Red Cross Honors Area Volunteers for Community Contributions
MEDFORD, Mass., July 26, 2018 – The American Red Crosswill honor 20 volunteers from across Massachusetts for their service to local communities and the mission of alleviating human suffering today at the Regional Headquarters in Medford at 4 p.m.
Volunteers worked in all Red Cross mission areas, helping people after disasters, aiding our men and women in the Armed Forces, as well as their families, training Massachusetts residents in first aid and CPR, and the collection of life-saving blood products.
The Red Cross has been helping Massachusetts residents for more than 100 years, bringing aid and comfort to those affected by disaster. One of the largest missions of the Red Cross in Massachusetts is the response to homes fires, which affected nearly 700 homes last year. Volunteers respond to assist residents displaced by home fires, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Among those being honored are Boylston resident Linda Russell and Quincy resident Stephen Coady, both of who deployed to Texas in 2017 to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Both Linda and Stephen drove Massachusetts-based emergency vehicles to Texas and stayed several weeks on the ground helping those hit hardest.
If you’d like to attend please contact Jeff Hall at the above number.
On April 19, 1897, runners hit the pavement at the first ever Boston Marathon.
The day of the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, Mother Nature threw everything she had at competitors & race support staff. An almost relentless gusting headwind, bitter cold, and persistent rain alternating with sleet and snow combined to create a runner’s nightmare. Who would have expected this brutal unnamed competitor to join the race?
A young woman from Florida stood wet and freezing at the starting line waiting for her turn to run. Kelley Batton-Duell is a wife, mother, martial arts instructor, and runner. She is an athlete with a passion to excel. Kelley trained for this event, including the possibility of bad weather, because it is not unexpected by these athletes. In fact, running in a storm can be invigorating to a serious runner. But unbeknownst to her, she was about to compete against the most formidable and dangerous competitor she has ever encountered: the weather.
As Kelley pushed forward, hypothermia ran beside her matching her step for step. As major muscle masses gave off precious heat, her core organs cried for help to stay warm. Her highly trained body begged for balance as her core temperature began to fail. Dehydration, disorientation, and muscle fatigue sent out warning signals, begging Kelley to quit. Kelley is not a quitter. For her, quitting was never an option. Her training as a Martial Arts Instructor screamed “to quit is to die.” Kelley finished the Marathon on automatic, having ignored every good reason to have quit.
But while Kelley did indeed finish the race, she crossed the finish line exhausted, wet, cold, and disoriented. She would later learn she could have died on the sidewalk.
She placed one foot in front of another, barely able to stand. She was not sure what or where to go for help. He body was depleted of all energy and her mind barely functioning due to severe hypothermia. All she remembers seeing was a large Red Cross in the window of a building.
Stumbling forward, she made a B-line for the sign. Somewhere deep inside her she knew help was there. Two men, Rob & Rocco (who Kelly refers to as the Angels), Webster Bank employees and Red Cross volunteers for Race Day, greeted her outside the Team Red Cross Finish Line. They immediately saw that Kelley needed help, and that it had to be fast. Rob and Rocco shielded her with their umbrella and accompanied her to the Red Cross Medical Tent, carrying her the two blocks to medical aide.
The American Red Cross has been providing medical support to the Boston Marathon for more than four decades. The 26 medical tents – mobile emergency service centers – are strategically positioned the length of the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to Boston’s Copley Square. Each medical tent is manned by a head doctor, RNs and CPR/First Aid-trained volunteers with the entire operation under the oversight of a Physician supervisor.
According to the Boston Athletic Association, more than 2,500 runners sought out medical treatment in one of the American Red Cross Medical tents located along the route. That number included 25 elite runners, while eighty-one runners were transported to the hospital. Kelley was one of the luckier ones: she was treated for hypothermia – a life-threatening condition – and able to walk out of the tent and return home to her family.
Volunteers gathered from far and wide in Worcester, Fall River, Lowell, Cambridge and Springfield with one thing on their mind: to make a difference by saving lives. Volunteers fanned out for three weeks between
April 28 and May 13 to go door to door, to install free smoke alarms and provide home fire safety education to neighbors across the Commonwealth and across the Nation.
