Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Babysitter Training Day

American Red Cross Offers Babysitter's Training in Cuba NY
With summer on the horizon, teens will begin their summer jobs. One of the most popular jobs among them is being a babysitter. Babysitting children is a huge responsibility. It involves much more than just keeping children “out of trouble”. The more a babysitter knows and understands about children and problems that may arise, the better the experience can be for them and the children.

     On May 3rd, the Western New York/Finger Lakes Regions will hold a Babysitter Training Day at 11 different locations. It is designed for teens to earn the necessary skills to be a safe and effective caregiver. The all-day class teaches them a variety of skills from how to properly hold a baby to CPR and first aid.  Most importantly, a babysitter who earns this certification earns something even more valuable – peace of mind for the parents of the children they are taking care of.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Still #BostonStrong

My Boston Marathon response service pin
As April 15, 2014 approached, media outlets and others began looking back at what happened in Boston, MA one year ago. The one that really got me was when I saw Leighton Jones, the Chief Disaster Officer for the Red Cross in Massachusetts and the job director for Boston Marathon bombing response, post a picture of his service pin online. I immediately put on my pin.

My memories of those tragic events started much like those of anyone who was not there. I followed the news of the bombings at the finish line on social media, and immediately reached out to a friend running the race to make sure she was okay. Four days later, though, I was on a plane to Boston to join in the Red Cross response, landing while the city was locked down during the manhunt for one of the suspects.

That flight was an experience I'll never forget, but what I'm really thinking about one year later is the people. First, the Red Crossers I was privileged to work with. Many of the Boston staff and volunteers were a part of the race, either running or supporting first aid stations during the Marathon, but they all put their personal grief aside to help the community. I remember how much everyone there appreciated the work of our own Disaster Mental Health lead volunteer, Tara Hughes, who helped set up the Family Support Center and used her experience to share vital tips for coping with the tragedy to the entire community. Another Western New York Disaster Mental Health volunteer, Dominic DiGirolamo, was my roommate in Boston and even though we cannot share the details, I will never forget the stories of the incredible work he did for the family of fallen M.I.T. officer Sean Collier.

Probably my greatest memory, though, is how resilient the Boston people were, and how thankful they were for our support. Two images really stick in my head. First, at a vigil at the scene of the bombing one week later, seeing a woman wearing a Boston Marathon shirt crying in the arms of a friend, and silently handing them tissues. The other is walking back to the Chapter following the memorial service for Officer Collier. Not once, but twice, an officer directing traffic noticed my Red Cross shirt and thanked me for being there. Each time I responded, "No, thank you," but those moments are why I am still so proud to have been a small part of our response.

That response continues one year later, as mental health volunteers share tips for dealing with the emotions this anniversary might stir up. Fleet Feet Sports and the American Red Cross will hold a special blood drive in commemoration of the Boston Marathon Bombings on Tuesday, April 15 from 2pm-7pm at Fleet Feet Sports at The Armory, 155 Culver Road in Rochester. If you can't make it there, consider donating blood at another drive to help hospital patients in need as a healing moment. Personally, I'm marking this solemn occasion by remembering everyone that makes #BostonStrong a reality.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Volunteer - It Does a Mind and Body Good

This week officially marks “Volunteer Week” across the country. It is a week to not only appreciate those who do volunteer their time but also to try to recruit more volunteers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the end of September 2013, the rate of volunteers dropped 1.1% to 35.4% nationwide. What’s amazing is, according to, from 2010 – 2012, Rochester, NY ranked 2nd as far as the most volunteers with 35.1% of the population volunteering.  Most of those volunteers were over the age of 55.
Volunteers make up more than 90% of the American Red Cross workforce. That is an incredible statistic. More than 90%! These extraordinary people give of their time to help others and carry out the Red Cross mission of “alleviating human suffering”. It really is a remarkable gift that these people give our organization and our community. They do so unselfishly and without complaint.

When I joined the American Red Cross, I got to see on my first day what it was like to be around these selfless and compassionate people. With little notice, as is the case with most disasters, they mobilized quickly and were standing ready to help their fellow citizens in need. It was something to behold seeing those faces, those bodies come together on a mission to be that glimmer of hope for those who needed it. It was a humbling and inspiring day for me.
With that being said, I would encourage everyone and anyone to volunteer and or donate to help those who do volunteer.  American Red Cross volunteers are the heart of this organization through their selflessness and giving spirit. Thank you volunteers for being an example for all of us.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Team Firestopper

On March 29th, at eight locations across the Western New York/Finger Lakes Region, the American Red Cross-along with Project Paradigm and the Children's Fire & Burn Fund-presented Team Firestopper, a fire prevention fair, to residents in "at risk" communities. The first one hundred visitors to each location were given a smoke detector. This smoke detector lasts for ten years without needing to change a battery.

At the fair, several stations were set up to focus on various parts of fire prevention and first aid. Members of local fire departments gave demonstrations on how to properly use a fire extinguisher, medical personnel taught visitors how to do hands on CPR in the case of an emergency and bank representatives spoke about fire insurance. Red Cross volunteers provided tips on how to develop an escape plan and a first aid/fire prepardedness kit for homeowners. Volunteers also provided similar materials catered to children about fires and fire safety.

An average of $1,000 is spent for a family of four after a house fire. That money includes vouchers for food, clothing and shelter for those requiring those services. All of the money used to support these families is made possible through the generosity of donors.

For more on fire safety tips, visit: