Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Eight Weeks on Deployment with a Focus on Being Kind

Cedric Davoren is the Mass Care and Logistics Manager for the Metro NY North Chapter. In this role, Cedric leads a dedicated team of men and women to support disaster response with the supplies and resources needed to support families affected by emergencies big and small.

This past September, when historic and devastating wildfires broke out in Oregon, Cedric deployed for a traditional two-week deployment that quickly extended to two months.

On September 15, Cedric headed out to Oregon – which he describes as a beautiful place – to be the Logistics lead for four districts. During a Disaster Relief Operation (DRO), Disaster Logistics oversees transportation, facilities, supplies, equipment and technical support. The team is focused on ensuring safety and security for all disaster relief activities so that attention can be given to service delivery. And as the definition states, Cedric did a little bit of everything.

“I made sure we got resources to the people who needed it,” he said.

This was not Cedric’s first deployment, but due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it was different. Many tasks were handled virtually with only about 150 logistics and mass care team members on the ground, just a fraction of what a disaster of this size would usually deploy.

Cedric is proud his colleagues from the Northeast Division of the Red Cross played a big role in helping in the Cascades Region.

“Our Division was a big asset. We had folks from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Philly – a really good crew and a really great push to help across the country,” he said.

Cedric also had the chance to work with some of his colleagues from the Greater New York Region. Travis Tam from the GNY Volunteer Services Department teamed up with Cedric to start an event-based volunteer (EBV) program. They recruited and trained 25 residents who lived nearby and wanted to help.

While away, Cedric kept in touch with his family and friends via social media. Through his daily posts, he would share photos of Oregon as well as innovative service delivery tactics that the team developed to make sure everyone, both Red Cross team members and impacted residents, stayed safe.

In one post he shared, “We had another great day at the Immediate Assistance Roadshow. The program is to assist the individuals and families that were affected by the wildfires. We did a drive through where the resident would call the caseworker at their station … and then attach their documents to a clipboard. Logistics came up with the idea with the hook and clipboard to assist in social distancing. Doing it this way made it really easier for us to assist in a timely manner.”

One day of his eight-week deployment that Cedric will always remember involved a man who was laying on the ground near the office and seemed to be in distress. A volunteer called 9-1-1 and before the police arrived, Cedric spoke with the gentleman to understand what was going on. He offered some water and snacks to help make him feel comfortable. The police officer noted the level of kindness Cedric displayed and said, “Thank you. Not everyone would have done that, shown that kindness.”

In retrospect Cedric says, “You have to be kind. We talked a lot about being kind every day during this deployment. People lost so much [in the wildfires], and it is so hard to adapt after a disaster like this.”

On November 15, after eight weeks away, Cedric returned home. He was met at the airport by a volunteer, and the first thing he did: go sit in his office in Middletown, NY.

“I was glad to be back. I missed everyone. The team made me a card. I feel so blessed to have the support of the men and women of the Metro New York North chapter. I could go to Oregon for so long because I knew the volunteers here are well trained and dedicated. I can’t find men and women like this team anywhere else,” said Cedric.

Thank you, Cedric, for all that you do to support the mission of the American Red Cross.

To sign up to become a logistics and mass care volunteer, visit or contact your volunteer manager.




Thursday, December 24, 2020

Disaster Action Teams Provide Help, Hope and Holiday Cheer on Long Island

by Celia Vollmer

American Red Cross Disaster Action Teams on Long Island have responded to more than six fires in the last few weeks in the Brentwood/Bay Shore area, including one today on Christmas Eve. During this season of giving, our teams have tried to spread some holiday cheer to the families as we worked with them after their emergencies.

The first fire was on St. Peters Drive. I responded alongside Gary Nilsen, Steven Scheer and Neela Lockel. The home was destroyed leaving three families displaced. I was on my way to a toy drive hosted by  Legislator Sammy Gonzalez when the call came in. After I spoke with the family and completed disaster assessment, I asked the parents of the child on scene if they would come over to my vehicle and select toys from my car. He chose one item for himself and one for his brother. When I encouraged him to take whatever he wanted, he responded, "Save some for the other kids.” I told him I would buy more toys for the others and again suggested he should take at least three or four items for each of them. After the family was on their way, I continued to the toy drive to drop off the rest of the toys.

DAT Capt. Edras Hidalgo responded to another fire in Bay Shore, where the resident dragged a tree out of the home to the curb so his family could have a Christmas. Four more fires in the area occurred over the past two weeks. 

As soon as the first fire occurred, local residents put out posts on social media asking for clothing and food for the families. The response was overwhelming. I reached out to some of our community partners for gifts for the families for the holidays. It hit home that these children would not be home for the holidays, and their parents articulated that everything they bought for the holidays was destroyed in the fire.

The Suffolk County Police Department Deputy Police Commissioner, Risco Mention-Lewis quickly contacted me and asked for the ages and sizes of the clients, and the SCPD went shopping. SCPD made sure each of the children received new clothing and toys. Other local organizations did the same including Uplift Brentwood, Brentwood School District Staff, PTA’s, Jibaritos with Troops and Red Cross volunteers.

DAT Captain Hidalgo and his wife, Daysi Ramirez de Hidalgo, wrapped and organized the gifts by family, and then delivered the gifts over the past few days along with Senior Disaster Program Manager Liz Barker and our community groups. The Hidalgo Family did the same for other families in need in our community, truly sharing in our mantra "Hearts Open, All In."

Edras received expression of thanks from one family for the “life changing” work of our client case workers and often-unsung heroes, Disaster Mental Health. 

We are grateful for the communities coming together to support one another during this holiday season I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 21, 2020

In Case You Missed It

Red Crossers laying down wreaths for National Wreaths Across America Day. (Photos: Vivian Moy)
Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 74 adults and 37 children for 51 local disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Activities

Monday, December 14, 2020

In Case You Missed It

Businesses and apartments destroyed after a 6-alarm fire in Richmond Hill, Queens.
Jenna DeAngelis)

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 152 adults and 45 children for 43 local disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Activities

Monday, December 7, 2020

In Case You Missed It

Battle of the Badges Blood Drive in Greenwich, CT.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 179 adults and 36 children for 40 local disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Activities