Thursday, July 9, 2020

“Three Questions” with Red Cross Volunteer Gian Marco Delle Sedie

by Yixuan (Shirley) Luo, American Red Cross in Greater New York

"Three Questions” is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.


Gian Marco Delle Sedie started volunteering with the Red Cross in past May. Among his different Red Cross roles, Gian Marco takes shifts supporting the NYC Healthcare Heroes Initiative, providing food and other supplies to hospital workers helping patients amid COVID-19. He has also supported a Red Cross coronavirus program providing food for elderly New Yorkers. On June 24, 2020, following his Red Cross shift in Far Rockaway, Queens, Gian Marco pulled a drowning boy from the ocean.

Gian Marco works as a short-film director, producer, actor. He also works as a server, bartender, and captain. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Gian Marco came to the U.S. in October 2017 to study Filmmaking at New York Film Academy. He graduated in January 2019.

What inspired you to join the Red Cross?


In the middle of all these crises, I felt I couldn’t stay at home, just watching TV. I know that it’s safe to stay at home, but I just felt that I could be of more help somewhere else, helping people. So, I got in contact with the Red Cross at the end of March. I took a lot of training courses online. Then I started to take shifts that were available in New York that were for food distribution. Red Cross deployed me to Tropical Storm Cristobal in Houston, Texas. I was there for five days to help with sheltering. After I came back from Texas, I kept doing [COVID-19 program] Red Cross shifts. In June, I normally worked two to three shifts per day and have completed more than 30 shifts last month. I help with bag distribution and food supplies to hospital workers. I also deliver food for senior houses in Far Rockaway on Wednesdays.


Can you tell me about how you saved that 16-year-old drowning boy?

After we finished our shifts at JASA senior home in Far Rockaway, we went to the beach because it was one of our volunteers’, Maria Anguiano, birthday. Suddenly, we saw a lady yelling “Help! Help! There are some kids in the water!” I saw hands outside the water and then they submerged. At first, we thought it was just kids playing. This lady kept shouting and yelling “Help! Help! Help!” In a second, as time passed, I thought I might need to do something because the kid is not coming up and we don’t have much time to save him. So, I ran to the water, but I couldn’t see the kid anymore when I got to the water. I had to dive because he wasn’t on the surface. When I dove, I saw a blur down there on the bottom. I found the kid down there, passed out. He was still floating and going down. I came behind him and started to push him up. Thank God! I was able to push him up in time to get the kid saved. We put him on the sand. Maria arranged him on his side, and he started vomiting a lot of sand and water. Thank God we were there!

What was going through your head during all this?

I’ve been swimming since I was like three years old. I took a lot of swimming classes in my life. I am a very strong swimmer. I never took someone out of the water like this. I may have helped some people in the water but not like this, going to the bottom and bringing someone up. It was kind of scary, but you don’t have time to think about it and you just go.

I was very comforted seeing him breathing again. I felt that night, the boy’s parents won’t be crying because of me and because he is still alive. It was very comforting and nice. I felt very good about it.

Five Tips to Get Your Kids Prepared for Hurricane Season

Learn from the American Red Cross Greater NY Disaster Preparedness Instructors Jason Lyons & Alexander Poku.

by Yixuan (Shirley) Luo, American Red Cross in Greater New York


On June 1, 2020, we entered what is expected to be a very active hurricane season. It is now more important than ever, not only to prepare, but also to adjust our planning efforts for the pandemic. This will help ensure our kids are safe in the event of a storm or other emergency. With the help of two disaster preparedness experts from the American Red Cross in Greater New York, Alex Poku and Jason Lyons, we have five tips to get you and your kids ready for the unexpected.

Red Cross volunteer and father Alex Poku has more than five years’ experience teaching young kids about emergency preparedness. Jason Lyons leads our preparedness programs at the American Red Cross in Greater NY and just welcomed a baby girl to his family at the beginning of the pandemic. These tips come from our conversations with them.

Alex Poku (L) and Jason Lyons (R)

1. "Making a Plan, Building a Kit, and Staying Informed"

The key to disaster preparedness is always, according to Lyons: “make a plan, build a kit, and stay informed.”

The family response plan has to be updated regularly as new circumstances arise and as new family members join, as was the case recently with Lyons. Key to the planning, according to Lyons, is how are you going to get out, and where are you going to go.

Meanwhile, it’s critical to consider what the kids need. “Young children can’t think for themselves, so you have to think for them,” Lyons highlighted, “and we can take away from COVID-19 that you should purchase necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) for you and your family and put it in your kit, so you have these resources available when you need them.”

When the disaster strikes, as he noted, it’s critical to stay aware of the information released by official authorities, follow their guidance, and communicate that information with your kids.

2. "Think and Practice!"

Again, consider the needs of your children. What would they need in a two-week cease period? More importantly, practice with your children and let them get used to the process, ensuring that they will be less shocked or surprised when the time comes.

“Make practice a norm,” Lyons emphasized. Practice responses to different types of emergencies with your children to build their experiences and to ensure that they become conscious of what they should do.

3. “Take Time to Communicate with Kids”

As Poku explains, when kids are talking to each other, that’s not always the truth, it’s just “the kids-version.”

Parents need to share information with kids by communicating and involving them in the conversation: “Find out what kids know and correct it if needed. Take away all the myths they have told you, correct anything false that they understand to be true, and let them understand what the truth is.”

4. “Make Preparedness a Game for Younger Kids and Let Older Ones be in Charge”


According to Poku, for younger kids, parents should make emergency preparedness a fun but serious game.

