Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Three Questions: Henry Chu

By Dana Gray and Alessia Garcia, 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.

Henry Chu, a retired business owner, joined the American Red Cross in Greater New York as a volunteer nearly five years ago. At the Red Cross, Henry completes two to three shifts a week as a disaster responder. In this role, Chu helps provide assistance to New Yorkers affected by local disasters like fires, floods, vacates and building collapses. In addition to supporting the Red Cross locally, Chu at times deploys outside of New York following large-scale emergencies. In 2017, he been deployed to Houston to help Hurricane Harvey 
relief. In his spare time Henry gives bicycle tours of Manhattan, some of which are 8-hour tours through multiple boroughs. Chu also volunteers with other organizations.

What did you hope to find by volunteering with the Red Cross and have you found it?

Volunteering for the Red Cross gives me a platform to be able to go out and help other people and also to meet other people that share the common goal of helping out those that are in need, using resources to benefit those who really need help. It’s very fulfilling. I’ve been with the Red Cross for five years. The Red Cross is a family. You come in here and everyone says hello to everybody. No one is a stranger here.

What’s been challenging for you?

The most challenging part would be that you don’t know enough to do a better job. What you know is maybe sufficient to do a good job and once you represent the Red Cross you’re going to want to do a better job. I will never say that I have learned enough. It’s difficult to push yourself to do better than you’re already doing. I find it happens when you’re responding to any major hurricanes or floods. Being on deployment and seeing that there are so many things that need to be done. And what you can do is limited. 

What was your first volunteer experience?

One of my first experiences was working during Hurricane Sandy [with another organization]. It’s still fresh in my mind. During Sandy I was a case manager. I was out in the field and I was going door to door to see the people that needed help and then we provided assistance to them. All the people that we helped were undocumented. It was a struggle because in the beginning a lot of people are not sure who you are. Since they’re undocumented they’re reluctant to talk to you or get help from you even though they lost everything. That was the greatest struggle, trying to tell them that we’re not a government agency and that we don’t share information with government agencies, that we’re an independent charitable organization that is there to help people that suffered because of the hurricane.

Monday, June 24, 2019

In Case You Missed It - June 24

The Greater NY Red Cross participated in the Long Beach Pride Parade last Sunday.
(Photo: Lori-Ann Spaccarelli-Pizzarelli)

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 76 adults and 23 children following 40 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

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

In Case You Missed It - June 17

The Greater NY Red Cross kicked off the lifesaving #MissingTypes campaign on
World Blood Donor Day on the Today Show.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 115 adults and 37 children following 43 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

Monday, June 17, 2019

Greater NY Red Cross Volunteers Answer the Call to Help

By Maria Sievers and Dana Gray, American Red Cross in Greater New York

With severe weather recently impacting multiple states across the country, the American Red Cross has been on the ground providing comfort and support.

Peter King, Douglas McNally, Alan Niewald and Denean Paulik are among several team members from the Greater New York area who have been deployed. Their experiences have been both challenging and rewarding.

Peter King

Picture of the flooding in St Louis County, Missouri
Peter King is a retired engineer from Long Island who is currently on a two-week deployment to Saint Louis County, Missouri, serving as a service associate in a shelter. In this role, he does a bit of everything: inventory, cleaning, talking to the people they are sheltering, etc.

The experience has been very touching so far, especially because some families have been separated as a result of the disaster.

“We met a man that was forced out of his apartment because of the flooding and he was apart from his son and grandson," said King. "We worked with him and we were able to reconnect them, and actually we got word this morning that he can come back to his apartment. We were substantial help to reconnect them. They were apart for a week.”

Peter has been a Red Cross volunteer for eight years and what he values most about the organization is the quality of the people and volunteers.

“People are very selfless, they give of their time, energy and effort," he said. "They ask for little or nothing in return. It’s gratifying to work with those kind of people."

Douglas McNally
Volunteer Douglas McNally during his deployment in Little Rock, Arkansas
Douglas McNally is a lawyer and social worker who has been a Red Cross volunteer since November 2018. He is from Long Island where he is in charge of coordinating mental health workers to assist following local emergencies. Last week he returned from Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was deployed for a week to help people affected by the Arkansas River flooding.

As Disaster Mental Health Team member he did a lot of driving across the state, working in shelters and visiting communities that were isolated as a result of the disaster. One town that caught his attention was Wright.

“It’s a small community, they all support each other, and they take care of their own. It was very remarkable to see”, said Douglas.

He met a retired homicide detective who had put his life savings in a home that was flooded.

McNally recalled: “We spent time with him and listened. That’s the main thing, they want you to listen to their story. That’s very therapeutic for someone, just to be able to tell us what’s going on. We also made sure they were hydrated, that they were wearing masks, because the mud that was in their home is probably toxic. We listened to them and assured them that Red Cross was in the community, and within half an hour a damage assessment team was there.”

Last year, Douglas was deployed to the California wildfires, and when he thinks about the lessons he has learned as a Red Cross volunteer, he explains, “I often find in a deployment that I get more than I give and that is true this time again. I met some remarkable people, who inspired me and make me realize how fortunate I am.”

Alan Niewald 
Volunteer Alan Niewald (right) manning the reception desk at the 
Saint Charles shelter next to fellow Red Cross volunteer

Alan Niewald worked in finance before retiring and joining the Red Cross as a volunteer. He deployed to Saint Charles, Missouri where he worked with the shelter manager as a supervisor.

The shelter where Alan worked provided comfort to those who have been displaced due to flooding in the area. One woman that the shelter assisted was provided a medical cot and special care for her diabetes.

The flooding in Missouri has caused damage to homes and the local area. Water levels have risen high enough to cover the local park and have left "the whole town buried in water."

Alan became a Red Cross volunteer this year.

Denean Paulik

Denean Paulik (left) receiving a donation for the Red Cross from
a local Arkansas organization
Last week, Denean Paulik returned from a week-long deployment to Fort Smith and Little Rock, Arkansas where she worked as a fundraising liaison.

Denean has done field work before at the local Greater New York region, but her work in Arkansas was her first deployment. This recent trip has been the most fulfilling experience for her since her time at the Red Cross.

When discussing her work out in the community meeting affected families, Denean said she is always shocked by one thing: “When I see these husbands and wives, they’re just calm,” said Paulik. “Obviously it’s very devastating, they’re going through a very hard day, but they’re not pointing fingers or blaming they’re just trying to get through the next moments. I think there’s such a grace in that and that really puts life in perspective.”

Denean started as the Senior Philanthropy Officer at the America Red Cross in Greater New York nearly two and a half years ago but has worked in fundraising since 2002.

Volunteers at the Red Cross headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas

Monday, June 10, 2019

In Case You Missed It - June 10

Guests celebrating our Heroes Among Us Red Cross Gala in Long Island last Thursday (Photo: John Eng)

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 120 adults and 43 children following 41 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 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

In Case You Missed It - June 3

Red Cross Volunteer Mark Gordon assisted local neighborhood through disasters. (Photo: Lisa Weatherbee)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 113 adults and 33 children following 38 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

--> --> -->