Feeding Bloomington-Normal: American Red Cross of Illinois teams up with United Way of McLean County to feed thousands during coronavirus pandemic

The American Red Cross has been a longtime partner of United Way, dating back to the 1950s. So, when they saw an opportunity to jump in and help feed thousands in the Bloomington-Normal community during the coronavirus pandemic, they didn’t waste a minute. The American Red Cross of Illinois is assisting, logistically, to feed folks, offering their vehicles and volunteers to help pick up food from stores, pack food in warehouses and deliver it where it needs to go.  

With the help of the American Red Cross of Illinois, United Way of McLean County (UWMC) has established a successful COVID-19 Community Care Fund, addressing urgent needs. Food access and food insecurity were two of the biggest issues. Since March 30th, UWMC and existing initiatives in the community have provided meals to school district food programs, including five school districts, purchasing over 900 pounds of fresh produce from local farms for LeRoy, Unit 5, Lexington, Olympia and Ridgeway. They’ve also purchased bread and chicken broth from Meijer and Kroger to help feed over 500 families a week.

Lynda Hruska is the Executive Director of the American Red Cross serving Central Illinois. She says this partnership has been impactful to the volunteers.

“It has really been a way for our volunteers to be a part of this incredible work that this team is doing. Often times in a disaster, we’re in the lead role. We’re sheltering, feeding, and in this one, we are using volunteers to plug in to a community-wide project. It’s been very heartwarming to be part of this huge network seeing different people playing different roles and truly making a difference.”

Aside from school food programs, the Red Cross and United Way are partnering with existing initiatives to purchase boxed meals from local restaurants to support their employees and distribute those meals through local non-profits. As of May 8th, they’ve served more than 44,575 meals!

And of course, nothing goes to waste. The Red Cross volunteers go back to the warehouse and pick up any unused perishables and deliver them to Home Sweet Home Mission so they can be utilized without waste.

But UWMC and the Red Cross agree the effort doesn’t stop here. This team has continued to look at not only the initial food insecurity issue, but other human issues that are facing the community as a result of this pandemic. With help from partners in the community, they’ve provided and distributed over 500 food boxes, locally, and more than 300 face masks to distribution volunteers, to keep them safe and protected during this project.

The need continues. The Red Cross is here, and will be here, to help our communities.

Written by Hannah Allton, Regional Communications Manager

Through the Heart of a Red Crosser – Blue Sky Efforts – February 2020

The Regional Sheltering Team recently conducted five classes with External Partners in Shelter Training. 

Three local organizations – Benedictine University, Hoffman Estates Emergency Management and the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management – reached out to the Red Cross and requested Shelter Training for their people.

Five Red Cross Instructors over the last month – traveled out to their locations and instructed their people in both Shelter Fundamentals and Shelter Operations Simulation.  A total of 120 people were trained in these classes. 

Steve Wise and Lauren Zimmerman (RC Sheltering Instructors) – and Sarah Marcucci / Emergency Management Coordinator for the Village of Hoffman Estates

Such efforts help the Red Cross extend both our Partnerships and our reach in times of need.  If there ever was a local large-scale disaster – there easily could be the need to stand up numerous Shelters across the Greater Chicago and Northern IL Region.      

A big shout out goes to those Red Crossers who helped out with this instruction – Terri Cunningham, Lauren Zimmerman, Jackie Speciale, and Danny Portman.  Thru their efforts – we now have External Partners to call on for Sheltering Assistance.

If you would like to become a Red Cross volunteer, please go to redcross.org/volunteer to join us.

This picture was taken at the Shelter Training held at the Hoffman Estates Police Department last Saturday, February 1st. A total of 37 people attended this training.

Written By: Steve Wise, Disaster Volunteer

Marseilles Fire Department Celebrates 3,000th Smoke Alarm Installed with Red Cross Partnership

Representatives from the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley and the Marseilles Fire Department commemorate the installation of the 3,000 free smoke alarm through the Home Fire Campaign

Nestled along the Illinois River in LaSalle County, Illinois, Marseilles still has the many familiar elements of that small town charm often seen in rural parts of the state. Now this community of about 5,000 is well on their way to being better protected against home fire injuries and fatalities as the fire department confirms 3,000 smoke alarms recently installed in local homes!

