Friday, April 24, 2015

Introduction to the Tiffany Circle

Written by: Sara Cook, volunteer

The Tiffany Circle of the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region is comprised of a group of female philanthropist leaders.  Their mission states that “the Tiffany Circle is a powerful leadership network of women who want to change lives, save lives and strengthen communities through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure in the American Red Cross.”  They prove commitment and capability with over $60 million dollars raised for the American Red Cross since 2007 through organizing fundraising events such as “In the Bag,” an annual luncheon with a silent auction of designer handbags.  Their contributions provide support for victims of disasters of all kinds, service to the armed forces and blood services throughout the country. 

“The Tiffany Circle reflects a growing movement across the United States; women are leading the way when it comes to philanthropy.  Women are the economic powerhouse of the 21st century and will be the primary holders of the wealth in America in just a few short years.  The Tiffany Circle mobilizes this power of women in philanthropy on behalf of the American Red Cross.” 

Many of our Tiffany Circle members think of the American Red Cross as a selfless organization that has served as a stepping stone for them to become who they are today. Whether the Red Cross supported them during a disaster, supported their ancestors’ citizenship or initiated communication with family members stationed overseas, these women were inspired to join the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle in fulfilling its purpose. 

And they get hands on too. So far in 2015, our local chapter hosted a Valentine’s Day ladies night out at a Bubbles Salon, a Champagne and Shopping night at the Michael Kors shop in Tyson’s Galleria and a yearly charm ceremony. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Mary Jo Hoskyns at Mary.Hoskyns@redcross.org.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Attention All Golf Enthusiasts

Written by: Corey Welcher, volunteer

Spring has finally arrived in our nation’s capital and the American Red Cross is providing
you the opportunity to brush the dust of those clubs for a good cause.  On Tuesday, May 19th take a break from the bustling city to participate in the 12th Annual Red Tee Golf Tournament at the prestigious Golf Club at Lansdowne in Virginia. 


Registration for the event is now open and opportunities are still available to participate as a sponsor at various donation levels and in the silent auction.  As a Tournament sponsor you have an opportunity to network with local business and government leaders, reward top-performing employees and/or clients by including them in your team of four; all while contributing directly to safety and disaster relief needs of your family, friends, and neighbors.

NEW THIS YEAR:

  1. A women’s flight
  2. Special spa opportunity for your non-golfing spouse at the Lansdowne Resort during the tournament
  3. An exciting two-night golf travel package for the Sea Island Resort in Georgia.  Choose to stay in either the Lodge or the Cloister but you can’t go wrong as both are the recipients of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards for six consecutive years and voted two of the top five resorts in the Continental US two years in a row by readers of Travel & Leisure
  4. A putting lesson at Sea Island Resort with Mike Shannon, Putting Guru, is part of our live auction package
The Tournament will begin with an 8:00am breakfast and registration followed by a shotgun 10am start with a reception, award ceremony and silent auction at 3:00pm.  We encourage all participants to wear red as a symbol of this combined effort to support the Red Cross in 2015.

Last year’s team winners from each flight boasted scores of 55 and 66 respectively - who will come out on top this year?

Don’t miss your chance to help the American Red Cross to continue providing outstanding care and support during disasters and fires in the National Capital Region- register a player or sponsor today!

For questions about the event, registration, and sponsorship contact Mary Jo Hoskyns at 703.584.8432 or by email at Mary.hoskyns@redcross.org

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Volunteer Profile - Varsha Kakaraparti


Written by: Tonia Callender, volunteer

Varsha Kakaraparti, winner of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, says that volunteering with her local Red Cross team has become “second nature”.    For the last 5 years, she has coordinated the Red Cross blood drives for Loudoun County, Virginia.  Her recent award recognized her exemplary effort, impact and initiative.

When Varsha was in seventh grade, her uncle was hospitalized with Leukemia.  Varsha, her elder sister and mother spent a lot of time with him in the hospital.  There, Varsha and her family saw first hand, the importance of blood donations.  Wanting to give back to the community, Varsha’s mother took her daughters to volunteer at the local Red Cross office. Varsha recalls this first visit to the Red Cross in Loudoun.  “When we walked in, the people were really nice and welcoming.”  They needed assistance with blood drives.  So, Varsha and her sister began managing blood drive scheduling and marketing for their area. Now that Varsha’s sister is away at college, the High School Junior handles everything on her own.   Varsha currently manages communication with local libraries, organizes blood drives, and produces marketing materials.