Seven times a day, someone dies in a home fire. We as members of the Red Cross community answer emergency calls every day to go help families who’ve lost everything in a home fire. It breaks our hearts to learn in all too many cases, the home lacked a working smoke alarm. Experts know: having a working smoke alarm in a home will cut the risk of death in half.
When the American Red Cross launched the Sound the Alarm, Save a Life campaign, it did so with the goal of installing 100,000 smoke alarms in homes around the country over a period of three weeks. Conducting 426 different Sound the Alarm events nationwide, Red Cross teams installed 103,423 smoke alarms and made 43,008 homes safer across 120 major cities – and we did so with the help of 30,859 volunteers. In Massachusetts, volunteers and partners installed more than 1,300 smoke alarms and made nearly 600 homes safer.
As we entered her home in Worcester, Mary Nuzzetti said her daughter had set up the appointment. Many of the alarms in the house had expired, or the batteries were dead.
As we entered her home in Worcester, Mary Nuzzetti said her daughter had set up the appointment. Many of the alarms in the house had expired, or the batteries were dead.
The team of Red Cross volunteers went to work to take down the old units and install fresh devices in all of the appropriate location around the house. When asked what prompted her daughter to make an appointment with the Red Cross, Nuzzetti said, “After my granddaughter Teagan was born, that’s when you start thinking about things like that.”
Kathy Kelley lives alone in Worcester with her elderly pet. She admitted that keeping up with the needs of the household as a single woman presents some challenges. She learned of the program when Red Cross volunteers left an informative door hanger on her front door. She admitted sheepishly, “this is something we need to do and we all put it off because you need a handyman.”
Asked what she might say to others about the free smoke alarm program, Kathy said “Get it done, just get it done.”
April Steward, Worcester, MA, an EMT and a Red Cross blood donor, put it best, “It’s a no brainer.”
The work doesn’t end just because the campaign is over. The campaign was about raising awareness. The Red Cross continues to make homes safer every single day and we encourage our friends and neighbors across the Commonwealth to call us year ‘round at 800-746-3511 or go to soundthealarm.org to request their free smoke alarm installation.
Special thanks to our supporters who made the Sound the Alarm campaign a success here in Massachusetts:
Access Ambulance Almost Family Americorps Avalon Bay Boston Cares Catchpoint Systems Delta Airlines Domino’s Pizza of Lowell Fall River Fire Department Friends of the American Red Cross Fresh Look Interiors IBEW 96 Jordan’s Furniture Lowell Senior Center Lowell Fire Department MAPFRE National Grid Springfield Fire Department Worcester Fire Department
Today, April 28th 2018 the American Red Cross will Sound the Alarm, with the goal of saving lives in the most vulnerable communities across America. This three-week effort is part of our organization’s Home Fire Campaign, a program which will install free smoke alarms and provide home safety education in homes across the country.
The American Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign to save lives. Every day in the United States, seven people die in a home fire. Three of every five home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Yet Studies show smoke alarms cut the risk of death from a home fire in half.
Today, we kickoff our year round campaign to Sound the Alarmwith a full court press. We plan to provide and install free smoke alarms in 100,000 homes across America in just three weeks.
Free Smoke Alarms + Risk Cut In Half = NO-BRAINER
Results from a recent poll are telling us that Americans have become overconfident and are not prepared to respond when it comes to home fire safety. 40% of people polled said they forgot to turn off a stove or oven. While 80% believed everyone in the home knew what to do when a smoke alarm went off, fewer than half had a plan in place.
Since October 2014, the Red Cross and our partners have been credited with saving at least 416 lives through the Home Fire Campaign; we have reached more than a million people through youth preparedness programs, and have installed more than 1.2 million free smoke alarms. In Massachusetts, the Red Cross has installed nearly 17,000 smoke alarms making almost 6,500 homes safe.