Having a working smoke alarm in your home cuts your chances of dying in a home fire by 50% and a recent study by the American Red Cross showed that most people believe they would have 5 minutes or more to escape their home in the event of a fire when really, it is only 2 minutes or less. Having a working smoke alarm can help protect you and your family in the event of a fire.

Each year, the Red Cross responds to an average of more than 60,000 disasters, the vast majority of which are home fires. So we set a goal to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25%. Since it began in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has saved 699 lives and 2,055,341 smoke alarms have been installed– 3,000 of them in Marseilles.

The partnership began nearly two years ago through the initiative of Red Cross volunteer Kent Terry and the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. When Marseilles Fire Department Chief Michael “Mick” Garrison was approached about partnering with the Red Cross for home fire safety, a new endeavor was launched.

Together, the Marseilles Fire Department and Red Cross were able to reach this installation milestone providing the free smoke alarms to local residents as well as fire safety education. During an installation, the fire department also performs a free home safety inspection.

The reach of the Home Fire Campaign continues to grow further, and Chief Garrison has also installed free Red Cross smoke alarms all throughout LaSalle County by partnering with neighboring fire departments and continuing to promote home fire safety.

“This is the best program ever for Home Safety. We get the opportunity to provide direct communication and protection to our residents,” Chief Garrison said.

The American Red Cross is thankful for this great partnership with the Marseilles Fire Department and the continued dedication to making our communities more resilient and safer through smoke alarm installation.

To get involved with the Home Fire Campaign or to volunteer with the Red Cross, join us as we Sound the Alarm this spring to install even more free smoke alarms!

Looking to volunteer with the Red Cross? Find an upcoming installation event here: https://www.redcross.org/sound-the-alarm.html

Do you need a working smoke alarm? Sign up for a free installation appointment at: www.getasmokealarm.org

Susan Noyes: Helping Hands in Action

Red Cross Board Member Susan Noyes

It was “the coldest night of the year in November in Chicago,” American Red Cross board member, Susan Noyes explained, when she first witnessed the organization in operation. She had “signed up to respond to a fire… [and noticed] how well trained and professional the volunteers were and… how they interacted with the police, and the fire… and the families.” After Susan’s experience that night, she decided she wanted to do more, and so she joined the Tiffany Circle, a group of women leaders who contribute $10,000 or more per year to the Red Cross, as well as pitch in on various Red Cross missions. She also went on to become a Red Cross board member and co-chair of the Red Cross Heroes Breakfast, an annual event that spotlights local heroes for their service to the community. Susan said “the more I learned about the Red Cross, the more I wanted to help.”

Susan gives the credit for her initial interest in the Red Cross to the organization’s former CEO and her close friend, Fran Edwardson. It was Fran who helped Susan discover the details of her connection to the Red Cross. In conversation, Susan mentioned that her husband’s family had some sort of tie to the organization. Fran then went and researched and uncovered that, indeed, there was a connection – and what a connection it was. The ancestors of Susan’s husband, Nick Noyes, were in the inner circle of American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton! In addition, in 1949, the Noyes family donated a home to be used as the Red Cross Chapter House in Danville, New York, the same town in which Clara Barton had founded the first Red Cross chapter in the late 1800s. That Chapter House is used as a Red Cross museum and office today, displaying a collection of antiques donated by the Noyes family, as well as other memorabilia pertaining to the history of the Red Cross.

In addition to her work with the Red Cross, Susan is an avid seeker of ways to have a positive influence on the world in which we live. To that end, she founded Make It Better Media Group, a print and digital publishing company that extends to several platforms, including “Better” “Marin” and “Spaces” magazines. The motto of the media group is “Live, Love, Work, and Play with Greater Purpose” and as Susan explained, it means to live one’s life in a way that promotes “greater social impact.” A quick visit to the “Better” website and you can see the immense range of topics that the company covers. There’s everything from ways to get involved in your community to advice on travel, arts, museums, restaurants, and investing.

The Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois presented the 2019 Media Partner Wesbury Award to BETTER for understanding that content sharing of the Red Cross story and mission are important for their audience to learn about.

During the past year, Susan and BETTER took direct action to tell the catastrophic disaster story and to promote public contributions for Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster relief. 

