A look back at Red Cross history in 1943

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This historical photo shows some of the women in the Red Cross Motor Corps Station at Navy Garge in 1943. It is believed to have been taken outside of Washington, D.C. The woman on the far left is a Chicago woman, Josephine McCarthy. Her daughter, Joanne, shared this photo with us of her mother volunteering on the weekends for the Red Cross while she was working for Illinois Bell and has been transferred to Washington D.C. for 6 months. Josephine then raised her family in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood.

We are so proud of the many men and women who have volunteered for the American Red Cross throughout history. Do you have a photo to share? Email us at ChicagoMC@redcross.org

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The Chicago Red Cross has a new Biomedical vehicle in honor of John Ahearne

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The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois has a new vehicle designated for Biomedical Services. This Ford Transit was purchased through a fundraiser in memory of John Ahearne, the late husband of Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross Regional Philanthropy Officer Betsy Ahearne. John died very unexpectedly several years ago, and now his family is hoping to help others in honor of John. Several memorial blood drives were hosted as well.

“People can be amazing.”

The vehicle is already on the road performing it’s duties delivering blood products to area hospitals such as Northwestern Memorial, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center and more.

Thank you to all donors who have made this possible. This vehicle was acquired near what would have been John’s 58th birthday!

“I’m lucky to get to see that generosity comes to fruition every day,” said Betsy. “It comes in many forms such as a financial gift that helps strangers impacted by devastating disasters, a gift of valuable time, e.g., when volunteers fan out across disadvantaged neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, or a single donation of blood that can save up to three lives. People can be amazing.”

To sign up for an appointment to give blood, find an upcoming drive near you at www.redcrossblood.org.

#givelife #redcross #redcrossontheway

Written by Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross Communications Manager Holly Baker

“I’ll never forget that night.” A home fire victim remembers the Red Cross helping in the chaos

It was a warm summer night on June 4, 2017 and Sandra Gary was still awake in her home on West 111th Street in the Morgan Park-Beverly neighborhood. Midnight had just passed, and that’s when Sandra noticed the smell of smoke permeating the air.

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“It was an odd smell, like maybe rubber or a tire burning,” Sandra said.

She looked out her bedroom window multiple times, and that’s when she saw the flames start to come up the side of her home. She says everyone who lived in the complex was able to get out safely, either from smelling the smoke or because of the neighbor who spotted the flames and made sure to wake people up and get them out.

“Just to see our house go up in flames…just devastating. Never thought I’d have to go through anything like this.”

The fire had started in unit A of the complex and made it all the way over to Sandra’s house, unit E, destroying much of the property in the process.

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Sandra says her home was covered in soot and the lingering smell of smoke made it difficult to breathe. She was able to salvage a few things from her home but lost most of her belongings, especially anything in the basement.

“Everything down there was destroyed,” she said. “It was terrible.”

A Red Cross van had pulled up and two volunteers began taking down information of the residents affected by the fire. Eight units were affected and nearly everyone had been displaced.

The neighbors say they bonded that night as they stood outside for hours together, watching flames pour through the roof of their homes until 3 or 4 AM. The Red Cross provided assistance in the form of gift cards to make sure everyone had a place to go that night and was able to get food and clothes.

Sandra went to stay at her son’s in Hyde Park. Within days, she receieved another call from a Red Cross volunteer asking if she needed any new medications since any medications that had been through a fire were no longer safe to take. Sandra hadn’t even thought about that, and hadn’t realized her medications were damaged. The Red Cross helped her expedite new prescriptions at no cost to her.

Sandra says she is so thankful to the Red Cross for “just showing up” and helping that night. The damage was so bad, it took over a year and a half for her home to be livable again. She recently moved back and has since made several donations to the organization as a way of paying it forward.

“For people to just come out like that and help you, and that’s when you really need that. My hat’s off to them,” she said. “If you do this then you must be good.”

Hear more from Sandra in this video.

Does your home need a smoke alarm? The Red Cross will come and install one for free if you sign up online for an appointment as part of our “Sound the Alarm” campaign. Make your appointment here for a free smoke alarm.

Interested in volunteering? Sign up to help do the installing here.

Written by Chicago & Northern Illinois Communications Manager Holly Baker

1,232 Units of Blood Collected at 5th Annual ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive

Chicagoland community members came together and donated over 1,232 units of blood at this year’s fifth annual blood drive hosted by the American Red Cross and ABC 7 Chicago, surpassing the goal of 1,000 units!

