Friday, December 3, 2021

“Three Questions” with Marian Ford

Marian Ford, a retired social security worker from the Bronx, was initially introduced to the American Red Cross after receiving help from our organization as a child when her family’s house burned down. Ford joined the Red Cross in 2014 and as part of her Red Cross volunteer work she is a member of our Disaster Action Team, helping families affected by fires, building collapses and other emergencies across the five boroughs. She also serves as a blood donor ambassador.

Can you talk about your work responding to local disasters?

I’m part of Red Cross Disaster Action Team. It’s on-call. We respond when disaster strikes. Usually fires. We arrive on scene to assist the residents. Whether they need a place to stay, emergency funds, or any other things we can provide, like clothing, we address immediate needs.

When we arrive on scene, some people are like, “Oh, you come out to all fires?’ Every time there's a fire, if it’s a residential fire, the Red Cross is there. It is refreshing to see that we’re able to help people. Residents we assist are very appreciative. And the community also sees that we’re helping.

What do you bring to the Red Cross?

I bring my experience working with people from all walks of life. I bring empathy. I bring a unique way of looking at things. I feel that I can read people pretty well. And I don’t take myself too seriously. 

What does it mean for you to volunteer with the Red Cross?

I think it’s pledging an honor to volunteer for this agency. And I’m very, very appreciative of that.

Before I retired, I worked in an office and people came to me. Now as a volunteer I go to them--where they live, in the community. I go into people’s homes, into their neighborhoods. You really learn a lot about people’s circumstances.

Just recently with Hurricane Ida, there were so many basement apartments [affected]. I never really thought about that. I would never imagine that people could drown inside an apartment. I still get chills thinking about it. [Volunteering with the Red Cross] puts me on the scene of these situations. It gives me a whole different perspective that I didn’t have before.

Monday, November 29, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Long Island Red Crossers marched in the 2021 Huntington Red, White and Blue Holiday Parade.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 200 adults and 43 children for 36 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

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Sadly, the Red Cross responded to several fatal fires last week
including on Riverhead, Long Island. (Photo: Celia Vollmer)

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 84 adults and 21 children following 40 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

Monday, November 15, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Governor Hochul congratulates Red Cross Volunteer Dottie Brier at the
Third Annual Women's Veterans Day Tribute Ceremony. (Photo: Joe Chang)
Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 141 adults and 72 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
  • Nov 15: Join us for a Volunteer Info Session to learn about our many volunteer opportunities and how you can apply today. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veterans Who Serve With the Red Cross: Jerry Rothstein

For Jerry Rothstein, service in the military and service as a Red Cross volunteer have each provided an eye-opening opportunity to get to know people from all walks of life.

In 1962, Jerry, who grew up in Brooklyn, trained as a medic at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. There, he met people from across the United States.

“As a kid that had grown up in the city and never had much to do with the rest of the United States, getting sent to Texas opened my eyes to a lot of people and a lot of things I wasn’t aware of before,” Jerry says.

After his stint in Texas, Jerry went to graduate school and spent the next five years as a reservist, serving two weeks each summer in the Civil Affairs unit, which would have been charged with running the national government of Cuba in the event that the United States went to war with Havana.

Over the past 13 years as a volunteer with the Red Cross, Jerry has continued to enjoy eye-opening adventures. On his first day on the job, he responded to a downed commercial airplane in the freezing waters off Manhattan, an incident known as the “miracle on the Hudson.”

As a Disaster Action Team supervisor, Jerry typically responds to fires, delivering services to people when they are most in need, a job that takes him to neighborhoods across New York City.

“One of my favorite things about being a volunteer is going to the different neighborhoods in the city, meeting different people and seeing how much there is to learn,” Jerry says.

Monday, November 8, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Red Cross Responders assisting residents after 4-Alarm fire in Brooklyn. (Photo: Jon Knox)

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance assisting 296 adults and 86 children for 44 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
  • Nov 9: Watch the livestream of the Third Annual Women's Veterans Day Tribute Ceremony at the newly rediscovered Overseas Service League Flagstaff and Grove. The occasion will pay special homage to a few women, including women veterans and volunteers, who have served our country and our local communities.
  • Nov 9: Join us for a virtual preparedness presentation, Prepare, Respond, Recover: What to do When Disaster Strikes, co-hosted by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.
  • Nov 12: Join the American Red Cross for a new International Humanitarian Law & pop culture event! From the birth of Iron Man to Captain America to the Tesseract, the American Red Cross IHL Team will transport you into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to explore some of the biggest IHL issues in Phase One of the Infinity Saga!
  • Are you ready to turn your compassion into action? As a Disaster Casework volunteer, you will connect directly with people affected by disasters big and small to help take the next steps in their recovery journey. Sign up here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

 “Three Questions” With Sergey Pigach 

By Kenna Beban, American Red Cross in Greater NY 

"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.                   

Photo Credit: Kevin Suttlehan
Sergey Pigach joined the American Red Cross in Greater NY in the spring of 2020, shortly after the onset of the pandemic. He started out by providing food and household supplies to hospital workers and later began responding to disasters in New York and across the country. Last month, Sergey supported our response to Ida flooding across the city by canvassing affected communities, sharing information, talking to residents, and distributing clean-up supplies. 

Why did you feel compelled to volunteer during the pandemic?  

Obviously, it was an unprecedented situation for all of us. I think, especially in the early days of COVID when no one really knew what it was or how bad it was, there was this sense of helplessness. No one really understood how to deal with the situation. Maybe in some sort of a selfish way, it was also just a way for me to have some sort of illusion of control over the situation in my little portion of the universe. But in the larger sense, I just wanted to help out.  

How did working in the field, and seeing firsthand the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in NYC affect you?  

It served as a reminder of how concealed all of those individual stories are from the public eye. After New York got hit, where I live, nothing really changed. It rained for a night, but I was fine, everybody around me was fine, I didn’t really see any damage. Once we were deployed to those specific neighborhoods that got affected, it was a stark and crazy contrast. You’re driving down the street and everything looks fine, and then you take a turn, and there’s a sunken alley, or an area with very unfortunate topography, where it just looks like a tornado came through. Just walking around there, it felt like a war zone. There were piles of rubble, and people already starting to rebuild and tear down their walls. It’s very sudden and completely unexpected to see. 

We came to one of the neighborhoods in Staten Island where everyone was tearing down partition walls in their houses on the first floor because everything was just reeking of mold. We would come up to the door to hand somebody the cleanup kits and talk to them, and every time they opened the door you could smell the rot and bleach emanating from inside. For a lot of people, this will definitely put them in a very precarious financial position, and for a lot of people, sadly, that will probably mean no longer having a home. 

How did they respond to the Red Cross’ help?  

I think there was a very genuine sense of gratitude. It was very touching when one of the residents who opened the door, she was an older woman with a very strong Balkan accent, and I could tell that she was probably living in the U.S. only for a few years. When I introduced myself, I said, “Hi, we’re with the Red Cross, we just wanted to give you this clean-up kit if you were affected.” She smiled and said, “oh my god, I love this country!” Because she felt like she was cared for. That was a very touching moment.  

Photo Credit: Kevin Suttlehan