A consortium of Chicago-area donors was formed by BETTER to offer a $90,000 matching gift challenge to anyone who donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  A couple of months later, another BETTER anonymous donor provided a $10,000 challenge grant to support relief operations for the devastating California Wildfires – again promoted through the BETTER digital platform. Both challenge grants were fully utilized, providing much needed support for people who lost everything.

Susan and her BETTER team accepted the 2019 Wesbury Media Award.

When thinking about the work of the Red Cross, Susan said that she has “never seen an organization make a donated dollar go further.” Thanks to great board members like her and our fantastic volunteers, the Red Cross continues to serve and thrive. Thank you, Susan, for all you do for your community and for all your hard work at the Red Cross!

Written by Red Cross Communications Volunteer Vicky Arias

2019 Wesbury Award Recipients

The Wesbury Leadership Awards were established in 1991 to honor, Stuart A. Wesbury, a former Board Chair, health care professional and outstanding community leader who epitomized humanitarianism and partnership in his professional and volunteer life. This award was established to recognize those who enhance the visibility of the Red Cross by helping us deliver our services and messages of health, safety and preparedness. 

On June 27, 2019 the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois was proud to present this year’s awards to a group of outstanding partners and volunteers who have enhanced the visibility of the Red Cross and our lifesaving mission through dedication and diligence.

DISCOVER is a dedicated corporate partner and a recipient of a Wesbury Award this year for their philanthropic generosity to the Red Cross and our disaster mission.

  • DISCOVER’s support of the Red Cross includes for both Hurricane Michael and Florence this year, proactively activating card member and employee giving platforms to inspire $1.2M in support for disaster relief, which DISCOVER matched with a $1M gift.
  • In addition, for the first time in 2019, DISCOVER included the Red Cross in nation-wide “Together We’re Community” program incentivizing local banks to promote use of Discover Card by rewarding the bank with a $10,000 grant for their local Red Cross. 
  • DISCOVER also provided in-kind, national digital Public Service announcements to promote online giving to the Red Cross. 
  • DISCOVER’S philanthropic generosity enables the Red Cross to better prepare and respond to disasters around the country.

Matthew Towson, Director of Community Affairs for DISCOVER accepted the 2019 Corporate Wesbury Award, pictured below with Chicago & Northern Illinois Board Chair Ted Dysart.

The 2019 Media Partner Wesbury Award was presented to BETTER, led by Founder and President Susan Noyes for understanding that content sharing the Red Cross story and mission was important for their audience.

During the past year, Susan and BETTER took direct action to tell the catastrophic disaster story and to promote public contributions for Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster relief. 

A consortium of Chicago-area donors was formed by BETTER to offer a $90,000 matching gift challenge to anyone who donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  A couple of months later, another BETTER anonymous donor provided a $10,000 challenge grant to support relief operations for the devastating California Wildfires – again promoted through the BETTER digital platform. Both challenge grants were fully utilized, providing much needed support for people who lost everything.

Susan and her BETTER team accepted the 2019 Media Wesbury Award.

Dedicated board member Jay Bergman was also honored with a Wesbury Award.

Jay Bergman has graciously served three terms on the Greater Chicago regional Board of Directors; and his many achievements include several significant and unique contributions to the American Red Cross mission:

  • Jay and Lori Bergman stepped up at a very important time in our region history to fund the development of the Blood Facility at the Rauner Center.  This put us well ahead of the curve nationally in consolidating Humanitarian Services and Biomedical Services into one physical location and anticipated many of the important One Red Cross initiatives that are taking place today.
  • Not only did Jay and Lori’s vision and gift improve efficiency for blood collection and distribution, it also included to the creation of the First Secure Bank Blood Reference Laboratory, which serves an important function in research and making sophisticated blood matching possible to improve patient care.
  •  In addition, Jay, almost singlehandedly brought together his colleagues and network partners to stand up the inaugural Board of Directors for the new six county Illinois River Valley chapter. For the past three years, Jay has also led the new team and provided significant guidance and support for the Board as the chapter organization learned and grew. 

Jay accepted the Wesbury Award and is pictured below with board president Ted Dysart (left) and American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldan (right).

Five key volunteers were also honored with awards.

