Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Giving Thanks To Those Who Help Others

by Mary Barneby, Regional CEO, American Red Cross in Greater NY 

During this season of gratitude, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to all our neighbors who make helping others a priority in their lives. Their commitment to service takes on added significance as our communities face this global pandemic together.

I extend a special salute to our region’s health care heroes who continue to sacrifice so much to help our region get through this crisis.

Daily I am humbled by our Red Cross volunteers, who share of themselves to help the most vulnerable prepare for and recover from life-changing disasters—like fires, floods and building collapses—locally and nationally. This year, following historic wildfires out West and relentless hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, many traveled far from home to deliver hope and help to thousands of families.

Thank you to our partners who share with us a common purpose and community spirit that extends our reach and helps connect more individuals with critical humanitarian support.

And thank you to our supporters who allow the Red Cross to deliver emergency relief 24/7, 365 days-a-year.

Wishing you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Let’s continue to look out for one another.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

In Case You Missed It

This year's Clara Barton Award Recipients: (L to R) Diane Calesso, Shirley Leung, Dr. Thomas Hlenski

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 91 adults and 37 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

Friday, November 20, 2020

PODCAST: COVID Conversations

When the pandemic started taking hold here in greater NY, we began recording a new season of our podcast featuring a diverse group of Red Cross volunteers and employees who discuss the impact that the pandemic is having on the communities we serve. The idea was to recognize the stress and anxiety so many of us are feeling and to shine a light on those who are doing all they can to help. Listeners will hear stories of hope and learn about ways to cope with the emotional impact of COVID-19. Thank you to all who have shared with us so far. Let's continue to look out for one another. 

Tune in by scrolling below. You can listen and subscribe on Podbean. Episodes also available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play by searching “Red Cross NY.”

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Hands-Only CPR: Manhattan Woman Saves Father’s Life

By Chris Pyo, American Red Cross in Greater NY

The first time Katharine Ristich ever had to perform chest compressions on someone, it was nearly 11 years after she had first been trained in it.

It was also on her 81-year-old father.

“You see your father’s face turning purple, you know you have to do something,” said Ristich, who moved in with her father to take care of him in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. “And I just immediately sprang into action.”

Ristich, who works as a medical editor, initially volunteered with the Red Cross during the 2009 New York City Marathon, where she went through a four-hour training course which covered staffing certain portions of the race, how to handle runners with injuries, and perhaps most importantly in hindsight, hands-only CPR.

Later, Ristich volunteered her time at shelters run by the Red Cross and New York City during both Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, and also served as a blood services volunteer from time to time, where she interviewed prospective blood donors to ensure that they were eligible to give blood. She was drawn to volunteer due to a family connection to the organization: her great-grandfather Vasa Isailović assisted displaced persons in 1945 in his role as a district leader with the Serbian Red Cross.

All of this served as vital preparation for perhaps one of the most frightening situations any person could find themselves in.

On July 2, Ristich was sitting in her father’s home in Manhattan when suddenly, her father choked on a piece of bread and ran straight to the bathroom.

“At first, I thought he was going there to vomit, because he didn’t make a sign that he was choking,” said Ristich. “But then I didn’t hear anything, so I went to the bathroom and I saw that he was trying to perform the Heimlich maneuver on himself, so I stepped in and tried to perform the maneuver.

Ristich’s father’s face eventually turned purple and he quickly collapsed, taking Ristich to the ground with him. From there, she immediately went straight into CPR, performing chest compressions until her father became responsive once again.

“From collapse to recovery, it was about three minutes. I started doing the CPR, and I was shouting ‘Daddy, daddy,’ over and over again, so that if and when he came to, he would respond, and if he knew that he was talking, then I could prop him up and wait for emergency responders to arrive,” recalled Ristich.

A day after this incident, Ristich’s father was resting comfortably at home setting up a new computer.

Ristich is immensely grateful to the Red Cross for teaching her how to perform chest compressions, which ended up helping her save her own father’s life.

"For traditional CPR, I had gone through training before in high school, and at the time, I remember thinking, ‘How am I ever going to remember to do all this if there’s a real emergency?’ So, it’s great that I learned from the Red Cross the hands-only version of CPR.”

Earlier this year, Katharine was awarded the Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Action for lifesaving efforts.

To learn Hands-Only CPR click here. To register for other lifesaving classes click here.


"Three Questions" with Ignacio Mantilla

by Xavia Malcolm, 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.

Manhattan resident Ignacio Mantilla began volunteering with the American Red Cross in April of this year after losing his job. He chose to dedicate his time with the Red Cross because its mission aligned with his goals to make a difference, and in his words, "bring light to people's lives." Last September, Ignacio deployed to the wildfires in Oregon to support relief efforts there, an experience that reminded him just how important the smallest act of kindness can be. After we spoke to him, Mantilla returned to Oregon for a second deployment where he is currently. 

What made you decide to deploy to the wildfires? 

I was looking for something to do, something productive, something that was meaningful for my life and the life of everybody else, all the people. I've been aware of the fires, and I know that they have been going on for a bit. And I think when I got presented the opportunity of deploying to Oregon, I thought it was a great idea. From my understanding, they [Red Cross] were in somewhat of an urgent need of volunteers here. I just thought that this was a great opportunity for me to jump in and bring my services to the community here. 

What was the scene like when you arrived in Oregon? 

It’s quite an experience to witness it, I think that we see images on TV that portray the destruction and we feel bad about it, but it's a completely different experience seeing it firsthand. And that just made me more empathetic with the experience that people have been going through here. Once I started talking with people there, I got a deeper connection with them. It’s very heartbreaking when they come in and they start telling you their story and you know what they lost. But it's so rewarding, though, when they step away, once we finished the process and register them. Their energy changes. They feel like they have some sort of hope and someone's there to help them. For me, that experience is worth taking the trip from New York all the way here and just making people feel a little bit more at ease.

Is there a story from your experience in Oregon that sticks with you and reminds you of the difference you were making?

I think every day I get reminded of the difference that we make. But there was this particular moment the very first few days that I got here. [At a relief center] my manager and I were talking about our work, and this lady walked up to our desk, and I introduced myself. And I asked her, “What can I do? How can we help you?” She was distressed. She was tired. And it seemed like she was holding on to the last real hope that she had. So we spoke with her, we took our time to calm her down. We gave her some water. And at that moment when she started telling us what she's been going through, there was that connection. By the time we got her into a hotel room, she was a completely different person and she was so thankful. I’m never going to forget that. She was going through a really hard time and being able to provide some sort of support was very meaningful to her. It definitely meant a lot to me that we managed to put a smile on her face. And I'm never gonna forget that experience. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

In Case You Missed It

Photo: Vivian Moy

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 83 adults and 31 children for 32 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, November 9, 2020

In Case You Missed It

Volunteer Vito Reciniello responding in North California after a devastating wildfire.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 107 adults and 19 children for 55 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