Monday, January 11, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Red Crossers have been helping dozens of families displaced
by last week’s fire and subsequent building vacate in Yonkers.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 117 adults and 47 children for 38 local disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Activities
  • We are actively recruiting for the following volunteer positions: Service to the Armed Forces Caseworker, Blood Donor Ambassador, Pet Therapy Volunteer. Apply today at redcross.org/volunteertoday! For more information, please contact recruitmentgny@redcross.org.
  • Sign up for an upcoming blood drive below at www.redcrossblood.org.
    • Jan 12: American Red Cross in Greater New York, 520 West 49th Street
    • Jan 13: Paramount Hudson Valley, 1008 Brown Street
    • Jan 14: The Redwood Club, 2680 Schurz Ave.
    • Jan 14: American Legion Post 347, Flint Park, 1 Locust Ave.
    • Jan 15: American Red Cross, 40 Saw Mill River Road, Upper Level 3
  • Jan 13: Diversity & Inclusion Session: The LGBTQ+ Community is about how our Red Cross teams can be respectful and informed when conducting outreach to the LGBTQ+ community and responding to their needs when they are affected by disasters and other emergencies. Sign up for either 12:00PM or 6:00PM. (for Red Cross Volunteers only)
  • Jan 16: At this virtual Volunteer Information Session, you will learn about the history of the American Red Cross and how you can become a volunteer.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Overcoming a Grueling Year

by Stuart Cubbon, American Red Cross in Greater NY


For many New Yorkers, the ongoing pandemic turned 2020 into a year defined by uncertainty and anxiety. For Mark Healey, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, things were particularly challenging. In April he contracted COVID-19, and in September lost his job. Six weeks later, Healey faced yet another misfortune, a fire in his apartment building.

“Around 1:30 A.M. on October 25th, I heard commotion...it sounded like my upstairs neighbor was walking back and forth quickly,” said Healey. “I wasn’t sure if I was still dreaming...and then I heard people start to scream.”

He threw on jeans and sneakers and rushed, t-shirt still in hand, through the smoky fourth-floor hallway and down to street level where dazed residents gathered in front of the twenty-four-unit structure watching the fire on the fifth floor.

“You could see flames coming from the side of the building,” he said, “...it was pretty wild.”

As the fire grew, Healey became concerned about it potentially spreading to the residence next door. “There is a brownstone from the Civil War-era, one of the few wooden structures still left on the street. I went over and pounded on their door.”

Around 4:30 A.M. Healey was able to get inside his apartment to assess the damage. “My mattress was soaked, water was still leaking from the ceiling, and it stunk. My apartment was unlivable. I didn’t know what to do.”

After spending a few hours at a nearby hotel, Healey returned to his building. A Red Cross team had visited the site earlier in the morning and left contact information prominently posted in case anyone required additional assistance. He called the emergency number not knowing what to expect. 

“I think of the Red Cross as a huge organization that deals with disasters,” he said. “But the speed [the team] reacted to my phone call...it blew me away.” He spoke with a case manager just minutes after calling. “It was unbelievable...there was no hassle involved. It was the biggest sense of relief ever…I had lost my job...and not having a place to go was super stressful.” This anxiety was made worse by his lack of renters’ insurance.

Within twenty minutes, the Red Cross case manager confirmed some good news for Healey: the Red Cross would cover the cost for several nights at a hotel and within an hour he was settled into a room. “The receptionist was so sweet, she understood I had been in a fire and got me a room in the back of the hotel so that I wouldn't hear sirens from the street.”

Not long afterwards, a Red Cross volunteer hand-delivered a prepaid debit card to cover food and other essential expenses. “It was remarkable,” Healey said. “That a Red Cross representative showed up that quickly, in such a big city, with everything going on.”

But Healey’s challenges extended beyond the next several nights. Though he could stay with family if necessary, his closest relatives lived five hours away from NYC. That distance combined with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and his own health concerns would make traveling back and forth to find a new apartment challenging.

Again, the Red Cross stepped in to help. This time, by facilitating a week-long extension to Healey’s hotel stay. “It gave me a chance to get all my ducks in a row, to talk to my family...and search for a new place [to live.]”

Recovery has not been easy, but the assistance provided by the Red Cross helped Healey get back on his feet. He used the hotel as a home base while organizing his possessions and securing a new apartment. And the extra time made it easier to prepare for a safe trip to Rochester, NY to spend time with his family.

In early December, Healey returned to NYC and moved into a new apartment. Shortly after settling in, Healey spoke again with the Red Cross. When asked about his new home, he simply responded with a sigh of relief: “I love it.”


Monday, January 4, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Red Crossers spreading holiday cheer to service members and the community. (Photo: Vivian Moy)

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 145 adults and 49 children for 58 local disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below

Last Week in Review
Upcoming Events and Activities

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Eight Weeks on Deployment with a Focus on Being Kind


Cedric Davoren is the Mass Care and Logistics Manager for the Metro NY North Chapter. In this role, Cedric leads a dedicated team of men and women to support disaster response with the supplies and resources needed to support families affected by emergencies big and small.

This past September, when historic and devastating wildfires broke out in Oregon, Cedric deployed for a traditional two-week deployment that quickly extended to two months.

On September 15, Cedric headed out to Oregon – which he describes as a beautiful place – to be the Logistics lead for four districts. During a Disaster Relief Operation (DRO), Disaster Logistics oversees transportation, facilities, supplies, equipment and technical support. The team is focused on ensuring safety and security for all disaster relief activities so that attention can be given to service delivery. And as the definition states, Cedric did a little bit of everything.

