Monday, December 22, 2014

In Case You Missed It - Dec 22, 2014

Red Cross responds to a 5-Alarm fire in Ozone Park (Queens).

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 184 adults and 56 children following 55 local disasters. Here are some highlights of responses and activities from the last week.

Last Week in Review

Monday, December 15, 2014

In Case You Missed It - Dec 15

Residents of North Amityville motel provided with Red Cross blankets and services after they evacuated from a fire.

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 119 adults and 34 children following 61 local disasters.


  • Tonight, the Red Cross will partner with the NY Islanders in support of our mission. You can still purchase discounted tickets to the final Red Cross Charity Night at Nassau Coliseum. Blood Drive on December 20th from 9am to 3pm at the Nassau Coliseum where all presenting donors will receive a voucher for two tickets to an Islanders home game during the 2014-15 regular season and a chance to win autographed Islanders memorabilia and more! Walk-ins are welcome, or to schedule an appointment to donate call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit Reference sponsor code ISLANDERS.
  • This Friday, Youth Services/Red Cross Clubs will be holding their annual fundraising movie night. This year’s screening will be the holiday classic “The Santa Clause” starring Tim Allen. Showtime starts at 5pm at the GNY Chapter 520 W 49th Street. Popcorn and drinks will be sold. RSVP via email at

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In Case You Missed It - Dec. 8

Three young NY girls pose for a photo at our annual Winter Wonderland holiday event. 
Last week, the New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 91 adults and 28 children from across the Greater NY Region following 43 disasters.



  • Winter Wonderland, our annual event for children affected by local disasters disasters, took place last Saturday in Times Square’s Hard Rock CafĂ©!
  • Last weekend, Greenwich Hospital and Jefferson Valley Mall hosted Holiday Mail for Heroes card-writing events.
  • On Friday, during our Staff meeting, the Greater NY Red Cross Client Services Team was recognized for their tireless efforts providing services to residents affected by disasters every day.
  • Young volunteers from Red Cross Youth Clubs learned about disaster preparedness during their Zombie Apocalypse party held on Dec. 5. 
  • Early last week, we shared the video of Carmen Allende, who in late November turned to the Red Cross after a fire destroyed her Bronx home. 
  • Right after #GivingTuesday, we said THANK YOU to all those donors and volunteers who constantly support our cause.
  • During #GivingTuesday, the Red Cross and Bitly partnered to launch Hopely, a new tool to promote Red Cross services and encourage online donations.
The Jefferson Valley Mall Holiday Mail for Heroes card-writing event. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Case You Missed It- Dec. 2

During the past week, the American Red Cross at Greater NY responded to 52 disasters and emergencies, helped 104 adults, 41 children, and distributed 14 Comfort Kits.


Monday, November 24, 2014

In Case You Missed It - Nov. 24

Long-time mass care volunteer Jessica Powers was the first of three Red Crossers from our region to deploy to the Buffalo area following last week's record-breaking snowfall.
During the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross has responded to 46 emergencies and provided aid to 102 adults and 40 children. Here are some highlights from the last week:


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Red Cross Joins Sandy Recovery Partners in Queens Canvassing Outreach

Queens Coalition volunteers prepare to canvass the 
Hamilton Beach community following a briefing at 
the headquarters of the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer 
Fire & Ambulance Corps.
Last weekend, the Queens Recovery Coalition--a group of local organizations, community leaders and recovery workers volunteering to support communities after Superstorm Sandy--canvassed homes in Hamilton Beach, Queens. Throughout the two-day period, individuals representing several Sandy recovery organizations went door-to-door to inform residents about Sandy recovery assistance still available more than two years after the storm. The American Red Cross has been part of the Coalition since its inception and had volunteers take part in the canvassing.

As a result of these efforts, more than 400 homes were visited during the two-day outreach and more than 250 new families registered with a disaster case manager. The canvassing also enabled the Coalition to collect data on recovery efforts to date and to identify existing unmet needs. 

Recovery partners also involved in the Queens Recovery Coalition and the recent canvassing include, Catholic Charities, United Methodist Committee on Relief, the Salvation Army, CAMBA, After Hours Project, Mental Health Association of New York, and Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica. The outreach was also promoted to the community through the offices of  local elected officials, the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association (and its president Roger Gendron), and Queens Community Board #10. On-site support was provided to the volunteers by the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire & Ambulance Corps.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Red Cross Hosts Ivy Connect Event Featuring Nicholas Kristof

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, the Greater NY Red Cross Young Professionals Council partnered with Ivy Connect, a national social networking group for young professionals, to host an inspiring evening featuring world-renowned humanitarians (and writers) Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. During the event, more than 200 guests, comprised of Ivy Connect members and Red Cross supporters, gathered in our Hell’s Kitchen Headquarters to hear the Pulitzer Prize-winners speak about “Art & Science of Giving.” This conversation offered Kristoff and WuDunn’s unique perspective on overcoming inequality by becoming more effective global citizens. They referenced their new book, A Path Appears, Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, which outlines ways to capitalize on our skills, time and money to make a more powerful impact on communities in need.

