Monday, January 23, 2017

You Can Make a Difference. Give Blood

by Emily Goff

It is National Blood Donor Month, and I am thrilled to report that my high school recently embraced the challenge to give the vital gift of blood. Lacking a Red Cross-specific club, Herndon High School had its Key Club student organization promote and organize a blood drive, and the effort was ultimately quite successful! Dozens of students made the decision to give blood to help support those in need. I asked several of the donors to share what sparks their passion to be a blood donor, and the responses I received were touching.
  
“I donate blood every chance I get because I feel it’s important to help others in any way possible, especially with something as important as blood supply. It feels rewarding to help such a great cause and each time I donate that feeling of rewarding never ceases. Knowing that when I donate my blood I am saving three lives is incomparably fulfilling” - Melissa


“I choose to donate blood because I have always wanted to help others, and I felt like this was one way to do so. I feel really good donating! I feel like I have accomplished my goal of helping others who are in need of blood. I would love to do it again; it was a great experience.” - Divya

“I wanted to donate blood because every day someone with cancer or other diseases dies because there is no blood available to them. I felt like even if I was afraid of needles, just by donating 500mL I can hopefully save someone’s life or at least help someone. Also, after donating blood, it feels like I’ve achieved something. I feel really good now that I made the decision to donate blood. I feel like I’m giving back and truly making a difference, and I will gladly do it again whenever I have the opportunity.” - Sujata

These high school students had a gratifying blood donating experience, and the best part is that you can have one too! Everyone’s experience with donating is unique, with many different reasons why people give blood, but the end goal is ultimately the same: supporting fellow humans amid medical struggles. Learn more about how you can help patients receive lifesaving treatments  via blood donation.


All eligible donors are urged to schedule an appointment to give today by using the Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Join the Red Cross to Help Install Fire Alarms

by Rebecca Churchill

I was a Girl Scout when I was younger, and liked “being prepared” for things; even now, having the aptitude to take care of myself and my loved ones feels good. As for fire safety, I assumed I knew enough. Guess who just failed the Red Cross fire safety quiz with a 55%? 

Test your fire alarms once a month. I know that, but do I do it? No. I didn’t know you needed to replace fire alarms every ten years, and I certainly don’t change the batteries every year, just when they chirp in the middle of the night and you have to knock the alarm off with a broom. It’s a bad kind of epiphany to realize that I’ve been too casual about something as important as the safety and security of my home and family.

So it’s a new year, and I’m going to jump onboard with the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. And I started this past Martin Luther King weekend, 2017. Their mission is to get smoke alarms installed in as many homes as possible, and to remind people to take a few minutes to check their alarms and practice exit strategies to be prepared for a fire. I was shocked to find out when there are no smoke alarms in the house, the mortality rate is nearly 60% for house fires.

The National Capital Region Red Cross is looking for volunteers to help install fire alarms for those in need, and to get out the message about the importance of home precautions. Volunteering is so easy  there’s no training required  just join us and let’s help the Red Cross make an impact right here in the DMV. Here’s the link that can get you started, whether you want more info, the fire safety quiz, or to volunteer: http://www.redcross.org/local/washington-dc/volunteer/smoke-alarm-installations


Experts say you have as little as two minutes to get out of the house in case of a fire. Do you have a plan if it happens to you? 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service Smoke Alarm Installation Project and Fire Safety 101

Written by: Harsha Jha, volunteer

Did you know that working smoke detectors cut the risk of dying in home fires by half?

The American Red Cross has an objective to install smoke detectors in homes in order to reduce the number of fire deaths in the US by 25% within five years. The aim of this campaign is to go door-to-door and install smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high-risk for home fires. The American Red Cross is installing smoke alarms throughout the National Capital Region and needs your help!

If you are looking for community service opportunities or simply want to help out, please register here

If you are unable to help install smoke alarms, please learn more with these fire safety tips:

Multi-Family Dwelling:
  1. Identify two exits for every room
  2. Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including inside and outside each bedroom and in the basement 
Apartment Complex:
  1. Install smoker alarms inside and outside each bedroom
  2. If you are trapped, call 911 and hang a white sheet outside your window
  3. Have a designated spot outside for everyone to meet
Single-Family Home: 
  1. Identify two exits for every room
  2. Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including inside and outside each bedroom and in the basement
  3. Have a designated spot outside for everyone to meet

Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you have just two minutes to get out? Make sure that you have installed smoke alarms in the proper areas and check that your smoke alarms work. It is important to test your smoke alarms every month and replace batteries when needed. Also develop an evacuation plan with everyone you live with and practice the plan! With these tips and suggestions, you too can become a “pro” at fire safety. Don’t forget to give back to the community by installing smoke alarms if you can. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

