Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TN Red Crossers Continue to Help in Texas & Canada

Tennessee Red Crossers continue to deploy to areas where help is needed most: Texas and the province of Alberta in Canada.
In Texas, significant rainfall and devastating flooding has once again hit the state. Some parts of the state had 19 inches of rain over the holiday weekend. As of this weekend, nine Tennessee Red Crossers joined the nearly 300 Red Cross volunteers who are providing shelter, meals, health services, and emotional support to those affected by the disaster.
The Red Cross has opened or is supporting 15 shelters in Texas to help people forced from their homes by ongoing mandatory evacuations. Flooding is expected to continue over the next several days, and the Red Cross is monitoring the ongoing threat of severe weather and setting up in areas that are likely to be hit by the next onslaught of bad weather. For more information on the latest in Texas, visit here.

And in Alberta, Canada, four Tennessee volunteers have joined American and Canadian Red Crossers in assisting those affected by the massive wildfire there. As evacuated residents of Fort McMurray begin to return to their homes tomorrow, hundreds of people are getting ready to welcome them back: first responders, cleanup crews, service providers, Red Cross volunteers, and others.
Bob Wallace, lead public affairs volunteer from the Mid-South chapter, has been writing about his deployment to Alberta and taking photos. We'll be sharing some of his posts this week.
To help those affected by the disasters in Texas and Alberta, donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tomorrow Is Armed Forces Day & Red Cross Founder's Day


Tomorrow is both Armed Forces Day and American Red Cross Founder's Day!

In honor of Armed Forces Day, we salute our servicemen and servicewomen, veterans, and their families! The Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross provides many services for our state's military families. For more information, visit here.

Speaking of the armed forces, we also salute our organization's founder, Clara Barton, who not only started the Red Cross on May 21, 1881, but also was an important part of military history prior to starting the organization.

During the Civil War, Clara risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field during the Civil War. And after the war, Clara offered to search for the missing prisoners of war. She and her assistants received and answered over 63,000 letters and identified over 22,000 missing men. Years later, the Red Cross established a tracing service, one of the organization’s most valued activities today. Read more about Clara here.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

SERVPRO® Recognized for Contribution to the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program

Pledge of Ongoing Support Enables Red Cross to Prepare for and Respond to Disasters
The American Red Cross has recognized SERVPRO®, headquartered in Gallatin, Tennessee, for supporting its Disaster Responder Program.

Disaster Responder members pledge donations in advance of disasters, to ensure the Red Cross can immediately respond to help meet the needs of those affected by disasters large and small. Thanks to the pre-investment made by SERVPRO®, the Red Cross is able to deliver help and hope to those impacted by nearly 66,000 disasters annually—the majority of which are home fires.

Seven times a day, someone in the U.S. dies in a home fire. To help combat this problem, the Red Cross launched a multi-year Home Fire Campaign that aims to reduce home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent by the end of 2019. Since the Home Fire Campaign was launched in October of 2014, the Red Cross and its campaign partners have helped save at least 85 lives and installed more than 290,000 smoke alarms in 4,900 cities and towns in all 50 states.

SERVPRO’s gift will enable the Red Cross to provide critical services to people impacted by home fires year-round, along with the lifesaving tools and information to support home fire prevention efforts. With the generous support from SERVPRO, Red Cross volunteers go door-to-door in communities to install smoke alarms and teach families about key fire prevention and safety measures.  

“The American Red Cross relies on the generosity of our volunteers, donors and partners to fulfill our lifesaving mission,” said American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern. “Thanks to the support of SERVPRO® and Disaster Responder Program members, the Red Cross can immediately respond to the needs of people affected by disasters whenever and wherever they strike.”

