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!

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.

Honoring Military Heroes and their Families

Honoring Military Heroes and their Families

Every day at the Red Cross, we honor those who served in the armed forces and their families by providing support before, during, and after military deployment.

Today, we offer special thanks to those who have served and those who continue to serve their country through the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois.

Listen to a message from the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois.

Learn about a few veterans who continue to serve through the American Red Cross.

aliciatatenadeauSaving lives, love for family, and call to duty are three life missions for U.S. Army Brigadier General Alicia Tate-Nadeau that forever have tied a piece of her heart to the American Red Cross.

As the top commander at the Office of Emergency Management & Communications (OEMC), Alicia is charged with protecting the lives of more than three million people and property in Chicago. Appointed as OEMC’s Executive Director in June by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alicia, who also represents the city on the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Board of Directors, brings leadership to these roles from both her personal and military life.

While stationed in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2014 as an Army liaison officer, Alicia was walking near the Mediterranean Sea when she noticed a crowd gathered around a man on the ground. Her instinct was to help. Trained in first aid by the Red Cross, she administered CPR until first responders arrived.

Around the same time, halfway around the world, another heart close to her was ailing. Notified through the Red Cross Hero Care Network, the organization’s Service to the Armed Forces emergency message system, Alicia learned her brother, Ryan, was scheduled to undergo major heart surgery. Doctors were uncertain if Ryan would survive, and she wanted to be there, holding his hand at his bedside.

Two years later, while Ryan still waits for a new heart, Alicia is grateful the Red Cross helped her family – never thinking she would be the one to get that call for request for leave. She advises hundreds of relatives of service members before deployments to save that Red Cross refrigerator phone number magnet as a lifeline to keep families connected in any part of the world.

Joining the region’s Red Cross Board of Directors this year is an extension of her heart to serve the community she loves.

“Everything I’ve done—from working with people, technology, foreign affairs, humanitarian assistance and civil support—has brought me here.” she said. “I’m connected to the mission.”

howardgoldsteinHoward Goldstein is known among the Chicago Red Cross casework unit as “the closer.”

When volunteers connect with residents after a disaster, like a home fire or flood, the Red Cross immediately starts the navigation process to help families recover. Once those services are identified, Howard steps in to ensure people receive medication replacements, counseling, housing resources, etc.

Howard’s motto is, “Every case that gets opened, has to get closed.”

Howard also serves as the Veteran’s Administration Volunteer Services (VAVS) Red Cross liaison to Chicago area VA hospitals. When he’s not attending yellow ribbon events, you’ll find him at the Hines VA food pantry in Hines, Illinois. He feels at home there, among his comrades, having served a medic in Vietnam field hospitals from 1968-1969 as Specialist 5th Class in the U.S. Army.

TyraOliver.jpgCaptain Tyra Oliver has devoted her military career and volunteer service to helping others feel better – inside and out.

The U.S. Army veteran serves as a Reservist at the 55th Medical Detachment Combat Operational Stress Control (COSC) unit in Indianapolis, Indiana. While stationed in Kuwait, she ran a behavioral health clinic at Camps Arifjan and Buehring.

Back home, Captain Oliver helps those battling trauma as a member of the Red Cross disaster mental health team in Chicago. She also responds to home fires and helps families cope with loss.

A volunteer since 2014, Captain Oliver also facilitates reconnecting workshops offering emotional support for service members and their families.

How Safe Are We? Disaster Preparedness Summit Targets Cyber & Workplace Security

CHICAGO, IL – Technology touches every aspect of our lives from social interaction to managing personal finances. The cyber world makes life easier to manage, but it also exposes us to threats that can cross the wire. At the same time, we’re also seeing the workplace as a new target of attacks increasing at an alarming rate.

So how safe are we?29108317925_378f4bbd43_o

That’s what participants at this year’s annual American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Summit investigated Aug. 18 through engaging workshops and discussions.

The event, held at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center, provided a forum for shared learning and experiences among local leaders representing more than 100 business, government and community organizations. This year’s summit focused on cyber and workplace security to improve the resiliency of the Greater Chicago region in responding to disasters, in whatever forms they take.

29031066061_ab1514a56d_oWeeks before we are about to mark the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Patrick G. Ryan, Founder, Chairman & CEO of the Ryan Specialty Group, spoke about his personal and corporate experiences leading the Aon Corporation during the disaster.

Moderating the day-long discussions were Celena Roldán, Chief Executive Officer and of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois, and board member and chair of this year’s summit, Brenda Battle, Vice President, Care Delivery Innovation, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“We have great collaboration among our corporate and government partners, in addition to all the agencies that have a hand in helping to make our community safer and more resilient to any type of hazard,” said Battle.

