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.

Celena

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.

Advertisements

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!

46727133622_26e4162a88_z

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.

45864370815_342d718eb2_z.jpg

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.

45864762705_93725e7104_z.jpg

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.

waters

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.

klugman.jpg

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.

img_6522

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.

45801057205_2155427c93_z.jpg

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.

31793947427_c7b7b79a83_k.jpg

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.

IMG_0257.JPEG

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.

46718885761_eaf720a354_k.jpg

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.

Capture.JPG

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.

IMG_4836

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.

IMG_4782.JPG

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.”

IMG_4811

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.

IMG_4802

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.

41443294235_8ce0d50995_k

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.

WideShot

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. 

Red Cross supports World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day event was celebrated on June 20 worldwide but few probably realized this and went about the usual daily activities of work, school or chores. But one day can hold a different meaning for refugees who are forced to flee their homes overnight because of war, natural disaster, violence and other humanitarian emergencies. World Refugee Day celebrates and honors the courage and determination of these men, women and children as they are displaced from their homes to seek safety and shelter.

The American Red Cross joined several other humanitarian and refugee resettlement agencies to bring a day of fun and play for refugees who have seen unimaginable conditions of living. The American Red Cross supported the event by playing a significant role in providing health and safety resources to all refugees in attendance. They joined their resources with other agencies present to support this occasion, marked with a soccer tournament, music and food, juggling classes and soccer skills training for children and women’s potting.

Red Cross Health Services volunteer Nancy Brooks-Edison was on hand to provide first aid and other health support to players in the tournament. The rest of the Chicago Red Cross team handed out emergency preparedness kits to all refugee families. The team came prepared to guide them about keeping their families safe in emergencies through pictographic flyers written in seven languages— Arabic, Burmese, French,  Spanish, Kinyarwanda (a dialect spoken in Rwanda), Somali and English— and graphically conveyed messages to several refugees with varied language needs.

Image

Volunteers help at the Red Cross table for World Refugee Day.

In addition to its role as the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross supports  refugees all over the world in another very significant way. Through its ‘Restoring Family Links’ program, American Red Cross helps put separated refugee families in touch with each other in cases where they are separated by war or natural disaster. Red Cross caseworkers around the U.S. help families locate missing relatives, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations in nearly every country around the world.  Annually the American Red Cross assists more than 5,000 families trying to reconnect with their loved ones in the U.S. and around the world.

The Red Cross provides these services and Red Cross Messages (RCMs), written personal communications sent between family members separated by conflict or disaster.

The other agencies present at the event were RefugeeOne, World Relief, Heartland Alliance, ICIRR, Pan African Association, the Bhutanese Community Association of Illinois, Exodus World Service, Catholic Charities and more. It was remarkable to see different cultures coming together and sharing their stories.

Image

Red Cross Volunteer Amisha Sud and Amal Alsandok attend the World Refugee Day event in Chicago on June 20.

One beautiful story came from Amal Alsandok. When she arrived in the United States from Jordan two years ago with her husband and daughter, Amal was firm on supporting her family on her own. With the help of Uruk Human Services, an agency empowering women from the Middle East, Amal was able to turn her 15-year passion for painting into a small yet flourishing business of handicrafts, candles and paintings.

Her story is no different that young Kemso Cuota’s who is about to graduate from high school. She is extremely enthusiastic about starting college next year. Kemso came from Ethopia with her brother and mother last May and wants to pursue the field of science with dreams of becoming a doctor.

This event was one of the many ways that the Red Cross supports this cause and provides resources. After attending the event for several years, The American Red Cross looks forward to support this determined group of people next year as well.

-Written by Amisha Sud

Giving Blood to Give Back

Blood Photo

Katerina Svigos showed up to work at Groupon on an arctic Friday morning, blocked out time in her calendar and put her name on the list. This wasn’t, however, any ordinary list.  This list was to save someone’s life – just like the person who saved her cousin’s. Katerina signed up to give blood.

In October of 2012, Katerina nearly lost her cousin. He was outside at a party and fell from a fourth-story balcony. He survived, but the fall broke his back and both of his legs. He was rushed to the hospital that very night where he received three blood transfusions the first weekend he was in the hospital. Recalling the severity of the accident, Katerina said soberly, “it was the 3 blood transfusions that saved his life.” This was her first time giving blood. “I wanted to give back,” she said.

Katerina’s gift is unprecedented. That’s because there is no replacement for blood and every 2 seconds someone in the United States needs it. The Chicagoland region currently uses 6 times more blood than it collects. But on Friday, February 1st, 81 Groupon employees signed up to give blood and the Red Cross collected 71 units. The successful drive not only created the potential to save up to 213 lives, it gave people like Katerina the opportunity to give back in a way that no other type of donation can generate.

Katerina said her cousin is stable now, working on his recovery and is maintaining a positive spirit. She told her cousin that she gave blood because of him.

“He is so thankful,” she said, “he realizes it is other people that saved him.”

Written by: Bridget Ballek