Although she has volunteered with other organizations, Varsha realized early on that she most enjoyed working with the Red Cross.  Managing the blood drives has sparked an interest in the medical field and also in marketing and graphic design.  Despite being a busy High School Student, Varsha continues to make volunteering a priority: “One of the things I like most about working with the Red Cross is the staff.  They are kind and approachable and very easy to work with.”   Varsha’s dedication and initiative have helped her local Red Cross to provide life-saving blood to those who need it.   For Varsha, “Volunteering for the Red Cross and working with blood drives is very rewarding, because I know that I am helping someone and indirectly saving lives.”

Learn about how you can make a difference. Visit RedCross.org/Volunteer

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Donor Profile - John Small


Written by: Tonia Callender, volunteer


For John Small, making yearly donations to the Red Cross is second nature.  It is a habit that started in 1934, when John was in the second grade at Hayattsville, Elementary School in Maryland.  His school had a “Red Cross Day” where the students learned about the Organization’s history and activities.   Everyone was asked to bring in two cents to support the Organization.   John left school that day with a very positive image of the Red Cross, and he wanted to help.  For John’s family, finding the extra money to give to the Red Cross was a challenge, yet his mom managed to save the money.  That year, Johan proudly made his first donation.  The next year, John contributed three cents to his school’s effort and earned his first Red Cross pin.  John remembers how special he and his classmates felt when they earned that pin.   “We felt so honored to be recognized.”


As he grew up, contributing some money to the Red Cross became a tradition for John.  His service overseas during World War II gave him first hand knowledge of some of the Organization’s activities.   A member of the U.S. Navy, John traveled to different port where Red Cross volunteers welcomed him and his fellow sailors.  When he got back home, those memories stayed with him, and he continued to donate annually.

John’s motivation for his yearly donations has been the chance to help an organization that he admires:  “The Red Cross is a good group, so whenever I have a chance to chip in, I do.”  He intends to continue his 80-year tradition as long as he can. 
 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Fire Safety Friday

Written by: Susan Kumah, volunteer

While many Americans think Mother Nature is the leading cause of disasters, statistics show that it is in fact homes fires that pose the largest disaster threat. In the US, 1,000 times a day, fire departments are called to home fires. In fact, out of the 70,000 disasters the Red Cross responds every year, home fires make up the majority of cases. Data shows that vulnerable demographics such as low income groups, youth populations, the elderly, and disabled are disproportionately affected by home fires.

How is it possible that there is one fire every 8 minutes in the United States? Don't statistics show that the US possesses the world's leading manufacturers in smoke detection technology? Aren't there many state laws that require working smoke detectors within houses? True and true. While accidents can happen to anybody, accidents do not have to produce devastating outcomes. Prevention takes no more than a couple of minutes every month in order to minimize the risk of home fires. Red Cross recommends installing fire alarms on each level of your home including one outside the kitchen and one outside each bedroom. Even more important to the location of the fire alarm is its efficiency i.e. checking if the device is working.  Working smoke detectors can double the chance of someone surviving a fire, so it is important that these devices are checked every month and replaced every ten years. Also everyone should practice their evacuation plan twice a year.

The American Red Cross will continue to increase its effort to decrease disaster threats caused by home fires. The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign for example, was established to educate communities about how to make their households less prone to home fires. Through community level interventions, volunteers go door-to-door teaching residents how to maintain smoke detectors, fire alarms, and install working detectors. You can get involved in a canvassing activity by signing up through Volunteer Connection.

Young people are also participating in the prevention strategies through the American Red Cross's annual Youth Preparedness week. From January 20 – 24 2014, 1,639 youth volunteers canvassed 375 neighborhoods and distributed 144,657 fire safety and “make a plan” door hangers in Spanish and English. The American Red Cross continues to pass the baton by making young people keenly aware of fire safety. The Pillowcase Project, a fire education program for 3rd - 5th graders, has educated children with information about local hazard preparedness. The Red Cross is currently looking for Pillowcase Project presenters also on Volunteer Connection.

