Do You Respect a Storm?

When is the last time you thought of a natural disaster? Polls show that 43% of New Englanders are very or somewhat concerned about being in the way of a hurricane. Responding to a storm at the first sign of it will leave you and your family disheveled and even in danger. Imagine the panic that will overcome you when you decide to make a dash to the stores for supplies and the shelves are basically empty. Then take into perspective the feeling of helplessness and danger that will consume your family should disaster strike. The fact of the matter is you have to respect a storm. You may ask yourself, “How can I possibly respect a storm?” The answer is simple: be prepared.

Out of the 43% of people that are concerned about being in a hurricane only 27% have taken the steps to be prepared. 1 in 3 east coast residents does not have an emergency kit, 1 in 2 don’t have a plan for communicating with family if they become separated in an emergency, and 3 in 10 have no clue where to stay in case of an evacuation.

There are very simple steps a family can take to prepare for a storm, and the Red Cross has more than enough tools for information on how to be prepared. It is as easy as downloading Hurricane, Flood, and First Aid apps (to name a few) on your Smartphone. Other preparedness tips can be accessed by doing a keyword search (like: Hurricane) at leading you directly to these resources!

Hurricane season should not include impeding symptoms of anxiety on your-self. So, keep calm and be prepared by having an emergency kit, make a plan for you and your family, and stay informed.


My First Volunteer Assignment with the Red Cross – Revere Tornado

Post from guest blogger and Red Cross volunteer Dana Rosengard


My first Red Cross volunteer assignment is just a bunch of subway stops away from my home in Boston but in a city I do not think I have ever visited: Revere.  I brought phone power chord, camera battery-charger, and the cable to connect my camera to a computer, all things I usually leave home without. Four hours later I have a mental list building of things to bring next time. But the mechanics are forgotten when you start to meet and talk to the people we are helping. Yes they need our tarps and brooms. Yes they want our toothbrushes and soap. Mostly though, they need and want our ears and our shoulders. Listening and letting them lean on us a bit is what seems most needed the day after this surprise tornado just outside Boston.  I want an official Red Cross vest and I need an official I.D. or badge of some sort but mostly I’m grateful to be of help and to now really be part of the American Red Cross team.

— Dana Rosengard, Red Cross volunteer and Advanced Public Affairs Team member

My Red Cross Story: An Intern’s Perspective

A little bit more than getting coffee for the executives, these posts will feature some of my experiences with the Youth Programs Department at the Pioneer Valley Chapter.

Before I begin, since this is my first post, let me introduce myself. My name is Sarah Bessette and I am a senior at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, PA. I am studying Business Administration and have a passion for humanitarian nonprofit organizations.

During junior year, every college student faces the ultimate struggle of attempting to find their internship in order to complete their area of study. My experience was no different. I began my search in October of last year. I was determined to be different than the rest and lock down my internship before the mad dash at the end of the year. I went back and forth with various companies and got dragged around in between yesses, no’s, and maybe so’s. As the school year went on, nothing seemed to be working out. Take a guess when I finalized this internship I am in now…April. Don’t get me wrong, the best was certainly saved for last!

With all that being said, when I started the internship I had no idea what to expect. I had received information about my position before starting and was excited to begin, but I had little background knowledge about the Red Cross. I knew it was one of the largest global nonprofit organizations, and that it organized blood drives. As I’m discovering, unless you work or volunteer here, that’s the perception most people have. In my first day of volunteer training I learned that the Red Cross does so much more than that. Between blood drives, service to armed forces, international services, disaster relief, and health and safety education, the possibilities are endless.

As my internship have unfolded I have discovered that Youth Programs really has the best of all the worlds. How many departments get to work with each of the other five all at the same time and promote every single one of them? As my first volunteer experience with the Red Cross, it is the best way for me to really learn the heart of the organization. To witness the impact the Red Cross has in so many areas through these students clubs is a privilege. We get to encourage the next generation of leaders and advocates of the Red Cross. It’s truly a very rewarding experience that will last far beyond my contributions here.

Disaster Services: Unsung Heroes

Disaster Services Vehicle On Site

Disaster Services Vehicle On Site

As a communications volunteer with the Red Cross, I have heard and written about several disaster responses and even had the oppurtunity to speak with several Disaster Service volunteers over the past month. While all these stories range in terms of size of the disaster and number of people affected, there is always one underlying fact that remains: the heroic commitment and service of our Disaster Service volunteers. These volunteers are men and women of our communitties who have dedicated time and effort to undergo training, so that when a call comes in for any type of emergency, they are willing and able to respond bringing material and emotional comfort to this undergoing truly horrific circumstances. It is one thing to read and write about how volunteers in Lawrence responded to 3 fires in one night, or how Cape Cod volunteers opened up and ran shelters to support large amounts of tourists stranded on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard during Hurricane Arthur, and another experience to actually speak to these dedicated, yet humble, citizens.

