Friday, June 24, 2016

My Red Cross Volunteer Story: Kenneth Hamilton

For seven years, Kenneth Hamilton has “served with dedication and heart,” according to one of our leading volunteers. Another leading volunteer states that, when attending Ken’s briefing, she has been “very impressed, not only with his professionalism, but also his promotion of the Red Cross at Fort Belvoir.

Ken Hamilton, a U.S. Air Force retiree and health care recipient at the Fort Belvoir DeWitt Army Hospital, was inspired to strengthen communication between patients and their families with the hospital caregivers. Upon learning that the hospital had established a Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC), Ken joined the Council in 2009. He also became a Red Cross volunteer, a hospital requirement for all non-government employees serving on the Council. Because of his commitment to the goals of the PFAC and his strong leadership skill, Ken became chair in 2010 and also appointed a co-chair to assist with the group’s important work.

In his role as co-chair of the Hospital’s PFAC, Ken has provided valuable service as a collaborative voice of the patients and their families to the hospital’s professional staff, strengthening their relationships and communications. Under Ken’s leadership, the PFAC has matured and developed into a valued and respected hospital asset. His views, as a voice of the patients and families, are actively sought through representation at the hospital’s operational committee meetings and through invitations by other groups interested in establishing a similar functional group. In heralding the importance of the PFAC in providing patient feedback to the hospital, Ken emphasizes that the doctors and nurses know how to run the hospital. But he notes that, “What is changing is what patients need to know about their care.” The PFAC has had an impact at the hospital in improving communications among the patients and staff.”

In addition to the many hours of volunteer service at the hospital, Ken assisted a number of outreach events. He was particularly helpful to SAF Headquarters staff in its lab testing and video taping of the Service to the Armed Forces Client Self-Service platform. Ken’s outreach activities, both at the hospital’s Patient Orientation briefings and at many community events around the National Capital Region, have provided an extremely beneficial boost to the military community’s knowledge and understanding of American Red Cross programs in Service to the Armed Forces.

Friday, June 17, 2016

My Red Cross Volunteer Story: Susan Demetri

Susan Demetri began her journey with the American Red Cross in the summer of 1990, shortly after the loss of her little grand daughter, Amy, who was a preemie and only with the family for two months. Susan recalls that she “quickly became aware that my heart was guiding me to use the grief I was feeling in a beneficial way.” The opportunity to volunteer at the Mother/Baby Unit at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, then the DeWitt Hospital, became a catalyst for her healing. 

As a career military wife whose children had grown up and moved away, Susan wanted to help make becoming a new mom as easy as she could for other women, in any way that she could. Susan states, “In the nearly 25 years that I have been blessed to be with the unit, I have met some of the most incredible people. I learned so much that I wish I had known when my babies were little, I passed along some of the knowledge I gained from nurturing my own children to an estimated 25,000 mothers, and I enjoyed the feeling of being part of a team that strives to make parenthood the blessing it is intended to be.”  

Susan expresses gratitude to the American Red Cross for giving her this life-changing opportunity, and the hope that she will be able to continue on “at least for a few more years.” Susan’s caring, comfort and sharing of her knowledge and experience with new mothers and their babies represent the best characteristics of American Red Cross volunteers.

Currently, Susan volunteers with our Service to the Armed Forces team as an Impatient Volunteer at Mother Baby Unit at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. To learn more about how you can help nurture your community please visit

Friday, June 10, 2016

My Red Cross Story: Gretchen Neels

Gretchen (on the far right) attends the 2015 Salute to Service Gala with fellow Tiffany Circle Members
Meet Gretchen Neels, a woman of the utmost, untiring compassion. Her journey as a Red Cross supporter was sparked in 2008 when she joined the Tiffany Circle, a society of women leaders and philanthropists from regions across the U.S. As a part of this group, Gretchen carries on our founder Clara Barton’s legacy to support the Red Cross mission.

Gretchen loves how her current actions can link her to such a strong legacy. She is heavily involved in the Tiffany Circle of the National Capital Region and assumes extra responsibilities as the Co-Chair. Such a role entails raising funds at events, attending galas, steering official Tiffany circle meetings and other social gatherings. Her ultimate purpose, though, is to weave together the circle’s 30 or so members and ensure that each woman feels confident about where her donations are headed to, and why. When all is said and done, Gretchen gives about ten hours per month to this organization.  

In addition to her administrative tasks, Gretchen also nurtures a desire to directly impact the surrounding communities with her own two hands. A perfect example is her devotion to the Home Fire Campaign, a project that aims to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the U.S. by 25% within five years. Along with her team of fellow humanitarians, they go door-to-door in neighborhoods that are at high-risk for fires to deliver fire safety information and install free smoke alarms.

Unfortunately, fires have made an impact on Gretchen’s life in additional ways. Her daughter underwent the traumatic struggle of losing her condo to a fire. Not a single possession of hers could be salvaged, but thankfully an organization was committed to helping her and other individuals persevere: the American Red Cross. As Gretchen’s daughter struggled with the aftermath, the Red Cross assisted with her immediate needs, including providing comfort kit items. The Red Cross took an overwhelming experience and provided Gretchen’s daughter with compassionate care. Those tender moments etched a lasting impression of this organization on Gretchen’s mind and undoubtedly resulted in her giving back in any way possible.

The Red Cross is fortunate to have such a remarkable woman like Gretchen Neels in its Tiffany Circle society. With a seemingly never-ending supply of enthusiasm guiding her, she constantly supports the Red Cross. As Gretchen so aptly put it, “We help everybody. There’s no boundary. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, a man or a woman, we will help.” Gretchen not only says such words – she brings them to life.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

My Red Cross Volunteer Story: John Mead

Prince William County volunteer John Mead has been helping the American Red Cross prepare for, respond to and recover from many types of disasters over the past three years. John started on the on the Disaster Action Team (DAT) in the National Capital and Richmond regions. Now he is providing comfort and care to people affected by emergencies across the country. Recently, John volunteered with a virtual disaster deployment providing people with tools and resources they need after a disaster. Now he is serving in Austin, TX to help the Red Cross meet immediate disaster-caused or disaster-aggravated needs. For a few weeks, John will be providing on-site aid to the thousands of families facing the devastating aftermath following flooding, tornadoes and severe weather. He joins other Red Cross volunteers providing shelters throughout the state and helping residents cope with the emotion toll. 

John was first interested in the Red Cross because he liked how the organization brings together everyday people to take action and provide one-on-one assistance to those in need. When he is not volunteering with the DAT, John enjoys supporting the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) team and with special events. His goal as a volunteer is simple: “I’m just an normal guy who wants to help people in need and the Red Cross is a great place for me to do that.”

Through Red Cross volunteer responsibilities, John and others witness firsthand how they can make a difference. Learn more about how you can get involved down the street, across the country or around the world. See the latest update on the Texas response efforts and how you can help those impacted. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Red Cross Volunteer Story: Fawn Bennett

Fawn Bennett epitomizes the spirit of the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer:  a love of humanity and an empathy and respect for military members and their families.  These personal characteristics combined with good interpersonal skills, a thirst for practical knowledge and a strong desire to support the broader military family molded her to become a truly outstanding SAF volunteer.  Having experienced the family joy, pride and sacrifices of military service as the wife of a 22-year active duty Air Force serviceman and 11-year Defense Department civilian employee, Fawn has devoted her innate talents and honed skills in with the American Red Cross.  One only has to walk through the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, the Soldiers and Family Assistance Center, the Quantico clinic and coalition partner meetings, the many outreach events and anywhere else in the military community to see the appreciation and respect the military community has for Fawn Bennett.  The impact of her service as an American Red Cross SAF volunteer is exceptional and substantial. 

One of the most significant achievements by Fawn was rebuilding a Red Cross presence and active program at Quantico Marine Corps Base, beginning in August 2013.  As Chairman of Volunteers and Community Outreach Associate for SAF Quantico Marine Corps Base (MCB), she worked closely with the Station Manager in this effort, resulting in a sevenfold (from 7 to 77) increase in the number of volunteers in less than a year.  

Moreover, through personal initiative and with an abundance of energy, Fawn constantly expanded her role and responsibilities at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital by actively recruiting volunteers and seeking new placements; chairing the Warrior Transition Unit Support and Wounded Service Member Support; meeting medical evacuation flights; assisting in Walter Reed Bethesda and Fort Belvoir Wounded Warrior tours of the Pentagon and meetings with high-level Defense Department officials there; organizing holiday and other events for the warriors and their families; and maintaining good relations with hospital staff.  She also worked as an SAF client caseworker. Recently in December 2015, Fawn actively participated in a National Headquarters team building exercise concerning the SAF client caseworker. 

To summarize, Fawn Bennett’s volunteer service which began in 2009 and continues today, has been at three stations: Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia and Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.  Her responsibilities have been many and varied, including: General Volunteer for Patient Comfort Care and Comfort Cart, Chairman of Warrior Transition Unit Support, Wounded Service Member Support, Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC), SAF Client Caseworker, Community Outreach Associate and Chairman of Volunteers at Quantico MCB. Fawn currently holds a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate, and she provides in-home healthcare services. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

My Red Cross Volunteer Story: Suzanne Bucci, RN

Suzanne Bucci, RN, OB/Gyn NP, and Red Cross Volunteer, served as a nurse in the US Air Force Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine (AIM) Center at Joint Base-Andrews, MD. She is an Army veteran, the wife of a retired Army officer, and the mother of two adult children, one of which has served in the Army. She has been a Red Cross volunteer for the past 15 years. Mrs. Bucci has volunteered in the local communities where she and her husband were located since she separated from the Army. She is an expert nurse with a compassionate heart.