“I made sure we got resources to the people who needed it,” he said.

This was not Cedric’s first deployment, but due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it was different. Many tasks were handled virtually with only about 150 logistics and mass care team members on the ground, just a fraction of what a disaster of this size would usually deploy.

Cedric is proud his colleagues from the Northeast Division of the Red Cross played a big role in helping in the Cascades Region.

“Our Division was a big asset. We had folks from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Philly – a really good crew and a really great push to help across the country,” he said.




Cedric also had the chance to work with some of his colleagues from the Greater New York Region. Travis Tam from the GNY Volunteer Services Department teamed up with Cedric to start an event-based volunteer (EBV) program. They recruited and trained 25 residents who lived nearby and wanted to help.

While away, Cedric kept in touch with his family and friends via social media. Through his daily posts, he would share photos of Oregon as well as innovative service delivery tactics that the team developed to make sure everyone, both Red Cross team members and impacted residents, stayed safe.


In one post he shared, “We had another great day at the Immediate Assistance Roadshow. The program is to assist the individuals and families that were affected by the wildfires. We did a drive through where the resident would call the caseworker at their station … and then attach their documents to a clipboard. Logistics came up with the idea with the hook and clipboard to assist in social distancing. Doing it this way made it really easier for us to assist in a timely manner.”

One day of his eight-week deployment that Cedric will always remember involved a man who was laying on the ground near the office and seemed to be in distress. A volunteer called 9-1-1 and before the police arrived, Cedric spoke with the gentleman to understand what was going on. He offered some water and snacks to help make him feel comfortable. The police officer noted the level of kindness Cedric displayed and said, “Thank you. Not everyone would have done that, shown that kindness.”

In retrospect Cedric says, “You have to be kind. We talked a lot about being kind every day during this deployment. People lost so much [in the wildfires], and it is so hard to adapt after a disaster like this.”

On November 15, after eight weeks away, Cedric returned home. He was met at the airport by a volunteer, and the first thing he did: go sit in his office in Middletown, NY.

“I was glad to be back. I missed everyone. The team made me a card. I feel so blessed to have the support of the men and women of the Metro New York North chapter. I could go to Oregon for so long because I knew the volunteers here are well trained and dedicated. I can’t find men and women like this team anywhere else,” said Cedric.

Thank you, Cedric, for all that you do to support the mission of the American Red Cross.

To sign up to become a logistics and mass care volunteer, visit www.redcross.org/gnyvolunteer or contact your volunteer manager.

 

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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Disaster Action Teams Provide Help, Hope and Holiday Cheer on Long Island

by Celia Vollmer

American Red Cross Disaster Action Teams on Long Island have responded to more than six fires in the last few weeks in the Brentwood/Bay Shore area, including one today on Christmas Eve. During this season of giving, our teams have tried to spread some holiday cheer to the families as we worked with them after their emergencies.


The first fire was on St. Peters Drive. I responded alongside Gary Nilsen, Steven Scheer and Neela Lockel. The home was destroyed leaving three families displaced. I was on my way to a toy drive hosted by  Legislator Sammy Gonzalez when the call came in. After I spoke with the family and completed disaster assessment, I asked the parents of the child on scene if they would come over to my vehicle and select toys from my car. He chose one item for himself and one for his brother. When I encouraged him to take whatever he wanted, he responded, "Save some for the other kids.” I told him I would buy more toys for the others and again suggested he should take at least three or four items for each of them. After the family was on their way, I continued to the toy drive to drop off the rest of the toys.

DAT Capt. Edras Hidalgo responded to another fire in Bay Shore, where the resident dragged a tree out of the home to the curb so his family could have a Christmas. Four more fires in the area occurred over the past two weeks. 


As soon as the first fire occurred, local residents put out posts on social media asking for clothing and food for the families. The response was overwhelming. I reached out to some of our community partners for gifts for the families for the holidays. It hit home that these children would not be home for the holidays, and their parents articulated that everything they bought for the holidays was destroyed in the fire.

The Suffolk County Police Department Deputy Police Commissioner, Risco Mention-Lewis quickly contacted me and asked for the ages and sizes of the clients, and the SCPD went shopping. SCPD made sure each of the children received new clothing and toys. Other local organizations did the same including Uplift Brentwood, Brentwood School District Staff, PTA’s, Jibaritos with Troops and Red Cross volunteers.


DAT Captain Hidalgo and his wife, Daysi Ramirez de Hidalgo, wrapped and organized the gifts by family, and then delivered the gifts over the past few days along with Senior Disaster Program Manager Liz Barker and our community groups. The Hidalgo Family did the same for other families in need in our community, truly sharing in our mantra "Hearts Open, All In."

Edras received expression of thanks from one family for the “life changing” work of our client case workers and often-unsung heroes, Disaster Mental Health. 

We are grateful for the communities coming together to support one another during this holiday season I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.






Monday, December 21, 2020

In Case You Missed It

Red Crossers laying down wreaths for National Wreaths Across America Day. (Photos: Vivian Moy)
 
Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 74 adults and 37 children for 51 local disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Activities

Monday, December 14, 2020

In Case You Missed It

Businesses and apartments destroyed after a 6-alarm fire in Richmond Hill, Queens.
(Photo: 
Jenna DeAngelis)

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 152 adults and 45 children for 43 local disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Activities