Monday, July 6, 2015

Why I Help (WIH)

By Sharon Alfred and Monique Gooch, Red Cross Volunteer Journalists

Bert Copeland, American Red Cross Nashville Area of Chapter of the Tennessee Region, Nashville, TN
If you’re in the greater Nashville area, and need to be nursed back to health, there is someone special you can call: Bert Copeland, a volunteer with the American Red Cross. He is a long-time volunteer and a licensed registered nurse. He makes sure disaster victims have a quiet place to rest and recover. Copeland works closely with the Gage Cobb, the Red Cross’ regional disaster program manager, to renew shelter agreements and meet with emergency response leaders in the surrounding counties when disaster strikes.

Copeland added that when emergency shelters are opened, he helps to assign health care volunteers to man those shelters. And he knows what needs to be done in emergency situations, because he has personal experience working in intensive care units, as well as Level 1 trauma centers. Additionally, as an on-call Disaster Action Team (DAT) nurse at the Nashville, Tennessee chapter, Copeland “helps victims of disaster get their replacement medications and durable medical equipment that they may have lost.”

He also has an active role in the Red Cross Staff Wellness program. The program makes sure that assigned volunteers are working and staying in a safe place as they fulfill their disaster relief missions. Copeland’s Staff Wellness position involves reviewing health-status records of the local volunteers before they deploy. If he has a few spare minutes, amazingly, he also teaches CPR/First Aid/AED to novice and professional responders.

Copeland has been volunteering with the Red Cross for the past five years. But, Copeland has been a volunteer or a recipient of Red Cross services several times in the distant past too. He recalled that when he was still stationed at an Armed Forces Boot Camp, it was a Red Cross program that allowed him to go back home and be with his family during the trying times brought on by his father’s sudden death and funeral.

Copeland likes to volunteer with the Red Cross organization because he feels that “it is the only national organization that can help people on so many levels.” This type of help is in direct agreement with his personal motto - “When I help you, I am helping myself, and the way I treat you is the way I expect God to treat me.”

Copeland summed it up best when he stated when he volunteers; it seems as though he receives more back than what he initially puts in. He asked rhetorically, “And, what is wrong with that? Who could ask for more?”

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hot Weather Safety

When the temperatures rise, drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Drinks with caffeine or alcohol aren’t a good choice. Eat smaller meals and eat more often. Other tips include:

  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Never leave kids or pets in hot vehicles.
  • Wear loose, light weight, light colored clothing.
  • Slow down, stay inside and avoid heavy exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • If you work outside, take a lot of breaks.
  • Check on loved ones and neighbors who don’t have air conditioning, who are alone, or who may be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently. Make sure they have enough water,
  • If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls). 

  • Friday, June 12, 2015

    Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - June 2015

    Volunteers in Action!

    This spring saw seemingly endless flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest, impacting thousands of residents all over the Lone Star State of Texas and Oklahoma.  Since early May, 1,800 Red Cross workers have opened 37 shelters, served over 40,000 meals and snacks and handed out over 34,000 relief items and cleaning supplies in Texas. In addition, 40 emergency response vehicles are distributing food and relief items in the communities and additional volunteers and vehicles are on alert if needed.

    It is exciting to see the Volunteers of Tennessee responding to help other states in their disaster relief.  We have had 42 volunteers from all eight Chapters in Tennessee on the ground in disaster stricken areas. Some of those volunteers are still in Texas serving as clean-up and recovery is still in full swing.  These volunteers are a testament to the hard work everyone has put in to ensure we have a volunteer workforce prepared, trained and ready to go in times of disaster- not only in our state, but across the Nation.

    A special thanks goes to our Southeast TN Volunteers who are currently deployed in Texas:
    Thomas Myers, ERV Driver
    Larry Miner, Shelter worker

    I am very thankful for our volunteers and their dedication to serving others during disasters.  You too can help those affected by disasters like floods, tornadoes and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. To donate, people can visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

    Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - June 2015

    It’s summer!  What a fun and wonderful time of year for so many adults and youth alike.

    For young people, it is the magical time when school is out.  The words “school’s out” affect adults as well as they bring memories of friends and special adventures.  Together, we charge into summer with plans to maximize our opportunities for fun!