To learn more about the Young Professionals Council, a dynamic new group of Red Cross supporters, and how you can join, click here.

More pictures from the event can be seen here

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Greater NY Red Cross Takes Part in Veteran's Day Parade 2014

The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) team took part in the annual NYC Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11. They distributed hot beverages, along with snacks and water donated by JetBlue Airways, to approximately 2,000 parade participants and their families. Five JetBlue disaster volunteers from the Red Cross Ready When the Time Comes program were on hand to help distribute these items.

Two Red Cross volunteers talked about their motivation for being part of this annual event.

Paul Allwright: “I am a veteran of the British Army. My Son, Brendan, is an airplane mechanic in the Marine Corps, stationed in North Carolina. I am here today because it is great to support our veterans, and it’s also my birthday. This is a great way to celebrate!”

Maria Millan: “I grew up in a military family and am a Blue Star Mother. My daughter, Kiara, is a Combat Medic. My father was in the Army and served in Vietnam. I always volunteer on Veteran’s Day because if I can’t be with my daughter, why not be here to support other veterans and members of the military.”

See more photos here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Greater New York Red Cross Board Member Runs for the Red

On Sunday, Nov. 2, a brilliantly clear, cold and windy day, Mark Shelton, a member of the Greater New York Red Cross Board of Directors, ran the TCS New York City Marathon, along with a team of 14 Team Red Cross runners.

Every member of Team Red Cross, which included runners from New York City, Florida, Missouri, Louisiana, and even Hong Kong, ran the 26.2 mile race as a Red Cross ambassador, one who  pledged to raise or donate funds in support of the Red Cross’s vital lifesaving mission of helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. The total raised thus far is nearly $90,000.

“I’m really excited about the opportunities for people to get to know and get involved with the Red Cross through the Marathon,” Shelton said. “And of course, to help raise funds for its crucial humanitarian work.”

An attorney for the firm of Gibson and Dunn, Shelton, a board member since 2005, has run marathons since 2011, including the Boston Marathon in 2012. Shelton added taht he is inspired by the work the Red Cross does to make the lives of New Yorkers better; from Sandy relief to aid provided after smaller, “everyday” disasters like fires and floods.

While Team Red Cross covered the 26.2 mile course through all five boroughs of New York City, about 150 Red Cross first-aid and CPR-trained volunteers and staff members, wearing Red Cross vests, worked as “spotters” who supported the New York Road Runners (NYRR) medical operations along the marathon route.

See Marathon photos of runners and spotters.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Red Cross Helps Two Manhattan Residents after 3-Alarm Blaze

Alexis Schroeder

By Elaine Biller, Greater NY Volunteer  

On Sept. 17, 2014 a massive 3-alarm fire raged through a Second Avenue apartment building in Midtown Manhattan. More than 140 firefighters were on hand to quench the blaze. Five Red Cross workers responded to help those affected, including Alexis Schroeder and her roommate.

For Alexis, this was just one more complication in an already complicated life.

She and her roommate, a friend from high school, had moved into their Midtown Manhattan apartment just four weeks earlier. Soon after the move, Alexis was struck by a taxi while jogging after work.

Since then, she’d been on leave from her job, juggling doctor’s appointments to treat a bulging disc in her back. As her pain subsided Alexis was looking forward to returning to her work in marketing in mid-October. 

The day of the fire, Alexis was walking home from her bank after clearing up some suspicious activity on a credit card. When she got to her street, she smelled smoke, then saw it billowing from her apartment window. Gripped by fear, Alexis relaxed only when she saw firefighters pull her roommate to safety through the dense black cloud.

The women watched as flames consumed their building. The fire left six apartments unlivable, with the top apartments severely damaged by smoke.

That evening a NYC firefighter and Red Cross volunteer Paul Allwright escorted Alexis and Colleen back to their apartment to retrieve anything they could salvage, especially documents and prescriptions.

Sadly, the apartment was unrecognizable. “There were no floors,” Alexis said. “My bedroom … everything was destroyed. My roommate's room was destroyed as well.”

The women were devastated by the sight and overwhelmed, not knowing where to begin. Paul guided them through those first few hours of shock and numbness.

“We weren't able to think about anything, about what to grab,” Alexis said. “I didn't have any money with me with my whole credit card situation. The Red Cross was there with things you don't even realize you need.”

