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.


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.

Rick Waddell Honored as 2019 American Red Cross Heritage Award Recipient

rick_waddellTo Rick Waddell, the importance of philanthropy cannot be understated. He shares, “to whom much is given, much is expected[…] I have been very fortunate in my career at Northern Trust, and to now be in a position to give back to our communities of my time, talent and our resources is extraordinarily important.”

Rick has been deeply involved both personally and professionally in driving impact with organizations like United Way, the American Red Cross, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Kohl’s Children’s Museum, where Rick served as Chair of the Board of Trustees. In that role, Rick led the planning for the museum’s new, expanded facility in Glenview, that opened in 2005.

Connie Lindsey, Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Northern Trust describes Rick’s legacy around CSR as rooted in a few things. “One is understanding that corporations are a part of the community.” The other, is rooted in kindness.

Rick’s philanthropic commitment is deeply present in Chicago’s civic community, where he has driven critical changes to education and budget issues. He is member of the Board of Directors of Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Chicago Urban League, and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. He is Vice Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago and serves as Chairman of its Civic Committee. He also serves as executive advisor to the Metropolitan Planning Council.

His involvement does not end there. Rick has been involved in a number of CEO searches and has ensured those incoming leaders are set up for success. He serves on the Board of Directors for AbbVie and IBM. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Rick, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Northwestern University, joined Northern Trust in 1975. He held leadership positions in Commercial Banking, Strategic Planning and Wealth Management. In 2003, he became head of the Corporate & Institutional Services business unit and, in 2006 was named President and Chief Operating Officer of Northern Trust. He was named CEO on January 1, 2008, and Chairman in November 2009. Waddell has served as Chairman since November 2009 and ended his decade-long role as Chief Executive Officer on December 31, 2017.

“Every Northern Trust leader, […], has positioned Northern Trust in the community as an organization that gives back.  I feel I have continued that tradition, and hopefully have given back in the history of those that have preceded me.”

He and his wife Cate have always been very committed to the importance of education, especially early childhood education. In this next chapter, he and his family are working to establish a foundation that will focus on education, youth development and civic principles of our founding fathers.

The Heritage Award is given to an individual or organization whose leadership and actions greatly enhanced the welfare of our community.

Follow #RedCrossHeroes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates about the 2018 Heroes. For more information about the 2019 Heroes Breakfast, click here.

To see more of Rick’s story, watch his video here

Nancy Romanchek Honored as American Red Cross 2019 Nurse Hero

NR_2Nancy Romanchek has made it her mission to open doors for Muslims to have access to healthcare, hospice care and intentional care of the spirit. Nancy has worked in various capacities throughout her 30-year career as a nurse, from the Medical ICU in the VA hospital, to medical cost containment. Her journey has now led her to passionately advocate for the underserved Muslim population; reducing stigma and providing access to health care.

In 2001, Nancy practiced as a Faith Community Nurse in a Catholic church in Wisconsin. It was during this time when she first noticed that Muslims had no visibility on the interfaith healthcare stage. After relocating back home to the Chicago area in 2006, Nancy felt a calling to serve patients and families experiencing death and dying. She found that despite the U.S. census numbers, a Muslim patient presence was missing in this arena as well. They were not seeking the specialized care to which they were entitled.

At the same time, Nancy learned that chaplains trained in interfaith ministry to the sick, were not receiving education on Islam in Seminary.  In the hospital setting, they were being asked to serve Muslim patients, with no preparation to do so. Nancy approached staff at the Lutheran School of Theology and together they developed a two-day workshop. As an increasing number of chaplains attended each session, Nancy hoped that they would each return to their own communities to promote peace and offer improved services to Muslim patients and their families through a greater understanding of Islam.

Since then, Nancy became a member at Islamic Foundation North (IFN), a mosque in Libertyville, where she quietly but persistently made inroads to establish a Faith Community Nurse position. With the support of the IFN community members, she has taught CPR/AED and First Aid classes, developed a Mom’s group, helped initiate a Women’s Advocacy Committee, and began a Mental Health Initiative that is focused on providing culturally proficient ways to serve those in need.

