Help now: Type O blood shortage

Spring is a busy time of year for many people, but the need for blood and platelets doesn’t let up. Last month, more than 11,500 fewer donations were collected than needed as spring break schedules and end of the school year activities contributed to a low turnout of blood donors. As a result, the American Red Cross has a critical shortage of type O blood and urges type O donors to give now to ensure blood is available for patients in need of lifesaving treatments or facing traumas.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of type O blood available for emergency rooms – where it can be most critical. Type O donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in. Type O blood is the most needed blood group by hospitals but is often in short supply.

All eligible donors – especially type O donors – are urged to roll up a sleeve as soon as possible. In thanks for helping meet patient needs, those who come to donate blood with the Red Cross May 1-June 10 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email. (Restrictions apply, see amazon.com/gc-legal. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.)

Don’t wait – help now! 

  1. Make an appointment to give blood by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).  
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a type O #BloodShortage and ask them to give now.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

Make an appointment to give now. 

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R. Scott Falk – In Memoriam

The American Red Cross lost a beloved and dedicated humanitarian this past weekend as R. Scott Falk passed away suddenly of natural causes. Scott was a true visionary and leader. He modeled a long-term legacy of dedication and commitment to the Red Cross. 

For the past 12 years, Scott had been a guiding force as a member of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Board of Directors. He joined the Chicago board in 2007 during a time of transition and growth at the Red Cross. Scott’s passion, strategic insight, drive and dedication were often the impetus that accelerated the Chicago & Northern Illinois Region forward into a position of leadership among the organization. 

Scott’s contributions and legacy at the Red Cross are astounding. He served in various board leadership roles in Chicago, including Board Chair and Chair of the Philanthropy Committee. Scott also chaired the Heroes Breakfast committee, propelling the Chicago Heroes Breakfast to be one of the most successful fundraising events in the city of Chicago and across the Red Cross regional network. 

Scott was an incredible humanitarian. His philanthropic leadership and dedication included not only his generosity, but also his personal embodiment of our mission,” said Celena Roldán, regional chief executive of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross. “Scott passionately cared about our staff and volunteers. He had great humility and was insistent that he was not a volunteer. He felt he had not earned the title of volunteer because to him the real heroes were the volunteers who dedicated their time to the mission, responding to disasters and doing direct service to individuals.” 

Scott Falk and American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldán

Scott also served at the national level on the National Philanthropic Board (NPB) upon its inception in 2012 and as Chair from 2015-18.

As Chair of the NPB, Scott worked alongside the Red Cross president and CEO and chief development officer and provided volunteer leadership for the Annual Chapter Board Campaign. In this role, he advised regional executives and board chairs across the country to develop, share and implement fundraising best practices.

Scott Falk with American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern

“Scott had a huge heart and was steadfast in his incredible support of the American Red Cross,” said President and CEO, Gail McGovern. “He was a kind, compassionate, brilliant, funny and humble man, who graced us all with his steady presence. It was a privilege for me to get to personally know and work side-by-side with Scott, and he will forever be thought of as a treasured member of our Red Cross family. I know that I speak on behalf of so many Red Crossers when I say that I am deeply saddened by Scott’s passing.”

According to Chief Development Officer, Don Herring, “Scott’s leadership of the NPB was engaging and energizing. During his tenure, board members increased giving by 23% with average gift size growing by 63%.  Scott successfully helped to create our Influencer Strategy. During his final year as chair, board members raised an unprecedented nearly $102 million for our mission. Members of the NPB will miss Scott’s kind smile, generous spirit and wise counsel.”

Scott was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where he served for almost 30 years in mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance.  He received numerous accolades over the years, having been listed in Chambers as a leading lawyer for over a decade, and was known at Kirkland & Ellis for his mentorship and leadership in the firm.

He is survived by his dear wife Kim and their children, Meredith and Jack.

Scott’s humility, enthusiasm, commitment, passion, motivation and knowledge are unmatched. We salute the legacy of a wonderful and beloved colleague, who truly had an impact on the American Red Cross. You can read more about Scott’s exceptional life in his obituary.

Written by Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Joy Squier

Volunteer from overseas helps with North Lawndale “Sound the Alarm” event

When David Barnfield was just 9 years old, he was already learning the fundamentals of life-saving skills like CPR through the British Red Cross while living in Yorkshire, England. He was active as a volunteer and says being with the Red Cross was a great experience.