Today, we launch our Sound the Alarm events in Cambridge and Worcester. Next week, we will be in Springfield, Fall River and Lowell. But even after these rallying events are over, our work to save lives will continue.
Massachusetts residents wishing to sign up for a free smoke alarm may call 1-800-746-3511. Those wishing to join us through a gift of time or donation may go to http://www.soundthealarm.org.
Last year, when unexpected damage to the building housing the Red Cross of Massachusetts Food Pantry on Boston’s Massachusetts Avenue threw a wrench into our food distribution operations, Director of Food and Nutrition Services for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, David Andre, found a way to continue providing this needed service to area families by setting up a refrigerated truck in a nearby park. And although it was pouring rain on the first day of the outdoor distribution, the intrepid team of staff and volunteers did what the Red Cross mission compelled them to do: serve.
It was no surprise then, to find the same spirit of commitment to service and to team on April 19, 2018 when nine volunteers set up the first of monthly mobile distributions in the parking lot of our former fixed pantry site in New Bedford. The day was dreary, rainy and chilling and Red Cross volunteers were dressed in rain gear or covered in plastic bags.
When asked what makes a person come out on a day like today, volunteer Paul Eluziario, a ten-year volunteer from New Bedford replied laughing, “I’ve fallen on my head a lot.” Then he continued, “No, there’s work to be done.”
This past winter, The American Red Cross of Massachusetts was notified that building in which the organization’s New Bedford food pantry operated would be sold. Like the time in Boston, David Andre had to scramble to find an alternative solution. “We didn’t want to just shut down the food pantry,” says David Andre. “We wanted to make sure that the people we have been serving here in New Bedford could still access at least some supplementary assistance.”
For the remainder of the year, the pantry will be operating as a mobile distribution site once a month in the parking lot of the Kempton Street building where the pantry used to operate.
Jim Waskiel of Fairhaven has been volunteering for the pantry for years before he convinced his wife Katharine to join in. Eventually they were joined by their grandchildren, Sadie and Noah Marchesseault, age 14 and 13 respectively. As families arrived, they hustled to hand out bags of apples, potatoes, and cabbage. When asked why they do this, Katharine, whose head was covered in a bright teal hoodie topped by a clear plastic rain poncho, jumped in and eagerly said that the group of volunteers was like a family. “We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve missed each other over the past few weeks.” Fellow volunteer Alison Miranda, added, “Being here, helping these people giving out great food is why we’re here. It’s the glue that keeps us together.
Previously, on any given day of (indoor) distribution, the New Bedford Food Pantry would expect to see 800 families. On the first day of the mobile distribution, they prepared for 650. Fifty showed up, most likely a result of the inclement weather and the assumption that the pantry was no longer operating.
Andre says that the mobile pantry serves to ensure that those who continue to need supplementary food assistance can access it.
Most of the visitors there to pick up food were eager to get back in their cars and away from the bone chilling rain. I caught up with Kim Campinha of New Bedford and asked her what she thought of the mobile pantry. “I’m grateful they’re still here, whether it’s inside or out. People are in need. I utilize this every month and it helps me tremendously.”
The New Bedford Mobile Food Pantry will operate on the third Thursday of every month in 2018. The address is 593 Kempton Street, entrance on Mill Street.
by Visvajit Sriramrajan, American Red Cross Volunteer
Swift, dedicated, and tireless: theseare what the Red Cross workers are in a nutshell, and a recent incident in Lawrence proved that their training and quick decision-making skills were enough to save lives. On April 20th, Disaster Program Manager, Deb Duxbury and volunteer Justin O’Mahoney arrived at a home on Howard street for an appointment to install smoke alarms and CO detectors. When they arrived the two began to do a safety check, walking through the home looking for fire hazards and other potential risks.
“The normal process is for the resident to guide us around their house or apartment,” explained Justin. “We check existing smoke alarms to see if they are installed correctly and functioning properly. We then also determine the needs of the residence, install the detectors accordingly, show the residents how to change batteries, and give a preventive brief along with additional Red Cross fire educational leaflets,” he added.
But this time was a bit different.