“We are proud to continue SERVPRO’s relationship with the American Red Cross,” said Sue Steen, Chief Executive Officer of Servpro Industries, Inc. “When disaster strikes, the Red Cross is on the front lines helping homeowners get back on their feet. Often times, SERVPRO® is also there, ready to help home and business owners pick up the pieces by restoring their property and peace of mind. We are proud to work alongside the American Red Cross and support their relief efforts through the Disaster Responder Program.”

“Ongoing financial support from members of the Disaster Responder Program helps create a reliable funding base for disaster relief services, providing food, shelter, emotional support and other essential assistance,” said Don Herring, Red Cross chief development officer. “Money donated by the public and members of our Disaster Responder Program is essential to our ability to assist disaster survivors and support the first responders and volunteers who work tirelessly at the scene of a disaster.”

Red Cross services are provided to those in need of assistance at no cost and regardless of income through the generosity of Red Cross donors. Individuals can help people affected by disasters by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Donations to Disaster Relief enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Founded in 1967, the SERVPRO® Franchise System is a leader and provider of fire and water cleanup and restoration services, and mold mitigation and remediation. SERVPRO's professional services network of more than 1,700 individually owned and operated Franchises responds to property damage emergencies ranging from small individual disasters to multi-million dollar large-loss events. Providing coverage in the United States and Canada, the SERVPRO® System has established relationships with major insurance companies and commercial clients, as well as individual homeowners.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Youth Volunteer Opportunities Available

School's out for many teens in Tennessee, and it'll be out for the rest very soon! For teens looking for something to do this summer, the Red Cross has plenty of youth volunteer opportunities available!
In this photo, Gavin recently joined a team of East Tennessee volunteers to provide smoke alarms and fire safety information in neighborhoods as part of our Home Fire Campaign. Join teens like Gavin in making a difference in their communities by becoming a Red Cross youth volunteer! For more information on our opportunities and to apply as a volunteer, visit here.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Social Media Helps Us Spread the Word During Emergencies

Whether we're reporting about an open Red Cross shelter or providing info on severe weather on Facebook and Twitter, social media has been at great tool to help us get the word out quickly during emergencies.
In fact, the American Red Cross is often considered a national leader in using social media during emergencies–known in the industry as ‪#‎SMEM‬ (Social Media in Emergency Management)–and makes it a regular practice to share informational updates, lifesaving tips and advice, and guidance on how to give and get help during disasters large and small.
Here's a recent story on how a family in Ireland was helped by a Colorado Red Cross chapter via Twitter to check on a relative who was displaced by a fire at an apartment building.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

TN Volunteer Deployed to Canada Takes Photo with Prime Minister

A Tennessee volunteer deployed to help wildfire relief efforts in Canada had a photo taken with the country's prime minister!

East Tennessee volunteer John Manners (third in the photo) is pictured here with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and two Canadian Red Cross team members yesterday outside a Red Cross shelter in Edmonton, Alberta. John, along with Heart of Tennessee volunteer Louise Vande Wiele, deployed to Alberta a few days ago. They are part a team of about 50 American Red Crossers who have deployed to Alberta to assist the thousands of people who have been displaced by the massive wildfire there.

Thanks to John, Louise, and all of the Red Crossers helping those affected by the wildfire!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Students Raise Money for Ecuador Relief Efforts

These Maryville College students raised nearly $400 to support Red Cross relief efforts in Ecuador. Maryville College students Brynn Smith, Halle Hill, Kristin Kimberlain, and Loudine Louis had visited Ecuador in January of this year and wanted to raise funds for relief efforts after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country on April 16th. We'd like to thank these students for their efforts and support of the Red Cross!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

We Are One Red Cross

We are one Red Cross. When disaster strikes locally or elsewhere, Red Crossers are ready to respond. Currently, Red Crossers from Tennessee and across the nation are helping the Canadian Red Cross respond to the massive wildfire in Alberta, Canada.
And in Houston, Texas, where devastating floods have recently hit the area again, our sister society from Mexico, Cruz Roja Mexicana, has been helping the American Red Cross assist people displaced by the disaster. Check out this story about Cruz Roja Mexicana's assistance in Houston.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Two TN Volunteers Deploying to Canada

Two Tennessee Red Cross volunteers have been deployed to Canada to support the wildfire relief efforts in Alberta. John Manners from the East Tennessee chapter and Louise Vande Wiele from the Heart of Tennessee chapter are going as part of a team of responders from our division. Both will be in Canada for three weeks and will be doing casework and mass care there.
Learn more about the devastating wildfire in Alberta and how you can help here.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Red Cross, State Fire Marshal's Office Make TN Safer

Here's a video from our statewide Home Fire Campaign partner, the State Fire Marshal's Office (SFMO) division of the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, showing the SFMO working with Red Crossers and community volunteers at a recent smoke alarm canvassing event on Saturday in Hardin County. More than 700 smoke alarms were installed at the canvassing event!
The SFMO launched the "Get Alarmed, Tennessee!" program in 2012 and has distributed more than 110,000 smoke alarms in Tennessee. Smoke alarms installed through the program are credited with saving 130 lives so far and has helped lower Tennessee’s fire fatality rate to a new all-time low in 2015.
The smoke alarm canvass in Hardin County is one of many Home Fire Campaign events that the Red Cross has done statewide. Through the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross and our partners have launched an initiative that aims to reduce deaths and injuries caused by home fires by 25 percent in five years. We are proud to work with the SFMO and our partners to ensure that Tennesseans have working smoke alarms.

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director Faye Anderson, May 2016

Faye Anderson, executive director
The Platform Magazine published the following article written by Lexie LaMonica, daughter of Rich LaMonica.  Rich is currently serving the Tennessee River Chapter as our fellow for “The Mission Continues.”

Lexie is a freshman at Austin Peay University majoring in English.  Her first book, The Unexpected, was released Christmas day 2015, and is currently available on ITunes, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

This article is a vivid picture of what the children of a military family endure growing up. The Red Cross played a vital role getting her dad home a couple of times during his deployment.  The American Red Cross gives each and every family comfort in knowing that their loved one can be brought home within hours of an emergency at home. Please take the time to read the words below, straight from the heart of a young lady who also served this country in her own way!

This is my story:  Growing up an army brat isn't what it seems. The public doesn't know the truth, they believe they do, but what they see is misleading.  It's just not having a home, and not knowing if your loved one is coming back. For me it was calling the world my home instead of a specific spot on the map, it was having a part time single mom, it was not having as many memories of my dad growing up like the other kids. It was being alone in a world where you were afraid to get close because there were always the inevitable goodbyes. 

I was one of the lucky army brats, I didn't move a lot, and I was lucky to have parents who were willing to sacrifice living together so I could finally settle somewhere after constant moving in a short time. However, living in a place for a long time only hurt me. I lived in Kansas for eight long years, and because of this I naively forgot one day I would have to say goodbye and leave the only place I had ever really called home. After that I lived a short year in Alabama, two years in South Korea, and then to Tennessee where my journey started as well. I got to see what different kinds of education systems we have and the different style of American culture. However, I also got to see the world. Living in South Korea opened the doors to a world I didn't understand. I adjusted to a culture that wasn't my own. And for the first time, my family actually got to travel for fun. We traveled to Thailand, and China while we lived there. Being an army brat gave me these opportunities. It gave me opportunities that other kids only could dream of, and I'm more than grateful for that.

However, being an army brat also made me feel like I only had one parent. My dad was home here and there, but sometimes it felt short and eventually he wasn't there again. The earliest memory I have of him being gone is after 9/11 when he was in Kuwait, however I really only knew him as a voice recording through a card. I mean yeah I loved him, he's my dad, but I was barely five and only knew the idea of him. I was too young to understand, for he was a face in pictures. 