Paul Davidson — who goes above and beyond to extend the reach of the American Red Cross in his local community through his work with local community organizations including the Boy Scouts.

Paul’s focus has been on getting youth involved in the mission of the Red Cross through his local Boy Scout troop. Paul created a partnership between a youth volunteer conducting his Eagle Scout project and the Red Cross. The Eagle Scout planned and executed a smoke alarm installation event with a local Fire Department and the Red Cross, installing 65 smoke alarms in 27 homes. Since then, Paul has encouraged other boy scouts to become involved with the Red Cross, encouraging the set-up of a Red Cross Club and facilitating future Eagle Scout projects and building a team of Red Cross leaders!

Paul leads also our Disaster Services Technology team, hosting team meetings, encouraging and training new volunteers and developing leaders. He also is a Marathon team lead and led much of our recent Rockford flooding response.

Gerry Holmes has been a Red Cross volunteer for 11 years. He joined as a communications & public affairs volunteer after retiring from his long career as Director of Media relations at General Motors. 

Since that time, Gerry has deployed to 11 national disasters, has photographed many, many of our Red Cross events, written numerous stories and has singlehandedly managed the 24/7 Media public affairs phone line for years. Thanks to Gerry, the 24/7 ‘on-call’ media team keeps answering the media’s calls each week day or night. Gerry also is a dedicated blood donor and has donated an impressive 81 times – which equates to over 10 gallons!

Sherry Hoy heard about the Red Cross relief efforts during the catastrophic 2017 hurricane season and joined us as a leadership volunteer after a long corporate career. 

Since that time, Sherry has been using her strategic skills in change management and organizational effectiveness to provide significant consultancy and leadership on a variety of project across the region, including analysis of the staff Engage! Survey. 

She has been very involved in teaching Board, volunteer and staff trainings, including becoming an instructor for staff coursework and teaching about volunteer management and leadership at the Disaster Institutes.

Sherry is also a leadership volunteer on the Volunteer Relations team and key liaison with the board Mission Committee. Sherry’s sound advice is something the Leadership team at the Red Cross has come to rely on.

Janaiya Johnson is the Global Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Deloitte and she was an active supporter of our region’s vision to become a more inclusive region and volunteered to lead the Chicago & Northern IL Diversity survey.

Janaiya volunteered to provide essential oversite, guidance and leadership for our first ever staff survey focused on just Diversity & Inclusion.

She designed and collected the survey data and collaborated with a team of experts at Deloitte on the data analysis, including reporting on the emerging themes and recommendations. Janaiya presented the data and recommendations to the staff teams at meetings at the Rauner Center. She also facilitated the Q & A sessions that resulted.

Janaiya’s significant role in the survey and analysis was core to helping the region build diversity and inclusion priorities and goals for fiscal year 2020. Janaiya did all this work under some very tight deadlines and managed this in addition to the priorities of her day to day role at Deloitte.

Her colleague Tristan Slemmons, Corporate Citizenship Lead at Deloitte attended and accepted the Wesbury award on Janaiya’s behalf.

Jackie Speciale was awarded a Wesbury Award for her extensive efforts to expand the Red Cross’s reach especially in McHenry County.

By attending numerous partner meetings including those with emergency management in McHenry, Jackie has ensured our partners are aware of the scope of the Red Cross services.

Most recently, Jackie led the Red Cross response in serving the communities in Lake and McHenry counties, after two police officers were killed. Jackie organized Red Cross volunteers, built partnerships with over 20 local organizations, and worked tirelessly to serve hundreds of first responders who attended the services.

During these responses, Jackie built team capacity, as she always finds the opportunity to mentor and train new Red Cross volunteers alongside her.

Jackie is willing to jump into action whenever there is a disaster response. Last month, she was in Rockford for our flood response, where she oversaw our inventory and distribution of emergency supplies.

Jackie’s dedication, passion, and willingness to roll up her sleeves is contagious and has made a lasting impact on all.

We are so grateful to all of our partners, board members, donors and volunteers and could not continue the work of our mission with them. Thank you for what you do to support our humanitarian organization.