My Red Cross Military Story: Ivy Williams

by Emily Goff and Rebecca Churchill

Since Clara Barton nursed soldiers on the battlefields of the Civil War, the Red Cross has been a symbol of support and comfort to America’s armed forces. Ivy Williams was a U.S. soldier stationed in Saudi Arabia when he was wounded and hospitalized. During his rehabilitation, he encountered the human faces of the Red Cross. Day after day, he was visited by kind volunteers who encouraged and supported him, undoubtedly hastening his recovery, and filling him with gratitude. "What's most amazing about the [Red Cross] organization is the people you come in contact with," he said.


There were moments throughout Ivy’s war experience that illuminated the work of the Red Cross in alleviating soldiers’ physical and emotional pain. He witnessed the great power in simple care packages. Ivy watched his friends confined to cots, pouring through the devotionals and using the toiletries and new blankets, offering them simple comforts and remembrances of home and caring people.

Ivy reflected on learning about the versatility of the Red Cross, "I had some misconceptions about the Red Cross before I traveled overseas to serve this country. Now I know that it doesn't exist only to deliver band-aids; in all truth, it exists to spread the positive news, too.” 

Ivy knew too well about the duty to deliver bad news, like the death of a family member. However, he was delighted to be with his friend and fellow soldier when the Red Cross called with a different news delivery: the birth of a healthy baby daughter. Despite war around them, Ivy was able to see how the Red Cross strove to support people amid times of joy, as well as despair.

Ivy also recalled how one of his acquaintances had been severely wounded and sent home to the U.S., along with a grant from the Red Cross. Such a financial endowment enabled him to support his family and pay bills, an action that, for many veterans, is a significant struggle during their transition and recovery. "That grant was truly instrumental," Ivy stated.

“The Red Cross is an invaluable service and helps in more ways than you can imagine,” he said. “Take the time to understand what it is the Red Cross does; understand the variety of its services. Don't focus on just one part of it."

Learn more about how the Red Cross supports America's military and Veteran families here: http://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/military-families 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Give the Gift of Life. Donate Blood.

By Clarice Nassif Ransom, Volunteer


I have decided to use “the power of the pen” as a volunteer writer to help share stories of how the American Red Cross is making a difference in my community of Fairfax, Virginia. To begin this endeavor, I will share a personal story.
About 6 years ago, we learned my then-eight-year-old son had a nasty strep infection raging throughout his body, and he needed plasma infusions to help restore his system back to health. Our initial reaction was shock and disbelief. My husband, daughter, and I were frightened, sad, confused – and we could not even imagine the pain my son must have been going through from being so sick. But, because of the American Red Cross, we had hope. The hospital had the plasma supply our son needed to receive treatment right away. The plasma infusions worked as he battled through eliminating the infection from his body. Today, he is a healthy teenager, and we are grateful to the many benevolent people who had donated their blood to the American Red Cross. We realize this was a gift of health for our son. 

As you are thinking of gifts to give this holiday season, if you can, I encourage you to donate blood and give someone else out there the gift of health. The American Red Cross collects 40 percent of the blood and blood product supplies in the United States. It’s easy to locate a local donation drive. Just log onto http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood and type in your zip code. You can also host a blood drive. More information about that can be accessed at www.redcrossblood.org/hosting-blood-drive.

Here's just a few of the many upcoming opportunities to donate in Fairfax, VA:

Fairfax Blood Donation Center
2720 Prosperity Avenue
Suite 200
Fairfax, VA 22031

Friday, Dec. 23, 1016 from 7:00 am to 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016 from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016 from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 26, 2016 from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 28 2016 from Noon to 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 from Noon to 7:00 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Behind the Scenes at the Salute to Service Gala

Written by: Rebecca Churchill, volunteer


When I think of the American Red Cross, I picture people responding to house fires, running blood drives, military outreach, and international relief missions. On Saturday, November 19, the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region rolled down their sleeves, pulled on black ties and formal gowns, and gathered at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner for the 2016 Salute to Service Gala. Walking around the swanky lobby, bartenders served old-fashioned drinks and guests studied the fantastic destinations, artwork, and wines up for auction. The decor was charming and elegant at the same time, recalling the 75th anniversary of the US entry into World War II. The entrance featured a retro soda shop, vintage Red Cross posters, and a huge backdrop for photo opportunities and selfies.

