Thursday, December 14, 2017

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - December 2017

1917 -2017:  100 Years of Serving the Nashville Area Community

This year marks 100 years of service to the Nashville area community. As our Centennial year comes to a close, let’s reflect on what we have accomplished together so far in 2017:

(Numbers are from January 1, 2017 through October 31, 2017)

1,042 volunteers have served our community.
348 families assisted after 185 disaster incidents. Volunteers on our disaster action team (DAT) provided emergency assistance for immediate needs such as shelter, food and clothing.
111 volunteers from the Nashville Area Chapter made 239 deployments around the country to help people affected by the hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters.
651 third through fifth graders who are now prepared for a disaster through The Pillowcase Project.
1,027 free smoke alarms installed in homes.
9,967 community members trained in life saving courses like CPR, First Aid, and AED.
285 services provided to military members, veterans and their families to help them prepare for, cope with, and respond to, the challenges of military service.
3,990 Red Cross mobile app downloads to help you prepare for a disaster, receive important weather alerts, learn first aid techniques, and more.

And, the year is not over yet. Our Red Cross team is hard at work to serve our mission.

Thank you all for your support (time, talent and treasure). Here’s looking forward to 2018 and the next 100 years!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Safely Heat Your Home This Winter with Tips from the Red Cross

Cold temperatures have settled in. Almost half of the families in the United States use things like space heaters, fireplaces, or coal or wood stoves to stay warm. These supplemental heating sources can be dangerous if not used properly. Heating a home is one of the leading causes of home fires and the American Red Cross has steps people can follow to heat their home safely:
1. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
2. Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
3. Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.
4. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
5. Place space heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
6. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
7. When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.
8. Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
9. Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.
10. Other safety steps - Check electrical appliances before you leave home. Do not leave food cooking on the stove. Blow out candles before going to bed. Do not overload electrical outlets.
Make a fire escape plan and ensure all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home. Set up a meeting place outside in case of fire. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Teach household members to stop, drop and roll if their clothing should catch on fire.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check monthly that smoke alarms are working properly by pushing the test button. Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year or as directed by the manufacturer. Replace smoke alarms every ten years.

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Katy Hagstrom - December 2017

With the Holiday season upon us, we look forward to spending time with one another and reflect upon the last year. This year there is much to reflect upon with the recent disasters and the growth of our chapter through outreach and new volunteers. The winter season is also a time where we focus on our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign as the rate of home fires increases during cold weather.

There are many ways you too can reduce the risk of home fires in your own home:
- At least twice a year, practice your fire escape plan with all family members.
- Practice makes perfect! After each fire drill, mark down your escape time and make sure everyone can get out in two minutes or less.
- “Keep an eye on what you fry.” Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or using an open flame
- Never smoke in bed
- Matches and lighters are locked away
- “3 feet from the heat.” Furniture, curtains, dish towels and anything that could catch fire are at least 3 feet from any type of heat source.
- Large and small appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets.
- Change smoke alarm batteries every year unless it has a long-life battery.
- Replace smoke alarms every ten years.
- Test your smoke alarms each month. If they’re not working, they can’t get you out the door.

We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!
Katy Hagstrom

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Pete Galanos - December 2017

The Southeast Tennessee Red Cross counts on Pete Galanos.

Last year, Brooke Powell, Southeast Tennessee’s Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist, discovered that volunteer Pete Galanos, a 71-year-old retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, was a military logistics specialist. So, she showed him her shelter facility file drawer. “It looked like somebody had taken a fistful of papers and shoved them inside,” Powell said. “When Pete saw it, his head exploded.”

Galanos, a retired pharmacist and East Brainerd resident, is this month's Southeast Tennessee Red Cross Volunteer Spotlight. “He is a very serious and hard-working volunteer that we love working with at the EOC in Meigs County,” one nominator wrote. “We had the expert with us.”

This year, Galanos worked tirelessly to turn a jumble of papers into a tidy regiment of color-coded folders. He created an easy-to-use spreadsheet, and updated Southeast Tennessee’s information with the National Shelter Service.

“I love a challenge,” Galanos said. “The harder the better.”

Galanos and his team spent many hours calling or visiting all 60-65 Southeast Tennessee Red Cross shelters, filling out 8-page inspection forms, updating contract and contact information, insuring ADA compliance, measuring square footage, and, along the way, discovering closed-down churches and large, new gymnasiums.

“He’s a workhorse,” Powell said. “And he’s an awesome person, and a real joy. I can always count on him.”

This summer, he also tallied residents, demographics and special needs for twice-daily calls to dozens of shelters during the recent Hurricane Irma operation. Such information is vital to efficient Red Cross operations, he explained. “You need to know if you have lots of children; if you have lots of infants, you can’t feed them fried chicken, right?”

During Vietnam, Galanos flew helicopter gunships. He was a military flight instructor, then a pharmacist. He and his wife moved to Chattanooga three years ago to hike, bike, sail and enjoy the outdoors.

The commitment he learned while serving in the military led him to spend many hours indoors, sorting files, filling out paperwork, drafting spreadsheets.

