Wednesday, March 31, 2021

PODCAST: COVID Conversations

A little more than a year ago, when the pandemic started taking hold here in greater NY, we began recording a new season of our podcast featuring a diverse group of Red Cross volunteers and employees who discuss the impact that the pandemic is having on the communities we serve. The idea was to recognize the stress and anxiety so many of us are feeling and to shine a light on those who are doing all they can to help. Listeners will hear stories of hope and learn about ways to cope with the emotional impact of COVID-19. Thank you to all who have shared with us so far. Let's continue to look out for one another. 

Tune in by scrolling below. You can listen and subscribe on Podbean. Episodes also available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play by searching “Red Cross NY.”

Monday, March 29, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in red to celebrate Red Cross Giving Day

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 111 adults and 36 children following 44 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week in Review Upcoming Events and Activities

Friday, March 26, 2021

Celebrating our Legislative Partners During Red Cross Month

March 26, 2021 Albany, NY
– The American Red Cross in New York State today celebrated six state legislators for their distinguished efforts in the State Capital and their partnership with the Red Cross in their home districts.

The 2021 American Red Cross New York State Legislators of the Year are Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Sen. John Brooks, Sen. Patrick Gallivan, Sen. Sue Serino, Asm. Martiza Davila and Asm. Donna Lupardo. The legislators received their awards during a virtual ceremony held this morning.

This is the third year the Red Cross in New York State presents this award to legislators representing its three New York State regions – Greater New York, Eastern New York, and Western New York.

“We are so grateful for the partnership we share with our legislators across the state. Their commitment to improve the lives of their constituents aligns with the Red Cross’ mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. They each share in our humanitarian spirit and we are honored to recognize them for their efforts to help build more resilient communities,” said Mary Barneby, Kevin Coffey and Alan H. Turner II, the CEO of the American Red Cross Greater New York, Eastern New York, and Western New York Regions in New York State.

“It is a true honor to be recognized by the American Red Cross as a 2021 State Legislator of the Year. I am blessed to be able to partner with this great organization on their Sound the Alarm campaign to bring fire safety and fire alarms to my constituents, as well as helping to deliver boxes of food to the community. Helping people remain safe — especially during an  emergency situation — is one of the cornerstones of my job as an elected official. I look forward to continuing the great work that we do together,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo.

"I have worked alongside the American Red Cross countless times both as a New York State Senator and as a lifelong volunteer firefighter; and I am honored to be recognized by their organization in this manner. The Red Cross is the gold standard in relief and aid organizations, and I am grateful for our effective partnership. I look forward to continuing our work together in accomplishing our shared goal of helping those in need,” said Senator John Brooks.

"I am grateful to the American Red Cross for its dedication to our community and its willingness to partner with my office to better serve the residents of New York State.  I have seen, firsthand, the important work the Red Cross and its team does in responding to a crisis and helping those in need of immediate assistance.  I know that thousands of residents throughout the district have benefitted from the professional training, emergency preparedness and blood donations the agency provides.  I am proud to work with the Red Cross and to support its humanitarian mission.  Thank you for this special recognition," Senator Patrick Gallivan.

"To be honored by an organization whose own mission is so rooted in community service is truly humbling. The heroes at the Red Cross have long been a beacon of hope in the face of extreme emergencies here in the Hudson Valley and beyond, and we are grateful for their efforts and dedication. I cannot thank the Red Cross enough for the work they do, and for this honor, and I look forward to continuing our partnership to ensure that our neighbors in need always have a place to turn," said Senator Sue Serino.

"I was extremely devastated and heartbroken for the people of Puerto Rico when the island was so severely affected by Hurricane Maria.  It’s a place that is very close to my heart and seeing the devastation hit very close to home for me. There is still more work to be done in rehabilitating Puerto Rico but I am truly honored and humbled to receive such a prestigious award from the American Red Cross, an institution that has been at the forefront of disaster relief throughout the world. I look forward to continuing to work side by side with the Red Cross team to ensure that wherever there is devastation we are there to offer support,” said Assemblywoman Maritza Davila.

“I am honored to be recognized by the American Red Cross as one of its Legislators of the Year. NYS has faced its share of emergencies in recent years and the ARC is always there to respond to the unique needs of every resident dealing with disaster. The Southern Tier Chapter continues to be a reliable resource at a moment’s notice, helping my constituents recover from two historic floods and other crises. Working together, we have been able to help countless New Yorkers and I’m proud to be their advocate at the state level,” said Assemblymember Donna Lupardo.

About the 2021 State Legislators of the Year

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.
(Queens) was recognized in part for his efforts to aid residents whose lives were deeply affected by Hurricane Sandy in late October of 2012.  As a member of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy, Senator Addabbo worked to help his community recover and rebuild from the devastating storm.