Before this, I had been volunteering with the Red Cross since high school, supporting blood drives with my fantastic history teacher who was an Army veteran and EMT in the Vietnam War. His enthusiasm and passion for helping others had his whole class volunteering, and his energy was contagious. Now many years later, I’m back in Washington, DC, and I’m still finding small ways to support this remarkable organization.

As a volunteer at the Salute to Service Gala, I was set up with a radio and earpiece and joined the hard-working Communications team on their mission to make the evening flawless and celebrate the work of leaders in public service. As all of the volunteers gathered in a big room preparing to take their positions throughout the event, the Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region, Linda Mathes, brought a national treasure to meet us. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was one of the Gala’s VIP guests, appeared wearing a space T-shirt and star-spangled socks, and spoke about NASA’s plans to visit Mars and the incredible technologies being developed to make it a reality in our lifetime. The volunteers and staff were all elated to take our places as the Gala hummed to life.

My assignment was to support the film crew from Comcast who interviewed the night’s honorees. I got to observe what I consider to be truly a series of illusions as they transformed a small conference room into an interview space. Lights and cameras were set up, tape put on the floor, and microphones made ready. Doug VanDyke, Gala Committee Co-Chair, discussed his passion for the Red Cross and his mission to serve. Geoff DeLizzio, Chief Development Officer, shared an interesting story of his first Red Cross experience when he responded to a large apartment fire the day before he started working with them. Everyone who was interviewed, for all their impressive personal accomplishments, was speaking from their hearts about the Red Cross and its legacy of service and support.


For me, it was very exciting to meet Major Jaspen “Jas” Boothe, a disabled Army veteran who was honored for founding an organization that advocates for soldiers and their family members. She was so poised and elegant in her floor length white gown, and she spoke of her personal life challenges, including homelessness after Hurricane Sandy and surviving cancer. Interestingly, she told us that she attended Clara Barton Elementary School as a child, and that all these years later her award from the Red Cross was validation for the work she is doing to serve others. As she turned to leave to attend the Gala, I saw her shoes: Army boots. What a rock star!

I made my way to the ballroom as the volunteers were called to flank the room to start fundraising as Auctioneer Geoff DeLizzio began challenging the guests to make their pledges. Just like in the auctions you see on television, people with paddles in their hands raised them high. Volunteers rushed forward to take their pledges and then hurried them out to the staffers at the ready to tally the numbers. Everyone was cheerful and a friendly competitive spirit took over, raising nearly $30,000 for the Red Cross in a few minutes. The party continued to crescendo as I took in the rest of the room: a stage, an old-fashioned band like that of Benny Goodman, and elegant ladies, handsome gentlemen in suits and military dress. It was thrilling!

The night hurried on, and outside the ballroom there were grab bag gifts of wine and Red Cross emergency kits (I’ve got one in my car), and we volunteers were then tasked to help guests get their items they had won in the silent auction. It was hard to believe that suddenly it was over and all that work was done. The staff still had to usher out guests and us volunteers. What a great evening, and how exciting to be a part of it. It was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season, recognizing the good people do. I wondered what the next task was ahead for the Red Cross staff, and how we might be helping in the future.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


We are quickly approaching our Salute to Service Galataking place on Saturday, November 19, at the Hilton McLean in Tysons Corner. This annual event showcases the Red Cross’s commitment to helping the community in times of need, and is a celebration of extraordinary individuals and their contributions to humanitarian services and their service to our country. The Salute to Service Gala is presented with the help of our many generous sponsors, including Silver Sponsor JPMorgan:


 
At JPMorgan Chase & Co. we recognize the tremendous sacrifices military members, veterans and their families have made for our nation. They often face significant challenges as they transition back to civilian life or seek to balance their careers with continued service in the Guard or Reserve. This year marks the fifth anniversary of JPMorgan Chase’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, established to drive firm-wide Veteran-related initiatives. Since 2011, more than 10,000 military veterans have joined the ranks of JPMorgan Chase, and the Firm has developed programs aimed at retaining and supporting them throughout their careers. By focusing on employment, financial capability and small business opportunities, JPMorgan Chase aims to position military service members, veterans and their families for success in their post-service lives. These efforts include leading the Veteran Jobs Mission – previously the 100,000 Jobs Mission – a coalition founded in 2011 by JPMorgan Chase and 10 other companies with the goal of hiring 100,000 veterans. Now more than 230 members strong, the coalition has collectively hired over 347,000 Veterans, and is committed to hiring 1 million.
 
To view the complete list of our amazing sponsors and to find out more event details please visit our website at www.redcross.org/dcgala.