Monday, December 23, 2013

Red Crosser Raul Rivera Nuñez Deploys to Philippine Relief Effort

Raul, far right, with American Red Cross colleagues Ian O'Donnell,
David Dunn, David Schindler, and Michele Devlin, all bound for
the Philippines.
Raul Rivera Nuñez, Greater New York’s regional manager of mass care and logistics, recently arrived in the Philippines for a four-week deployment with the Global Red Cross network, helping those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. We recently caught up with Raul, asking him a few questions about his work, the conditions on the ground, and the resilience of the Philippine people.

Q: Where are you staying?
A: We live in base camp in Tacloban City, over-sized tents co-located in an open field, operated by the Danish Red Cross. We have a work tent, a dining hall tent, sleeping tents, etc. We operate from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm (this includes time for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Base Camp

Q: What kind of work are you doing?
A: When we first arrived, we jumped right onto making distribution runs. We have handed out hygiene kits, tarps, jerry cans, and food packs (rice, noodles, can of sardines). This is at the request of the Philippines Red Cross. Our target number is 2,000 families per day, and this is done in conjunction with host national society. Now we are in talks with the Philippine chapter to see how we can move into the sheltering phase of distribution (handing out more tarps, tool-kits, nails, CGI's, tents, etc...) Any decision will be made in conjunction with the Philippine Red Cross.

Q: Can you talk about your interaction with the Filipino people?
A: The Filipino people have been amazing. They are very welcoming, and always greet us with a smile. When we do distribution runs you can see the genuine expression of gratitude in their faces. When we take a moment to talk to them between runs, they tell us their how they braved the typhoon. Though their stories can be horrifying, they always keep a smile on their face, and their chins up (keep in mind that many of them lost family members, neighbors and friends).

Q:  Are you interacting with the local volunteers?
A: All the time. The Philippine Red Cross volunteers are inspiring. They mostly comprise college-aged volunteers. Since the schools are closed until January, they show up day in and day out, and they spend their whole day doing what needs to be done.

Q: Do you have messages for anyone back home?
A: I would like to send a huge Thank You to Kelly McKinney (Greater New York region chief response officer) and Dario Diaz (regional director, planning, readiness and situational awareness, Emergency Services), for going out of their way to make my deployment possible. I would also like to thank my colleagues Monica, Miguel, Erin and JJ for taking up the extra slack during my absence. For anyone I may have forgotten, and had a hand in making my deployment possible, I also want to send you a big THANK YOU. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

24 Hours with the Greater NY Red Cross

Monday morning at 8:00 AM, Greater NY Red Cross CEO Josh Lockwood will begin a 24-hour disaster response shift. Working alongside volunteers, Josh will head out to local incidents as they occur across NYC, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley. The purpose of this marathon shift is to raise awareness for fire safety and highlight the dedication and commitment of Red Cross volunteers. We will be documenting the entire shift on this blog as well as on the following twitter feeds. Stay tuned... #24hrs_w_RC

Each point point on this map represents a local disaster that the Greater NY Red Cross responded to in NYC alone since 1/1/13. The majority of these are home fires.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tunnel to Towers Updates the Red Cross on Sandy Response in Staten Island

Pictured L-R: Tom McDonough, director of rebuilding and Nicole DeLeon, client services manager.
On Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, American Red Cross case managers attended a presentation by representatives from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Attendees learned about the ways Tunnel to Towers is helping people affected by Sandy, how to access their services and other resources the organization has available.

In October, the Red Cross awarded a $721,550 grant to Tunnel to Towers so the group could hire local, skilled labor – plumbers, electricians and carpenters – to help repair up to 110 homes in the East and South Shores of Staten Island.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Difference One Card Can Make

Photo: Syncere Zakee

By Bridgette Nugent, Regional Caseworker, Service Programs, American Red Cross

At a National Grid Holiday Mail for Heroes card-making event in Brooklyn this November, one of six the company hosted for their employees on Long Island and in NYC, one employee was particularly enthusiastic, actively encouraging his colleagues to write cards.

Upon further discussion with him, this employee revealed to me that, as a Marine Corps veteran, he received many holiday cards from the annual Red Cross campaign. Although all were appreciated, he spoke of one he still holds onto today.

This veteran, on his fourth and final deployment in the Middle East, was spending the holidays away from home for the first time. Having a difficult time of it, his morale was quite low. 

That's when he received a card through Holiday Mail for Heroes, made by a grade-school student. On this card, there was a drawing of a little girl holding a soldier’s hand, and it stated, simply “Thank you for protecting me.”

The veteran still keeps this card as a reminder of his service, and I feel it very powerfully demonstrates the importance of this initiative, and the impact even one small note or holiday card can have.

To all who have written cards this year or in years past, thank you!  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Red Cross Thanks Partners Working at Bronx Train Derailment

In the aftermath of Sunday’s tragic train derailment in the Bronx, the American Red Cross has been proud to support our partner agencies that have worked tirelessly at the scene of the incident. 

We thank the FDNY, the NYPD, New York City OEM, New York State OEM, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, the NTSB, the MTA, and all other agencies at the scene, for their efforts over these trying few days, as well as their vital work throughout the year. 

We also thank Disaster Chaplaincy Services, Disaster Psychiatry Outreach, and the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, who have been on hand to provide comfort and emotional support to passengers and first responders.

Red Cross Youth Help Brighten the Holidays for Veterans, Service Members and their Families

See more photos.

Nearly to 100 Red Cross High School Club members from around New York City came to Greater New York Red Cross chapter headquarters in Manhattan December 1 to create close to 300 holiday greeting cards.

The cards will be sent to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world as part of the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

These cards, along with those sent by sent by tens of thousands of Americans, provide a welcome “touch of home” for our troops during the holiday season.

If you and your family want to take part this year, make sure to send cards postmarked no later than December 6 to ensure they are delivered in time for the holidays.

All holiday greetings should be addressed and sent to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Card information and requirements can be found at