A young David Barnfield (right) is pictured below at 16-years-old at a youth event in Germany with the American Red Cross.

Over 60 years later, David jumped in once again to help out as a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois’ “Sound the Alarm” campaign to install free smoke alarms in North Lawndale on May 18. David’s adult son, Mark, is now an employee of the American Red Cross which is what led to the volunteer experience becoming a family affair.

Mark (L) and David(R) Barnfield are now part of a multi-generational Red Cross family.

David’s son, Mark, says having his dad there as a volunteer was a memory he will cherish forever.

“I don’t often get to share experiences with my Dad because we live so far apart. It was special to have him there so he could see what we do every day, and meet some of the amazing people I get to share my workdays with,” Mark said.

David says in his youth, he became a CPR trainer and taught CPR skills to groups. He was also trained in “mother care” and “home nursing duties” through the British Red Cross volunteering to help families and the elderly.

Now, David can say he’s volunteered on multiple continents with the Red Cross and says no matter where you are in the world, the Red Cross is an organization looking to help people.

“I’m sure in a world emergency we’d all work together to acheive a common goal,” Barnfield said.

See more photos from the North Lawndale event here.

Learn more about volunteering at a “Sound the Alarm” event here!

Written by Red Cross Communications Manager Holly Baker.

Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Shane Carlin

Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Shane Carlin

Today, as we celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’d like to highlight Shane Carlin, Director of Development for Individual and Foundation Giving for the Chicago & Northern Illinois region. Shane was born in Seoul, South Korea and came to the United States when he was six years old after being adopted by an Irish-American family. He is among the many men and women who play an important role in helping the American Red Cross fulfill its humanitarian mission every day.

Shane takes to heart his work at the Red Cross. He and his team are responsible for raising funds that allow the American Red Cross to continue fulfilling its lifesaving mission and helping those affected by disasters. Shane was able to experience first-hand the work Red Cross volunteers do, when he deployed to Iowa after tornadoes struck the northern part of the state in 2018, “When you experience that, it’s so much easier to go to those people who are thoughtful and wanting to give what they can to the Red Cross,” explains Shane. 

While in Iowa, he helped with fundraising and delivered food to affected residents. Shane describes the time he spent in Iowa helping with relief efforts as very moving and inspirational. He recalls how grateful people were with the help the Red Cross was providing. Shane particularly remembers the encounter he had with a child, “Just to see the gleam on his face…and just to be excited to get the food and a little comfort of a stuffed animal was really neat,” says Shane.

For Shane working with the Red Cross has been an eye opener. He says that it was during his interview that he learned about the different services the Red Cross provides to the community and adds, “I was really moved by how many lines of services we have. I knew about blood, about dealing with hurricanes but I didn’t know that we went to fires, two or three times a day…and definitively I didn’t know about the Service to [the] Armed Forces.”

Working at the Red Cross has been a very fulfilling experience for Shane and when asked about his most memorable moment with the organization, he says that it is generosity of donors, “I think what’s more memorable are the folks that give you just $10 thinking that’s not enough.” He adds that it’s inspiring to see the willingness of people to give whatever they can to help. As he puts it, every dollar counts to advance the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross.

Shane is as proud of the work that he does with the Red Cross as he is proud of being Asian American. He sees the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as a great opportunity to bring awareness and education about Asian Americans adding, “It’s something that I value deeply in terms of the Asian American Movement, the educational aspects of the importance of who we are, what we’re about.”

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please visit: https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html

Written by Regional Marketing & Communications Manager Isis Chaverri

American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Celebrates 12 Local Heroes at Annual Breakfast

On May 1, 2019, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois hosted its 17th Annual Heroes Breakfast.  It was a warm and inspiring event, filled with hundreds of people, all gathered to celebrate the actions of twelve local heroes.  The morning’s honorees were those that acted with bravery, selflessness and courage and left an indelible impact on the lives of so many. Read the background on each of the 2019 heroes this year here.

Some of the 2019 Heroes pictured with CEO Celena Roldan

Walgreens was the signature sponsor of this year’s event.  I had the opportunity to speak with Richard Ashworth, the President of Pharmacy & Retail Operations of Walgreens.  He reflected on the “community aspect” of the Red Cross and Walgreens, in that they are both active and prominent in local communities across the United States.  He said that “when something happens in this country, whether it be a fire or whether it be a tornado or a hurricane, the local activation of the people that live in that community to rebuild and to bring back, that’s something that was near and dear to Walgreens’ heart and the partnership with the Red Cross is what really makes that happen.”

