A Note of Thanks for a Good Deed

The Red Cross is in communities everyday 3helping people affected by disaster, be it a flood, tornado or fire. Home fires account for much of the disaster work the American Red Cross does every day.

Since 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has been making homes safe across the United States. Four years and one million smoke alarms later, volunteers with the Red Cross have helped save nearly 250 people, people who didn’t have working smoke alarms in their homes and were alerted to danger by one of those million smoke alarms.

Here in Massachusetts volunteers installed more than 7,000 smoke alarms in homes across the Commonwealth. Our most vulnerable communities are densely populated areas with multi-family homes and the elderly. Our volunteers are hard at work finding those in need and making homes safer for residents and their local community.

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Our Central Massachusetts Executive Director Kim Goulette, received the following hand-written thank you note from a resident who benefited from the Home Fire Campaign.

Together we can help make more home safer with fire education and smoke alarms.

 

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Dear Ms. Goulette,                                                                                         May 7, 2018

Thank you for sending two Red Cross men to my home to install the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide devices!

Chief D’Amico of the Marlborough Fire Department came also to assist them in making my home safe and protected from smoke and fumes.

I appreciate the “Lunch & Learn” info workshop very much.

 

Sandra M.

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What to know before you go: Tips for a first-time blood donor

The American Red Cross recently launched rco_blog_img_missingthe Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new blood donors – and those who haven’t given in a while – to donate and help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients in need. During the campaign, A’s, B’s and O’s – representing the main blood groups – have gone missing from signage, websites, social media and other public-facing platforms to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays.

The message is clear, donors are needed now to help fill the gaps. If you’ve never donated before or haven’t in a while, now is the time to make an appointment to give.

If you’re nervous, have no fear, the Red Cross has 6 simple tips to get you ready for a successful donation experience:

1. Make an appointment time that’s convenient for your schedule.
2. Get a good night’s sleep.
3. Hydrate – drink plenty of water.
4. Eat a healthy meal including iron-rich foods.
5. Complete a RapidPass to speed up the donation process.
6. Relax and remember you’re helping save lives!

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Still feeling a little hesitant? 
Give your confidence a boost by hearing Red Cross pros share their tips to prepare. You can do this!

Ready to become a Red Cross blood donor, and join the #MissingType movement?  

1. Schedule your appointment at RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes or with the Blood Donor App.
2. Encourage a friend or family member to roll up a sleeve too.
3. Spread the word!

  • Take a photo with a selfie sign and post it to your social media along with the message “I am the #MissingType.”
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss)
  • Visit RedCrossBlood.org to share a Missing Types message on your social media.

Remember, without A, B and O, we can’t save anybody.

A Letter of Thanks to Those Who Volunteer

In November, my husband and I and our three children were assisted by Red Cross workers the morning our house burned down in Littleton.

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A Red Cross emergency response vehicle responds to a fire.

It’s been long enough now that I can remember all the good things that happened for my family that morning. My husband was injured in the fire, trying to rescue a few last things as the fire started to move down to the first floor. It funny how daily you remember different things that you don’t have anymore. As St. Patrick’s Day was approaching, I remembered a small leprechaun I put out with the TV every March. It was stored away in the attic. It’s the small things that daily remind me of the loss.

I mention the leprechaun because one the Red Cross workers told me that day in November that I would keep remembering things I lost for at least a year; as I went through holidays, birthdays, and the different seasons. Her advice to me was remember how even though the loss is painful, my family all made it out and are alive.

I want to give a special thanks to all the members of the Red Cross team, especially Trudy and Jeanie. They were so comforting that day. The advice they offered and the follow-up calls with a Red Cross member helped us through our disaster. We still don’t feel quite settled into our new home but we are making new memories here and are thankful we have the chance to make them together as a family.

A. Boroughs

Stock Photography of Sandusky Video
A Red Cross volunteer assists a family after a house fire.

After a busy day, Red Cross reminds you to be prepared for home fires

May went out like a lion this year, with Red Cross volunteers responding to eight separate fires across Massachusetts May 31 alone, affecting 32 people.

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While there were no fatalities reported, it emphasizes the message the Red Cross stresses year-round, being prepared for a fire can save your life.

“Having a working smoke alarm in the home is the number-one way to keep your family safe,” said David Lewis, regional executive for Massachusetts. “The Red Cross will not only install free smoke alarms in your home, we’ll sit down with residents and go over safety measures every family member can use to get out of a burning home alive.”

These simple safety measures below can prevent fires from happening, and get you out alive if a fire does break out. Most people don’t know, but on average a person has two minutes to exit a home before toxic smoke and flames become fatal.

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

For more information about keeping your home safe and for free installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, call 800-746-3511. An operator will take your information and a Red Cross volunteer will follow up and schedule the installation. This is a free service brought to you by the American Red Cross.