My mom went to college, taught high school, took me to soccer and gymnastics, and so much more alone.  My dad like other soldiers was deployed multiple times, so life with just my mom for a year at a time was normal. He was in Iraq using toy soldiers we'd send him to make plans in war and we were home eating dinner with an empty chair beside us, waiting for calls and letters to know he was okay. He wasn't deployed again until I was older. He was gone my 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th grade, some of my freshman and sophomore, junior year, and moved back home with us in time to see me go to prom and to see me walk the stage at graduation. Out of all the soccer games in high school I only remember him being at one of my tournaments and only a couple cross country meets. He wasn't there when I needed him to push me to keep going. He missed moments I wanted him to be there for. Not just because of war, but because different stationing and states in between. 

Mom was there for every moment, but when I looked to see who was watching me as I played soccer I only saw her. My dad didn't get to see my first goal, or my second. He never got to see me walk the balance beam or do a handstand. He wasn't there the first and only time I got all A's in school. He wasn't even there to laugh at me when I got stuck in a pile of snow. And it hurt me. It hurt a lot. Sometimes I can't even remember if he was really a part of a memory or not. All I know was that I missed him every minute he was gone. I remember he was there for sad times. He was there when Nanny died, Grandma Jean, and Uncle Mickie,  he was even there to bury my beloved turtle Giant in the middle of a snowstorm. However, there are less happy times I can recall. I have the memories of him coaching me in sports, and calling to tell him great news. He was at home when I found out my book was getting published right out of high school. That's it though. War called him away, making him miss the good things. It took him away and changed him. It created a life where we had to adjust to living with one another all over again redundantly. 

Growing up as an army brat teaches you sacrifice in a world that lacks it. Even when the army took Daddy away I knew he would always come back. He was a fighter and will always be an amazing leader. And now that I'm a part of the retired army brat life, I'm happy to say he'll be there more. He will be a part of memories we have yet to create. He won't miss out. 

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director Mike Cowles, May 2016

Greetings! Warm weather is here and you know what that means: The chance of storms becomes greater! Are you prepared?

You don’t have to look any further than your television or smartphone to see the devastation that is occurring in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas to understand the magnitude of the natural destruction that has occurred and the effects it has on the residents of those states.  We have been very fortunate in Tennessee this spring, with very little damage from storms.  Even so, it is important to make sure you are prepared in the event of an emergency.  Does your flashlight work?  Do you have enough food and water stocked up?  Are your plans up to date in case you have to evacuate your home?  These are just a few of the steps you need to take to be ready.

When you think of the Red Cross my hope is that you know us as a neighbor who is willing to reach out and lend a hand.  When called upon we start the process of rebuilding lives but the only way we are able to do that is with your generosity.  If you feel led, I encourage you to volunteer some of your time with us and see first-hand what it’s like to make a difference in a person’s life - because there is no other rewarding experience like helping someone.  The other way you can help is by making a financial contribution, which will enable us to provide much needed services to victims of disaster, military personnel, those who need lifesaving blood and training citizens in life saving skills.  Stop by today and see where you fit in at the American Red Cross.

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, May 2016

Last month, I was on a disaster response operation in Houston, Texas, as part of a Red Cross public affairs team. My job was to write articles and do interviews about the massive flooding in the area and to listen to community members to learn whether the Red Cross needed to add services or provide public education around recovery.

As I visited neighborhoods that had miles of homes where possessions were piled up outside, destroyed, and molding from the flood waters, I expected anger and fear. Many of these families' homes had been flooded already less than a year ago!

While I certainly heard frustration in voices, I mostly heard perseverance and "can-do" attitudes. One person quipped that he was getting so good at removing drywall that he was considering a career as a carpenter. And there was a lot of thankfulness for the Red Cross! There were also quite a few stories of people working together across faiths and cultures.

I have returned to East Tennessee and realized how fortunate we are to have volunteers and community leaders who also have an attitude of community resilience. Let's put that to work now by creating partnerships and training people to be prepared. Join me today by donating your time and talents to the American Red Cross!