I have only had the chance to physically speak to these amazing people twice in my time with the Red Cross, as when they are not either physically responding to a disaster, or running the gears of the behind the scenes to ensure continued Disaster Service support, they are also committed members of their respective communities. My first experience speaking with a Disaster Service volunteer happened at a volunteer management training sesssion. We split into small groups and were asked to go around and share an experience; this volunteer chose to share a story about one of his responses. While the details of the story were interesting, it was clear from the way he spoke that this volunteer truly cared about helping those displaced during a disaster, and he even went above and beyond to help talk down a person who was undergoing a panic attack due to the trauma that often accompanies such unfortunate tragedies. From this man’s story it became clear that not only does he have to be a skilled tactitian in planning out who will need what aid in the form of basic living supplies, food, and emergency money, but also has to be a shoulder to cry on and provide strength and surety in order to help their fellow man. The effort this takes is truly herculian, yet all disaster volunteers are more than willing.

My second oppurtunity to speak with a Disaster Services volunteer occured when I was attempting to write up her story for our website and social media. She and I ended up speaking on the phone concerning the details of her response, and yet I learned so much more than the simple facts of this particular disaster. I learned the depths to which our volunteers are willing to go in order to ensure comfort and support to those whom we serve. After an unfortunate event left almost a score of people homeless, this volunteer spent hours calling hotels going so far as to call hotels from miles away in order to try and find housing for all the people affected. When even reaching out to hotels almost 50 miles away didn’t work, instead of admitting defeat, this volunteer helped work with each of the people in order to find friends and family that could finally host them. It was clear from this volunteers tone of voice that this level of effort is no less than those who suffer from disasters deserve.

What amazes me most about these two, and all other disaster volunteers like them, is that they are volunteers. They do not recieve monetary compensation for their efforts, nor do they often recieve widespread praise. Yet every hour of every day there are disaster volunteers prepared to drop their lives in order to come to the aid of their fellow citizens. Trying to help get the stories of these heroes’ efforts out to the public has truly been a privilage, and when I have the time and the training I hope to be able to provide this type of support to my community as well.




Celebrate your Independence Safely this July 4th

It’s that time of year again, grilles are prepped with new propane tanks, stores sell out of charcoal, ice, and cook out food, people clean there pools and set up various firework viewing plans. Every Independence Day seems remarkably similar to the last in style, yet each new year brings countless new memories spent with family and loved ones. This year the Red Cross advizes communities on how to keep those memories positive and avoid potential disasters by spreading safety tips for all of peoples favorite 4th of July activities.

For those who wish to celebrate their independence at the beach:

1.If someone plans to swim in the ocean, they should always check weather conditions before going in the water.
2.Swim only at a lifeguard protected beach, within the designated swimming area and listen to all lifeguard instructions.
3.Always swim with a buddy and always swim sober.
4.Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
5.Everyone should enter the water feet first if they can’t see the bottom or don’t know how deep the water is.
6.Be aware of the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. When free, turn and swim toward shore. If unable to swim to the shore, call out for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
7.Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.
8.Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
9.Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight.
10.Wear beach shoes. The sand is hot and can burn someone’s feet and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.

To the celebrators who prefer to spend their time poolside:

1.Learn to swim and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
2.Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
3.Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
4.Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.
5.Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.
6.Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
7.For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
8.Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers including four-sided fencing.
9.Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
10.Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. If a child is missing, check the water first.

For those who are traveling to their favorite Independence Day destinations:

HIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. The Red Cross offers these five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:

1.Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
2.Do not drink and drive.
3.Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
4.Use caution in work zones.
5.Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.

FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting fireworks off at home:

1.Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
2.Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
3.Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
4.Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
5.Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

1.Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
2.Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
3.Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
4.Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
5.Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

Aside from these tips, the Red Cross also now has several apps for all occasions, visit for more information.

Have a blast this Independence Day, and stay safe!

“100 Days of Summer. 100 Days of Hope.” Campaign

The Red Cross is launching a new campaign this summer “100 Days of Summer. 100 Days of Hope.” reminds everyone the need for blood is constant, even during the summer. There are about two fewer donors at every blood drive between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays.

All blood types are needed. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in general good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.  People can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit for more information or to make a donation appointment.

People can also help those in need by making a financial donation this summer to help the Red Cross respond when disaster threatens.  Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds to a disaster somewhere in this country.  During the summer, the Red Cross responds to hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.

The Red Cross also holds classes in CPR and First Aid so that people have the knowledge and confidence when an emergency occurs.

There is a way for everyone to get involved in 100 Days of Summer.  100 Days of Hope.  Find your way to get involved at!

Response to Balkans Flooding

The American Red Cross has contributed a total of $400,000 towards the relief efforts of the Balkans. Humanitarian needs in the Balkans include provision of emergency shelter, food, relief items, safe drinking water, and hygiene items, emotional support, as well as reconnecting family members.

In May, three months’ worth of rainfall poured over the Balkans region in just three days.  This affected Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia.  About 40 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina was under water.  As of May 27, nearly 3.1 million people were affected by the floods and landslides including 60 people who lost their lives.  Almost 100,000 people have been evacuated.

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