Red Cross Goes Door-To-Door to Install 400 Smoke Alarms on Chicago’s South Side

Roseland Rally Knock on Door 9.19.15(CHICAGO, IL) – Christine White opened her door to American Red Cross volunteers on Chicago’s South Side on a Saturday morning to install smoke alarms in her Roseland home.

“I’ve never needed your services (for disasters), thank God. Hopefully, I never will,” she said as volunteers installed smoke alarms and made a safety plan for her family.

21370799950_04fcf9492d_oA few blocks south on 108th Street, Shavett Lovemore told volunteers, “We haven’t experienced anything personal, but you still hear the stories.”

The Roseland community on Chicago’s South Side has one of the highest numbers of fire fatalities in Northern Illinois. That’s why armed with ladders and drills volunteers went door-to-door to install more than 400 smoke alarms in a single-day on Sept. 19 to help families be safe. 21547221372_49e3d9e1d1_o

The effort is part of the nationwide Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Working alongside fire departments and community groups, the Red Cross and its partners will install 5,500 smoke alarms in Northern Illinois communities, like Roseland, over the next several months.

For senior citizens and people with physical disabilities, having the Red Cross install a smoke alarm in their home is crucial in those hard to reach places.

CPSXhRiWcAAhyQ6“That’s something I can’t do. Thank you,” said Roseland resident Ed Bishop, when Red Cross volunteer Goeffrey Fishwick installed the device on the ceiling where smoke would rise to set it off if a fire would spark.

It’s also smart to install smoke alarms in bedrooms and hallways to sleeping areas. For Glenda Johnson, a stroke survivor, who needs a wheelchair to move, the Red Cross installed two smoke alarms in her home. “It’s good that you’re coming around,” she said.

For every smoke alarm installed in Roseland, volunteers like Cam Anton, also mapped out how families can safely exit their home in less than two minutes during a fire.

RoselandVolunteerInstallAlarm 9.19.15At Erma Washington’s home, where Cam’s team installed two smoke alarms, he walked her though her home pointing out possible exit areas through windows, and the front and side doors.

“So right there you’ve got three escape routes, and that really gives you a good game plan should an event actually occur. Hopefully not, but if it does, you’ve got a good game plan,” said Cam.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois responds to 3 to 4 home fires every day, providing food, shelter, clothing and emotional support.21371469408_06f47f601d_o

Home fires tend to increase in the fall and winter, which is why Regional Disaster Officer Harley Jones said the Red Cross is making a big push now to be prepared for the colder months ahead.

“Home fires are tragic and devastating to those who experience them,” said Jones. “Our aim is to arm as many families as possible with these safety measures to help prevent another tragedy.”

TWO MINUTES TO ESCAPE  It is estimated that you may have only two minutes to get out after a fire starts in your home. As part of the campaign, the Red Cross is also asking every household in America to join us in taking two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home. Every family should develop a fire escape plan, and practice it.

21369962598_25d54af9c8_oGET INVOLVED People can visit redcross.org to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved ones and homes from fire or contact their local Red Cross to find out about smoke alarm installation events in their community. They can also help by volunteering their time or making a donation today to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to hurricanes and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.

 

Roseland Rally Group Shot 9.19.15

American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteers Tyler Bieschke, Eleanor Lyon and Alex Sobczak contributed to this story

 Photos by American Red Cross Volunteers Danny Diaz and Bill Biederman

 For more photos of the Roseland Smoke Alarm Installation Event:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagoredcross/albums/72157658419790759

21371108828_c9489a0c8c_o

World’s Largest Pillowcase Project Teaches Chicago Children Preparedness Skills

20824159040_bc91d13214_o(CHICAGO, IL) – When Hurricane Katrina made landfall 10 years ago, no one was prepared for the immense destruction and devastation it would inflict upon the Gulf Coast.

Many children were traumatized by their memories of the storm’s fury so the American Red Cross developed a program using something as simple as a pillowcase to help children feel safer and more prepared for a disaster.

21012145605_53a1db1594_oOn the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Aug. 29, 2015, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois participated in the World’s Largest Pillowcase of youth preparedness activities taking place across the county. In Chicago, kids gathered at the Robert Morris University where they learned how to prepare for a disaster and received art supplies to personalize their own pillowcase.

Eight-year-old Beatrice decorated her pillowcase with pictures of her family and favorite household items.