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Medical institutions all over the country brace themselves for a blood shortage around the holiday season. Even more so this year because of the emergency need for blood and platelets.

In order to aid in this shortage, many community members donated though the American Red Cross at Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Drake Hotel in Oak Brook, and at this year’s new location CDW At Play in Vernon Hills.

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Donors and Red Cross phlebotomists smile at this year’s CDW donation location in Vernon Hills.

 

The blood drive collected 432 more units than last year’s drive, which amounts to more than a thousand people who can be helped as one pint of blood can save up to approximately three people.

All of the attending donors had an important reason as to why they were donating.

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Nicole Stevenson shares with ABC 7’s Cheryl Scott her story of being diagnosed with leukemia and needing many blood transfusions during treatment

 

William Monroe, blood donor, donates blood regularly even if that means that he has to do it during his workday lunch break.

“It’s something that I think everyone should do if they can do it,” Monroe said. “My brother had leukemia and he unfortunately needed a lot of blood. With all the blood he went through, I feel like I’m still in debt.”

All donors are sought after, but there are unique individuals whose blood can help almost anyone, and that is O positive donors.

Maddix Moore III, blood donor, believes it is just as important to know your blood type as it is to donate.

“You know your shoe size, right? Well, those keep you warm. Knowing your blood type can save your life,” Moore III said.

A donor who has blood type O positive are referred to universal donors meaning that their blood can be used by many people.

Individuals who have blood type O are always urged to donate in order to keep up the blood supply in their community since it is needed by so many patients.

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Carla Walters gets ready to donate blood.

 

Carla Walters, blood donor, is one of those unique donors who donates every year.

“I came today because I wanted to help people. O positive is the universal donor, so a lot of people can use my blood,” Walters said.

Donated blood is not only used to treat medical conditions, but also used in blood transfusion and even surgery.

Jessica Klugman, medical student, knows what it is like to have a family member get routine blood transfusions due to lymphoma.

“That was really good treatment that helped her most with health and quality of life,” Klugman, who is a regular Red Cross blood donor, said.

According to Klugman, she donates blood approximately every eight weeks because she understands how important blood donation is.

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Jessica Klugman holds her arm up after finishing donating one pint of blood

 

“It’s just a small way for me to give back,” Klugman said.

Each person who donated during the blood drive left with a goody bag, some food and a smile. The American Red Cross has blood drives almost daily in the Chicago and northern Illinois. You can visit http://www.redcrossblood.org to find a drive based on your zip code. Thank you for helping to save lives.

Written by American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Communications volunteer Jasminne Hernandez.

 

Governor Pritzker attends Red Cross and Rockford Fire Department Smoke Alarm Installation Event

Dozens of volunteers from around the American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois chapter area gathered on Saturday, January 12 to help make the Rockford area safer as part of the Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. campaign.

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Governor-elect JB Pritzker supported the event as part of his “Day of Service,” featuring service opportunities in cities across Illinois ahead of his inauguration on January 14.

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Volunteers gathered at the chapter office for the American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois.

Sound the Alarm is part of the larger Home Fire Campaign, an initiative to help make homes across the country more prepared for the event of a fire by having volunteers install free smoke alarms and provide fire safety education. Having a working smoke alarm in your home cuts your risk of dying in a home fire by nearly 50%.

The temperature hovered around 30 degrees as volunteer teams of 3 from the Red Cross, the Rockford Fire Department and Hinshaw Law trekked into Rockford’s Signal Hill neighborhood to begin installations.

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Governor Pritzker and the first lady joined an install team and met with a local family to go over fire safety preparednesss and ensure the home had working smoke alarms before greeting volunteers at the Red Cross chapter office.

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First Lady MK Pritzker, Governor Pritzker and Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldan speak with Rockford homeowner Mapleine Mayweather about home fire safety

 

Overall, 41 homes were made safer with the installation of 134 new smoke alarms!

The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, the majority of which are home fires. Working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival. The Red Cross wants to end these tragedies and save lives, the reason why the organization launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014.

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Red Cross volunteer Scott Otto drills a new smoke alarm into the wall of a Rockford home.

To learn more about the Home Fire Campaign, visit redcross.org. Please help us Sound the Alarm by volunteering to install smoke alarms, making a financial contribution, or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires.