As a devoted wife and mother, she continued to share her nursing talents with the community as a volunteer. While traveling with her husband to foreign countries for his work position, she provided healthcare as an OB/Gyn nurse practitioner with limited resources to women and children in Albania during a critical time in that nation’s history. With the heart of a teacher, she taught Albanian nurses how to care for pregnant women and the children.

When she returned to the United States, she chose to help the “nation’s finest” in the Pentagon. The first day she volunteered was September 11, 2001. She was in the Pentagon during the attack. Before receiving orientation, she provided care to the wounded without knowing where any supplies or equipment was located. Dust and debris contributed to the confusion; but she was focused on providing care. That is the type of person she is, she sees a need and fills that need.

Her work in the AIM Center was carried over from the Pentagon Flight Medicine Clinic where she excelled to provide advanced acupuncture and other alternative modalities to patients. Along with physician acupuncturists, she delivered a unique approach to providing patient treatments that included acupuncture and integrative medicine techniques for a wide variety of conditions, such as chronic pain, smoking cessation, musculoskeletal conditions, mental health conditions, and so much more. This type of care has never been defined for nursing practice. She created a unique niche for nurses in this clinic by learning specific electric modalities and was a perpetual student of the acupuncture art and now has become THE expert in these pain relief techniques. She served professionally as an educator, counselor, and nurse in our high-volume center - always taking a moment for those needing a shoulder to lean on or a hug for support.

She has trained several physicians, Uniformed Services University medical students, nurses, and medical technicians. As a valued volunteer she was asked to teach very specific electric modality techniques at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. They appreciated her teaching style using the hands-on approach. Mrs. Bucci has, without a doubt, influenced the next generation of healthcare professionals.

Mrs. Bucci connects with patients on a personal level helping them understand their medical condition and teaching them how to improve or manage their condition. She makes accommodations for people to come when convenient for their schedule. She has outstanding energy and enthusiasm each day, as she comforted, consoled and cared for the war wounded, tired, and traumatized clients. She truly exemplifies the mission and spirit of the American Red Cross.

Nurses have been vital to the work of the American Red Cross since 1888. Today, more than 15,000 of your fellow nurses are involved in providing disaster services, teaching and developing courses, managing blood drives and other leadership roles throughout our organization. Learn more about how you can get involved with the Red Cross.

Friday, May 6, 2016

My Red Cross Volunteer Story: Patty Baisden

Written by: Emily Goff, volunteer

I became involved with the American Red Cross because of a personal experience I had when I was a child. The Red Cross responded to a fire at my home when I was in the 6th grade. Giving to the Red Cross, both my time and treasure, was a natural fit for me. Only after talking to others did I realize the depth and breadth of the services the American Red Cross provides.

Currently, I am the Prince William Council chairperson for the Red Cross and I serve on the Board of Directors for the National Capital Region. I am also a Tiffany Circle member and assist with the Tiffany Circle leadership, helping to welcome and develop new members. My daughter is also a Tiffany Circle member. The Tiffany Circle was formed in 2006 to “unite and engage a group of generous and highly-involved women to continue to ensure that the Red Cross has the ability to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to life's emergencies.” Members from across the country each donate $10,000 or more annually to support the American Red Cross. For more information on the Tiffany Circle, click here.

The American Red Cross is one of those groups that aids virtually every person in the world.  Blood services, first aid/CPR classes, swimming lessons, disaster response, and service to the armed forces help millions of people. Virtually no other charitable cause touches so many people in such a variety of ways. The Red Cross has a massive group of volunteers across the entire United States carrying out 90% of humanitarian work for the organization.

When choosing a place to volunteer, it must be known that the Red Cross truly is about neighbors helping neighbors. For over 150 years the Red Cross has been a backbone of security. We take for granted that the Red Cross will help those in need during an emergency and will be present in our community in the face of hurricanes, floods and more.  However, it takes many volunteers and resources to make it all happen. Life without the Red Cross would not be as safe and secure. Through the years of consistently reaching out to help communities, we are confident in knowing that there is “someone” out there who will help in an emergency.

Ultimately, anyone seeking a wonderful organization to volunteer with should consider the Red Cross!