New York, NY (March 18, 2022) – The American Red Cross in New York State today celebrated six legislators for their commitment to building more resilient communities.
The Red Cross in New York State is composed of three regions – Greater New York, Eastern New York, and Western & Central New York – and legislators from each region were presented this honor during a virtual ceremony: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Asw. Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Asm. Demond Meeks, Sen. Daphne Jordan, Sen. Anna Kaplan, and Senate Minority Leader Robert G. Ortt.
“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 J. Barneby, Nicholas Bond, and Kevin Coffey, CEOs of the American Red Cross Greater NY, Western NY, and Easter NY Regions.
“It is an honor to be recognized as a Legislator of the Year by an organization as admired and respected as the American Red Cross. The work that they do in our communities to keep residents safe and to provide support and assistance in the face of emergencies and disasters is critical and nothing short of heroic. I am proud to have partnered with them for fire safety initiatives in my community and to help launch their virtual hands only CPR program,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
“I’m honored to be named the 2022 New York State Legislator of the Year by the American Red Cross, an organization that does so much for New Yorkers in the face of disaster. When 400 residents in my district were displaced by a terrible fire on 89th Street, the American Red Cross was there to help get my constituents back on their feet. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the American Red Cross was there again to help my team distribute cleanup kits to impacted residents in our Queens communities. I’ve seen firsthand how vital the American Red Cross’ disaster relief and emergency preparedness programs are to the health and safety of my constituents. I’m grateful for our continued partnership and humbled by today’s recognition,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.
"I am honored to receive this award today from the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has maintained a long-standing history of remarkable service to the city of Rochester, the state of New York, and beyond. From facilitating blood drives, installing free smoke alarms in homes, and providing food and shelter to families in need, the Red Cross is dedicated to protecting the health and welfare of communities across the nation. It is a privilege to work alongside their organization in establishing sickle cell blood drives for members of our community. I am proud to assist in their historic efforts in delivering vital resources to the residents and families of New York,” said Asmblymember Demond Meeks.
“When our nation’s blood supplies face critical shortages, when disaster strikes, when people are hurting and need help, the American Red Cross steps up and always answers the call. We are blessed to count on the experience, expertise, and life-saving commitment continually shown by the dedicated men and women of the American Red Cross. For 141 years, the American Red Cross has delivered compassionate service, showing the very best of our country, touching and saving countless lives in the moments of greatest need. As Senator, I’ve been fortunate to have received many awards and recognitions but being named a ‘2022 State Legislator of the Year’ by the American Red Cross is truly something special and an honor that I’ll always treasure,” said Senator Daphne Jordan (R,C,I-Halfmoon).
“I’ve been so proud to work with the American Red Cross to help ensure our community is prepared, safe, and cared for in times of extraordinary need, and today I’m honored to be recognized as one of their 2022 New York State Legislators of the Year. In our work together, we’ve helped install hundreds of smoke alarms throughout our community, taught CPR to a virtual group of over 500, and helped kids and parents learn what to do in case of an emergency, and I look forward to our continued partnership to help even more of our neighbors across Long Island and New York State. To the entire team at the Red Cross, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great honor, and for the important work you do every single day,” said Senator Anna M. Kaplan.
“It's truly an honor to be recognized as a 2022 New York State Legislator of The Year by the American Red Cross. I am proud to have a strong partnership with such an impactful organization that turns compassion into action by assisting people all over the world in the face of disaster. Because of hardworking volunteers and generous donors, the American Red Cross is able to provide care, shelter and hope to people who may be facing the biggest crisis of their lifetime. I'm thankful for the recognition today and look forward to working together more in the future,” said NYS Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt.
2020 Legislator of the Year Background
Greater NY Region
The Greater New York Region of the Red Cross supports the more than 12.5 million residents of New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland Counties, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Greenwich, Conn. The 2022 Legislators of the Year Honorees from the Greater NY Region are: Sen. Anna Kaplan, Asw, Jessica Gonzalez Rojas, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Sen. Anna Kaplan (7th Senate District)
In the Greater New York Region, Sen. Anna Kaplan was recognized for her commitment to help educate constituents on Long Island how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. Even before taking office, Sen. Kaplan and her staff meet with the Red Cross to discuss partnership opportunities to help support her constituents after local disasters including home fire. She has hosted Red Cross preparedness programs in person and virtually. In addition, Sen. Kaplan rolled up her sleeves to install smoke alarms on Long Island as part of the Red Cross South the Alarm. Save a Life. campaign. Sound the Alarm helps to raise awareness of the importance of having working smoke alarms.