Galanos added that his philosophy of volunteering also grew from his military experience. “I say you’re a volunteer until you volunteer to do something,” he said. “Once you volunteer, you don’t have a choice; it means you’re going to do it. Because a lot of people and their lives, and their welfare, depend on you doing a good job.”

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - December 2017

2017 is truly a monumental twenty-first century page in American Red Cross history. As the Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee takes its collective breath to reflect on the accomplishments through the work of its volunteers, we close on a year in the happiness of renewal, lives changed and lives saved, while we are sorrowed by lives torn and lives lost.

Our April brought much happiness in the Military Kids Serve Too campaign. In June, we celebrated one hundred years of service in Southeast Tennessee. August saw a major impact success on our chapter in our first association with the Transmission Employee Charity Golf Tournament.

Wildfire was already scorching the Los Angeles highlands when the calm of the Atlantic hurricane season subsided and in with rage came Harvey, Irma and Maria. We opened a shelter for evacuees of Irma and almost simultaneously in-processed over 150 new prospective volunteers while deploying over 50 volunteers to help our neighbors in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, California and Puerto Rico.

In October, we honored our local heroes at the Annual Heroes Luncheon. Over the course of 2017, the Southeast Tennessee Chapter has responded to over 200 home and apartment fire and provided over 1,000 services to our military members and their families. Over 23,000 volunteer hours have been provided to the community in training and life saving skills such as first aid and CPR in the last twelve months.

2017 was an especially challenging year for all of us everywhere in the Red Cross. Fires, earthquakes, floods, storms: all in such a short span of time. This is when human beings are at their best. Always, it is our honor to be there.

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - December 2017

Happy Holidays, Mid-West Tennessee team! I hope each of you are enjoying the holiday season. As this time of year usually causes me to do, I’ve been reflecting back over the past year and all the AMAZING things we’ve experienced (individually and collectively)! It’s truly been a banner year for our chapter and the services we’ve provided throughout the 14 counties in our coverage area.

We couldn’t have even begun to accomplish all this year included without the tireless work and effort of the “Coordinators” in each of the respective areas of service in our chapter! Please take a moment with me to celebrate their numerous accomplishments and commitment. They are as follows:

*Dave Brumley - Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Coordinator
*Derrick Byrum - Logistics Coordinator
*Dawn Duke - Engagement Coordinator
*Brian Hogeland - Transportation Coordinator
*Carl Jones - Feeding Coordinator
*Chuck Mosele - “Sound the Alarm” Coordinator
*Mary Lee - Casework Coordinator
*Sandee Potter - Disaster Mental Health Coordinator
*Meaghan Smith - Disaster Action Team (DAT) Coordinator
*Travis Smith - Disaster Assessment Coordinator
*Sue Vegors - Health Services Coordinator
*Haley Warwick - Community Partnerships Coordinator
**Wendie Carlson - Leadership Board Chair

When I consider how proud this chapter makes me as an Executive Director, I also immediately think of our Disaster Action Team and all it’s members. I take tremendous pride in the work that you do- and the outstanding way in which you represent our chapter in each town and community. You are truly the “boots on the ground” and the “hands and feet” of our volunteer community. The level of commitment you demonstrate by your willingness to disrupt your individual (and family!) schedule to respond at a moment’s notice to meet the needs of those affected by disaster never ceases to amaze and impress me!

So, 2017 will be a hard act to follow because it set such a high standard for our chapter and it’s disaster response performance! However, I know that we have even more achievements in our future on behalf of the Mid- West Tennessee section of our state. Now, let’s go do even more selfless service in 2018 on behalf of the American Red Cross! Who’s with me?!

Mid-West Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Derrick Byrum - December 2017

Derrick Byrum serves as the Logistics Coordinator for the Mid-West Tennessee chapter. He is the volunteer spotlight for December 2017!

Derrick did an outstanding job assisting with the recruiting of additional sheltering and feeding partners during our “blitz” effort to prepare ourselves for the Mass Care project assigned to our chapter. It was impressive to watch the passion and tireless effort that Derrick contributed (especially considering that Derrick came aboard as an official volunteer in our chapter as recently as July 2017!). He was a leader by example throughout the entire process.

Derrick is proud to say he was recruited to the Red Cross by one of his best friends: Brian Hogeland. Brian serves as the Transportation Coordinator for our chapter. Derrick’s journey with us began when he was invited by Brian to assist with a work project being done at the chapter office by a group of local high school students. Derrick also serves with the local Youth Town service organization and Brian knew Derrick would be very comfortable (and effective) interacting with the students and keeping them motivated during the service project. Derrick still talks about how much he enjoyed helping out that day (and he continued to help for the next three days!). He said he was drawn to our chapter and it’s family-like atmosphere. In Derrick’s own words, “I was welcomed the very first day with open arms and given a job to do as a team player. I loved it!”

He says his favorite part of serving our chapter is when he is given the opportunity to do community events like The Pillowcase Project. He sums it up by saying. “The intensity on the face of the children staring at you while you’re talking and explaining things to them, that's real. It also serves as motivation to be there for the next 100 Pillowcase Projects to make sure kids are as prepared as possible!” That’s certainly the kind of passion and commitment level that makes volunteers like Derrick such a pleasure to work with and serve alongside. Keep up the good work, Derrick!