“I liked coming today because I learned a lot of important things,” Beatrice said. “Now I know not to put my hand on a door knob if there’s a fire because I might get burned. I need to open the door slowly so I can be safe.”

The Pillowcase Project was inspired by university students in New Orleans who evacuated the storm by carrying their personal items in pillowcase. Soon after, the Pillowcase Project became a youth preparedness class offered around the country by 20391260033_1191f8e0d6_othe Red Cross and sponsored by Disney.

In the last ten years, the Pillowcase Project has helped thousands of children learn to cope during emergencies from hurricanes to home fires. For more information on the Pillowcase Project:  RedCross.org.

For more photos of the World’s Largest Pillowcase event in Chicago visit our Flickr page. 

Story by Alexandra Sobczak, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Photos by Danny Diaz, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Volunteer  

Golin Volunteers Thank Navy Veteran for Service

19957827133_8554473c28_o(HINES, IL) – John Williams thought he would grow up to be a butcher in his dad’s meat market. Instead he proudly chose another uniform, becoming a sailor in the United States Navy.

Williams enlisted when he was 19 years old and “got to see the world” serving two years from 1962-1964 as a radar technician. He was stationed on an aircraft carrier in San Diego, CA in Nov. 1963 when he heard the news President John F. Kennedy was killed. Williams remembers how the ship turned solemn, but found support among his fellow military members.

Now a patient at the Hines VA Hospital in Hines, IL more than 50 years later, Williams gets supports from those who value and honor his service, like the volunteers from Golin who joined the Red Cross Aug. 10 to hand out comfort kits of items like soap and socks to veterans on the hospital’s 7th floor.

“To sit and talk with veterans who made such a huge sacrifice to our country is a wonderful way to show you care and thank them for their service,” said Molly Sawyer, a Golin volunteer.

Story by Patricia Kemp, Communications Manger, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Photos by Gerry Holmes, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois        

Chicago Red Cross Centennial: A Look Back on a Century of Service

Chicago Flood 1947 - Copy(CHICAGO, IL) – Rewind the past 100 years when the local Red Cross was established in Chicago to today’s reach of serving 9.5 million people in 21 counties in Northern Illinois. You’ll see how the Red Cross has touched so many lives, for so many years in our community since 1915.

We’re halfway into our Centennial year, and there’s still much more to celebrate. Join us in this historic occasion:

  1. Share your Red Cross story on chicagoredcross100.com. #ChicagoRedCross100
  2. Take a Class
  3. Volunteer
  4. Give Blood
  5. Donate
  6. Download our free Emergency App so you have lifesaving information in the palm of your hand.

A Look Back at the Past and Next Generation

Here’s a window through the decades of some classic moments of our past thanks to the Chicago Tribune archives, to what we’ve been doing in the community leading into this milestone year, according to Fran Edwardson, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois.

From health and safety classes, to supporting local military members, their families and veterans, to lifesaving blood collection, and reconnecting families torn apart by international conflict, the Red Cross has helped make our community safer and more prepared for the next 100 years.

Yet, the Red Cross historically is best known as part of the world’s largest humanitarian network that helps people in times of emergency through our army of volunteers, giving people food, shelter and comfort when they need it most.

17070334399_4dfb4bc80b_o

Disaster Relief & Preparedness: “The Red Cross Was the One Constant Through This Entire Disaster”

Eastland Disaster 1915Our first local response was on July 24, 1915, just six weeks after the chapter was established, when the Eastland Steamship capsized in the Chicago River, taking 844 lives. The Red Cross was there to comfort families after this historic tragedy – a legacy of compassion that still carries on today.

From the 3 to 4 home fires volunteers respond to every day in our community, to floods in 1947, the tornadoes that hit Plainfield in 1990, and the most recent storms that struck Coal City and Sublette this year in June, and all the devastation before and in between.

The Red Cross is here to help after disasters of any size, ready to comfort those who lived through the experience like Jackie Jordan’s family in Fairdale in April who said the Red Cross was the “one constant” through the entire tornado disaster.

On the preparedness front, we’re installing thousands of smoke alarms in homes through our Home Fire Program to reduce the number of injuries and deaths, and we’re teaching kids how to prepare for emergencies through The Pillowcase Project, sponsored by Disney, through partnerships with local schools and community partners like the Chicago Police Department.