After completing their work on the first floor, Deb and Justin headed down into the basement. And that’s when they noticed the distinct odor of gas.
The landlord, who was with them, explained that she had smelled gas for a few weeks, but hadn’t bothered to do anything about it. “No smoke or carbon dioxide detectors were installed in the basement of the home,” noted Deb. “Justin and I saw this as an immediate red flag.”
Smelling gas in a home is never something to take lightly. Some clients don’t quite grasp the seriousness of it. “What could go wrong?”, they ask, without realizing that it could mean the difference between life and death. Deb, however, immediately recognized the risk, phoning the fire department and asking the client to evacuate the building. The children and two adults waited in the driveway of the home with Deb and Justin until emergency personnel arrived. The children’s eyes lit up as fire engines pulled into the driveway in almost no time.
After inspecting the home, Captain Jim Flynn of the Lawrence Fire Department determined there was a notable gas leak, which was subsequently fixed by a local gas company contractor. The resident who lives in the home thanked Deb and Justin for saving the lives of the family that lives there, while the fire department and the gas company both thanked them for the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign that put them in the right place just in the nick of time.
From April 1 to May 3, 2017 the American Red Cross has made more than 240 homes safer in Lawrence through smoke and carbon dioxide detector installations.
Note – At a Home Fire Campaign installation in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston May 6, Red Cross volunteers and a member of the Boston Fire Department noted a stove leaking unburned natural gas into a home. The two elderly residents were not aware of the toxic leak. The Boston Fire Department official was able to stop the leak and through the home fire prevention training given during the visit, the homeowner was made aware of silent danger carbon monoxide can be.
by Visvajit Sriramrajan, American Red Cross volunteer
Thursday, April 6, 2017 was a fairly busy day at the American Red Cross Food Program distribution, much as it is on any distribution day. But what wasn’t usual was a small accident that occurred that day: a loose piece of ceiling cement fell to the ground and grazed two people: a client and a staff member. Both were taken to the hospital, and thankfully, neither suffered any serious injuries. But in the interim hours, Red Cross staff was shaken, both by the unexpected accident and by the prospect that the Food Pantry would need to stay closed until further notice. According to Food and Nutrition Director, David Andre, the Food Pantry serves hundreds of people each week, providing basic quality foodstuffs to people struggling to make ends meet.
Both shaken and determined, Andre said, “We are the Red Cross —when a disaster strikes, the Red Cross does not close down for repairs.” He continued, “Far too many people rely on us to be open on schedule, and so closing our program for repairs is not a solution.”
While the Red Cross’ Disaster Relief team immediately began offering mental health support to the client and the staff in the pantry during the time of the incident, Andre was scrambling to find a way for the Saturday food distribution – just two days away – to move forward. After dozens of phone calls and back and forth with the city inspectors, the distribution went on as scheduled. But not in the building, which was still under inspection by city engineers. Instead, the pantry went off as planned in an outdoor market at Clifford Playground, a relatively large park behind the original building.
The event was incredibly successful: forty-five enthusiastic volunteers served an approximated 31,000 pounds of food to 656 families across the Boston area. Thousands upon thousands of food bags were assembled, food receptacles were efficiently wheeled to the park, and intake and distribution areas were neatly set up, all a safe distance away from the repair work being done in the warehouse.
The Red Cross’ Boston pantry is considered one of the largest pantries in the city of Boston in both the amount of food provided and number of families served. In 2016, the pantry distributed over 1.8 million meals to 122,550 individuals. The majority of the food was fresh produce. About 9,400 families use the pantry during the year.
Although the unfortunate accident that transpired on April 6 caused injuries and building damage, it galvanized the staff and volunteers of the Red Cross of Massachusetts Food Pantry. And thanks to a special permit issued by the City of Boston, the Red Cross was able to stage its food distribution out of the Clifford Playground throughout the month of April.
Through the sacrifice and dedication of the organization’s volunteers, and particularly the pantry staff of Peter Hubbard, Sharon Curry, Bill Hill, and Suresh Mijar, the show must and will (and did) go on.