Honorary Chair Richard Ashworth speaking to a private reception ahead of the 2019 Heroes Breakfast

Megan Bugg, recipient of the Youth Hero Award, was one of one of the twelve heroes that were acknowledged.  She was recognized for her major contributions in raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer.  At the age of 13, Megan was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, known as Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS).  The next few years were very challenging, as she faced many difficult treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.  Megan decided to take her struggle and turn it into a spotlight for childhood cancer.  She spoke to the Illinois General Assembly and at CureFest in Washington D.C., as well as helped coordinate fundraisers at her school.  As a result of her efforts, Megan helped raise over $164,000 for the research of childhood cancer and brought federal funding issues surrounding the illness to the fore.  Currently, only 4% of federal funding goes to childhood cancer research.  When accepting her award, Ms. Bugg, said that she is “so grateful to the Red Cross for noticing [her] work and letting [her] spread the word.”  Megan continues to bring awareness to this incredibly important issue and says that she is “not going to quit, ever.”

Megan Bugg speaking after accepting the Youth Hero Award

The morning was filled with stories of heroes, like Megan.  Officer Mark Dallas, the Law Enforcement Hero, stopped a would-be mass shooter at Dixon High School in Dixon, IL.  Officer Dallas exchanged fire with a shooter at the high school, where 182 students were practicing for their graduation ceremony.  Just before the shooter entered the gymnasium where the students were rehearsing, Mark was able to stop and ultimately apprehend the suspect.  Remembering that day, Officer Dallas says that he “felt like a dad to all those kids” and that “by the grace of God [he] was able to help.”

Law Enforcement Hero Officer Mark Dallas

Like Officer Dallas, Mary Carmody, Military Hero, has made the needs of others one of her life’s top priorities.  She created the Midwest Veterans Closet, an organization that provides much-needed assistance to veterans.  Mary’s establishment gives free food, clothing, job and computer training, household items, and even automobiles that have been donated, to those have have served or are currently serving in our nation’s military, helping 550 people per month.  Without Mary, these veterans would often times have nobody else to turn to for help.  When delivering her remarks on being the honoree of the award, she kept the focus on the veterans.  In a touching moment, Mary asked all of those who had served to stand and spoke directly to them, saying “thank you for my freedoms… and I think I can speak for everyone when I say thank you for all of our freedoms.”

Some of the heroes including Detective Sergeant Paul Clampitt (left) and Military Hero Mary Carmody (right)

This year’s recipient of the Heritage Award went to Rick Waddell for his astounding dedication to philanthropic and charitable endowments, as well as leadership in society.  As CEO of Northern Trust, Rick continued the company’s belief in giving back.  He has used his position to bring his associates together to engage with the community.  Mr. Waddell is also active in the Nature Conservancy, advocating for environmental change and speaking with the youth in underprivileged communities.  Northern Trust and the Red Cross share a long history of partnership.  Rick told me that what he finds so special about the Red Cross is that they are “there when people have the most need – whether it’s a natural disaster, armed forces services members and their families returning home, the American Red Cross, since the 1880s… [has] a brand about them that people trust when they need it most and they deliver.  And I just think when you have that trust and that ability to help people when they are at their lowest moment, it’s an incredible organization and an incredible service that the American Red Cross provides.”

Heritage Award Recipient Rick Waddell giving a speech

Local heroes, like those honored at the Heroes Breakfast, make outstanding contributions to their fellow human and to society every day.  Acknowledgment of the sacrifices and contributions of these heroes is so important and something that is very meaningful for the Red Cross.  Our sincerest gratitude goes out to this year’s class of honorees!

See all of this year’s hero videos on YouTube here.

Nominations for next year’s heroes is now open.  If there’s a hero in your life, nominate them here!

For more information on how to become a volunteer for the Red Cross, visit https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html

Written by Red Cross Communications Volunteer Vicky Arias

Red Cross installs 739 smoke alarms in 243 Austin neighborhood homes this weekend as part of “Sound the Alarm”

On Saturday morning, April 27, 2019 local volunteers, firefighters, and Red Cross staff began to gather at Columbus Park in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood to kick off another successful Sound the Alarm event. Among many of the volunteers and firefighters in attendance at the event were many supporting partners including Chicago Fire Commissioner Richard C. Ford, Alderman Chris Taliaferro of the 29th Ward, and volunteer teams from local organizations like AllState.