The Changing Landscape of Philanthropy: Cultivating to Give & Leading to Sustain

The Changing Landscape of Philanthropy: Cultivating to Give & Leading to Sustain

On April 2, The Northern Trust Global Conference Center hosted a stage for a great conversation about the changing landscape of philanthropy and how non-profit organizations are adapting, in order to continue being sustainable. Northern Trust and the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle co-hosted the panel discussion, which was moderated by Marguerite H. Griffin, while Susan Crown and Dawn Frances Reese were the panelists of the evening. Panelist bios below.

The landscape of philanthropy has changed. Marguerite H. Griffin set the stage for the discussion by explaining that philanthropy has become a global phenomenon that has redefined itself to emerge as a powerful global force, shaping policies, values and research agendas.


Millennials are playing an important role in changing the philanthropic world, with many of them investing time and resources in causes that are important to them. So, what does this mean for the future of nonprofit organizations? For Dawn Frances Reese, feeling personally connected is key when choosing organizations to get involved with. “I need to feel connected to the mission and explained Dawn.

Millennials are playing an important role in changing the philanthropic world, with many of them investing time and resources in causes that are important to them. So, what does this mean for the future of nonprofit organizations? For Dawn Frances Reese, feeling personally connected is key when choosing organizations to get involved with. “I need to feel connected to the mission and explained Dawn.

In 2014, according to the Millennial Impact Report by Research Group Achieve, 84 percent of millennials made a charitable donation, and 70 percent donated at least an hour of volunteering.  Millennials want to give their time and resources to causes that are important to them. They want to feel that they are making a difference.

A survey by the Case Foundation found that 90 percent of millennials “are motivated to give by a compelling mission, not an organization.” This poses a challenge for long-established nonprofit organizations, which need to find more effective ways to engage this generation.

“It’s all about passion, it’s all about commonality of mission and things that really sort of speak to the fire of your soul. This matters, this changes the world. This means something, this changes life,” said Susan Crown.

Non-profit organizations need to be innovative in the way they appeal to millennials, as well as the future Gen Z, in order to be sustainable for years to come. Dawn Reese spoke from personal experience when she said that she began volunteering with a nonprofit organization when she was still in high school. Her work gave her a purpose, as she saw the impact she made in people’s lives. She believes that nonprofits must implement opportunities for students to volunteer early on, in order to establish a more meaningful and lasting connection with them.

A 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey reported that “working for the good of the broader world or local community fulfills millennials’ desires to focus their energy and intellect on purposeful work. When working for a nonprofit, millennials can feel their influence; seeing the fruits of their labors fuels their drive, that in turn helps their nonprofit employers achieve greater impact.”

Having a good understanding of what is important to millennials and future generations is essential for nonprofits in remaining relevant and sustainable for years to come. A 2018 article titled “How Millennials are changing Philanthropy,” published by Forbes provides the following insights for nonprofits to better connect with millennials:

  1. Ask for more than money. This speaks to how millennials tend to align with a cause that is close to their hearts and that they feel passionate about. According to the article, “Millennials will share your cause. They will sign up and volunteer their time for fundraising, crowdfunding or fieldwork.”
  2. Tell stories. Millennials are being bombarded by messages constantly. Organizations need to make their message stand out from the rest by personalizing it and showing how people are being affected by the issue.
  3. Keep it simple. Be direct on your messaging, go right to the point. Don’t overcomplicate. And,
  4. Communicate urgency. Let millennials know what their time and money will do for someone right now. They want to know that their efforts and resources are making an impact.

Susan Crown sums it up when she explains that the traditional nonprofits are already making changes to stay relevant in an environment that is fueled by the passion and energy brought by millennials; an environment where everybody wants to be an entrepreneur and stand for a cause. This, she believes, is powerful and already making the big umbrella organizations reposition themselves in the 21st century. These are exciting times for nonprofits, when thinking outside the box and engaging the excitement of future generations will help them to maintain their relevance and continue fulfilling their mission.

Thank you Northern Trust for providing a forum for such an enlightening discussion to better understand the changes that are taking place in philanthropy and how nonprofit organizations can better engage millennials and future generations.

About the Tiffany Circle

The Tiffany Circle is a national and international leadership network of women who work to change lives, save lives and strengthen communities through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure in the American Red Cross. By making a $10,000 minimum annual investment, members of the Tiffany Circle stand proudly with an extraordinary group of women committed to ensuring that the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross is available to all.