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Neither Rain nor Sleet Will Keep the Red Cross Away

rco_blog_img_NBpantryLast 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.

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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.

For more information about our programs and services, go to http://www.redcross.org/ma

 

MA Red Crosser Sees CA Mudslide Devastation First Hand

Ron Vigue is the Manager for Corporate & Foundation Relations for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts

Story and photos by Ron Vigue

I had an opportunity to tour the affected areas where only groups like the Army Corp of Engineers, the local Police, and the Red Cross (who are helping the affected community) could go through as the “101” (California Highway 101) is closed.

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I rode along with my capable ERV driver (and retired San Luis Obispo Police detective) Mark as he drove me through the worst of the worst, toward the mountain in Montecito, taking a right turn near Charlie Chaplin’s famed Montecito Inn. It was devastating to see the destruction, absolutely devastating. I have heard some horrific stories –  people lost in the disaster, disbelief of the sheer force which caused homes to disappear, lives uprooted in an instant.

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I’ve seen my fellow Red Crossers in-action. These folks are selfless individuals who come together as one from across the country to help people in need. I’ve met people from Alaska to Connecticut, each one has their own Red Cross story.

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For example, my roommate Henry, he’s been a proud member of the Salem, OR Red Cross Disaster Action Team for years. He’s also a Vietnam veteran and has had a long career as an ER nurse. His specialty is casework. Day after day, he’s been stationed at the Local Assistance Center in Santa Barbara comforting those residents affected by the mudslides and recent wildfires. Henry gets them the help they so desperately need. I’m not sure how many days I’d last by doing what Henry does – 8-10 hours a day, for weeks at a time, usually under the most stressful circumstances. He’s special and I’m proud to say he’s a Red Crosser. (Note the picture of Henry below at the LAC, he’s the only man in the picture).

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As one would expect, the outpouring of support from the local community has been overwhelming, and stereo typically Californian. From local McDonald’s promotions, to cycling race auctions, and way too many Yoga instructors donating their class fees to the cause. All continue to want to help in some way, big or small.

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I’ve come to learn that Santa Barbara is a beautiful place, but not just for its landscape. The communal resilience I’ve experienced here is inspiring. See the picture below of me and four young entrepreneurial girls who brought in $312 from their lemonade stand. Those girls made an enormous difference, as $300 could cover the daily cost to deploy one of our ERVs (Emergency Response Vehicle). That means someone is getting the supplies they need for a day because of their kindness.

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I look forward in sharing more stories upon my return. Thank you so much for your continued support as it’s only with our donors that we are able to help so many. I know first-hand, it’s making an enormous difference in the lives of those affected by disaster.

Bank of America Foundation & Red Cross partner to prevent food isolation

by Jeff Hall, American Red Cross of Massachusetts

It’s hard to imagine isolated and deserted areas in the greater Boston area, but there are places where people don’t have close access to things others take for granted.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as a place ‘vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful foods, usually found in impoverished areas.’ There are areas and neighborhoods where grocery stores are scarce and farmers’ markets are nonexistent.

Food programs like the Food & Nutrition Mobile Market program run by the American Red Cross of Massachusetts helps bring healthy food, nutrition information and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach to these food insecure areas.

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David Andre, Director of Food & Nutrition Programs for IMG_9570the Red Cross in Massachusetts, works with his staff and others, to not only make nutrition possible in areas like these, his team also works to educate and inform area businesses about the help that is needed across the Commonwealth.

The Red Cross Food Pantry, one of the largest in New England, directly serves communities in Boston and New Bedford, as well as provides mobile outreach into places like Lynn and Lawrence. The mobile food program provided 12,000 Massachusetts families with more than 45 pounds of food per month last year. In totality, the Food Pantry provided the equivalent of 2.5 million meals last year to Massachusetts residents.

It takes partnerships with local stakeholders to continue to break into these communities. The Bank of American Foundation is one such partner that provides financial support to the Red Cross of Massachusetts in order to keep our mobile market trucks rolling every week. In Lynn the Red Cross partners with Catholic Charities to find those in the communities that need the assistance most.

Without partnerships with stakeholders, donors and community groups; the American Red Cross Food Pantry would not have the resources necessary to help those in need here in the Commonwealth.

The American Red Cross of Massachusetts operates food pantries in Boston and New Bedford for eligibleIMG_9577 families and individuals to alleviate food insecurity and enable thousands of families in need of access to nutritious food to focus more of their resources on housing, heat, health, education and social development for their children. Established in 1982, the Boston Food Pantry is one of the largest in New England, serving more than 165,000 people in FY16 (41,000 were children). The New Bedford Food Pantry served more than 24,000 people in FY16.

If you would like more information on how you can get involved with our Food & Nutrition programs, visit us at redcross.org/local/massachusetts/food-nutrition. There you can find information about how to volunteer your time or make a financial donation to these programs that serves so many.

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