Most recently, Nancy collaborated with a team to establish the IFN Health Clinic, a free clinic for the uninsured and underinsured in Lake County. While most visitors are Muslim, the clinic is open to anyone in need. The clinic offers physician consultations, access to lab work, radiology and low- cost medications. The staff also connects patients with social services, like Medicare.

Nancy believes that her path in nursing and Islam were destined to converge.  According to Nancy, “Nurses are holistic thinkers, are flexible, and recognize that faith is colorblind.”

The Nurse Award is presented to a licensed and practicing nurse, nursing student, or retired nurse who exhibited heroism either in their response to an emergency situation or through an ongoing commitment to the community through acts of kindness, courage or unselfishness in response to an identified need.

To see more of Nancy’s story, watch her video here.

Megan Bugg Honored as 2019 American Red Cross Youth Hero

MB_1At 13 years old, Megan Bugg’s life would be forever changed due to a devastating cancer diagnosis.

On Christmas morning 2014, Megan noticed an odd lump on her arm. Doctors told Megan she had an aggressive stage 4 cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), a cancer that attacks the body’s soft tissue. Just one month later, the eighth grader began 54 weeks of intense chemotherapy and radiation, something Megan remembers as being “absolutely brutal.”

“I would have five-day stays in the hospital, getting chemotherapy every single day; a really hard, aggressive therapy. It felt like poison going through my body,” Megan said.

Since 2015, Megan has relapsed three times resulting in 90 weeks of treatment and over 120 radiation treatments on six different areas of her body. The side effects of these treatments took a toll on Megan’s body, leaving her with nerve damage, memory loss, severe nausea, stomach pain and more. The treatments were harsh, and nearly cost Megan her life when she contracted sepsis and was in the intensive care unit for two weeks.

This difficult battle helped Megan, a once shy 13-year-old, to become an outgoing advocate for childhood cancer research. Now, Megan regularly speaks to crowds and shares her story, in hope of raising awareness and inspiring change for kids with cancer.

“This whole thing has made me a stronger person,” Megan said. “I think people need to know it [cancer] isn’t like the commercials, it’s absolute torture for kids.”

After some investigating, Megan discovered that of the federal money budgeted for cancer research, less than 4% goes to childhood cancer. She was shocked to see the data and knew she had to take action, not only for herself, but for all the kids battling cancer around the world. Since that time, Megan has spoken to members of the Illinois General Assembly about this and was a 2018 featured speaker at Washington D.C.’s Curefest. She also became acquainted with Dr. Walterhouse, a physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, who researches ARMS, and decided to raise funds to fight the disease. Through social media and fundraisers at her school, Megan has raised over $160,000 for cancer research at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

“The end goal is to never have another kid diagnosed with cancer,” Megan said. “I definitely won’t stop fighting until there’s either a cure, or everyone is raising awareness.”

As Megan bravely said, “I’m not going to quit, ever. Cancer changed my life but opened my mind to what a blessing life is. I feel like everything happens for a reason, and I was given this to advocate and be a voice, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

The Youth Award is presented to an outstanding individual(s) who is 17 years old or under and has performed an act of heroism involving an unusual, significant or unexpected incident, or is involved in an ongoing situation in which a commitment is made to the community through acts of kindness, courage, or unselfishness in response to an identified need. 

Follow #RedCrossHeroes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates about the 2019 Heroes. For more information about the 2019 Heroes Breakfast, click here.

To see more of Megan’s story, watch her video here.

Mary Carmody Honored as 2019 American Red Cross Military Hero

MC_1Mary Carmody is not a soldier or a veteran, however, her compassion for those who have served and mission to serve them, is heroic. Her kindness-in-action is seen and, more importantly, felt in the hearts of our nation’s bravest.

A former employee of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, in 2013 Mary met a man she will never forget at a Lake County Council for Seniors meeting.  He had served his country during Vietnam and was now in need of help, having not eaten in days. His situation touched her. The man reminded Mary of her mother who immigrated during WWII to the U.S. with nothing but a strong work ethic and relied upon the generosity of strangers. At the time, Mary gave the man all she had in her wallet – a $5 bill. Afterward, she continually thought about him and how she could make a difference for veterans like this man, who risked his life to protect our country, yet still struggled to survive.