About the Moderator

MargueriteMarguerite H. Griffin is a senior vice president at Northern Trust. As director of Philanthropic Advisory Services, Marguerite is responsible for the delivery and growth of Northern Trust’s philanthropic retreats. She also advises clients regarding impact investing, strategic philanthropy, international philanthropy, family succession planning and board development, governance and risk management for non-profit organizations. Marguerite is a member of the American Bar Association, the Chicago Council on Planned Giving and the Chicago Estate Planning Council. She is admitted to practice before the Illinois Supreme Court. Marguerite is an active volunteer, advisor and board member with several charitable and cultural institutions, including Aeris, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Community Trust, Forefront, the Ravinia Festival, and WTTW/WFMT.

About the Panelists

SusanSusan Crown is a philanthropist and business executive, Chairman and Founder of the Susan Crown Exchange (SCE), Chairman and CEO of Owl Creek Partners, and currently serves as the first female chairman of Rush University Medical Center and The Rush Health System. For nearly three decades, Susan dedicated time and talent to social causes and the business world. She was the first woman board member of Illinois Tool Works (ITW). She’s also a board member of The Northern Trust Corporation and a former board member of Baxter International.

DawnDawn Frances Reese is the Director of Strategy for the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education (The CAFE). Dawn sits on the board of City Year Chicago and the Development Leadership Consortium. She is a 2019 Chicago Urban League IMPACT fellow and a 2016 Development Leadership Consortium fellow. She is a former member of the Chicago Women in Philanthropy, the Young Women’s Giving Council, and the Chicago Foundation for Women. She also received Chicago Crain’s prestigious 40 under 40 honor in 2018.

Written by Regional Marketing & Communications Manager Isis Chaverri

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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 along with Governor Prtizker to help make the Rockford area safer as part of the Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. campaign. Click here to see a video from the day.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Women as Change Agents: Money & Influence

Women as Change Agents: Money & Influence

On May 24, 2018, Northern Trust co-hosted an intimate panel conversation with the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle about the growing economic power and influence of women and the positive change we make in the world. The event featured moderator Marguerite H. Griffin and panelists Denise Barnett Gardner, Nancy Searle and Marty Wilke. Panelist bios below.


Panelist Marty Wilke speaks on her many years of experience in sales and news.


The statistics about women as philanthropic change agents are powerful. Women are expected to control two-thirds of private wealth by 2020 (MarketWatch, May 2017). In 2009, nine years ago, a Harvard Business Review Article stated, “Women now drive the world economy,” (Harvard Business Review, Sept 2009).

The influence comes not only from access to wealth but also how women choose to invest. Studies show that women give more, and do so with a socially conscious outlook.


Tiffany Circle Co-Chair Victoria Raymont laughs with panelist Nancy Searle ahead of the event.


In March 2018, The Economist stated that “84% of women said they were interested in “sustainable” investing, that is, targeting not just financial returns but social or environmental goals.”

According to Debra Mesch, the director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy, in an interview with Make it Better, “In the top 25 percent of combined income and assets, women give 156 percent more than men.”


Panelists Nancy Searle, Marty Wilke and Denise Gardner with Moderator Marguerite Griffin


“Every woman up here uses her superpowers for good,” said Marguerite Griffin to open the panel conversation. And it’s true. The panelists created change by combining their economic power with their talents and drive for change to create an exponential impact in our communities.

Marty Wilke, recently retired general manager of CBS 2 Chicago said, “We had the recession, we had the newly introduced iPhone, Facebook had just hit their 1 million mark. In that ten-year experience of mine in running two news organizations, I was a product of change that was coming at me from every angle.” Resistance to change comes out of fear, said Marty, but when done right, it is incredibly rewarding.

Women continue to gain an influence and make an impact.

“[It is] Important to know the change you want to accomplish and really own that change,” said Nancy Searle, who raised $60 million dollars in a year to open new schools in Chicago. “It was just an idea that I had that got us going.” Nancy looks at the intersection of her passions and values to determine which organizations to support with her time and talent.

A real turning point for many individual donors, was when Warren Buffet decided to donate to other foundations and organizations rather than starting his own. But, the collaborative nature of philanthropy is complex and full of opportunity. “You have to have thriving nonprofits to have a really thriving city,” said Denise, who hopes over the next twenty years to continue to develop ideas that will have an impact even if she’s not the one leading them.

Women are giving back with their treasure, but also their time, talents and their “turn-up” – their ability to get other people to turn up to support a cause.

As women philanthropists look to the next generation of change makers, they watch millennials constantly asking, “What are we doing to change and influence the world?” As Nancy said, we’ve seen “the power of one,” – the ability for one voice on social media to mobilize thousands more voices toward change.


Tiffany Circle Co-Chair, Board of Directors member and Northern Trust employee Aileen Blake shares ideas with fellow Tiffany Circle member and Board of Directors Chair Jill Schaaf and Tiffany Circle Co-Chair Laura Linger


Thank you to Northern Trust and the Tiffany Circle for co-hosting this incredibly meaningful conversation filled with an abundance of wisdom and advice for fellow women philanthropists. Keep your eye on what your end game is. Take a step back and take another look at what’s going on from a new angle. And, build consensus and plan for change.


Moderator Marguerite Griffin leads the panel discussion


About the Tiffany Circle

The Tiffany Circle is a national and international leadership network of women who work to change lives, save lives and strengthen communities through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure in the American Red Cross. By making a $10,000 minimum annual investment, members of the Tiffany Circle stand proudly with an extraordinary group of women committed to ensuring the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross is available to all.


About the Moderator

Griffin, MargueriteMarguerite H. Griffin is a Senior Vice President at Northern Trust. As director of Philanthropic Advisory Services, Marguerite is responsible for the delivery and growth of Northern Trust’s philanthropic advisory services to Wealth Management clients. She specializes in administering charitable trusts and private foundations and facilitating family philanthropy retreats. She also advises clients regarding impact investing, strategic philanthropy, international philanthropy, family succession planning and board development, governance and risk management for nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Northern Trust, Marguerite was a Vice President and Trust Administrator within the Private Clients Division of First Chicago, Bank One.  Before joining First Chicago, Bank One, she practiced law as an Associate with Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz where she specialized in estate planning, nonprofit organization law, charitable trusts and private foundations. Marguerite received a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. Marguerite is a member of the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council on Planned Giving and the Chicago Estate Planning Council. Marguerite is admitted to practice before the Illinois Supreme Court. She is a sought-after speaker in the areas of impact investing, strategic philanthropy, board development, managing private foundations and family legacy philanthropy. Marguerite is an active volunteer, advisor and board member with several charitable and cultural institutions, including Aeris, the Art Institute of Chicago, Audubon Great Lakes, Chicago Foundation for Women, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Chicago Community Trust, Forefront, The Ravinia Festival and WTTW/WFMT.

About the Panelists

Gardner, Denise BarnettDenise Barnett Gardner is a retired marketing executive and former president of Insights & Opportunities, a research-based marketing and strategic planning firm. She is also the co-founder of Namaste Laboratories and former VP, Marketing at Soft Sheen Products Company. During her tenure at each company, they enjoyed #1 market share in the ethnic beauty industry. Denise is the vice chair of the Board of Trustees at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the former chair of the museum’s Leadership Advisory Committee and   former vice chair of its Marketing Committee. She also serves on the Board of Governors of The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and The Chicago Public Library Board.  Denise served for ten years on the Executive Committee of The Chicago Community Trust where she chaired the board’s Donor Relations & Civic Engagement Committee. She also chaired their African American Legacy Initiative. She is a former member of the Board of Visitors of Northwestern University’s Weinberg College and the Chicago Humanities Festival. She is former president of the Chicago Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and is currently treasurer of their philanthropic arm, The Chicago Chapter Charities Foundation. Along with her husband, Gary, she has invested significantly in improving college access in Chicago. They also have a long-time commitment to supporting critical educational needs at the high school level, and with supporting arts programs in Chicago’s African American community. Denise began her professional career at Leo Burnett Company after graduating from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.  She also holds a B.S.J. from Northwestern University in Advertising and Social Psychology.