Paul arranged temporary housing for the women for the days immediately after the fire and provided them with emergency funds for food, and so they could replace some clothing.  And he let them know the Red Cross would continue to be there for them in the days that followed; that they were not alone. He explained that Lilliam, their Red Cross caseworker, would continue to support them in numerous ways.

“Everyone's been really great,” Alexis said.

In the months since the fire, the women continue to rebuild their lives. For now they are staying with friends in the city on weekdays and with their families in New Jersey on weekends.

“The Red Cross generously helped us out,” Alexis said. “We really didn't know what type of help was provided by the Red Cross. We couldn't say nicer things about it.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Red Cross presented with the Distinguished Community Service Award by Project Hospitality

Regional CEO Josh Lockwood with Greater New York Board Member and Staten Island resident Robert Coghlan. 

On Tuesday, October 23rd the American Red Cross in Greater New York was presented with the Distinguished Community Service Award by Project Hospitality at its annual Harvest Gala in Staten Island. The event was held at the Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn. Regional CEO Josh Lockwood accepted the award which honored Greater New York for its support to Staten Island in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and for its continued long-term recovery operations.

Red Cross has helped thousands of Staten Island residents with disaster case management, home repairs, mental and physical health support and financial assistance through the Move In Assistance program. Over $3 million has been provided to Staten Island residents through the program. In his remarks, Lockwood thanked Project Hospitality as well as the borough’s elected officials, community groups and faith-based organizations for their partnership to help those in need. He also extended a special thank you to Richard and Lois Nicotra, owners of the Hilton, for their assistance to Red Cross volunteers in the immediate days after Sandy struck. The Nicotras provided sleeping arrangements, showers, food and additional amenities at the hotel to the volunteers at no charge.

Regional CEO Josh Lockwood accepting the Distinguished Community Service Award from Project Hospitality while Executive Director for Project Hospitality Rev. Terry Troia looks on. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

South Korean Delegation Visits Red Cross HQ in Manhattan

On Tuesday, October 28th, a delegation of over 30 individuals representing the Office of the Prime Minister of Republic of Korea (ROK) visited the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Greater New York. The delegation came to learn more about how the Red Cross prepares for and responds to local emergencies as well as large-scale disasters.

The group included the ROK Presidential Secretary, ROK Prime Minister’s Deputy Chief of Staff, several prominent professors and 20 civic leaders.

The group met with Regional CEO Josh Lockwood and Chief Response Officer Kelly McKinney who provided a brief presentation on Greater New York’s operations and provided details on the chapter’s specific responses to the East Harlem explosion in March 2014, Superstorm Sandy and the events of September 11, 2001.

The group was also provided with a tour of the building which included a visit to the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) and Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

American Red Cross Responds to Inaccuracies in ProPublica and NPR Stories

This morning, NPR and ProPublica published stories detailing criticisms of the Red Cross response to Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac. Click here for a matrix that documents information provided to these news outlets that was omitted in their reporting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Grandmother’s Red Cross Legacy

By: Valeria Ricciulli-Marin Greater NY Red Cross Intern

Margarita Sandoval (on the right,) my grandma, when she was a gray lady for the Colombian Red Cross. 

When I think about Margarita Sandoval, my grandma or “abuela,” I think about a proud, strong woman. She was born in Colombia, in a small village called Oiba. When she was 52 years old, with no education, my grandma was inspired to help others by volunteering with the Colombian Red Cross; and she’s now inspired me to work with the American Red Cross as well.

Sadly, my grandma was forced to marry young, at 15, dropping out of school to do so. She had six children with my grandpa; the oldest was my mother, Maritza. When her youngest daughter started high school (my mother was in college in another city), grandma decided to start a whole new journey. She wanted to feel a purpose in her life and she wanted to feel accomplished.

She separated from my grandpa and, in 1974, she joined the Colombian Red Cross. Deeply passionate about helping others, grandma started volunteering as a dama gris or gray lady, providing nursing services across marginalized areas around the country.

My grandma’s eyes brighten every time she tells the stories of her 35 years as a volunteer, travelling and meeting others while she provided hope and health services to those in need, wearing a gray dress.

Whenever I had tantrums at age five, she would give me the best advice I have ever received: “Don’t cry; there’s people suffering out there, yet putting a smile on their faces.”

She told me how she traveled to remote areas to provide free vaccinations to children, how she talked to women with health issues, and how she gave talks about reproductive health. She recently told me about travelling with the Red Cross to provide farmers with food and healthcare after a flood in the small villages that border the Magdalena River.

 Based on what I learned about my grandmother’s Red Cross work, I believe that the values of deep neutrality and humanity that characterize the Red Cross allow the organization to impact every person involved in it. It is an organization that promotes and provides aid, irrespective of nationality or any religious or cultural affiliation, which makes it, for me, the most peaceful, inclusive organization in the world.

My grandmother’s Red Cross experience also inspired her to study nursing, after completing her high school studies. In 2001, at age 56, she pursued a nursing degree, while living with my family in Cartagena, the northern Colombian city where I was born. She later worked for a hospital, while still volunteering for the Colombian Red Cross.

It is almost magical, how the story of my grandma connects with mine and how everything she went through and every tear she shed, led me to where I am today. She always taught her daughters—and me—to be independent; to complete our studies so we could excel in life and be autonomous.

That is why my mother, who is the regional CEO of a bank which helps the Colombian petroleum company (Ecopetrol) workers, taught me and my sister those values and was, as well, inspired by my grandma to strive, succeed and help others.

Thanks to the legacy of my grandmother, who currently lives with my mom and dad in Cartagena (I see her every time I visit), I am passionate about serving others.

I am currently studying in the United States, about to attain my bachelor’s degree in communications, and I am interning in the Communications Department of the Greater New York Red Cross, where I write for the chapter's blog and post on their social media. I get to inspire and help others on behalf of one of the most important humanitarian organizations in the world!

I have also volunteered and interned at several other nonprofits, including Operation Smile, UNICEF and

I hope other grandmas and granddaughters keep getting inspired to love, thrive, help and succeed, just as my grandma and I did.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Childhood Bereavement Expert David Schonfeld Addresses Disaster Mental Health Workers

Dr. David Schonfeld addresses attendees
One of the callings of American Red Cross disaster mental health workers is to give children affected by disaster support and guidance at one of the most difficult times in their lives—suffering the loss of a parent or close family member in a fire or other disaster.  

On Oct. 18, a total of 90 Red Cross disaster mental health volunteers and members of partner organizations joined Dr. David Schonfeld, a prominent figure in the field of childhood bereavement, at Greater New York Red Cross regional headquarters in Manhattan. Dr. Schonfeld led a best practices conversation about supporting the mental health needs of individuals in the aftermath of a disaster in which a child has perished.

He applauded the passion of the Red Cross volunteers. “They are an incredible resource for those affected by emergencies,” he said. “Their selfless compassion and skills provide relief and comfort during times of unbearable tragedy. It was amazing to see their dedication first hand and to engage with them in a discussion about best practices for supporting those who lose a loved one.”

Diane Ryan, lead specialist, Disaster Mental Health Services for the Greater New York region said that while Red Cross DMH volunteers are themselves licensed practitioners, they were enriched by Dr. Schonfeld’s discussion.

“Our disaster mental health volunteers mobilize quickly whenever there is a loss of a child due to disaster—a fire, flood or other incident,” Ryan said. “They are the compassionate presence for those who are suffering. The presentation today provided additional tools for this challenging work.” 

New York Life co-hosted the event.

“New York Life is proud to partner with the Red Cross and its disaster mental health volunteers to provide advanced level training on childhood bereavement,” said Maria Collins, MSW, Vice President, New York Life Foundation.  “Today’s discussion supports our vision and awareness raising efforts around childhood bereavement. We couldn’t be more pleased to be here and to take part in such a meaningful dialog.”

Right Place, Right Time

In support of our #RedTieHeroes initiative, American Red Cross partner JPMorgan Chase recently reached out to their employees nationwide and asked them to submit stories of heroic coworkers who embody the humanitarian spirit of the Red Cross. Below is one of those stories.

submitted by Denise Edwards, JPMorgan Chase Employee
Deborah O'Toole
Deborah O'Toole began her career at Chase as a contract employee while pursuing training as a medical assistant back in 2009. After two years she completed her training, but decided to stay on with Chase in a permanent position because she enjoyed the work, the company and the people.

One morning in May of this year, between 7:00 and 7:30 am, Deborah and another Chase employee were in the deli/cafe getting breakfast. The deli is independently owned and patronized by the companies and employees that utilize the business campus where our offices are located. Another Chase employee came in wearing stiletto heels.

While standing in line and moving along she slipped and fell. When she fell one of her legs landed on top of one of her heels, which punctured her leg, and she began to bleed profusely. No one knew what to do.

Deborah came to the rescue, had her lie down and applied pressure to the puncture, kept it clean and calmly instructed everyone as to what to do.

The deli staff was panicked; the injured employee was going into shock. They called an ambulance and the other Chase employee went outside, flagged it down and directed the paramedics into the deli. They came, took over and transported the injured employee to the hospital.

We often hear of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in this particular case Deborah was in the right place at the right time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Case You Missed It- October 21

Swiss Re Employees rebuilding a Sandy damaged home in Brooklyn. 

Since October 1, the Greater New York Red Cross has responded to 127 emergencies and provided aid to 334 adults and children.



Representative Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn with GNY  Director of Community Relations Alex Lutz.

Thursday, October 16, 2014