28489667643_6f66812842_oDiscussions covered cyber and workplace security issues affecting both public and private sectors. Speakers emphasized organizational self-awareness of the human, physical, and network components of a cyber system. In particular, the ability to identify the data susceptible to attack, potential adversaries, and individual and organizational points of vulnerability is key in the maintenance of cyber security.

Experts also discussed effective response tactics in the event of a workplace security breach and the importance of preparing a carefully prescribed plan. Speakers addressed the significance of issues beyond IT: human resources, legal, privacy, public relations, and most importantly, communication. These were among the critical considerations mentioned in successfully responding to cyber security breaches.

29031147181_8832a58d86_oSpeakers and other topics included:

  • The Hacker/IT Professional (Sharyn Menne, Brandon Fason, James McJunkin)
  • Cyber Security: Protecting the Public/Private Sector, Defending Against an Attack and Closing Trap Doors (Ricardo Lafosse, Kirk Lonbom, Bryan Salvatore, Robyn Ziegler)
  • Cyber Risk: Who Owns It? (Marcus Christian, Jim Hartley, Paul Hinds)
  • Cyber Extortion (Kirk Havens, Thomas F. Minton, Richard Spatafore, Judy Quinton)
  • The Intersection Between Privacy & Security (Gino Betts, James K. Joseph)
  • The Intersection Between Privacy & Security (Paul Steinberg, Alicia Tate-Nadeau)
  • The Fallacy of Workplace Security (Brian Baker, Thomas Henkey, Paul Huerta, John Kiser)
  • The Financial and Legal Impact of Workplace Violence (Keith D. Blakemore, Ann Bresingham, Thomas Byrne)
  • The New Face(s) of Workplace Violence (Thomas R. Mockaitis, Ph.D., Jenna Rowe, John Walsh).

“While nature can wreak havoc on a community, the same is true with cyber breaches and workplace violence. As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, much of our work at the Red Cross on local level is to help build more resilient communities in Northern Illinois, such as through the dialogue and partnerships we form at this conference,” said Roldán.

Next year’s summit will cover topics of public health and bio-terrorism.

The event was possible thanks to the generous support of Presenting Sponsors: Aon, CSX, Motorola Solutions, and Zurich of North America; Readiness Sponsor: Grainger; and Community Sponsors: Illinois Medical District, JLL, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business; with additional support from Discover and the United Way.

Go here to view more photos of the 2016 American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Summit.

29108254835_c77f7128d7_oStory by: Jessica Hayashi, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

 Photos by: Christopher Doing, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

“We Have Our Hands in the Community:” GAGDC Joins Red Cross for Smoke Alarm Rally in Auburn-Gresham

CHICAGO, IL – As part of a nationwide fire prevention campaign, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois teamed up with the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC) on Sat., July 23 to install smoke alarms and teach families about fire safety.

Linda Johnson is the program manager for the GAGDC and said, “it was a necessary partnership. We have our hands in the community and have established relationships in the community so it was easier to transition into the homes from a partnership level.”

28471828816_e75f5f1373_oTogether, 60 volunteers from both organizations installed more than 400 smoke alarms in the South Side neighborhood.

Christa Hunt lives in the neighborhood and volunteered through GAGDC. She said she was glad to be part of the smoke alarm rally, “there definitely are a lot of homes that need it in the neighborhood.”

As volunteers went door-to-door installing alarms, residents welcomed them into their homes. They called neighbors who also needed the alarms to tell them about the Red Cross.

“Usually people my age they get out just fine, but children and seniors, those are the biggest casualties and I would hate for something to happen when I could have prevented it,” Hunt said.

The American Red Cross is known for responding to emergencies, but will continue its effort to install alarms and prevent them before they occur.

“Because of the tremendous efforts of our volunteers working alongside our partners like the Greater Auburn-Gresham Community Development Corporation, hundreds of families are now safer and know how to escape their home in less than two minutes if a fire should occur,” said Harley Jones, Regional Disaster Officer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois.

28242657960_26df0d6f94_oState Senator Jacqueline Collins, Alderman David Moore of the 17th Ward, and Alderman Howard Brookins, Jr. of the 21st Ward also stopped by to thank volunteers from the GAGDC and Red Cross.

See more photos of the Auburn-Gresham Smoke Alarm Rally here.

 WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved ones from a fire. They can become a Red Cross volunteer. They can also help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

28220493950_3dbe62bcc5_oWritten by: Eleanor Lyon, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Photos by: Danny Diaz and Ira Meinhofer, Public Affairs Volunteers, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois



Community Comes Together to Honor Local Heroes

(CHICAGO, IL) – The  American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois recognized people who demonstrated incredible courage, compassion and kindness to help both neighbors and strangers at the 2016 Annual Heroes Breakfast April 28 at the Hilton Chicago. The event brought together people of all ages and backgrounds, representing the diversity of the Red Cross community.