Senator Addabbo also distinguished himself by partnering with the Red Cross to deliver food and essential supplies as part of a critical mission in Queens during the height of the COVID pandemic. Senator Addabbo worked alongside Red Cross volunteers to personally deliver boxes of fresh food to the some of the most vulnerable in our society. 

The Red Cross further noted Senator Addabbo’s efforts to prepare his constituents for the event of a disaster by co-hosting a series of virtual Citizen Preparedness Corps emergency preparedness presentations, and promoting the Red Cross Home Fire Safety campaign by encouraging them to sign up for free smoke alarm installations.

Senator John E. Brooks
(Long Island), Chair of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, was recognized for decades of work to protect the people of Long Island.

For more than 50 years, Senator Brooks has been an active volunteer firefighter with the Seaford, Medford and Lindenhurst Fire Departments and previously served as Seaford Fire Chief.  Prior to Superstorm Sandy, Senator Brooks served as the Chairman of the Long Island Hurricane Symposium Program where he partnered with hurricane experts and the National Weather Services to evaluate risk on Long Island.

Senator Brooks also worked to better prepare his community in the event of disaster, by serving as a Red Cross Champion for the Sound the Alarm campaign on Long Island, and has co-hosted a virtual Citizen Preparedness Corps. emergency preparedness event, which helped to prepare residents for hurricanes, fires as well as other natural and man-made disasters.

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan
(Western New York), was recognized for his strong partnership with the Red Cross in his district as well as his distinguished service in the State Senate. 

Notably, Senator Gallivan has hosted several disaster preparedness programs in his district helping to train more than 600 individuals through the Citizens Preparedness Corps program. Under the Senator’s leadership, schools in his district have also participated in Hands Only CPR, Prepare with Pedro and Pillowcase Project programs.

Prior to his election to the State Senate, Senator Gallivan served as Erie County Sheriff from 1998-2005, and before that spent 15 years as a State Trooper. Senator Gallivan is a graduate of both the prestigious FBI National Executive Institute and the FBI National Academy, and is a past member of the New York State Executive Committee on Counter-Terrorism.

Senator Gallivan has used his extensive background in law enforcement to help secure funding to provide Resource Officers to school districts and has supported community-based programs to combat domestic violence.

Senator Sue Serino
(Hudson Valley) was recognized for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Red Cross during several major disaster response operations.  When her district was hit by two Nor’easter snowstorms, Senator Serino made sure her constituents knew where Red Cross shelters were located and shared timely and vital safety information to help people weather the storms.

And in October 2017, when fire ripped through the Rip Van Winkle Apartment Building and affected more than 400 individuals, Senator Serino was on the scene and took action to connect with community leaders throughout Dutchess County to help secure in-kind donations for the clients impacted by this fire. The Senator helped secure pillows, hygiene products for adults and babies, water, and critical supplies for displaced residents.

Senator Serino also hosted several youth preparedness courses in her district and helps lead outreach efforts in the community including using her social media presence to share the constant need for blood donations.

Assemblymember Martiza Davila
(Brooklyn), was recognized for her efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island of Puerto Rico in 2017 and for working to prepare the residents of her district for disaster.

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Assemblymember Davila, a native of CataƱo, Puerto Rico and the current Chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, was one of the first people on the ground surveying and offering relief to the devastated island and its people. Providing direct information on the needs of particularly hard-hit areas, and working alongside the Red Cross, she was an invaluable partner for the Red Cross and her efforts resulted in more efficient and immediate service delivery to those in need.

Having moved to Bushwick in Brooklyn as a young girl, Assemblywoman Davila has also served as a Red Cross Champion for the Sound the Alarm campaign in Brooklyn, encouraging residents to sign up for free smoke alarm installations and helping protect community members from the dangers of home fires.

Assemblymember Donna A. Lupardo
(Southern Tier), was recognized as a 2021 New York State Legislator of the Year by the American Red Cross for her ongoing support of the Red Cross and assistance during natural catastrophes the region has faced.

As the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Assemblymember Lupardo has prioritized food security for vulnerable populations, and for those effected by supply chain problems and job loss during the COVID pandemic. Assemblymember Lupardo has authored numerous pieces of legislation which were signed into law during her time in the state legislature earning her a well-deserved reputation as a tireless and effective leader. 

Each year, Assemblymember Lupardo sponsors the designation of March as Red Cross Month in the State Assembly and she has served as member of Southern Tier Sound the Alarm.Save a Life. Campaign Cabinet for many years.  In addition, Assemblymember Lupardo was recognized for supporting Red Cross disaster preparedness initiatives and campaigns; helping to recruit new Red Cross volunteers; and promoting blood drives. 