International Services: “I Am Alive”

A Chicago Trifecta – As a tribute to the work we carry out daily here at home in Chicago and around the world, we celebrated our 18840506432_58ebce64c0_oAnniversary Week in June during World Refugee Day in Daley Plaza. The celebration was extra sweet as we served up 500 slices of birthday cake, generously donated by another Chicago staple Portillo’s topped off with a same-day win of the Stanley Cup by hometown hockey team Chicago Blawkhawks.

Through our Restoring Family Links program, the Red Cross advocates for peopleOnesphore Ndaribitse from countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Syria, and Afghanistan who are seeking to reconnect or keep in touch with their loved ones. Through this free and invaluable service, our caseworkers facilitated the exchange of thousands of messages between families separated by disaster and conflict.

Hearing the words “I am alive” from Onesphore on the Northside of Chicago to his family in Rwanda can mean the difference between peace of mind and despair for  loved ones a half a world away. 

Lifesaving Blood: “We Helped Save Six Lives Today”

To kick off our Centennial year, we held a 100th Anniversary Blood Drive at Union Station in January where 430 units of blood were collected. It was the largest single-day blood drive in our 16369445192_d87bd7bed2_oregion. If one pint of blood can save up to three lives, Chicago residents Mary Market, 69, and Mellisa Griesl, 24, who met in line to give blood, together helped save six through their blood donation.

We also recently opened our new biomed facility in our headquarters in the Illinois Medical District which is in close proximity to many area hospitals for local patients. The Red Cross supplies 40 percent of the nation’s blood, and thanks to our new technology and facility here, we can help distribute lifesaving blood to trauma victims, cancer patients, and children with sickle cell disease.

Health & Safety Training: “Never Be Afraid to Help Somebody.”

IMG_2068.JPG

Another way the Red Cross helps save lives is by teaching people the skills to perform CPR & First Aid, babysitting training, and water safety.

We train more than 88,000 local people these lifesaving skills each year – dating back to before 1953, when the Chicago Tribune, documented an aquatics training session in Glencoe, IL to help people with polio how to swim.

Over the next decades, the Red Cross has been the go-to source for information, skills and build confidence among those to act in an emergency, at home, in school and in the workplace.

ComEd employee Carlos Guevara put those skills to the test when he saved a life at his community’s church.  “Never be afraid to help somebody,” Carlos said. “Learn the basics of CPR and where you can apply it. You never know when, where and why you might need it.”

Supporting America’s Military Families: “They Were There for Us and We Need to Be There for Them”

Clara-Barton_1The true spirit of the Red Cross began on the front lines with founder Clara Barton, the Angel of the Battlefield, tending to wounded soldiers more than a century ago, and that legacy of serving our military continues today in Chicago.

From a Red Cross canteen in 1919 with soldiers in Grant Park photographed by the Chicago Tribune, to local volunteer Laura Landoe who serves in our “No Veteran Dies Alone” hospice program at the Lovell Federal Health Care Center at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois, the Red Cross cares for our veterans and service members.

Laura Landoe is a modern-day Clara Barton. She’s one of our on-call volunteers who provide comfort and care to veterans on their final journey. The compassion she gives to each of those dying veterans is extraordinary – at times she reads to them, sometimes she prays with them, and still other times she sings hymns for them.  She sits quietly holding their hand as they pass. “They were there for us and we need to be there for them,” said Laura.

“Sleeves Up. Hearts Open. All In:” Volunteers are the Heart of the Red Cross

Volunteers, like Laura Landoe, are the heart of the Red Cross. Very much ingrained with the City of Chicago from the start, some of the first local volunteers—our founding Board Members from 1915—reads like a list of street names, historical landmarks and successful companies that are still much aVolunteer Walt Disney 1919 part of the Chicago landscape today: Cyrus H. McCormick, Mrs. Potter Palmer, A.A. Sprague II, Mayor William Hale Thompson, Charles H. Wacker, and William Wrigley, Jr. to name a few.

Our current board members are also proud to carry on this legacy.

We’ve had a few other famous Chicago natives rise through the ranks in our volunteer corps, such as Walt Disney and Ernest Hemingway.

From local volunteers like Nancy Brooks-Edison, who joined the Red Cross more than 50 years ago to newcomer Lazenia Adams, who responded to more than 100 home fires during her first year of service – we couldn’t accomplish all that we do without their care and compassion.

