Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Give Something that Means Something this Holiday Season

Think of helping those in need by supporting American Red Cross services

The American Red Cross is making it easier than ever to give a meaningful—and enduring—gift of support, strength and hope to someone who needs it this year. Thanks to the 2015 American Red Cross Holiday Gift Catalog, holiday shoppers can cross a name off their gift list by “purchasing” a symbolic gift and sending a free greeting or electronic card to the person their donation is honoring.

Throughout the festive holiday catalog are heartwarming stories from just a few of the thousands of people helped by the Red Cross. Available in print and online, the catalog provides a diverse list of symbolic gifts that illustrate in a tangible way what a donation in honor of a loved one, colleague or client can mean to someone in need. Items range from infant care supplies to support families in emergency shelters to comfort kits for wounded warriors, from vaccinations that save the lives of children around the world to clean up kits that help put a family’s life back in order after a disaster.

Hundreds of times a day in a multitude of ways, the Red Cross is there to bring help and hope to those in need. Last year, the Red Cross was there to help:

•    Support people affected by nearly 70,000 disasters each year
•    Provide 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply to nearly 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers
•    Deliver some 400,000 humanitarian services to veterans, active military and their loved ones

To access the Red Cross 2015 Holiday Gift Catalog online, visit redcross.org/gifts and then choose from an assortment of symbolic gifts. Make a tax-deductible donation to support a Red Cross program, and send a card to the friend, family member, co-worker or customer being honored by the gift. It’s that easy to give something that means something this holiday season.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - November 2015

The season of giving thanks is upon us and I want to express my gratitude to Red Cross volunteers, donors, community partners and staff members who carry out the mission of the American Red Cross.

Our mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. You allow us to carry out this mission of providing compassionate care to those in need.

Your time, treasure, talent and teamwork allow us to respond when disaster strikes, whether it’s a single-family house fire, a tornado that affects hundreds, or a hurricane that affects tens of thousands. You help provide shelter, food, clothing and hygiene items to families who have lost everything, along with health and mental health services to help families and entire communities get back on their feet. You help military members, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military service including emergency communications and support to wounded warriors and veterans. Here at home and around the world, our vital work is made possible by you.

For the American Red Cross, the season of giving is year around. Your gift of your time, talent and treasure throughout the year makes a difference in the lives of others. You may see these gifts in action through our reports, statistics and photos. The volunteers who meet with our clients daily get to look into the eyes of those you are helping and see the difference it makes in that individual’s life.

Thank you for your gifts that make our mission possible!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, November 2015

November is a month to be thankful--For family, for friends, for food and warmth. I know that I’m thankful each and every day for the men and women who give their time, talent and treasures to the Red Cross so that those who lose so much so suddenly have a way to make it through terrible times.

There is no way to list all of the hundreds of volunteers, donors and employees that are on my list to thank, but I’m going to try my best to list those that particularly come to mind right now:

•    Thank you to those who serve the military by being there 24/7 to answer the call for assistance and emergency communication.

•    Thank you to those who stood out in the hot sun, pounding rain, or freezing snow to hand out water or coffee to first responders and victims of disaster.

•    Thank you to those who keep our resources available by managing call centers, handle dispatch, and figure out the logistics of getting all of THAT, THERE.

•    Thank you to those who can make the phone calls that end with a gift of money or in-kind items so that we can serve more people.

•    Thank you to those who have the gift of teaching, able to pass on life saving skills and disaster response best practices to others.

•    Thank you to those who answer the phone with a gentle voice and warm heart.

•    Thank you to those who provide first aid with firm hands and strong knowledge.

•    Thank you to those who can stand up in front of a crowd to spread the mission of the Red Cross.

Thank you all for being prepared to jump into action. As cold weather becomes reality, we know the call for Red Cross will become stronger, and you are the ones who will make that response possible.

Red Cross Continues to Install Smoke Alarms and Teach People Fire Safety as Part of Home Fire Preparedness Campaign

The American Red Cross continues its campaign in Tennessee and across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over a five year period.