During its most recent fiscal year (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) the Red Cross performed the following services in New York State:


  •          Responded to 3,473 local emergencies and assisted 7,901 families;
  •          Provided fire safety education in 15,779 households;
  •          Installed 45,382 new smoke alarms;
  •          Collected 110,618 units of blood through 5,591 blood drives;
  •          Educated 5,344 grade school children in emergency preparedness;
  •          Assisted more than 7,465 members of the military and their families;
  •          Maintained readiness of 9,284 volunteers;
  •          Trained 27,450 people through the NYS Citizens Preparedness Corps program.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.





Monday, March 22, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Red Cross Volunteer Vanessa Diez features on the newest episode of our podcast.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 178 adults and 82 children following 71 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Activities

Friday, March 19, 2021

Women's History Month: Fun CEO Q and A

Women’s History Month offers an important opportunity to honor the extraordinary women that have shaped our nation with their strength. Throughout the month, we’ve been honoring some of our women leaders with a series of fun Q and A videos.

Mary Barneby, CEO, American Red Cross in Greater NY

Stephanie Dunn Ashley, CEO, American Red Cross Metro NY North Chapter  

Neela Lockel, CEO, American Red Cross Long Island Chapter

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Volunteering with the Red Cross: Hebah Ali

Hebah talks to a local resident
about fire safety in 2017.

Hebah Ali (Queens, N.Y.) shares about her work as an American Red Cross volunteer. 

Being a volunteer with the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign was a blessed opportunity for me to interact with our community and help them stay safe from fire accidents. 

Not only did I learn how to install the alarms in the right spots of the house, but we had to ensure that all the households and the families we visited were aware of causes of potential fire and that they had a strategy to escape just in two minutes if a fire ever broke out at their home.

The fire safety checklist and escape plan are available on the American Red Cross website. During shifts I would walk through the checklist with the home residents, demonstrate the potential risks and discuss solutions as we walked through their homes. I would also emphasize the use of the escape plan to draw exits that everyone in the house could be aware of and plan to use in case of a fire. The plan should also include a meeting point after the escape to make sure everyone is out of the house. 

It only takes these few items on the checklist and planning to save lives. I can’t wait to be out helping make families safe again.

Monday, March 15, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Celebrating Red Cross Month with Westchester County Executive, George Latimer.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 114 adults and 55 children following 57 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week in Review
Upcoming Events and Activities

Monday, March 8, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Volunteers supporting COVID-19 vaccine sites at West Point.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 101 adults and 42 children following 54 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week in Review
Upcoming Events and Activities

"Three Questions" With Bridgette Espinoza

by Angelina Vasilevsky, 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.

American Red Cross volunteer and AmeriCorps member Bridgette Espinoza currently serves the Latino Engagement program that seeks out ways to better serve immigrant communities in Greater NY and across the country. She was born and raised in the Bronx, is a first generation Mexican-American. Bridgette went to St. John’s University, where she double majored in Psychology and Spanish. 

How has your Mexican heritage shaped your identity? 

Growing up my dad would really emphasize that we speak Spanish and I can't be more thankful for that because it really cultivated the language. I am able to speak it very comfortably thanks to him. I maintained such a strong connection to my cultural upbringing. I didn’t get to travel to Mexico until I was around 18 years old, but ever since then, I went back almost every year, to the point where I am actually planning on having my wedding over there. When when I first visited, I got to see and meet my dad's side of the family for the first time. It’s interesting because all of the stories that he used to tell us started to make sense. I could picture him running to the corner store and running across the street. We also got to visit the town my mom grew up in, and it's very distinct in the sense that it's very rural. My dad jokes that there are more dogs in that town than there are people. It meant a lot to see where my mom came from. It's interesting imagining her coming from such a small town, to living and doing so well in New York City. 

Why did you join AmeriCorps and the American Red Cross?

One of the main reasons I signed up for AmeriCorps is because they offered an incredible opportunity. It's kind of funny because I've come full circle. I knew about it and wanted to apply right out of undergraduate, but it took me about three years to finally send it out. In my immediate work [as AmeriCorps and Red Cross], I am currently supporting the Home Fire Campaign. In New York City we have such a diverse community and a lot of families that ask for fire alarms, also ask for Spanish education pieces. Right now one of our major events is coming up, and we are hoping to assist those families in getting their fire safety education in Spanish. Hopefully that will work out for both our clients and our Spanish-speaking volunteers.

What does it mean to you to be a part of the Latino Engagement Team?