19119823286_64587bee30_oThey represent more than 90 percent of our workforce. Think if 90 percent of the people in your workplace showed up for work and didn’t get paid? That’s what our volunteers do every day when they’re called to comfort a family after a home fire in the middle of the night, or hold a dying veterans hand.

Its hard work, but our volunteers do it because they care about our community.

Thank you for celebrating this milestone with us. The Red Cross has been part of our community for 100 years, and with all the support of our volunteers, funding partners, and the community we can continue to serve for 100 more.

READY 100 CENTENNIAL SPONSORS  Centennial sponsors of the Red Cross in 2015 include: Chicago Community Trust, Otho S. A. Sprague Memorial Institute, Schneider Electric, Ace Hardware, Allstate, Discover, Fresenius Kabi, Grainger, Gerald A. & Karen A. Kolschowsky, Kirkland & Ellis, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Navistar, PwC, USG, Aon, Baxter, BMO Harris Bank, Constellation Brands, C. Reed Parker, Deloitte, Fortune Brands, JLL, Nicor Gas, Oil-Dri, and UL.

16587620878_4cafcd9f31_o

Story By: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Ideas for the Next Century to Serve Chicago are Put “On the Table”

Around the table this afternoon, members of the American Red Cross shared stories of giving andphoto receiving. Many said inspiration comes through a personal connection. Volunteering or supporting a cause is also something that’s been passed on to us through many generations.

“My dad set a really good example for me,” said Jennifer Alt, new to the Red Cross resource development team this month. “He instilled in me the importance of giving back.”

Like Jennifer’s dad, Red Crossers around the table who have children are teaching their kids the value of volunteerism and giving back, whether it’s dividing up a dollar in four quarters to give to people who need it, or bringing them to places, such as Leader Dogs for the Blind, like Susan Westerfield did with her daughter. That spirit of giving is how Susan is setting a good example for the next generation and why she joined the Red Cross after many years in corporate sales.

“I’m awestruck by the work we do,” said Susan Westerfield. “You really can make a difference. I love talking about it.”

2015 is a special centennial year for charities in Chicago. Both the Chicago Community Trust and the Chicago chapter of the American Red Cross were established 100 years ago in 1915. As a kickoff to The Chicago Community Trust’s Centennial, organizations across the region participated in an open dialogue about the future of our community where we put our ideas “on the table.”

Many of these conversations were shared on social media via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, which helps bring our community a little closer in the digital age.  Downtown at the Willis Tower, the Red Cross held a blood drive to draw in donors for the constant need for blood. At our headquarters in the Illinois Medical District, the discussion was about supporting other agencies in our network, whether we’re running a race for a cure, or asking a friend for a few dollars to help send a kid to summer camp.

These are investments our team believes in. That’s because we know the Red Cross can’t do it alone – we need help from the entire philanthropic community.  We’ve been serving Chicago for 100 years, and we’re looking ahead to serve 100 more. Together, with our community partners, we can accomplish so much in the next century. For more information on the Chicago Red Cross centennial go to www.chicagoredcross100.com.

“It feels really good to give,” said Heidi Mucha, Chief Development Officer. “We all know that feeling and that’s why we’re part of the Red Cross. It’s in our power to help others have that same experience so they’ll be inspired to give back to our community.”

Story and photo by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Hundreds Roll Up a Sleeve to Give at the 100th Anniversary Blood Drive

KHill_oKyle Bellin has been donating blood every three to six months for as long as he can remember. He knows his donation is needed and can help save a life.

“Just do it, why not? There is no reason not to. It’s quick and it’s easy,” he said.

Kyle joined hundreds of blood donors who rolled up a sleeve Jan. 21 at the American Red Cross 100th Anniversary Blood Drive at Union Station. The event was the start of a year-long celebration to mark a century of service of the Red Cross in Chicago. More than 430 units of blood were collected in one of the largest day-long blood drives during National Blood Donor Month.

The overwhelming turnout will help keep a steady supply of blood available, which can be challenging during the winteroverview_o
months amid cold and flu season or cancelled appointments from inclement weather. The need for blood is great when you factor in more than 41,000 donations are needed every day to meet the demands of patients nationwide. Providing lifesaving blood and blood products to patients is a key component of the Red Cross mission to help people in times of emergency and disasters.

