Sound the Alarm Success as Hundreds of Homes Made Safer in Massachusetts

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

rco_blog_img_STA camb
Cambridge Volunteers

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.

 

 

IMG_2208

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.

IMG_2690[1]
Mary Nuzzetti learns about home fire safety from Red Cross volunteers
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  Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Almost Family  Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Americorps  Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Avalon Bay Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM  Boston Cares Catchpoint Systems Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Delta Airlines Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Domino’s Pizza of Lowell Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Fall River Fire Department Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Friends of the American Red Cross Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Fresh Look Interiors Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM IBEW 96 Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Jordan’s Furniture Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Lowell Senior Center Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Lowell Fire Department Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM MAPFRE  Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM National Grid Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Springfield Fire Department Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.25.34 AM Worcester Fire Department

Sound the Alarm. Save a Life!

 

 

Image result for Sound the Alarm Logo jpg        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 Alarm with 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

IMG_0020

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.

Continue reading “Sound the Alarm. Save a Life!”

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.

IMG_2658

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.

image007

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.

image012

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.

image014

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).

image019

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.

image017

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.

rco_blog_img_mudslide

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.

rco_blog_img_food

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.

IMG_1526

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.

IMG_9574

Red Cross & NBC Boston Partner to Make Boston Homes Safer

by Jeff Hall, American Red Cross of Massachusetts

NBC Boston and the American Red Cross of Massachusetts have partnered to make Boston homes safer through the Home Fire Campaign.

rco_blog_img_nbcboston

Over the next several months, Red Cross volunteers and members of the Boston Fire Department will install smoke detectors donated by NBC Boston in homes across city neighborhoods. The winter months especially pose a troublesome time for home fires as temperatures dip and people look for alternative heating methods in their homes.

“As temperatures dip, space heaters become one of the leading causes of home fires across the nation,” said Edward Blanchard, interim disaster program manager for the Red Cross in the Boston metropolitan area. “Heaters can overload an electrical outlet or one placed too close to curtains or drapes become an instant fire hazard,” said Blanchard.

NBC Boston received a donation of 500 combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors from First Alert, a manufacturer of home fire safety products, and contacted the Red Cross of Massachusetts to identify residents who could use the new safety equipment.

IMG_2149

“As part of our commitment to the community, NBC Boston, Telemundo Boston and necn couldn’t be more proud of our month-long fire safety campaign with the American Red Cross, First Alert and the Boston Fire Department. We hope through our messaging of the generous First Alert donations, and installations in homes across the city, we were able to make at least one home, safer.”-  Maggie Baxter, Vice President of Programming, NBC Boston, Telemundo Boston & necn.

“The partnership is a great fit for the Red Cross,” said Blanchard. “With the detectors donated by NBC Boston, our Home Fire Campaign can continue to identify families who need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make their homes safer.”

Boston Fire Department officials stress that best way to keep your home or residence safe is to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and near every bedroom. An existing partnership with the Boston Fire Department has already allowed more than 1,000 smoke detectors to be installed across Boston.

IMG_2141

“Fires today are much more dangerous than they were 30 years ago. They reach flash over more quickly,” said Joseph Finn, Boston Fire Commissioner. “When people get an early warning from a smoke detector, they are out of the building before the fire reaches a deadly stage. That early warning is vital for survivability,” said Finn.

This continuing outreach is part of the ongoing Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, in which Red Cross volunteers and partners canvass high-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans. Through another program called the Pillowcase Project, Red Cross volunteers are educating children in elementary schools on how to be ready for a home fire or other dangerous natural disasters. This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from national partners: Almost Family and Delta Air Lines. The Red Cross has also received funding from FEMA through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

In early November, Red Cross volunteers installed the one millionth free smoke detector in the United States as part of the Home Fire Campaign.  To date, the campaign has saved the lives of 285 people who were alerted to smoke or carbon monoxide in their residence.

IMG_2167

Finding Purpose: 7-year Red Cross volunteer speaks about her experiences

by Michael de Vulpillieres, American Red Cross

As 2017 comes to the close we are featuring a few our (nearly 3000) Massachusetts Red Cross volunteers who have worked tirelessly these past 12 months to help carry out our mission locally and across the country.

rco_blog_img_contee

Earlier this week, we caught up with Lisa Contee, longtime Red Cross volunteer from Everett, Massachusetts who shared with us a bit about her work and the impact the organization has people’s lives, including her own.

What brought you to the Red Cross?

I joined after the Haiti earthquake. I saw everything on TV and it really touched me. I was at a point in my life where I felt like it was time for me to give back.

Initially, I came to the Red Cross to keep my First Aid and CPR certifications up to date. While I was in that course, we were almost done and someone came into the room and said the Red Cross was holding a class for, I think it was, Intro to Disaster Response, and invited anyone interested to attend. I did not know anything about what the Red Cross did locally so I went to learn and by the time the class was over, I was sold!

What have been some of your roles at the Red Cross?

I started off immediately in Casework. I went to my first fire within a couple of weeks. I knew I wanted to do Disaster Response. Since I joined I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do! I’m the regional lead for CDE [Community Disaster Education]. I love that: events, presentations, parades. I’m a Disaster Volunteer Instructor, which I just adore, and I got a lot of opportunities to do that after these past hurricanes because we did a lot of work getting trained to deploy. I’m also in Logistics.

20170911_

Can you talk more about your work helping people after local disasters?

I’m a DAT [Disaster Action Team] supervisor. I love it. There’s no feeling like arriving at a scene where people have just lost everything and don’t know what to do. There’s no manual for a house fire. Nobody knows what to do when they are put out in the middle of the night, in the middle of a snow storm, with just their pajamas on and they have no idea what to do next. We get to pull up and say, ‘we’ve been through this a number of times, hundreds of times, and we are going to take care of you.’ And they have just such relief on their faces because we get to say, ‘we are going to help you right now with what needs to be done right at this minute.’

How many on-call shifts do you take a week?

I take two, back-to-back shifts Tuesday nights [through Wednesday morning] a week.  6 p.m. to midnight and then midnight to 6 a.m. And then random shifts here and there when needed.

What is it like to get a call in the middle of the night?

It’s just adrenaline. As soon as that phone rings I jump up, get the info, get dressed, brush my teeth and head out. I don’t sleep the same when I’m on call but I’m not tired when I get woken up.

What does the Red Cross represent to you?

The Red Cross really came into my life at very important time for me. I really needed that sense of purpose. To me the Red Cross represents helping, healing and kindness.

FB_IMG_14