It connects to how I grew up and that relates to a lot of Latino parents, kids and just the community overall. An important factor that I consider, is that English is not everyone's first language. I often think about my mom, who is not tech savvy. Growing up whenever she needed to pay a bill for example, we had to call customer service. So you grow up kind of having to be an advocate for your own parents. Additionally, there are a lot of factors of fear in the Latino community, as well as pride. With my background in psychology I know for the Latino community it is taboo to speak about getting resources or asking for help, especially if it’s related to mental health. I think it’s important to assure families and let them know that it's okay to seek out help in whatever way they need it.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

"Three Questions” with Red Crosser Shonda N. Scott

By Christine A. Gipson, 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.

Philadelphia native Shonda N. Scott originally joined the American Red Cross as a volunteer with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Region. In 2019 she was hired as an employee and relocated to New York. Shonda works as the Mass Care Manager in the Greater New York Region. Her expertise is in distribution of emergency supplies, sheltering, feeding and reunification with additional expertise in operations management.

Why did you join the Red Cross?

In the early 2000s, I was an active volunteer with Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and served as a paid-call firefighter. I stopped volunteering for a while to focus on college and working as a General Manager in the automotive industry. While employment was paying all my bills, I was lacking the feeling of fulfillment. In 2017, as a birthday gift to myself, I decided to sign up as a volunteer to help people that were affected by the many hurricanes that year. Two weeks after joining, I was deployed to Puerto Rico in Mass Care. I loved what I was doing so much, I volunteered there for almost four months. That experience was the reminder I needed to see that life is about more than how much money you can acquire, but how you decide to live your life. American Red Cross allows me to not only work but have that fulfillment I was missing before I left the automotive industry.

Where did you deploy last fall what did you find most meaningful about that experience?

My last deployment was to the California Wildfires in 2020 as the Mass Care Chief. I learned a lot during this operation that I can use when working local operations in New York City. I served with an amazing team and mentor. The most meaningful experience I left with was how supportive the entire team was to each other. We cross trained, we helped clients and we also staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do you have one story you think of since joining the Red Cross that reinforces why you are here?

One day I was working to distribute water and food supplies to victims of Hurricane Maria. We were asking the residents to form a line to receive supplies when one resident warned us that a few gang members were present. I was the leader of the operation, so one of the members started walking towards me. I greeted him and he stated he wanted to help but didn’t know how. I passed him a case of water and stated, “start passing out cases of water to the people in line.” That day he became a volunteer and worked hard for his community. That’s what we learn in disasters. We learn who people are within their hearts. One of the best experiences I had there.

Monday, March 1, 2021

In Case You Missed It

Amazing Red Cross volunteers helping at COVID vaccine sites.

Over the last seven days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 64 adults and 22 children following 45 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities. (See below)

Last Week in Review
Upcoming Events and Activities

Fire Brings Red Cross Care and Commitment to Yonkers Families

by Bernadette Casey, American Red Cross in Greater NY

The Red Cross provided assistance to 100 families affected by an apartment building fire in Yonkers earlier this year. For one resident, it was not the first time experiencing the care and commitment of Red Cross volunteers. When he was just nine years old, Edward McCoy and his family were forced from their Bronx home by a fire. More than 40 years later McCoy still remembers how the Red Cross helped his family find shelter at a hotel and helped a frightened young boy feel safe during a very difficult time.

“I’ve always trusted the Red Cross,” recalled McCoy. “They took a traumatic situation like that and made a young kid like me feel secure.” 

After the January 2021 Yonkers apartment fire, the Red Cross helped McCoy and approximately 250 other residents with temporary housing at nearby hotels as well as daily meals, bottled water, and access to trained Red Cross health and mental health professionals.

“The Red Cross came to the scene and helped all the people in the building. We greatly appreciated them showing us a little humanity because that is what we really needed - a little common courtesy and humanity,” said McCoy.

For Cesarina Nunez, a resident of the building since 2004, Red Cross assistance was a lifeline of support. Nunez, her daughter and their two pets – a Chihuahua-Pomerania mix named Venus and a cat named Zah Zah – turned to the Red Cross for shelter and comfort. 

“The Red Cross made us feel welcome at the hotel and made us feel that we were not alone,” said Nunez, who had been afraid she might have to sleep in her car. “Without the Red Cross it would have been horrible.” 

Nunez was particularly impressed with all the different ways that Red Cross volunteers worked to address her family’s specific needs, like helping her daughter find a new pair of eyeglasses and providing pet food for Zah Zah and Venus.

After a week at the hotel, Nunez found a temporary place to stay in Queens with the help of her brother. As she recalled: “In this sort of situation, you have to keep calm. There will always be a solution. Without what the Red Cross did for me I would not have been able to cope. Life has taught me to be more patient, especially with everything that happened.”

McCoy, who was able to move back to his Yonkers apartment, was also appreciative of the help of Red Cross volunteers, added: “I want to thank the Red Cross from the bottom of my heart for everything they did for everyone in my building. Continue doing the great work you have been doing for decades,” said McCoy.