Dedicated to Service: Rich Dansizen

“It’s good for everyone to give back to their community and this is a great way to do that. There are lots of opportunities within the Red Cross.”
-Rich Dansizen

Rich Dansizen has spent most of his life serving others. For 23 years, he served our country in the United States Air Force, starting in the veterinary service and then spending the majority of his years doing communications work.

As part of his duties, Rich hosted radio and television broadcasts, doing everything from spinning tunes to delivering the news. “Our mission was to provide that touch of home to the servicemen and women who were serving overseas,” he says. “Quite often, I did the morning show on the radio and the TV news at six. It was a dream job, and I was so happy to have done it.”

In addition, he helped the American Red Cross during his time with the Air Force, serving as the point of contact with the Red Cross for soldier emergency communication situations, for example, if there was an emergency in a soldier’s family.

Rich recalls his mother starting a job with the Red Cross years ago, shortly after his father retired from his career. She too, worked with service members as part of her role.

Fast forward to today, and you will find Rich volunteering for the Red Cross, helping with tasks for the Communications and Service to Armed Forces teams. He says, “When I retired I was looking for some more things to do and I thought the Red Cross would be a good fit.”

Rich helps the Service to the Armed Forces team with completing follow-up work and helping with referrals for military members and their families. He helps Communications, by organizing a list of volunteers, coordinating and delegating volunteer responsibilities each week, along with other tasks.

“We are glad to have Rich on the team,” said Crystal Smith, regional director of Red Cross Service to Armed Forces & International Services. “His background and expertise as a retired service member help him provide valuable insights as a Service to the Armed Forces volunteer and relate to military families in crisis. Rich is a great asset to the Red Cross and the military community.”

When he is not volunteering his time, Rich loves to travel with his wife, Judy. He lists New York, Las Vegas, Sturgeon Bay, WI and Indiana Dunes as some of his favorite trips.

Thank you, Rich for your service to our country and for all you do for the Red Cross!

Visit to sign up as a Red Cross volunteer.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen.

Celebrating Black History Month: Employee Spotlight on Tia Jackson

Tia Jackson is a business operations specialist and started working for us as an executive assistant in 2016. In her current role, she manages operations at American Red Cross facilities in Peoria, Bloomington, Springfield and Decatur and she is responsible for making sure facility needs are met.

“I like being able to help the Red Cross and people who are working in the buildings and it makes me feel good when someone tells me a facility is clean and in good condition,” she said.

Part of Tia’s role is recruiting, training and working with volunteers. She is quick to compliment them for being great partners in what she does on a daily basis.

“Volunteers are very helpful to me, because they can be my eyes and ears in the buildings when things need to be fixed. It’s satisfying when volunteers feel they can come to me and talk about any issues they’re having and talk about their accomplishments. It’s great when the team and I can get together and work through things and talk about fun things, too,” she said.

Five years after starting here, Tia says she enjoys her role and is looking forward to what the future holds.

“Business Operations is a great team and it’s amazing working for the Red Cross,” she said.

Tia lives in the Peoria area with her family and loves to travel. Her favorite travel memory is from a trip to Mexico, when her husband proposed to her.

You might find Tia wearing green and gold, because she is an avid Green Bay Packers fan – a team she roots for in honor of her uncle, who was a lifelong fan.

Thank you, Tia for all you do!

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Retired People: Travel Safe, Travel Far!

On the news last night I caught a clip about the increasingly adventurous traveling habits of retirees. A long weekend in Wisconsin doesn’t cut it anymore. Retired people are taking epic trips across Europe, visiting the Great Wall of China and exploring our National Parks. This is fabulous news—I’d love to be active and traveling well into my retirement (t-minus 40 years from now). But this clip also reminded me that vacation healthcare emergencies should be a consideration among aging travelers, and my family knows ALL about that.

Several years ago, my grandpa and his wife left their home in Arizona to summer in Vancouver. That’s pretty darn far away from where my family lives here in Chicago. When my grandfather got a scrape on his head, he figured it would heal on its own and didn’t treat it. A week later, my dad took an emergency trip up to Canada because Grandpa was in the hospital with a wicked infection. It was scary for a while—they feared the infection might spread to his blood.

It pretty much ruined the summer, but hasn’t stemmed my grandpa’s sense of adventure. He and his wife still like to flee the heat for far-flung spots. And they should! But now they’re a bit more cautious, and so goes the direction of my tale: If you, your parents or grandparents are setting off on a vacation, consider these tips:

Now that you’re feeling a little safer, hooray for people who are taking these vacations. Do you have a dream vacation planned for your retirement? Tell us about it in the comments!

Kristin Claes is the senior writer for the chapter. She wants to travel to San Sebastian, Spain, in retirement and never leave. Thanks to withoutyou for the image!