Through these various forms of awareness, individuals throughout the country are lessening their risk of home fires. Visit redcross.org to view our Home Fire Safety Checklist, Escape Plan, and see what Training and Preparedness Education options are available to you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Volunteer Profile - Bahman Naraghi



Written by: Kelly Norman, volunteer

One of the great things about the American Red Cross is that it is an organization whose mission touches every state and there are volunteers all across the country. One of the local Red Cross volunteers, Bahman Naraghi, originally began volunteering with the Red Cross in Columbus, Ohio in 2012.  He was interested in humanitarian efforts and disaster relief and knew the Red Cross would be a great way to get involved.

When he moved to DC to pursue a new job, he did not let that interrupt his volunteering. Now as a volunteer in the National Capital region in Montgomery County, Bahman does a variety of things: provides disaster relief services as a member of the Disaster Action Team (DAT), helps at the warehouse, and assists with large-scale DC events like the Fourth of July.

“Working with the Red Cross has given me the ability to do many interesting things, like driving a forklift. It’s exciting to try out new things,” explained Bahman.  He also shared how much he values the friendships he has made with other volunteers.

Bahman shared a recent story of how he responded to a fire with the Red Cross DAT on one of the coldest days of winter. The residents’ furnace had malfunctioned and the fire was thankfully put quickly out. Bahman made sure the displaced residents had blankets, food, and a temporary shelter.

Bahman works full time as a Program Officer at FHI 360, an international development agency, and volunteers on the weekend. I think it speaks volumes of Bahman’s character that he spends his free weekends giving back to his community.  Thank you Bahman for all that you do!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Everyday Heroes – March is Red Cross Month


Written by: Susan Kumah, volunteer

To many, the term ‘volunteer' means performing a service voluntarily. Contrary to the popular consensus, a Red Cross volunteer is not – and cannot be – defined according to his or her mainstream counterpart: Red Cross volunteers are especially distinct. Here, volunteering is not a singular service but instead numerous selfless acts that multiply tenfold. These acts of charitable commitments have inspired what we have come to know as Red Cross Month.

Officially proclaimed 'Red Cross Month' in 1943 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, March is a month that formally celebrates volunteers and their service, and rightfully so. With volunteers making up more than 95% of the American Red Cross work force, the organization by its very structural makeup is a network of givers. Few know the contributions of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. This month, the American Red Cross celebrates each emergency worker, praises all blood donors, salutes every financial supporter and more. Whether it is on a one-to-one basis or in a group, physical and financial needs are being met everyday by a diverse group of volunteers or – as we like to call them- everyday heroes.

Everyday heroes appropriately deserve everyday praise. Describing volunteer contributions almost attracts a library of clichés: volunteers are 'changing futures' and 'saving lives'. The temptation of heaping cliché upon cliché should often be resisted, let's face it, clichés are thoughtlessly overused. But if ten minutes of a student's lunch break can add decades unto a cancer patients life through a blood donation- call it what you may: clichés, truisms or trite phrases – it really doesn't matter; these acts are quite simply, life-changing. Even though many volunteers will never know the entirety of their self-sacrifice, Red Cross will spotlight their many tremendous efforts this month.

“During the darkness of storm, we see what is brightest in America -- the drive to shield our neighbors from danger, to roll up our sleeves in times of crisis, to respond as one Nation and leave no one behind.” In his 2015 proclamation of Red Cross Month, President Barack Obama notes the essence of Red Cross volunteerism: simplicity. The simple gesture of rolling up ones sleeves and shielding ones neighbor declares the simplicity of heroic action unique to Red Cross volunteers. In addition to this simplicity, Obama's statement rightfully addresses the ethos that the American Red Cross is founded upon: solidarity and a commitment to the national community.

To put it simply, everyday heroes abandon their needs and seek out the needs of others. They often contribute in the background while attention is given to the nature of disasters, its survivors, and wreckage. Well this month, we all return our gratitude to Red Cross volunteers. This month we ask you to remember our heroes' place within the action. More so, let us respect their namesake; remembering their efforts not only this month but also everyday.