In its second year, the campaign focuses on increasing the amount of smoke alarms in neighborhoods with high risk of home fires and encourages everyone to create and practice their fire escape plans.

Here in Tennessee, 650 families are safer thanks to the smoke alarms and safety education they received in their homes from Red Cross volunteers and other community partners. Since July 1, 2015, 1,192 smoke alarms have been installed throughout the state, with many more installations planned for the remainder of FY16.

Statewide sponsors for the campaign are Allstate, CHI Memorial and Memorial Foundation.

SIMPLE STEPS TO SAVE LIVES The Red Cross is calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home,

There are several other things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:

•    If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
•    If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
•    Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
•    Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?

RED CROSS APPS People can learn how to help prevent a home fire and what to do if one occurs by downloading the Red Cross Emergency App. They can use the app’s Family Safe feature to help stay in touch with loved ones. Children can earn points and incentives in a fun, gaming environment while learning how to prevent a home fire and other emergencies in the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App. The First Aid App provides expert advice including what to do for burns, broken bones, and breathing and cardiac emergencies. The apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

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

A Season of Thanksgiving

November is the time of year that we all look around the table and become very thankful for our family, our health, and our little world as we know it.   It is the time of year that just for a moment our homes become full of wonderful smells and sounds of the holiday, and we stop, hold hands around the table, look up and realize how blessed we are and where the blessings come from.  Our families gather together around the TV to watch a football game or a parade full of beautiful floats.  Laughter rings out as we take the time to visit and reminisce.   Our tables are full of recipes that were handed down from one generation to the next, usually made just once a  year.

The conversation in the kitchen goes to how grandma used to make the dressing, and how nobody could ever get their recipe to taste like hers.  The memories of those we love that have passed on are brought to life through conversations and their memory and their presence is once again felt in our homes.  We become thankful for the times that we shared with them and for what they taught us through their journey and connection to our own lives.

I want to take this time to say how thankful I am for each and every person that I work with.  Volunteers that I have grown to know and love that will always have a special place in my heart.   I am thankful for all of the Red Cross employees that I share the same passion with day after day.  We are blessed with the ability to go to work every day and still play a role in helping those in need throughout our communities.

Happy Thanksgiving to all from the Tennessee River Chapter and may we carry this thankful spirit with us throughout the year!  Here is a recipe that will help us as we strive to make our journey a meaningful one…

"Recipe for Love"
2 Hearts Full of Love
2 Heaping Cups of Kindness
2 Armfuls of Gentleness
2 Cups of Friendship
2 Cups of Joy
2 Big Hearts Full of Forgiveness
1 Lifetime of Togetherness
2 Minds Full of Tenderness
Stir daily with Happiness, Humor and Patience.
Serve with Warmth and Compassion, Respect and Loyalty.

Author: Unknown

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


As we wind down 2015, we must remember that we are very fortunate to have men and women who stand by waiting for the call to protect our freedom at any cost.  When military personnel are dispatched, they leave behind a sense of normalcy, as well as a family.  This year I encourage you to follow the steps below to show your support for our men, women and their families by participating in the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes. 

Q:  What is the Holiday for Heroes Program?

A:  The Red Cross Holiday for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season.  We are inviting the public to send cards of thanks, encouragement and holiday cheer to members of our US Armed Forces, veterans and military families many of whom will be far away from home this holiday season.

Q:  What is the address of the P.O. Box for the program?
A:  We no longer have a national P.O. Box for the program.  Instead, Holiday Mail for Heroes is being conducted at the Red Cross office in your local community.  Check with your local Red Cross office for times and locations for opportunities to get involved.

Q:  Why is the Red Cross changing the format of the program?
A:  We have made this change for several reasons, a reduction in U.S. Armed Forces overseas, particularly in the Middle East and Europe and increased cost of conducting the program.

Q:  Is my local Red Cross Chapter participating in the Holiday for Heroes program?