Searle, NancyNancy Searle served as the lead Searle consultant to the Chicago Community Trust from 2003-2010. The Searle Funds focused their efforts on biomedical research, education, community renewal and conservation. Projects funded by the Searle Funds reflected the intent of the donor, John G. Searle, and the values of the Searle family.  During her tenure, the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust supported the development of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium, the Searle Life Sciences Fund at Northwestern University, the Frances Searle Health Center at Northwestern University, the John G. Searle Chemistry Building at the University of Chicago and the business development of CARA. Of all the projects that the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust funded under Ms. Searle’s tenure as lead consultant, New Schools for Chicago is one of her most important legacies. Ms. Searle started New Schools with funds from the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, joining forces with the Civic Committee, foundations and individual donors to turn the original $2.5 million donation into over $50 million to launch more that 70 new schools. Since 2005, New Schools for Chicago has launched more successful charter schools than any other organization in the city.  Ms. Searle continues to be committed to improving educational outcomes for all children in Chicago. She is also a Trustee of the Shedd Aquarium where she chairs the Animal Collection Committee and is the President of the Women’s Board of Lyric Opera.

Wilke,MartyMarty Wilke, a  media executive, was the first woman to serve as President and General Manager for two Chicago television stations: WGN-TV and WBBM-TV (CBS 2 Chicago). After graduating from DePaul University, Marty began her career in television working as a media buyer at several advertising agencies until, in 1993, she shifted her career to television sales, working as an account executive at Katz Television. In 2008, Marty became the General Manager of WGN-TV where she launched Antenna TV, Tribune Broadcasting’s first digital sub-channel network. Considered an industry change agent, Marty is credited with bringing the Chicago Blackhawks broadcasts back to WGN-TV and profitably leading WGN through the Tribune Company bankruptcy.  At CBS 2 Chicago, under Marty’s leadership, viewership and revenue increased, and the community presence of the station was reestablished. The first and only all-female anchor team in the market was created during her tenure, and partnerships with area organizations like the Chicago Urban League, the Business Leadership Council and the DuSable Museum of African American History were all established to bring awareness to issues of importance in the Chicago African American community. In her position, Marty advocated for many nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois, Chicago Says NO MORE, and the American Diabetes Association.  In her personal time, Marty is a member of The Chicago Network, The Economic Club of Chicago, The Commercial Club of Chicago, and is an ardent supporter of American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Chicago.

Placing Humanity back on the Map

Placing Humanity back on the Map

Over the course of just a few hours on a Friday afternoon, 20 volunteers in Chicago helped map the future of emergency response efforts across the world without having to step foot on an airplane.

In an age where we heavily rely on GPS, digital technology and Googling for instant results, it’s a shock to many thCloseUp mapat much of the world does not officially live on a map. This makes it especially difficult for first responders to navigate (literal) uncharted areas when they need to deliver help quickly.

In the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois’ fifth “Mapathon,” on December 11th, a handful of public volunteers alongside employees from Discover worked together to map out a town in Kenya, where traffic accidents are one of the most common and deadly disasters. Without reliable maps, it makes it very hard for organizations like the Kenya Red Cross  to accurately track where most accidents happen and how to create plans to prevent them in the future.

“It’s actually pretty relaxing! And it’s way more satisfying spending time doing this instead of playing Candy Crush,” Discover employee Keenan said while plotting a new road on the grid.

The concept is simple: the American Red Cross together with the British Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team formed Missing Maps—a project to put more than 20 million people onto a free and editable map of the world.

Anyone with internet access can help trace sections of a community using satellite imagery as a guide on a digital map. Zero technical training, course requirements or traveling is required. Mapping experts then double-check volunteer work to make sure it’s accurate, and the maps become usable.


It’s also a convenient solution to one of the most frequent questions people ask the Red Cross after an international disaster happens: “How can I help from where I am?”

American Red Cross volunteers continue to map communities in response to several disasters like the Nepal and Haiti earthquakes and the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in West Africa.

A few volunteers even said they’d continue the Mapathon at home.

“I’ll definitely be telling my friends about this,” Keenan added. “I get now how important maps are in the world.”

Story and photos by Katie Wilkes, Regional Marketing Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

To participate in the Missing Maps project, or to organize a Mapathon of your own, contact Jim McGowan or Ryan Bank at jim.mcgowan@redcross.org.