Volunteer from overseas helps with North Lawndale “Sound the Alarm” event

When David Barnfield was just 9 years old, he was already learning the fundamentals of life-saving skills like CPR through the British Red Cross while living in Yorkshire, England. He was active as a volunteer and says being with the Red Cross was a great experience.

A young David Barnfield (right) is pictured below at 16-years-old at a youth event in Germany with the American Red Cross.

Over 60 years later, David jumped in once again to help out as a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois’ “Sound the Alarm” campaign to install free smoke alarms in North Lawndale on May 18. David’s adult son, Mark, is now an employee of the American Red Cross which is what led to the volunteer experience becoming a family affair.

Mark (L) and David(R) Barnfield are now part of a multi-generational Red Cross family.

David’s son, Mark, says having his dad there as a volunteer was a memory he will cherish forever.

“I don’t often get to share experiences with my Dad because we live so far apart. It was special to have him there so he could see what we do every day, and meet some of the amazing people I get to share my workdays with,” Mark said.

David says in his youth, he became a CPR trainer and taught CPR skills to groups. He was also trained in “mother care” and “home nursing duties” through the British Red Cross volunteering to help families and the elderly.

Now, David can say he’s volunteered on multiple continents with the Red Cross and says no matter where you are in the world, the Red Cross is an organization looking to help people.

“I’m sure in a world emergency we’d all work together to acheive a common goal,” Barnfield said.

See more photos from the North Lawndale event here.

Learn more about volunteering at a “Sound the Alarm” event here!

Written by Red Cross Communications Manager Holly Baker.

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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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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

Red Cross staff member reflects on Hurricane Michael deployment

It has been a few months since Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm in early October.

The deadly storm was considered one of the top four strongest hurricanes to hit the United States and it left behind devastation across communities.

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People completely lost their homes and many were left living without power, food, running water and other basic necessities.

Soon after Hurricane Michael hit, American Red Cross disaster workers got to work to help people in shelters, kitchens, and many distributed relief items to those in need.

Isamar Montezuma, Senior Recruitment Specialist for the American Red Cross, was one of hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers deployed to help those impacted by the deadly storm.

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Montezuma was deployed to District 1, Panama City in Florida. She traveled to different shelters and kitchens in Washington County and Day County.

“It’s been very impactful to see damage created by Hurricane Michael, but I’ve been really impressed by volunteers and community members,” Montezuma said.

Throughout her deployment, Montezuma went to different shelters to identify and find volunteers locally. She also helped with background check screenings for volunteers willing to assist.

Montezuma also volunteered for three different kitchens while deployed in Florida.

According to Montezuma, everyone in District 1, Panama City was working hard to rebuild and empower their community.

Even though people completely lost their homes and everything in them, they were grateful for their safety.

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A photo inside a the staff shelter where Red Cross volunteers were staying at a school in Florida

“The fact that I’ve had someone tell me that even though they lost everything, at the end of the day they are thankful they have their family,” Montezuma said. “These families will go back home, but they’ve lost it and lost memories, but the most important thing is that they are together.”

American Red Cross volunteers respond to nearly 64,000 disasters every year. Deployment is something American Red Cross volunteers do to reach disaster-affected areas like Hurricane Michael.

This was Montezuma’s first deployment to respond to a disaster and it was an eye-opening experience.

“I wanted to be deployed,” Montezuma said. “It’s something that we do to assist during a disaster. I wanted to get that experience to learn from it and to be able to speak about it to other volunteers.”

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Isamar with a Chicago Red Cross volunteer, Shelley who also deployed to Hurricane Michael

Interested in being a disaster volunteer? Head over to the site to look at the different volunteer positions under Volunteer Management, Disaster Services, Public Affairs and more!

Written by Jasminne Hernandez, Communications & Marketing Volunteer for the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Red Cross Regional CEO Deploying to California for Wildfire Relief Efforts

CHICAGO, IL (Nov. 15, 2018) — American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldán is deploying to California tomorrow to support people affected by the devastating wildfires. Celena will be deploying as part of a Latino Outreach team helping Hispanic neighborhoods deeply affected by this disaster and will be the sixth person from the Chicago & Northern Illinois region to deploy to the California wildfires.

Celena is leaving tomorrow, Friday November 16, 2018 from O’Hare Airport and will be available for interviews in English and Spanish from 8:45AM-9:15AM in the United Airlines terminal.