Recipients displayed their passion for preventing human suffering and gratitude for the opportunity to acknowledge people who are underserved and overlooked. Dr. Samer Attar of Northwestern Medicine, honored with the Global Citizenship Award, travels to war-torn Syria to provide medical care at underground hospitals. He also thanked the doctors, nurses, and countless others who join him in risking their own lives to help others.

While Dr. Attar’s service takes him to the other side of the world, other honorees, such as the Law Enforcement Hero, Officer Lourdes Nieto of the Chicago Police Department, has dedicated herself to helping young people in our own backyard. Officer Nieto is an advocate for human trafficking victims and gives these victims a voice by educating the public about these crimes in Chicago.

Lt. Hans Ziegenbein and Felix Serrano, honored with their team from Fireboat 688 of the Chicago Police Department with the Firefighter Award, expressed gratitude for the honor as well as their desire to recognize other members of the firefighting community.

Such remarkable humility was a common theme among all recipients, which included:

  • Good Samaritan (Mike Robeson)
  • Blood Services (Diane Calamaras, APN)
  • Heritage Award (David D. Hiller)
  • Community Impact (Dr. Daniel Ivankovich)
  • Law Enforcement (Officer Lourdes Nieto of the Chicago Police Department)
  • Emergency Medical Assistance (Sergeant First Class Tony Genovese & Staff Sergeant Jeremy Adkins of the Illinois National Guard)
  • Global Citizenship (Dr. Samer Attar of Northwestern Medicine)
  • Disaster Services (Lazenia Adams)
  • Firefighter (Lt. Hans Ziegenbein, Engineer Robert Bloome, Firefighter Christopher Heinz, and Firefighter/EMT Felix Serrano of the Chicago Fire Department)
  • Youth (Caley Trepac), and
  • Nurse (Darice Bohne, RN, BSN).

The extraordinary contributions these heroes have made to the community, their personal commitment to helping others, along with their incredible humility, truly exemplify the spirit of the Red Cross.

Young volunteers were also present. A group of senior and junior high school students from Geneva, Illinois included a group who work with special education students, help tutor younger students, and take action as part of Operation Snowball to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and drug use among youths.

The 2016 Heroes Breakfast was made possible thanks to the generosity of our key sponsors: Anixter, Bank of America, BMO Harris Bank, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Boeing, Mesirow Financial, Motorola Solutions, Northern Trust, Walgreens, Aon, CDW, ComEd, Grainger, ITW, NES Rentals, PwC and USG.

Story by: Jessica Hayashi, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Photos by: William Biederman, Christopher Doing and Danny Diaz, Public Affairs Volunteers, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Chicago Police Officer Lourdes Nieto Honored as American Red Cross 2016 Law Enforcement Hero

IL-Law-Enforcement-Award(CHICAGO, IL) – For young people who’ve been abused and traumatized, Lourdes Nieto gives them hope. At a safe house in Chicago for young girls and teens, the Chicago police officer is working to stop human trafficking in the community.

“It’s never been about what they’ve been through – if they want to share, that’s their process,” she said. “Recovery shouldn’t be reliving their story over and over again.”

Many of the stories are the same for the young people she helps, who were sold into prostitution and pornography by people they trusted. The commonalities they share are vulnerability, neglect and low self-esteem. Police and law enforcement officers are some of the last people they trust, but Lourdes has been able to break down those barriers.

“They’re used to people exploiting them, pimped out by boyfriends, gang members, teachers, even their own family members – people who were supposed to protect them and then sell them for sex in exchange for drugs or money,” she said. “Their trust was at zero, but you can rebuild it when they see that you care.”

A 12-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, Lourdes joined the force in 2003, patrolling the Grand Crossing neighborhood on the city’s South Side. She responded to robberies and homicides, but it was the girls on the street and those who were recovered in raids that opened her heart to stop human trafficking.

Lourdes brings her own 16-year-old daughter on safe house visits to cook meals and interact with girls whose lives took a drastically different turn. She wants her daughter to see it’s a tough world but also a compassionate one. She teaches anti-trafficking courses at the Pilsen library and hopes to bring more awareness and training to schools, as well as to her fellow police officers. She also wants others in the community to speak up.

“If you see something that doesn’t seem right, say something,” she said. “Call us at the Chicago Police Department, so victims don’t fall through the cracks and they are not forgotten.”

The Law Enforcement Award is presented by Motorola Solutions Foundation to a professional police officer(s) or related law enforcement official(s) who exhibited heroism either in response to an emergency situation or through an ongoing commitment to the community.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information:

 Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois