Friday, December 16, 2016

Best of 2016: Red Cross NY's 7 Most-Read Blog Posts of the Year

By Niamh McDonnell, American Red Cross

From Pokémon Go safety tips to first-person testimonials from our volunteers and employees on the ground providing relief, here on the Greater New York Red Cross blog we captured dozens of stories in 2016. As the year comes to a close, we are looking back at some of these memorable moments by sharing our seven most-read posts of these past 12 months.

#7- Q & A with Flight 1549 Volunteer - Dottie Brier

The American Red Cross was thrilled to be featured in scenes in the Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ feature film SULLY which premiered this past September. Among those who supported the Red Cross response to the landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson River and who also reenacted that role in the movie SULLY was Dottie Brier. In this Q and A, Dottie talks about what it meant for her to represent the Red Cross on the silver screen.

#6- A Visit From the President of the Swedish Red Cross

Back in May, the President of the Swedish Red Cross, Anna Carlstedt, stopped by our Regional HQ to talk to staff and learn about our programs in Greater NY. As part of her trip, Anna also had the honor to help light the Empire State Building red and white for Red Cross Month. In this blog Q and A and video, Anna talks about her organization's response to the European refugee crisis and the global impact of Red Cross volunteers.

Red Crossers watch New York City's most epic skyscraper shine red and white in honor of Red Cross Month.
#5- 2016 American Red Cross Gala to Celebrate Extraordinary Acts of Compassion and Courage

This year’s “American Red Cross Gala: Heroes Among Us” was truly incredible. The Greater New York Region honored an esteemed group of heroes and humanitarians, all of whom exemplify the selflessness spirit of the Red Cross:

  • WNBA player Tina Charles created Hopey’s Heart Foundation to help bring defibrillators to organizations across the country; 
  • The Tribeca Film Festival founders helped reinvigorate New York City in the wake of 9/11; 
  • Firefighter Craig Roeder entered a burning building twice while off duty to save a family and their pet; 
  • Three Pulse Nightclub staffers were honored for their bravery and resilience during the horrific shooting in Orlando last June;
  • JP Morgan Chase is a longstanding supporter of our mission.

#4- New York Red Cross Supports Louisiana Relief Efforts

Back in August of this year, Louisiana was hit with historic flooding leading to the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy. Providing relief to those who need it most is at the core of the Red Cross mission, so it did not take long before volunteers from across our region to travel to Louisiana and help. This blog post recaps some of the photos and testimonials from the ground.

LI Red Cross Health services volunteer Mary Farrell (L) currently in Baton Rouge,
stands alongside fellow volunteers from Tennessee, Las Vegas and Pennsylvania.
#3- My First “Ride-Along”

In this post, volunteer Stan Frank shares the story of his first ride-along during which he accompanies Red Cross volunteers on a response shift in NYC. The detailed account of Stan’s experience provides great insight into how we respond to emergencies every day.    

Donna Bascom and Jean Cappello are two of the volunteers Stan features in the story. 
#2- 5 Red Cross Tips for Staying Safe While Playing Pokémon Go
Remember how crazy everyone went this past summer over Pokémon Go? Whether you’ve moved on or have continued to be an avid trainer, this piece will bring back summer memories. And to those of you who really do have to “catch ‘em all,” you do not want to miss out on these safety tips.
Stay behind the yellow line! No Pokémon is worth your life.
After the horrific events that took place at Pulse Nightclub this past June, our Greater New York Regional CEO Josh Lockwood traveled to Orlando to join the Red Cross response to this tragedy. In this piece, Josh shares his experience with us, an account that speaks volumes to the resiliency, positivity and selflessness that can come out of such an unthinkable event.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Dec 12

Youth Council Leaders of the Red Cross Clubs. (Photo: Brett Whysel)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 124 adults and 54 children following 42 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Dec 14, 21, 22, 23: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.

Friday, December 9, 2016

After Fire, Brooklyn Woman Decides to Give Back

By Michael de Vulpillieres and Niamh McDonnell, American Red Cross

October 18, 2016 had been an evening like any other for Donna Atkinson but in the blink of an eye her life was turned upside down by a home fire. Yet in the face of adversity, her own resolve along with some help from the Red Cross allowed her to move forward.

Donna had been watching TV in her studio apartment when she stepped out into the hallway where she noticed the smell of smoke. She realized there was something burning upstairs and quickly ran to warn her neighbors of the fire, saving their lives in the process. Once she realized everyone was OK and made her way to safety outside, Donna was confronted with the reality of what just happened.

“I lost everything that I worked hard to buy. The bed burnt to the spring,” she cried. “I’m happy that I’m alive…but you still lose your personal things and wonder ‘How are you going to get by?’ It’s sad.”

Originally from Jamaica, Atkinson moved to the United States by herself a year ago and in her short time in New York City she worked hard to build a life for herself here. She had only been in her Canarsie home for six months when disaster took everything from her.

“[After the fire] I was balling and asking ‘Where am I going to stay, what am I going to do?’… I tried calling my dad; nobody’s answering,” she recalled. “I just kept balling. And then he [a first responder] said to me, ‘the Red Cross is going to come.’ I guess that’s where a little hope came in.”

As soon as the Red Cross arrived on scene, a volunteer offered reassurance and provided her with emergency housing at a nearby hotel for two nights and some financial assistance to buy basic necessities like food and clothing. Atkinson recalled that the money “felt like a million dollars” and that overall the Red Cross was “a ray of sunshine” for her during these difficult moments.

After experiencing the Red Cross mission firsthand, Donna realized that she too could be a part of it. As someone with a natural inclination to help others, she plans to become a Red Cross volunteer so that she can help give people that same sense of hope that she received.

“I want to give back to the Red Cross cause they have helped me…I want to be where I can just physically help people,” she said. “I want to volunteer, to help, to make somebody else have a glimpse of hope.”

Monday, December 5, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Dec 5

Employees of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co teamed up with the Red Cross help make the community safer.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 118 adults and 51 children following 46 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Dec 5: The Port Washington Crisis Relief Team is sponsoring a special blood drive at the Port Washington Library (1 Library Drive) on Monday, December 5 from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. To make an online appointment please visit and use sponsor code: pwcrisisrelief. We hope to see you there!
  • Dec 6, 8, 12: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today. 
  • Dec 10-11: Registration is open of the Winter Training Weekend. We’re bringing together like-minded individuals who share a compassion for helping others in times of need. The event consists of a series of training classes (click for schedule) that will prepare you to help out when disasters occur. You can brush up on old skills and learn new skills that you will keep forever. Please join us to help make a difference!