    As you enjoy this magical time, please take a minute and think about safety.  We all need to be reminded at times that some of the most fun activities of summer can turn to tragedy quickly.  Barbecue grills must be maintained and operated with safety in mind at all times.  Boating, swimming, and other water activities should be enjoyed following training in how to be safe in and around the water.

    Heat is another factor that needs to be respected.  The long, hot days of summer can bring dangerously high temperatures. In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, generally 10 degrees or more above average, often combined with excessive humidity.  Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

    Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:

    •    Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
    •    Avoid extreme temperature changes.
    •    Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
    •    Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
    •    Postpone outdoor games and activities.
    •    Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
    •    Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
    •    Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
    •    If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

    I encourage each of you to remember and practice the steps that keep us safe as we enjoy this magical time of year when “school’s out”.  And beyond that, let’s each take a few minutes now and remind our friends and family to be safe.

    You are important to me.  So stay safe and enjoy the summer!


    Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Faye Anderson - June 2015

    A Little Bit of Heart

    The Tennessee River chapter had our first all-volunteer meeting recently.  A lot of things came from that meeting other than what you would expect to gain from getting volunteers across different lines of service together.

    I opened the meeting with a “Why I volunteer” video.  I then asked each person to introduce themselves with a short description of why they choose to volunteer.  It was interesting that the expected answer, “I had extra time on my hands,” never came up.  The one strong word that was repeated over and over was the word “heart.” 

    It is true that the heart of our volunteers can be seen over and over again at any given time.  I have seen it in an arm that is stretched around the shoulder of a client who had just lost everything.  I have seen it in the smile of an instructor as they repeat the same message over and over to new volunteers.   I have seen it in the hugs to the children as they are presented a Mickey Mouse doll, or the visit to a funeral home to extend a hand of condolence.  I see it in the grateful eyes of a service man or woman’s family members, who without our help would not be able to have their loved ones home for a funeral, or maybe a last conversation that no price could ever be put on. 

    This organization not only provides families with help in a time of need, it gives others the ability to serve…to lend a hand while sharing their heart and their talents with their neighbors across this country.  It is through the time and care of ordinary people that we can do amazing things, because when heart is present, our mission comes full circle.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2015

    Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, Debra Roberson - June 2015

    A special thank you goes out to our volunteers who are presently deployed in Texas.  For those who aren’t familiar with what’s going on in Texas, extensive storms and flooding  have caused long term damage and recovery, and our operations in Texas and in Oklahoma are the largest and most complex since Hurricane Sandy.  So far, it’s affected nearly every part of the lone star state.  Without you, our volunteers, this mission would not be a success.

    Again, I want to remind everyone of the monthly volunteer meetings here at the Mid-West TN Chapter.   We meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:00 pm, unless there is a conflict.  I will continue to send out email reminders through Volunteer Connection.  Please be sure to keep your contact information updated when you have changes.

    Thanks for all that you do for the American Red Cross.

    Debra Roberson
    Executive Director

    Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Mike Cowles - June 2015

    Warm weather has arrived and you know what that means- time to go swimming!  My family is about to make our annual trip to Gulf Shores and we will spend a lot of time at the beach and the pool. While this is a time to have fun, we must also be very serious about safety.

    One of the best ways to enjoy the water is to learn how to swim.  The Red Cross offers swimming courses, and all you need to do is call (615) 893-4272 to find a course nearest you.  Below are a few things you can use to have a more fun and safer summer.

    1.     Swim in areas that have lifeguards
    2.    Use the “Buddy System” my kids always have a buddy and likewise are their friends buddy when at summer camp.
    3.    Never leave a child unattended near water.
    4.    If a child or adult is an inexperienced swimmer make sure they are wearing an approved life jacket.  While this may not be the “cool” thing to do it is much better than the alternative.
    5.    Do not play around drains and suction apparatuses.
    6.    If you are at the beach be aware of the undertow and rough waves.  Most beaches have a flag system to determine what is going on in the ocean.
    7.    Finally, use common sense and by doing so I promise you will have a fun and safe time.

    It is amazing just how many ways we are able to make a difference in the lives of residents of the communities we serve.  From our lifesaving skills training, to disaster relief, our service to armed forces, vital blood collection, mobile applications to alert you of weather related events and the training, coordinating and springing into action of our caring volunteers, the Red Cross is there for you.  I encourage you to stop by our office and see where you can fit in and be one of the folks that makes a difference.