Asw. Jessica Gonzalez Rojas (Assembly District 34)
In the Greater New York Region, Asw. Jessica Gonzalez Rojas was recognized for her dedication to building more resilient communities. After local fires as well as after larger disasters like Hurricane Ida, Asw. Gonzalez Rojas has stood alongside the Red Cross to help support residents and also help protect their neighbors through preparedness education.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (Assembly District 83)
In the Greater New York Region, Speaker Carl Heastie was recognized for his lifetime of service dedicated to supporting everyday New Yorkers. Speaker Heastie was the first elected official to help the Red Cross launch virtual Hands-Only CPR training during the COVID pandemic, where via Zoom instructors taught people this life saving skill. In addition, the Speaker has joined Red Cross volunteers to install free smoke detectors as part of the Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign. In fact, he will join the team out today to help further bring awareness to this life saving program.
Eastern NY Region
The American Red Cross Eastern New York Region is comprised of three chapters along with 3 blood donation centers: Central & Northern New York Chapter; Hudson Valley Chapter; and Northeastern New York Chapter. Together, these chapters serve a population of more than 3.6 million people across 27 counties and more than 51,000 square miles. The Legislator of the Year from the Eastern NY Region is Sen. Daphne Jordan
Sen. Daphne Jordan (43rd Senate District)
The Eastern NY Region recognized Sen. Daphne Jordan for her steadfast commitment to provide lifesaving information to her constituents. Specifically, during the pandemic, Sen. Jordan went door to door to help educate families about fire safety after a tragic fire in her district. She also hosted blood drives during the pandemic – a time when the blood supply was facing critical shortages.
Western NY Region
The American Red Cross, Western New York Region, spanning 27 counties, comprises three chapters – Western NY (Buffalo), Greater Rochester, and the Southern Tier. The Western New York Region is a significant part of the storied history of the American Red Cross as founder Clara Barton established the very first Red Cross Chapter in Dansville, NY in 1881.
The Legislators of the Year from the Western NY Region are Asm. Demond Meeks and Senate Minority Leader Robert G. Ortt
Asm. Demond Meeks (Assembly District 137)
The Western NY Region recognized Asm. Demond Meeks for his key support of the American Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative, which works to ensure sickle cell patients are able to access the critical treatment they need. As a champion of this effort, he sponsored two blood drives, collecting 76 units, and activated partner groups to help recruit blood donors.
Senate Minority Leader Robert G. Ortt (62nd Senate District)
The Western NY Region recognized Senator Robert G. Ortt for his service to our nation, and his staunch support of initiatives to help veterans, which aligns to the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program. Sen. Ortt has also hosted preparedness training for his constituents, to ensure they have the information and tools they need to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Last year, during the pandemic, Sen. Ortt also sponsored a critical blood drive to help ensure blood products would be available to people in need.
Prior Red Cross New York State Legislators of the Year include:
2019: Asm. Richard Gottfried, Asm. Crystal People Stokes, Sen. Thomas O’Mara and Asm. John McDonald.
2020: Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, Sen. Timothy Kennedy, Sen. Joseph Robach, Asm. Al Stirpe, Asm. Angelo Santabarbara and Asm. Marcos Crespo.
2021: Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Sen. John Brooks, Sen. Patrick Gallivan, Sen. Sue Serino, Asm. Martiza Davila and Asm. Donna Lupardo
During calendar year 2021, the Red Cross in New York State:
- Responded to 9,000 disasters; of those responses, 6,595 were home fires
- Assisted 23,395 people during local responses
- Hosted 10,125 blood drives and collected 227,157 units of blood thanks to 115,075 blood donors reside in the state
- Made 6,999 homes safer through the Home Fire Campaign
- Supported 5,965 military
members, veterans and their families
About the American Red Cross: