Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Red Cross Wildfire Evacuee Story: The Youngs


Sevier County residents Jayne and Scott Young, along with their pet poodle Sassy, have spent the past two nights in the Red Cross shelter at Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg. The Youngs told a harrowing story about how the wildfire flames quickly converged on their home. It was dark and smoky. They had lost electrical power in their home, so they could not get their car out of the garage and they couldn’t find Sassy.

“It was the flashlight app on our phone that saved us,” said Jayne. “Using it was the only way we found Sassy and made our way walking down the mountain.” Finally, a local resident driving by gave the Youngs a ride, and they made their way to the Red Cross shelter.

“Everything is gone. Forty years of our life is gone," said Scott as he wiped away tears.

You can help disaster victims like the Youngs by making a monetary donation 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, visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Photo by Bob Wallace for the American Red Cross.

Red Cross Serves 10K Meals & Snacks to Wildfire Evacuees; 1K Meals to Firefighters

So far, more than 10,000 meals and snacks have been served to wildfire evacuees at Red Cross shelters in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of East Tennessee in the past couple of days. Additionally, nearly 1,000 meals have been served to firefighters battling the devastating wildfires. This Washington Post story below highlights what has been happening during the past couple of days.

Thanks to everyone who has donated, reached out with offers to help, and shared our Facebook and Twitter posts. Your support and generosity is greatly appreciated.

The Red Cross is still accepting monetary donations for wildfire relief efforts. A financial donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief can help provide shelter for someone who has had to leave their home as well as food and water for them to eat. Help people affected by disasters like wildfires in Tennessee 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 www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

TN Wildfires Drop-Off Locations and Accepted Items



Here is an updated list of drop-off locations and items currently being accepted to help people affected by the wildfires in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and surrounding areas:

Clothing donations:

* New Hope Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, 865-310-8153 (Brother Ron Cashwell)

Cases of water, Gatorade, individual pre-wrapped snacks, hygiene items:

* Regal Cinemas, Turkey Creek (11240 Parkside Drive, Knoxville)
* SMARM in Sevierville (203 Court Avenue)

Pallets of water and Gatorade:

* Second Harvest 136 Harvest Lane, Maryville; and 1741 Triangle Park, Maryville
* New Hope Church of God, 2450 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, 865-932-4673

#GivingTuesday Started Early in Tennessee!


#GivingTuesday started early in Tennessee!

At 2 a.m., 17 people met at the Blount County Red Cross office to help load a truck to deliver supplies to Sevier County, where devastating wildfires have forced evacuations in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park area.

Even if you're not a Red Cross volunteer, you can be a big help to us today on Giving Tuesday like these folks did. You can apply right now to become a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org/volunteer, or you can make a monetary donation, which will help us help folks in times of need like this, by visiting here.

Wildfires Force East Tennessee Residents to Evacuate

Evacuations have forced many from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as the resort mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in East Tennessee. The East Tennessee chapter of the Red Cross is working overnight to assist in the disaster relief efforts and has opened evacuation centers for the numerous residents and tourists evacuating the area. Learn more about the wildfires and evacuations in this report from NBC News.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Red Cross Feeding Firefighters Battling TN Wildfires; How You Can Help


Red Cross volunteer Micah Bean loads food to be delivered to firefighters battling wildfires in Campbell County, one of many Tennessee counties affected by the devastating wildfires. Red Crossers have helped feed wildfire firefighters since the disaster began earlier this month.

Help people affected by disasters like wildfires in Tennessee and countless other crises by
making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to
prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Monetary donations enable us to purchase exactly what is needed for this disaster. 

If you'd like to join us by becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please apply at redcross.org/volunteer.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Latest Tennessee Wildfire Information and Important Links


Here are a couple of wildfire photos taken by East Tennessee Red Crossers in Walland. Wildfires are still affecting many parts of the eastern half of Tennessee. For the latest update (as of 3 p.m. Central Time) on the wildfires throughout the state, check out this link from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.

We'd also like to share the following important links again which we shared last week. Even if you're not currently in an area affected by wildfires, these are good resources to share with family and friends and to save for future reference:

* airnow.gov - This site from the EPA offers a regularly updated map of the Air Quality Index (AQI). There's currently a Code Orange Air Quality Alert for much of East Tennessee, meaning "unhealthy for sensitive groups."

* tnema.org - Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) - TEMA issued a Level 3 State of Emergency last week due to the wildfires, and it's currently still at that level.

* burnsafetn.org - The site from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry offers a daily fire report, maps of the current wildfire situations in the state, and burn ban information.

* redcross.org/shelters - The Red Cross shelter locator. While there are no shelters currently open in Tennessee, this map will indicate if ones do open. You can also search for shelters away from home with our free Emergency and Wildfire apps, which you can learn more about at redcross.org/apps.

* rdcrss.org/wildfire - This shortened Red Cross link offers info on how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from wildfires. It also provides a map showing the active wildfires in the state.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - November 2016

Mark Lazarus Announced as Keynote Speaker for 2017 Lifesaver Breakfast 

Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports to address attendees at annual event

I am pleased to announce Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports, as this year’s keynote speaker for the HCA/TriStar Health Lifesaver Breakfast. The event will take place on Friday, March 31, at 7:30 a.m. at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville.

As Chairman and CEO of NBC Broadcasting and sports, Lazarus is the primary relationship between NBC and the NFL, NHL, EPL and NASCAR.  He is responsible for all of NBC’ sports programming and that of their 29 owned stations, as well as all business operations for the PGA and the Olympic Committee. He has overseen production of 3 Olympics and untold football, hockey, golf and NACAR telecasts.

The HCA/Tristar Health Lifesaver Breakfast will host Nashville’s most influential business and community leaders, sharing the mission of the American Red Cross and raising the financial resources necessary to provide their core humanitarian services.  The 2017 event is especially monumental for the Red Cross in that it will mark 100 years of service in Tennessee.
                                                         
Richard Patton will serve as chairperson of the 2017 HCA/TriStar Health Lifesaver Breakfast. Patton serves on the National Board of Governors of the American Red Cross and previously served as Board Chairman for the Nashville Area Red Cross.

For more information on the HCA/TriStar Health Lifesaver Breakfast or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Flint Clouse at 615-250-4305 or flint.clouse@redcross.org.

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - November 2016

Here we are in November again.  Time is flying past as we look at the holiday decorations going up all around us, football teams heading to final games, and nights actually getting cold!

For those of us in the Red Cross, this time of year also means an increase in home fires - the most prevalent disaster of all.  Home fires are always a devastating event, and the holiday timing often creates an added sense of loss when homes are destroyed.

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fire and home fire injuries.  The holidays are a time when cooking increases as we gather together and share time honored traditions that include dining with family and friends.  There are steps that we can take to lessen the risk for ourselves and if we take the time to share the information, for our friends and family as well.

  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.  If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains – away from your stove top and oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  • Smoke alarms save lives.  Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedroom if you sleep with doors closed.
  • Visit redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to prevent cooking fires.


As Red Crossers, we not only need to follow these steps to a safer holiday, but spread the word to others.  Thanksgiving is a time to pause and think of all the wonderful people that make our world better.  What better way to celebrate the people we love than to help ensure that they have a safe holiday season?    Take time today and share the tips above with a friend.

Glenda

Monday, November 14, 2016

American Red Cross Announces Mark Lazarus as 2017 Lifesaver Breakfast Keynote Speaker

Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports to address attendees at 8th annual event

The Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross is pleased to announce Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports, as this year’s keynote speaker for the HCA/TriStar Health Lifesaver Breakfast. The event will take place on Friday, March 31, at 7:30 a.m. at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville.

As Chairman and CEO of NBC Broadcasting and sports, Lazarus is the primary relationship between NBC and the NFL, NHL, EPL and NASCAR.  He is responsible for all of NBC’ sports programming and that of their 29 owned stations, as well as all business operations for the PGA and the Olympic Committee. He has overseen production of 3 Olympics and untold football, hockey, golf and NACAR telecasts.

In the event’s eighth year, the HCA/Tristar Health Lifesaver Breakfast will host Nashville’s most influential business and community leaders, sharing the mission of the American Red Cross and raising the financial resources necessary to provide their core humanitarian services.  The 2017 event is especially monumental for the Red Cross in that it will mark 100 years of service in Tennessee.

“We are honored to have Mark Lazarus join us for our eighth annual breakfast as we highlight our successes and the impact our volunteers and donors have made in Tennessee over the past one-hundred years,” said Joel Sullivan, Regional CEO of the Tennessee Red Cross.  “Much like the Red Cross does during disasters, Mark often deals with complex situations and frequently complex people; and making it all seem simple has been the hallmark of his career.”

Richard Patton will serve as chairperson of the 2017 HCA/TriStar Health Lifesaver Breakfast. Patton serves on the National Board of Governors of the American Red Cross and previously served as Board Chairman for the Nashville Area Red Cross.

For more information on the HCA/TriStar Health Lifesaver Breakfast or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Flint Clouse at 615-250-4305 or flint.clouse@redcross.org.

Nashville Area Volunteer of the Month, Lissette Lister - November 2016

Our November 2016 Volunteer of the Month is Lissette Lister. Lissette jumped head first into supporting the Red Cross mission when she came on board as a volunteer in late September. Not only is Lissette the Lead Volunteer Engagement Manager and Lead Disaster Relief Operations Staffing Manager, she also is a Spanish interpreter for disaster case work and our Home Fire Campaign.

Lissette first heard about the opportunity to volunteer with the Red Cross through her job when an email was sent out to employees that the Red Cross needed Spanish-speaking volunteers for the Home Fire Campaign. Always eager to help others, she said yes right away to the opportunity. Home Fire Campaign volunteers go door-to-door to install smoke alarms and educate the community about fire safety. Spanish-speaking volunteers are extremely valuable, so we can help prepare Spanish-speaking families in our community.

Lissette and Regional Executive, Joel Sullivan
Lissette is a phenomenal asset to the Red Cross. She is always willing to lend a helping hand, and spent four Saturdays this past October volunteering with the Home Fire Campaign. Her passion for her community and public service shows in her dedication to the Red Cross mission. She said, “I am an Army veteran. I served this wonderful country for 6 years and now I want to continue to serve our awesome community.  The satisfaction to help others and deliver hope is my motivation.”

Originally from Puerto Rico, Lissette came to the United States in 2005 when she joined the US Army active duty. She was stationed at Fort Campbell for her six years of service, and deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for a year in 2006. She is currently in school for Criminal Justice and plans to continue her education in Emergency and Disaster Management. She is married and has a two and half year old daughter.


Following Home Fire, Nashville Family Turns to Red Cross for Support



Dorothy Beasley was busy at work when she learned that her Nashville home was on fire.

Taking a phone call from neighbors, Beasley was stunned to hear about the smoke pouring out of her house. None of her family was home, but the fire damage—caused by the kitchen stove, which had unknowingly been left on earlier that October day—was so severe that they could no longer live there.

Stripped of her home and belongings, Beasley needed to figure out where she and her loved ones would sleep, how they would get their next meal.

Bobby Young, disaster program specialist, and Dorothy Beasley
“I’m used to taking care of myself and not relying on others,’” said Beasley, who lives with her disabled son and five grandchildren. “But my friends and family said, ‘Let go of your pride and allow others to help.’”

They referred her to the American Red Cross for support. Meeting one-on-one with a Red Cross disaster program specialist, Beasley received financial assistance to help cover her family’s immediate needs and began developing a plan for their recovery.

“I didn't realize the Red Cross helps people after home fires,” she said. “Some of my coworkers and friends told me to reach out to the Red Cross for assistance. I was reluctant at first, but I’m glad I did. You are a blessing.”


Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Mike Cowles - November 2016

Greetings!

It is hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us!  Just last week I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and this week I am wearing jeans and jackets.  I don’t know about you, but my family is busy heading in different directions every day- school, soccer, jobs and committees that my wife and I are on - it is a busy world.  Carrie (my wife) called me yesterday and asked if I had time to eat lunch, just she and I (I about fell out of my chair), this was a rare occasion and I absolutely took her up on the offer.  I met her at a restaurant near our office where we saw some friends of ours as well.  What was supposed to be a quiet lunch soon turned into visiting with folks.

Once we were seated, our waitress came up to take our drink order and was one of the friendliest people I've met.  She had a great attitude, recommended the special and did it all with a smile.  She came back and took our order and was very friendly throughout our meal.  When we got ready to pay our bill, my wife decided to strike up a conversation which led to the waitress sharing her life’s story.

As it turns out, she had served in the Army for 4 years and had 2 children and 2 step children.   Her husband had passed away and she was now a single mother.  She began to tell us about her fiancĂ© who has 4 children and is currently in the Army at Fort Campbell and how he has struggled with PTSD and is in a tough financial struggle.  She told her story with a smile and said she is the luckiest person alive.

I tell you this story to remind us all that when we have a tough situation, there is likely always someone else less fortunate.  The one thing that came to mind was “how can we help this young lady”? I gave her my business card and talked to her about our Service to Armed Forces program and that there may be some things we can help her with.  The SAF program has helped so many military families throughout the existence of the Red Cross and I am so proud of what we can do to support those who protect us here and abroad.  I am also very fortunate that my wife decided to strike up a conversation with our waitress.  We need to go to lunch more often!!

As we take time to remember our Veterans on November 11th and throughout the month, please remember Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces and keep us in mind as a resources to family or friends who may need assistance.
Mike

Wildfire Preparedness & Safety


What should I do to prepare ahead of time?

•       Build an emergency kit well in advance:  Don’t forget to include critical documents, medications, and food and water for your entire family.

•       Make a Family Evacuation Plan:  Select a place for family members to meet outside of your neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate.  Familiarize yourself with at least two different evacuation routes out of your neighborhood. Practice often, and include everyone in your household.

•       If you or a member of your household is an individual with access or functional needs, including a disability, consider developing a comprehensive evacuation plan in advance with family, care providers and care attendants, as appropriate. Complete a personal assessment of functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation, and create a personal support network to assist.

•       Protect your home:  Keep your gutters clean, store firewood and other combustible materials at least 30 feet from your primary dwelling, use fire resistant materials when building decks and porches, and make sure your address is clearly visible from the street or main road.

What should I do if there are reports of wildfires in my area?
•       Stay informed.  Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.

-          Fire Weather Watch:  The National Weather Service (NWS) issues a fire weather watch when potentially   dangerous fire weather conditions are possible over the next 24 to 36 hours.
-          Fire Weather Warning / Red Flag Warning:  A fire weather warning or red flag is issued when fire danger exists and weather patterns that support wildfires are either occurring or expected to occur within the next 12 to 24 hours.

•       Don’t wait, Evacuate!  If ordered to evacuate, leave immediately and head to your identified shelter - this can be with family or friends, or at a hotel, Red Cross shelter or other location you select.

•       Limit exposure to smoke and dust:  
•       Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
•       Use the recycle or recirculate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.  If it is too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek shelter elsewhere.
•       When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution.
•       If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider’s advice and seek medical care if symptoms worsen.     

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - November 2016

Thoughts from a Returning Deployee

Greetings to all the Mid-West Tennessee chapter volunteers! By this time, you are probably aware that I've returned safely from my first Red Cross deployment. I served as a Government Liaison while being stationed in Dublin, GA which is located in Laurens Co.  Last month I shared with you my thoughts and feelings on the verge of being deployed and what I anticipated and feared about the “unknown” of the situation. Today, I want to give you an inside perspective on my trip and experiences while away.

With Hurricane Matthew hitting the Southeastern coastline, there was great need for staff and volunteers to help support and accommodate all the shelters inland for coastal evacuees. This being my first deployment, I was hopeful that I would be partnered with another staff member/ volunteer that was a Red Cross veteran and had more experience with deployments. However, the staff member I was assigned to was ALSO on his first deployment! His name is Tim O'Toole and he serves as a Disaster Specialist for a chapter in the area surrounding Cleveland, Ohio. Tim is in his 50s and has served with the Red Cross a little shy of 2 years now. We connected at the Atlanta Red Cross chapter office and then made our preparations to move out into the field.

As he and I made the drive south to Dublin, he shared with me more detail of his 30 years of experience with a local Fire Department (the majority of them serving as the Department Chief). I quickly realized that Red Cross was fortunate to have “snagged” Tim for a second career and that he was probably not the typical individual going on a first time deployment. That proved to be true throughout our stay in Georgia! Tim was an effective communicator and helped us build up the trust and faith with their emergency response community as Red Cross representatives (from Tennessee and Ohio). Regardless of the fact that Tim too was on his first deployment, I honestly couldn't have been partnered with a better mentor!

As we arrived in Dublin and settled in at the EMA office, it was immediately obvious to Tim and I that there was a spirit of comradery that existed between the leadership of all of the first responder agencies that is not the norm nationwide. They were all in unison as they collected the information and data regarding Hurricane Matthew’s path and what the current conditions were for all of the Georgia Coastal counties and communities.

I've been impressed since coming aboard the Mid- West TN chapter staff team with our local Disaster Program Manager’s (Heather Carbajal) efforts to align with the EMA Directors, Fire Chiefs, Police Chiefs, Public Health officers, etc. in the respective counties of our chapter territory. Being given the opportunity to observe the Laurens County teamwork in Georgia, I now understand more than ever Heather’s ongoing goal to build unity and trust in the emergency response communities here in West Tennessee. Great job Heather!

As I stated in my article last month, please continue to thoughtfully consider deployment of your own in the days and weeks to come. As I’m sure many of you are aware, the wild fires of East Tennessee continue to build and grow in their devastation. We now have the opportunity to go and help our “friends to the East” in our own state. They don’t call us the VOLUNTEER state for nothing! Heather and I look forward to getting you signed up and suited up!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Red Cross Volunteers Deliver Meals to Forestry Firefighters Battling TN Wildfires


East Tennessee Red Cross volunteers Marty (in the yellow jacket) and Joy Gensheimer are pictured here delivering meals to forestry firefighters today in Campbell County.

Devastating wildfires have hit Campbell as well as several other counties in Tennessee. As of noon CST today, there were 74 active fires in the state, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry. For the latest on the active wildfires in the state, click here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Important TN Wildfire, Drought & Air Quality Links


This map from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture shows the current wildfire situation in Tennessee. This information is updated regularly at burnsafetn.org. The link also offers a daily fire report as well as active fire and burn ban information.

Here are some other important links to keep informed of the current situation:

* redcross.org/find-help/shelter - The Red Cross shelter locator. While there are no shelters currently open in Tennessee, this map will indicate if ones do open. You can also search for shelters away from home with our free Emergency App, available for your mobile devices. Get info on it here: redcross.org/apps.

* rdcrss.org/wildfire - This shortened Red Cross link offers info on how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from wildfires. It also provides a map showing the active wildfires in the state.

* tnema.org - Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) - As we mentioned earlier, TEMA issued a Level 3 State of Emergency yesterday due to the current wildfire and drought threat.

* airnow.gov - This site, operated by the Environmental Protection Agency, offers a regularly updated map of the Air Quality Index (AQI). You'll notice that in the eastern part of Tennessee, part of the map is orange, meaning "unhealthy for sensitive groups." Here's a closer link for just Tennessee: bit.ly/2eQ8UyT.

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director Faye Anderson, November 2016

Service to the Armed Forces: Connecting families around the world!  Please read the following heartfelt account from the heart of a wife and volunteer, whose husband is deployed serving our country.

To give you a bit of background, my husband Nick and I along with our son Jacob, first moved to the Clarksville area over four years ago when he received orders to Fort Campbell. It was then that I knew I wanted to return to school. I wanted to create a life for myself and for my family that I could be proud of and passionate about. In my journey to find the perfect career path, I recalled a mission trip I took to Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. It was there that I met a man who had sought shelter in his attic for two weeks completely surrounded by water snakes not knowing where fate would lead him. As the man told me his devastating story, the one part that stood out the most was the decision for him to come down and face the aftermath of the storm because of an American Red Cross volunteer. This memory is what ultimately lead me to pursue a career in Emergency and Disaster Management and an internship at our local Red Cross chapter in Clarksville.

I have been blessed with endless professional opportunities through the Red Cross, however, the Red Cross is also there for me on a personal level. Perhaps you can envision my life in two ways as it pertains to the American Red Cross; a disaster volunteer and a military spouse who may have to call upon Services to the Armed Forces of the American Red Cross should my husband ever need to come home in an emergency. In fact, American Red Cross is the only organization I could call upon in this situation.

Living in Clarksville, I am nine hours away from my closest family member. That means, should something happen to me while my husband is away or deployed, our five year old son would be here without any family. In order for Nick to come home, and be with Jacob, Services to the Armed Forces would place a call to his command and place him on an immediate flight home. I can’t even begin to describe what kind of relief that provides as a mother and a wife.

As a military spouse, Services to the Armed Forces has taught me to cope with and become resilient against anything the Army may throw our way.

Services to the Armed Forces has recognized Jacob during Month of the Military Child for supporting his dad. Many say military children serve in their own special way too.

There are several realms of life that the Red Cross provides aid for. Let’s take a moment and visualize some of these. Should any one of us be involved in a car accident and need lifesaving blood, the Red Cross provides.  When families are affected by disaster whether stateside or internationally, the Red Cross responds and helps pick up the pieces. What if we were unable to help ourselves because of a medical complication, there may be a Red Cross certified CPR and First Aid volunteer right around the corner to help. These scenarios are how military families feel about Services to the Armed Forces. As spouses and family members we like to think of ourselves as being strong and resilient no matter what comes our way, but when times get tough and it’s crucial for our service member to be by our side, Services to the Armed Forces is there.

Services to the Armed Forces provides a comfort level that no other organization can. The security of knowing someone would be there to get my husband home or give him a comfort kit should he be wounded takes an enormous weight of worry off of my shoulders. Already this deployment, my husband has had several soldiers who were sent home and reunited with their families in emergency situations, all at the hands of the American Red Cross.

When the deployment is through, we will have been married five years, never celebrated an anniversary together, missed holidays and birthdays, spent almost two of those five years apart and yet we can continue to hold strong, love and support one another because of the support and sense of community we receive from organizations such as the red cross that we know are supporting us.
I truly believe in the mission statement of the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
It is because of the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors like you that the American Red Cross will be there in the future should I need them, and has been there for so many service members across the country.

Katy Hagstrom
Military spouse, proud mother, and American Red Cross Volunteer

October Volunteer of the Month - Southeast Tennessee - 2016

Robert has been volunteering at the Red Cross since March of this year. After losing both of his legs and undergoing treatment, he decided he wanted to find some meaningful activities to pass the time. He was introduced to the Red Cross, and found his calling working the front desk!

Robert’s motivation for volunteering is that he enjoys helping people because he has been helped. He enjoys the flexibility of volunteering, talking with people, and spending time every week at the front desk. When he’s not volunteering, he can be found enjoying a game of dominoes or walking his Chihuahua. Thank you so much, Robert, for seeking out a way to help others. The Red Cross is very grateful for your efforts!