Celena will be deployed over Thanksgiving again after being deployed to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria almost exactly one year ago.

Celena recently returned from North Carolina where she had been deployed for Hurricane Florence. She was also deployed for Hurricane Harvey and for the Louisiana Floods of 2017. Celena holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Administration from National Louis University, as well as Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

WILDFIRE FAST FACTS

  • Wednesday night, more than 840 people stayed in 10 Red Cross and community shelters across California.
  • People are relying on Red Cross reunification services, including use of the Safe and Well website. There are just over 6,700 Safe and Well registrations for the wildfires, as many as 72,000 searches, and more than 1,400 matches through Safe and Well.
  • More than 780 Red Cross disaster workers are helping to support people affected by the wildfires in California.
  • Working with partners, the Red Cross has served more than 40,200 meals and snacks.
  • Volunteer mental health, health services and spiritual care professionals have provided more than 9,500 contacts to provide support and care to evacuees.
  • We’ve distributed more than 14,400 relief items for people forced from their homes2018 CA wildfires.jpg

HOW TO HELP Disaster relief involves complex responses and the Red Cross needs the public’s support to help the people affected. Those who would like to help the Red Cross support people affected by disasters like flooding, wildfires and countless other crises can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

About the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois:

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois serves 9.5 million people in 21 counties in Northern Illinois including Boone, Bureau, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will 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 redcross.org/il/chicago or visit us on Twitter at @ChicagoRedCross.

 

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Through the Heart of a Red Crosser: The Other Volunteers

Steve Wise is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois who recently deployed to Florida for Hurricane Michael. He had only recently returned home after deploying to North Carolina for Hurricane Florence. Steve is now sharing some of his experiences.

Hurricane Michael was a storm that many of us will remember…possibly for our lifetimes.  For this writer – never in my life have I seen so much damage – that will most certainly take many years if not generations to recover from.

But aside from the damage that my eyes witnessed – I will remember the many people that came to help those in need – and who shared their hearts with those so needing.

It was common to meet people that drove hours just to lend a hand.  They had no connection to those impacted – but just wanted to be there for them and to help them in any way that they could.

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It was common to meet people who had full-time jobs not related to disaster relief – that either took vacation or a personal leave from their workplace – so that they could use their skills in any way that was needed.  It was common to see people with their own individual challenges – who put them aside and used their skills to identify ways that made those impacted feel comfortable and able in their shelter home.

So many people in the Florida panhandle were so negatively impacted by this storm.  Whether it be the loss of their home, their workplace, or other personal possessions – they now must find ways to recover from.  And by their side were and will be the hearts of first responders and volunteers – that stopped their lives and answered their call.

For what I will remember the most from Michael – are the hearts that came and were shared with those so needing.

If you’d like to help the people affected by disasters, you can make a donation at www.redcross.org.

Local Red Cross Volunteers Help Out at Jesse Brown Food Pantry Every Week

Every week through the VA Voluntary Services Program, Red Cross volunteers help distribute food to veterans at the Jesse Brown VA Food Pantry. This is their way of saying thank you to the men and women who answered to their country’s call.

IMG_1059Kelsey Smith and Adisa Suljic from the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois with Don Jackson from the Jesse Brown VA Food Pantry.

Unlike most pantries, which provide fixed food selections, the Jesse Brown VA Food Pantry is a self-select pantry where recipients have a variety of food to choose from. By choosing their own food, veterans are receiving food that they need, enjoy, and will use. This also enables veterans to meet their personal dietary needs.

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On Tuesday, October 30, a total of 150 veterans were served fresh produce, meat, dairy, bread, and canned goods. Volunteers assisted as personal shoppers for the veterans by bagging items that veterans chose. While browsing the available food options, a veteran exclaimed, “Wow, this is better than going to a supermarket!”

The Red Cross is all about neighbors helping neighbors, and at the Jesse Brown VA Food Pantry, it’s all about helping veterans. In five years, the pantry has helped over 15,000 veterans and their families; and every Tuesday, Red Cross volunteers are there to meet, greet, and support veterans.

If you know of any veterans that need help with food supplement, please let them know of this service. The pantry is located on the second floor of the Damen Pavilion in the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, and it’s open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

To learn more about the Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces programs, visit www.redcross.org/saf.

Written by Adisa Suljic, Communications and Marketing Intern