“We’re here because this is something we truly care about… Because I can’t say it enough, smoke alarms save lives” said Fire Commissioner Ford. The Red Cross Sound the Alarm series is part of the larger Home Fire Campaign initiative to mitigate the risk of fatalities in home fires. On average, 7 lives are lost every day to home fires. Most of these fatalities include small children and the elderly.

Commissioner Ford addresses the volunteers before “Sound the Alarm” installations begin.

Many people believe that they have at least 5 minutes to escape their home in the event of a fire. In reality, that time is only about 2 minutes. Commissioner Ford says that “Thanks to the efforts of the Red Cross, hundreds of people will have that extra time if a fire does break out. That extra time is provided by a working smoke alarm.”

Red Cross CEO Celena Roldán described how Sound The Alarm had a direct impact on the lives of a grandmother and her grandson in the Austin neighborhood just a few short years ago in December 2016. “I am proud to say they received a free Red Cross smoke alarm installation, coupled with Home Fire safety education. They experienced a home fire and escaped safely, ” says Roldán.

Volunteers for Sound the Alarm started the day with a quick training on how to install fire alarms in local homes around the Austin neighborhood. As the morning rain started to freeze and turn to snow, the Red Cross organized teams of volunteers to go out and start the installations. Hundreds of appointments had been collected in the previous weeks of local residents asking for a smoke alarm. “It may seem simple to knock on someone’s door. It may seem simple to go out and install a smoke alarm in someone’s home… But that’s nearly 5,500 residents [in the Austin neighborhood] that are affected [by Sound the Alarm].” said Alderman Taliaferro.

Thank you to all of our volunteers who helped out on Saturday with installing nearly 1,000 smoke alarms!

At the end of the day, there were 739 smoke alarms installed and 243 homes were made safer in Chicago this Saturday. This adds to the 684,260  households made safer by the Home Fire Campaign since it began in 2014.

Volunteer Morrie Bowie installs a smoke alarm in a local home

There are many ways to get involved with the Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign in your neighborhood. Visit www.redcross.org/chicago to learn more about how to prepare your home to prevent, respond to, and recover after a home fire. You can also make a donation or join the Red Cross volunteers to Sound the Alarm and save a life!

Written by Red Cross communications volunteer Lexi Wyrick.

For the Second Time Mother Nature Forces a Mother and Daughter from Puerto Rico out of their Home

For the Second Time Mother Nature Forces a Mother and Daughter from Puerto Rico out of their Home

Nine months ago, María Elena Báez left her beloved Puerto Rico and moved to Freeport, Illinois with her daughter. María Elena, who is from San Juan, enjoyed the small town feel of Freeport when she first came there to stay with relatives, two weeks after Hurricane María in 2017.

After returning home, she still felt uneasy seeing the devastation brought by María and decided to leave the life that she has known until then to move to a safer place, far away from the threat of hurricanes.

However, on March 16, María Elena and her daughter were forced to leave their apartment in Freeport after the rising waters of the Pecatonica River threatened to flood their new-found home. “I was doing laundry when I noticed the water was getting to our carport, and I told my daughter to gather a few clothes and we left,” said María Elena.

For two nights, she and her daughter slept in their vehicle before seeking refuge in the American Red Cross shelter in Highland Community College. The Red Cross provided María Elena and her daughter with a place to stay and warm meals. Red Cross volunteers also worked closely with her to secure a refrigerated location where she could store her insulin.

However, throughout her stay in the shelter María Elena couldn’t stop worrying about water getting in their apartment and ruining their belongings, “We are starting from zero and with a lot of effort have bought a few things for our apartment and now this. We are afraid our things are going to get damaged,” expressed María Elena.

After spending five days in the Shelter, mother and daughter were able to return home on March 22. Thankfully their worst fear didn’t come true, the Pecatonica River had spared their apartment. María Elena was relieved and very grateful to the American Red Cross, “the volunteers took very good care of us and we thank the Red Cross for helping people like us in time of need.”

Written by Regional Marketing & Communications Manager Isis Chaverri