“If you believe in karma, it’s a good way to give back,” said blood donor John Pabich.John_o

Lori Wade, whose daughter works with the Red Cross, encouraged people, “to give it a try. It’s worth the time.”

Jim Dee, who has donated blood around 20-30 times in the past, donated double red blood cells for the first time. There are about one billion red blood cells in two to three drops of blood and they are the most transfusable component. Patients who benefit most from this include those with chronic anemia, trauma and surgery patients, or those with blood disorders such as sickle cell.

“This feels like the right thing to do and it barely hurts,” Jim said. “It’s an easy thing to do for people who need it in desperate situations.”

Doug Gornowich, who also donated double red blood cells, agreed. “Someone has to do it. It’s (the donation) is a small part of your day that makes a great difference.”

Vee_nApart from double red blood cells, donors also came forward to donate platelets. Veronica Vasquez, a Red Cross Blood Services
staff member, was one of them. Platelets are obtained by drawing blood from the donor into an apheresis instrument, which separates the blood into its components, retains some of the platelets, and returns the remainder of the blood to the donor. Patients who benefit most from platelets include those undergoing cancer treatments, organ transplants and surgical procedures.

The common reason across all donors was they gave blood because they wanted to help someone.  Many also understood the value of blood donations after watching a loved one need it.

Kiarra Hill, who donated on her birthday, had a friend who needed regular blood transfusions.

“Think about how many people you may be helping, including friends and family,” she said. “It doesn’t take long and you are saving so many lives.”

Muslims_oApart from individual donors, the blood drive also saw support from organizations such as ‘Muslims for Life’ who have been partnering with the Red Cross for several years by sponsoring and coordinating blood drives at malls, colleges, mosques and churches. Also present were a number of volunteers from Fresenius Kabi, a company that supplies blood packs and medical equipment to the Red Cross to collect platelets and red blood cells.

“Blood donation is something that should come without asking for it. You should do it because you want to do it,” said Shaun Connelly, after finishing his donation and walking to the refreshment table.

The Red Cross has also launched the Sleeves Up virtual blood drive this month which is a new online tool that allows you to create a virtual blood drive and encourage colleagues, friends and family members to give blood or platelets, or make a financial donation – no matter where they are located across the country.

For more details about blood donations or to sign up for an upcoming blood drive, please visit American Red Cross Biomedical Services. We look forward to seeing you at the next blood drive.

For more photos of the American Red Cross 100th Anniversary Blood Drive go to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagoredcross/sets/72157650418773425/

Written by: Amisha Sud, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

Moving Forward

Is moving or having a house fire more stressful? For 30-year-old graduate student, Tina Magnole, having a fire in the apartment she was moving into was stressful. Tina chose to take a break from moving for the night and decided to finish unpacking in the morning. Her electricity was scheduled to be turned on the following day, which left the spacious apartment unlivable for the night. Tina decided to crash on her brother’s couch; she didn’t know at the time that this decision would save her life. The following morning, Tina was awakened by a phone call from her landlord explaining that her apartment was on fire. Apparently, the stove exploded and set fire to the rest of the apartment. Tina’s furniture, including her brand new bed, was ruined; fortunately, her boxed possessions like her clothes were okay.

Image

After chased away by the property manager for a good twenty minutes, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s  Disaster Action Team (DAT) was finally able to track Tina down at her brother’s apartment. Tina burst into tears as soon as the DAT responders sat down with her. This young woman was clearly distraught and clueless as what to do next. The DAT responders compassionately listened to all of her frustrations with the building management and her aspirations for the future apartment.

“I didn’t get renter’s insurance yet, because I didn’t know the square feet of the apartment,” Tina said.

DAT responders reassured Tina that the fire wasn’t her fault and she was lucky to be alive. A veteran  volunteer suggested that Tina reach out to a couple of local agencies for advice. The Red Cross replaced Tina’s medication and gave her money for food. The DAT responders helped Tina determine what items were salvageable. “This was so helpful. I felt like you guys were on my side,” Tina said with tears in her eyes as the DAT responders left the scene.   

Tina was unfamiliar with this part of the Red Cross’ program and knew she was in good hands. Like many others, Tina was shocked that all of the DAT responders were volunteers and that the Red Cross completely operates on donations. The Red Cross is there to help victims like Tina to move forward when it may seem nearly impossible. 

Written by Lindsey Warneke