more than 50 years. She has remained focused on and committed to the mission of the American Red Cross through countless changes. Claudia’s positive and solution-focused perspective has helped team members navigate through changes. Claudia’s commitment to our clients, our volunteers, and our partners have made Southern Illinois stronger and more resilient.

Dave Boyles has been described as dedicated, innovative and persistent. When presented with a challenge, Dave brings forth his professional experience and education to find a solution or to improve a process. When Remote Response Teams were created, Dave was the first one to sign up for what was to be a new, ground-breaking way of responding. He applied his skills to develop a decision flow chart for the remote teams to use, bringing together information and instructions. Dave takes pride in everything he does and does not rest at the initial effort. Dave’s knowledge, experience, patience, and dedication are sought after at the National level. He is a true asset to the American Red Cross as a whole.

We hope, more than anything, that next year we can celebrate our volunteers in person!

Written by Hannah Allton, Regional Communications Manager

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