Saturday, December 30, 2017

Year End Review: Unprecedented Year of Delivering Hope: Preparing the Community

by Stan Frank

During a year marked by unprecedented emergencies, American Red Cross volunteers from NYC, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley have answered the call to help around the country and right here in the Greater New York Region.

The statistics are impressive -- delivering emergency relief to approximately 8000 residents following more than 2200 disasters; installing over 27,000 smoke alarms; training over 7800 children in vital disaster preparedness skills. But numbers alone do not tell the story of all the Red Cross does to deliver hope and help in our communities. Over the next few blogs, I will share stories from the field about the lives our Red Cross staff and volunteers have touched across the region in each line of service: Disaster Response, Home Fire Preparedness, Services to the Armed Forces, International Services, and Preparedness.

Emergency Preparedness

The American Red Cross works to build resilient communities by training adults and children how to prepare for emergencies. In the Greater New York Region, Red Cross volunteers and staff deliver various preparedness programs to the community, including the Home Fire Campaign, which installs free smoke alarms; the Citizens Preparedness Corps, which trains New Yorkers ages 16 and up how to prepare for any disaster; and The Pillowcase Project, a national program, sponsored by Disney, which teaches children children coping skills to help them deal with an emergency situation and also offers tips and tools to help them prepare for emergencies.

John Waldman, Regional Senior Director of Government and Community Relations, highlighted two memorable events that took place in 2017.

The Pillowcase Project at P.S. 105 in Brooklyn 

In April, Red Cross teams visited P.S. 105 in Brooklyn, ready to train over 600 students how to prepare and respond to disasters. The Pillowcase Project teaches students the best ways to stay safe and create their own personal supply kits by packing essential items such as a first-aid kit, a water jug, a flashlight, a small battery-powered radio, etc. into a pillowcase or “Go Bag” for easy transport during a disaster. Students have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcase and share what they have learned with friends and family.

Coincidentally, this visit to the school happened just a few days after a tragic fire in Queens that claimed the lives of three young children. Said John, “I feel fortunate to have been able to provide children’s preparedness training the day after such a tragedy. The level of engagement from the participating children was extremely heartening. I’m proud that the Red Cross is able to bring this lifesaving program to the most vulnerable in our society and teach children how to avoid and respond to such terrible tragedies.”

The Boro Park Home Fire Campaign Partnership

Developing strong partnerships with local community organizations is vital for the Red Cross to deliver its mission. In 2017, the Red Cross is proud to have joined forces with the Boro Park Jewish Community Council (BPJCC) to help protect the community against home fires. Boro Park has a population of more than 100,000 residents and stretches over 200 blocks in Brooklyn. It is home to one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the country.

The community suffered three devastating fires during the fall, where both BPJCC and Red Cross responded to provide comfort and hope to the affected families. BPJCC's leaders knew it needed to act to prevent such tragedies in the future. Forming a partnership with the Red Cross was a perfect fit. On November 8, 2017, Boro Park residents, community leaders, elected officials and members of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) gathered in front of the BPJCC headquarters to announce their new partnership with the American Red Cross in Greater New York. The new fire-safety and emergency-preparedness partnership plans to hand out and install thousands of free smoke alarms to residents. There will also be an ongoing fire safety awareness campaign tailored specifically to the Jewish community’s needs and challenges. In addition, the campaign will include local tabling and canvassing events, and outreach efforts online throughout the year.

Initial reports are of a successful partnership, with over 400 households requesting smoke alarm installations in the first six weeks!

Thank you to all of our volunteers, partners, and supporters who help the Red Cross prepare communities to respond and recover form disasters. To learn more about our preparedness programs, visit our website


Support all the urgent humanitarian needs of the American Red Cross. Please consider making a donation today. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to its programs and services, which includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance, as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.

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