However, when dealing with older kids, parents shall let them be in charge. As Poku noted, “Teens or pre-teens take being in charge seriously. They like to take the responsibility of being in charge, especially to take care of their younger siblings. As parents, you should give pre-teens and teens this responsibility because that's something they enjoy"

5. “Deep Breaths Make Better Choices”

One of the most significant coping techniques in disaster/emergency preparedness is to take deep breaths. Parents need to get the kids to understand that it’s not just taking deep breaths but it’s a process of breathing slowly and calming down. “Kids need to realize that if they are clam, they can make better choices,” said Poku. Big changes in kids’ reactions to the emergencies take place as they begin to understand deep breaths.

More Online Resources to Help Get Prepared
How to prepare for an emergency: Emergency PlanSurvival Kit SuppliesStay Informed
Info on preparing for hurricane season amid COVID-19 can be found here
Register for a virtual preparedness session for kids here
Listen to the latest episode of our Podcast: Kids, Coronavirus and Preparedness

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

In Case You Missed It — July 7

Gary Striar, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Eastern New York, was honored by staff and community members during a retirement parade. (Will Waldron, Times Union)

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 95 adults and 39 children following 34 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week In Review
  • On the Fourth of July, Red Cross featured three volunteers’ reflections on their service and traditions.
  • To celebrate the release of Hamilton on DisneyPlus, the Red Cross in Greater New York reposted our 2018 Hamilton Parody to promote fire safety. 
  • New York State Senator John Brooks and Long Island CEO Neela M. Lockel co-hosted our virtual Emergency Preparedness program
  • Last Tuesday, the Times Union featured photos of Gary Striar, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Eastern New York, who was honored by staff and community members during a retirement parade. 
  • Senator Anna Kaplan co-hosted a special emergency preparedness presentation for her constituents. 
  • CNN Reporter Brooke Baldwin shared her story on how she donated convalescent plasma at a Red Cross site after she recovered from the coronavirus. 
  • Red Cross Scientific Advisory Board Member Dr. William D. Ramos shared water safety tips in People Magazine
Upcoming Events and Activities

Monday, June 29, 2020

In Case You Missed It — June 29

Red Cross volunteers worked to distribute care packages to those working at
Coney Island Hospital, as part of the NYC Healthcare Heroes Initiative. (Photo: Sanasa Kaba)

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 76 adults and 17 children following 43 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week In Review

Upcoming Events and Activities

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

“Three Questions” with Red Cross Volunteer Maria Anguiano

by Yixuan (Shirley) Luo, American Red Cross in Greater New York

"Three Questions” is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.



Maria Anguiano is a Red Cross volunteer from Queens, N.Y. who has been a very active member of our disaster response team. She originally joined us as a member of MIRA USA, a non-profit organization that promotes the social integration of immigrants in the United States. Since the pandemic, she began supporting our different COVID-19 missions including the NYC Healthcare Heroes initiative. When she is not volunteering with the Red Cross, Maria works as a DJ and an event planner. Maria was born in Puebla, Mexico and came to the U.S. when she was eight.

How do you approach your volunteer work as a DAT (disaster action team) responder, helping families recover from fires?

It is an unfortunate situation to see someone who has just lost everything to a fire or learn of a loss of life. Seeing these families in such a situation is difficult. It is even harder to see little kids around. Especially in the wintertime, it is heartbreaking to see that they have nothing, and they are shivering and shaking. Most of them do not know that we, the Red Cross, respond to home fires. When seeing the little kids’ innocent faces…and happiness receiving our Oreos, stuffed animals or other assistance, I feel I am making a difference. More importantly, I realized how beautiful the Red Cross mission is and what the Red Cross is doing — to step up to help those in need.

On top of that, it was also very impactful for me to understand that language is often the biggest barrier in the disaster response. Coming from the Hispanic community, I am able to make Spanish-speaking people feel more comfortable at the scene. I realized that I am able to help the Red Cross to better connect with the Latino community.

How has your Red Cross volunteer work changed since the COVID-19 crisis started?

I am blessed to be part of the whole COVID mission. I have been to the hospitals as much as I can, to hand out supplies to healthcare workers. I am out at the field almost every day, and sometimes, I even do two shifts per day. Sometimes I do JASA [food distribution to elderly NYers] as well, delivering frozen meals to 1200 apartments of the senior housing complex in Far Rockaway. I also helped with The Salvation Army, picking up and delivering pizzas for vulnerable families. Two weeks ago, I was able to help the community of Hempstead where I go to church. We picked up meals and boxes and delivered them to different homes.


How does it feel to be giving back during coronavirus?


Unfortunately, at the same time, my parents were in the hospital because of COVID, and my dad was in a coma, I had to take care of them prior, during, and after the hospital. That period was tough for me, but I am relieved that they are okay now. It was emotional when I saw the hospital workers who helped my parents and I thought I had to give back to them. I was tearing and I genuinely appreciated their efforts. Between their shifts, you can feel that they are tired, drained and they have no energy but are saying “thank you” to us. “No, thank you! Don’t worry, we got a lot of goodies for you,” I said. I am truly grateful for being able to give back to the healthcare workers and being part of the Red Cross mission.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

In Case You Missed It - June 23

A moment from our Long Island Red Cross Heroes Among Us Gala,
that celebrated our mission and partners who made our work possible.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 93 adults and 62 children following 43 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week In Review

Upcoming Events and Activities

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

In Case You Missed It - June 16


Red Cross's mental health tips were featured on Morgan Stanley's billboards in Times Square.
Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 66 adults and 21 children following 35 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week In Review



Upcoming Events and Activities