This chance encounter inspired Mary to establish the Midwest Veterans Closet. Initially, she gathered donated clothing and household items and stored them in a borrowed landscaping trailer.  As word in the military and veteran community grew about her small operation, more and more veterans came from all over Chicagoland to see Mary in Lake County for assistance. Mary listened to their needs and worked to secure items to help. She procured things like a suit for a job interview, a set of dishes, underwear and socks, and boots for the winter.  According to Mary, “the simple items most of us take for granted, often are things many of our veterans are forced to go without.”

In 2014, Mary was able to move Midwest Veterans Closet from the landscaping trailer to its current storefront, near Naval Station Great Lakes. Today, the organization serves 550 people monthly. Most clients are veterans, but some are active duty service members.  The operation has grown from a few items in a trailer to a true rapid response assistance center, offering computer and job training, food and nutrition resources; an apparel and household items store; and even donated automobiles to help veterans get to work.

Midwest Veterans Closet also provides work and volunteer opportunities to veterans looking to use their skills and connect with others in their community. One of Mary’s longtime volunteers is an 84-year-old Korean War veteran, who survived three cancers and had almost given up.  Now he is the Midwest Veteran’s Closet’s biggest ambassador and loves the camaraderie he finds among those who shop there.

And about the Vietnam veteran that came to the Lake County Senior meeting in 2013?  Mary said, “now, he is one of our best clients. Midwest Veterans Closet exists simply because he was not afraid to ask for help.”

The Military Award is presented to an active, reserve, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), or retired member(s) of the Armed Forces, or military supporter, who acted above and beyond the call of duty or have made an ongoing commitment to the community.

Follow #RedCrossHeroes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates about the 2019 Heroes. For more information about the 2019 Heroes Breakfast, click here.

To see more of Mary’s story, watch her video here.

Officer Mark Dallas Honored as 2019 American Red Cross Law Enforcement Hero

DSC00320May 16, 2018, started as a special day for Officer Mark Dallas. His son was among nearly 200 seniors who were practicing for their graduation ceremony in the Dixon High School gym. Mark, who served as the Dixon High School Resource Officer, headed down from his 3rd floor office to the gym to watch the proceedings and visit with the students. Mark shared a close bond with this particular graduating class, as they started high school the same year that Mark had joined the school as the Resource Officer. He had also coached many students in football and track.

After leaving the gym, Mark stopped by the office of the Athletic Director, Jared Shaner. That’s when he heard several gunshots in the hallway. He immediately ran towards the gunshots and found the shooter, just steps from the gym entrance where 182 students stood behind those doors. When Mark engaged the attacker, he took off running and exited the school. Mark pursued the shooter, who turned and fired at him. Mark quickly returned fire, struck the shooter in the shoulder and apprehended him. The shooter was later identified as a Dixon High School senior.

Once it was over, Mark could not believe that were no injuries, stating, “I thought I was being lied [to] for a while, when they assured me that no one was hurt.”

On that day, Mark’s 20 years of experience and training as a police officer played an important role in his ability to protect the students and staff. He recalls not being worried about being shot. Mark’s goal was to protect the students and to capture the shooter. Mark added, “I feel like a parent to 182 kids. The kids that were all in there.”

Mark is also graduate of Dixon High School and never imagined that something like this could happen in this close-knit community, particularly at his alma mater.

Mark is two years away from retirement, and after the violent event that took place in the school, he plans to train other school resource officers in the area. He has also been working with state officials, to make funding available to communities that cannot afford to hire officers for schools.

When asked if he considers himself a hero, Mark reiterates that he was doing his job and adds, “There are heroes every day in our job, people never realize what law enforcement does for their communities. The officers that lose their lives, they are true heroes.”

The Law Enforcement Award is presented 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. 

Follow #RedCrossHeroes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates about the 2019 Heroes. For more information about the 2019 Heroes Breakfast, click here.

To see more of Mark’s story, watch his video here.