A:  Yes, the Heart of Tennessee Chapter is participating.  We invite you to stop by our office at 501 Memorial Blvd here in Murfreesboro or call us at 615 893 4272 to find out more information about how you can participate.

Q: I don’t know anyone in the military; how do I participate? 
A: You don’t need to know anyone in the military. Red Cross workers will distribute cards to members of the military and veterans around the world. Contact your local Red Cross for times and locations of card-signing and card-making events.

Q:  Cards are not addressed to anyone specific, so who gets these cards?
A:  Participating Red Cross chapters will determine how best to distribute cards to service members, veterans and family members in their local communities, across the nation and around the world.  Cards may be delivered individually, included in care packages or displayed at common venues at military installations and hospitals.

Q:  Can I drop off cards at my local Red Cross office?

A:  Yes, The Heart of Tennessee Chapter office is accepting cards.

Q: What is the goal for the 2015 Holiday Mail for Heroes Program?

A: The goal is to share season’s greeting and holiday cheer to the members of our Armed Forces. We do not have a goal for a total number of cards.

Q:  Are there restrictions and guidelines for cards?
A:  In order to make cards as meaningful as possible to a wide audience we recommend that the public use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member, Veteran or Military Family Member “ , when writing the cards.  Cards should not contain glitter because some cards may end up at the bedside of a wounded service member and glitter could aggravate existing health issues.

Q:  Can I include calling and gift cards, money or other items in the cards?
A:  We ask that people NOT enclose any items with the holiday cards.  Any items enclosed with the holiday cards will be removed including photos and other gifts.  If you wish to provide financial support for the Red Cross services to the military to please visit your local chapter.

Once again I want to “Thank You” for what you do for our community and our country and without your support we could not fulfill the mission of helping others.  Please feel free to stop by our office and see where you can find a place amongst the greatest volunteers on earth!


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

Did you remember?

On November 1st, we “fell back” in time as daylight savings time ended.  This is the traditional time to also change the batteries in your smoke alarms.  Remembering to change the time on our clocks got us to work on time Monday morning.  Remembering to change the batteries in our smoke alarms saves our lives!  If you forgot, be sure that today is the day you remember to be safe.

Our Home Fire Preparedness campaign continues on.  As we work to install smoke alarms for the second year of our five year initiative to reduce injury and death from fires by 25%, we must stay diligent, participate, and spread the word to our network of friends and family.  The next “Campaign Saturdays” in Northeast Tennessee will be November 14th in Rogersville and in Tusculum on November 21st.  We are partnering with the Rogersville and Tusculum Fire Departments to make communities safer by checking alarms already installed, changing batteries and installing alarms where needed.  In addition, we are talking with residents about developing and practicing their plan in case of fire.  

In the past few months, people in our communities have lost their lives in house fires.  Help us reduce the times when we hear a news story describing the loss of someone’s loved one due to a fire in their home.  Smoke alarms give us a chance to get out safely.  Together we can increase the number of residents in Northeast Tennessee who have the warning they need.

Please mark your calendar now to meet us at 9:30 am on November 14th in Rogersville and/ or November 21st in Tusculum.  The event ends at 1 pm after we provide your lunch.  We work in teams so consider bringing friends to join as well.  Just call or email Dawn Day so we have supplies for you.  423-765-4129 or dawn.day@redcross.org

Just yesterday, volunteers responded to a fire.  They provided assistance to meet the family’s emergency needs.  The Red Cross has been doing this in our communities for a long time.  We continue today to assist those affected by disaster, however, we are now working even harder to be prepared before the disaster happens.  Join the team of volunteers working to install smoke alarms and educate people on the value of making a plan for themselves and their family.

And, by the way, check out your smoke alarms and ask your friends and family to do the same!


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

If you attended the 2015 Heroes Luncheon, the success of this year’s event will come as no surprise.  On Wednesday, October 14 business and community leaders came together to honor local heroes at the CHI Memorial Heroes Luncheon.  Lt. Commander Tim White, Commanding Officer of the Navy Operational Support Center of Chattanooga, spoke to the crowd about his experiences including his interaction with the Red Cross around the world.