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director Julia Wright, November 2016

No, I did not forget that October was Fire Prevention Month! I haven't skipped a beat, yet Fall is speeding along, and with Halloween and its own package of safety measures put to sleep, the holiday season is now in front of us.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to realize the many opportunities there are for fire from now through Christmas and through the rest of the winter months. I'd like to think that we got a sufficient head start on keeping the risks to a minimum by installing smoke alarms in several communities in Southeast Tennessee since the beginning of October.

One such neighborhood, the Avondale community, is a community of lower income households where more than half of the neighborhood is rented, not owned. This is the reason why Avondale was chosen as prime territory for part of the American Red Cross's Home Fire Preparedness Campaign on October 2.  Volunteers came equipped with ladders, drills and fire escape planning information to teach people how to be prepared for home fires. We came with smoke alarms prepared to install where they were missing and most needed.

The Chattanooga Fire Department responds to around 16,000 fire related emergencies annually. This is an impressive number for the city with the fourth largest population in the state of Tennessee at 176,588.  The department protects a fast growing 144 square miles in Hamilton County. That is a lot of territory for many different kinds of life-threatening fires.

We all can relate to the effort to assist victims of fire on a frequent basis, and the personal satisfaction it gives all volunteers and staff to put prevention in place for everyone we can.

Help us continue to educate people about fire safety and install smoke alarms where needed by becoming a Red Cross volunteer today.  Together, we can make our community and safer place.

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, November 2016

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent has nearly 200 members, one of which is the American Red Cross. Each of the national organizations is slightly different: for example, the Mexican Red Cross (Cruz Rosa Mexicana) is responsible for their nation's ambulance service, which is not the case for other Red Cross organizations.

However, even though our activities and tactics might be different, our core ethics are the same. The seven Fundamental Principles are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality.

I am going to highlight one of these at a time over the next few months. These are more than words or nice concepts. These principles are the reason for everything the Red Cross does. They are used to guide us in decision-making in a world that can be very divisive and political. These principles are not just guiding organizational decisions, but the behaviors of the individuals who represent the Red Cross in their communities.

So, watch future newsletters for further descriptions of these principles and start thinking about how you fit into the world of Red Cross.

Thanksgiving Cooking and Travel Tips

The Thanksgiving holiday means a lot of time spent in the kitchen for some, and long hours on the road for others. No matter how you plan to spend your day, we know you want to keep your family safe, and the Red Cross can help.

Cooks can use our basic safety tips to help prevent kitchen fires, and travelers can follow our simple steps to stay safe on the road. Share these tips with your loved ones, and help us make this Thanksgiving holiday a safe and enjoyable experience for all!

COOKING SAFETY
Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while preparing your holiday meal. Never leave the stove unattended – if you need to leave the kitchen even for a short time, turn it off. Also:

  • Check food regularly.
  • Use a timer to remind you that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains – away from the stove, oven or any other appliance that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home. Make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  • If deep-frying a turkey, keep the fryer outside and away from buildings and other flammable materials.
  • Do not overfill the fryer with oil.
TRAVEL SAFETY
If your Thanksgiving plans include driving, check the weather along your route and plan for travel around any predicted storms. Don’t drive impaired – be well-rested and alert, and give your full attention to the road (no cell phones). Also:

  • Make sure everyone wears a seat belt.
  • Follow the rules of the road – observe the speed limit.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
  • Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
  • Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
To get quick, expert advice on what to do in an emergency in the palm of your hand, download the Red Cross Emergency App at redcross.org/mobileapps.


Have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

7 TN Red Crossers Still Helping Hurricane Matthew Relief Efforts


Most of the Tennessee Red Crossers who deployed to the East Coast for Hurricane Matthew relief have returned home, but seven responders from our state are still helping folks affected by the disaster. Five responders are currently in the field, and one more is joining them today. Additionally, there is one responder who is supporting North Carolina virtually. Thanks again to all of our Red Crossers who have deployed for Hurricane Matthew relief!

This is a recent photo of a Red Cross Emergency Relief Vehicle assisting a residential area in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Photo by Daniel Cima for the American Red Cross.