This Spring, the Red Cross will continue to Sound the Alarm with upcoming installation events in neighborhoods and cities across the country and right here in the Chicago & Northern Illinois 21-county region including Austin, Freeport, Bolingbrook, Rockford, North Lawndale, Joliet and more!

Do you or someone you know need a working smoke alarm? Sign up to get one and have volunteers install it for free by filling out the online form at www.getasmokealarm.org.

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About the American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois:

The American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois serves 700,000 people in 10 counties including Boone, Bureau, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit us at www.redcross.org/Il/Rockford or visit us on Twitter @ChicagoRedCross

Interning at the Chicago Red Cross

Working at the Chicago chapter of American Red Cross has been a truly valuable experience. As I reflect on my time with the Red Cross, I look back at the person who walked through the front door for an interview, and I now realize that I have a completely different perspective. I am no longer nervous and skeptical to enter the “real world”. After four months of hands-on experience, I now find myself equipped with the essential skills I will need to enter the working world.

As a Marketing and Communications Intern, my duties included but were not limited to: writing press releases and media alerts, scheduling and managing multiple social media platforms, preparing written and visual content for local publications, monitoring traditional media activity and creating web content for the Red Cross Stories blog. These duties gave me the opportunity to develop my professional skills, learn more about marketing and communications, enhance my writing skills, and build my resume and career network.

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But, the very best part about working for the Red Cross is that the work is very interactive and engaging with the community. It was incredible to be a part of an organization that helps people every single day. It made all of the work so much more meaningful knowing that I too, was helping save a life.

Last but not least, a very big thank you to Holly and Joy who were always welcoming, supportive, and accommodating. Thank you, Red Cross!

Written by Adisa Suljic, Marketing & Communications intern for the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Meet Sue Brenner: 17 Years of Making an Impact at The Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois

The Red Cross of Chicago and Greater Northern Illinois is fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers who have been working with us for years. One of those volunteers, who has worked with the Red Cross of Chicago for about 17 years, is Sue Brenner.

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Sue volunteering to answer phones at the CBS Telethon in 2016

 

After getting her masters in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy, Sue and her husband moved to Chicago where she worked as a preschool teacher and as a director of a preschool for many years. “When I was ready to leave that job, I knew I wanted to do something hands on, and the Red Cross seemed like it would give me that opportunity,” Sue said.

Sue started out as a Disaster Action Team volunteer, which meant being on-call to respond to fires and help the people affected. Eventually, Sue and several other team members decided that they needed more volunteers to respond to fires. Together, they helped develop a program to build up the volunteer corps, which Sue now describes as a “robust volunteer corps put together over the years.”

After 10 years of working 2-3 days a week in Volunteer Leadership, Sue decided to scale back a bit. She now works once a week on casework for victims of fires. “I call clients who have had a fire and I ask how they are doing, if they were able to move back in, if they have insurance, or any other disaster related needs.” Through working with partners, Sue is able to provide victims with resources to help them get back on their feet. This can be anywhere from a week to a multi-week process depending on the case.

One aspect that Sue emphasized as crucial for recovering more quickly from a fire, is by having insurance. “I am a big fan and cheerleader of insurance and rental insurance! It is really important and not expensive, and people get back on their feet so much quicker.”

Some of the biggest obstacles for Sue’s clients can often be finding new housing. “Once they find something we can give them referrals to partner agencies who might be able to give them furniture. But a lot of times just getting a client placed in a new home can be quite challenging.”

In addition to casework, Sue is involved in many other areas of the Red Cross: “I teach a Disaster Supervision class for people working in Disaster who are going to become supervisors. I’ve also participated in the Home Fire Campaign to put smoke alarms in people’s homes- which is always a really worthwhile thing to be doing.”

Out of all of Sue’s involvement in her 17 years of working with the Red Cross, she did not hesitate when asked what stands out to her the most: “I think the building up of the volunteer base is the thing that I would be the most proud of. And I didn’t do that by myself- it took a lot of work from a lot of people. But of all the things we’ve done that would be one I am the most proud of.”

Thank you, Sue for all of your hard work over these past 17 years!

Interested in volunteering with the Red Cross and helping with events like these? Visit www.redcross.org/volunteer to find a volunteer opportunity for you!

Written by Sophie Kendrick, Communications and Marketing Intern