Each year, the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee honors individuals and groups for acts of great bravery, dedication and service to the community at the Heroes Luncheon, sharing the mission of the American Red Cross and raising the financial funding resources necessary to provide their core humanitarian services.  This year was no different.  We honored six individuals in four categories for their service to the community:  Conner Pearce and Macy Howell as First Responder Heroes; Jason Greer, Humanitarian Hero;  Amy Dickerson, Medical Hero; Jacob Gray and Mason Chamberlain as Youth Heroes.  In addition, over $54,000 was raised to support the local American Red Cross serve in Southeast Tennessee.

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Heroes Luncheon such a success!

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

The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially around the holidays. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home.

Here are a few safety tips to for you and your family this holiday season:

 •Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food. When cooking your turkey, check on it frequently.
•Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
•Never leave children alone in a room with a lit a candle.
•Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

I would like to wish all of our Red Cross volunteers, friends and families a very Happy Thanksgiving.  I want to encourage everyone to take some time to rest, spend time with loved ones and also to take a few moments to think about the many things we have to be thankful for.  I am very grateful for our volunteers and the support they give to Red Cross.  

Happy Thanksgiving,
Debra Roberson
Executive Director

Volunteers: Then and Now - Northeast Tennessee

Norma Nolen, Service to Military Families and Disaster Volunteer, 1978 – mid 1990s

Norma Nolen was a widowed mother of 10 children when she began her volunteer service in 1978. She was one of the first Red Cross volunteers in the clinic opening at Lamar School. She also became a First Aid and CPR Instructor training more than 5,000 individuals in 2,500 class hours.  In 1985 she became a disaster volunteer serving in Michigan, and Texas as well as during the John Sevier Hotel disaster in downtown Johnson City.  Many weeks after the fire was out of the headlines, Norma was still following up with displaced individuals to ensure they were adjusting to their new living situations.

Although she loved all her Red Cross volunteer activities, Norma especially enjoyed working with Service to Military Families. For many years she worked a minimum of one day a week; providing individual casework with local VA resident veterans as well as sending emergency messages for families of active duty military.  Once during the illness of a staff member, she filled in, working 5 days a week. 

In her later years Norma was diagnosed with cancer.  Her physician allowed her to return to her much loved volunteer service with the Red Cross as much as her energy allowed.  She continued in her volunteer work especially in her work with veterans for several years.    

Pat Barraclough – Currently Disaster Action Team member and Lead volunteer for Service to Armed Forces

Pat lives in rural Washington County near Jonesborough and enjoys her volunteer work. She says she is a “professional volunteer,” evident to many people she knows.   Pat served as a Peace Corp Worker in the Philippine Islands after college.  She then married and enjoyed being a military wife in a number of locations.  She and her husband were always Red Cross blood donors everywhere they lived.  When they settled here several years ago, she was looking for an organization to volunteer for - and we are lucky she selected the American Red Cross.

After training, Pat enjoys being a member of the DAT team, helping primarily with single family fires. Meeting a variety of individuals and providing assistance to families in time of great need is very satisfying for her.  

Pat also serves as the Lead Volunteer for Service to Armed Forces in Northeast Tennessee, organizing and supporting activities for Veterans across the region.  She helps organize activities at the VA and represents the Red Cross at meetings of the Tri Cities Military Affairs Council to coordinate the work of many organizations supporting veterans in the community.  Distribution of Holiday Cards for Veterans expands the reach of the Red Cross to touch veterans in Nursing Homes across the 13 counties of our Red Cross area. 
Pat enjoys her work and would love to have additional help – 13 counties cover a wide area – one or two volunteers in each county would ensure we reach more vets in our area.  If you are interested in making the days brighter for veterans consider helping. 

Want to volunteer? Call us at 423-765-4222, email to angela.morris@redcross.org, or go online to redcross.org/netn.

Article by Jane Harris