Friday, October 31, 2008

Our World Gives application on Facebook

I love Facebook. I think I check it more than my e-mail. Are you using it? I think the whole world has Facebook since its expansion to users other than college students. If you’re not a Facebook user, get one! It’s amazing and now, it’s starting to support organizations’ social and charitable causes.

This week, the Western Union Company and the Western Union Foundation announced the launch of a new online platform for social giving, Our World Gives. The Our World Gives program invites Facebook members to "Do a good deed today" by mobilizing friends and family members to vote for one of the eight designated non-profit organizations including the American Red Cross. The organization with the most votes at the end of six weeks will receive a $50,000 donation from The Western Union Foundation.

The Facebook application can be found at

This is the easiest application to use on Facebook. Plus, it requires no money, just mouse clicks! Install the application on your Facebook page by clicking the button on the right side of the Our World Gives page. Once you do this, it’ll take you to a new page with the eight non-profit organizations listed.

Thanks for your support and have a safe Halloween!

-Tim Carbonara is a Marketing & Communications intern at the Greater Chicago chapter of the Red Cross. He can be seen checking Facebook on his phone every 15 minutes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sure, this Toothpaste for Dinner comic is funny, but it also brings to light the reality of workplace preparedness. A new study by the American Red Cross finds that 62% of American workers are not confident about their preparedness in the workplace and less than half of employees surveyed knew about a disaster plan at their workplace. What’s even scarier is that only slightly more than half (55%) had ever received specific disaster and emergency information from their employer.

Ok, enough with the stats. But think about it. Would you know what to do if your coworker collapsed at his desk from a heart-attack? What about if a tornado swept through area while you were still stuck at work? Apart from panicking, many people wouldn’t know how to react.

The Greater Chicago Red Cross is making it easier for employers to create a safer workplace by offering FREE Workplace Preparedness Seminars on Nov. 5 and 6.

The seminar will cover preparedness information and an overview of the latest health & safety training programs, and participants can even try their luck in a raffle to win a Powerheart G3 Plus AED—valued at $2,000! You’re getting excited now, aren’t you? Visit our website for more information and to register.

Of course no business wants to consider the unthinkable, but wouldn’t it be nice to know your workplace is prepared should a dire situation arise? Ask your employers to attend this seminar. And if you are an employer—be there!


Do you have a workplace preparedness horror story? Tell us for a chance to win a free Safety Tube! Perfect to keep at your office desk—just in case.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fighting Commuter Fear and Loathing

Photo by paulmcdee

Do you experience fear and loathing during your commute? (Man, it’s a Hunter S. Thompson week here at the Red Cross!) I was squished into a three-seater on the bus this morning then came into work and saw this article from the Tribune’s Josh Noel. He describes the discomforts of being jammed into a rush-hour train, but things get interesting as he moves on to a topic that’s nearer and dearer to my Red Cross heart—commuter safety.

“A simple truth became clear: The "L," central to so many lives, is a nexus of big-city anxiety, precisely because it is central to so many lives.”

People have anxiety in the “L” and other places because they fear the unknown. Wouldn’t these folks feel a little bit comfier if they were ready to respond to an emergency? Indeed, the unknown doesn’t have to be scary. As commuters on the CTA or Metra, we should know what to do if the train derails, or how to react if you’re stuck in a crowded car. (The first answer is clear: Listen to directions.)

There are other ways to fight this “paranoia”. Get trained (pun intended). If someone collapsed next to you on the bus, would you know how to help them out? (Read about a guy who wasn’t ready, and it changed his life.) Taking a CPR or first aid course gives you an arsenal of emergency-fighting skills—lifesaving skills that can calm people if something scary happens.

A quick, easy way to start is to buy one of our personal safety tubes—perfect for commuters and only five bucks. It has a mask, water, a whistle and a light stick—little things that could be a big comfort if something does go down. Not that it’s going to, my paranoid friends, but just in case.

-Kristin Claes is a writer at the Greater Chicago Red Cross. She's often seen on the North Ave. bus looking for our
This is Not a Disaster ads.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Minor toilet articles make a big difference

What’s all this business about minor toilet articles and the Red Cross? Who is Hunter S. Thompson anyway (that's him pictured on the right)?

Wendy at our National Headquarters made a very cool video yesterday that answers these questions and is pretty darn inspiring. Check it out, tell me what you think then forward it on! We're 1/2 way to our goal!

By the way Mr. Thompson was an American journalist and author and was regarded by many as the author of the "greatest book on the dope decade" (The New York Times) ( .

Martha Carlos is the Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. She takes great offense at the movie "Thank you for Smoking" since it shows PR people in a bad, a bad light...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Do you know a hero?

We are starting to collect nominations for our Annual Heroes Breakfast next April.
The design concept is completed, using photos of everyday people paired with dynamic quotes from nominators on who their hero is and why they were nominated.

Each year at the Heroes Breakfast, the Greater Chicago Red Cross honors community members who have demonstrated heroism through remarkable acts of courage or kindness.
Awards will be given in the following categories:
Adult Good Samaritan | Citizenship | Community Impact
Disaster Relief | Emergency Medical Assistance | Firefighter Nurse | Law Enforcement | Military | Youth Good Samaritan
Candidates must live or work in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry
or Will Counties. The heroic act must have taken place after January 1, 2008.
Selected Red Cross heroes will be formally honored on April 23, 2009, at the
Heroes Breakfast.
To nominate your hero, please visit
or call 312.729.6134.

Nominations are due February 6, 2009.

Monday, October 20, 2008

India Measles Fundraiser

What are you doing this Thursday night? Do you already have plans with friends to go out downtown? Have you been thinking about helping out others lately? Well, we have a perfect opportunity for you to do both.

Come support the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s India Measles Fundraiser this Thursday, October 23, at McFadden’s. McFadden’s is located at 1206 N. State Parkway, near the intersection of Division and State. The tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and includes open bar and appetizers from 7 to 9 p.m. All proceeds go to measles vaccinations in India. Each dollar donated saves one life!

Why measles you wonder? Measles is the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age in developing countries. Sixty percent of children who die from measles worldwide live in India, and 440 children die of measles each day. The Measles Initiative is a partnership the Red Cross has with other organizations to reduce measles worldwide. Locally, the American Red Cross Greater Chicago chapter has decided to head up their own fundraiser since Chicago has one of the largest Indian-American communities in the United States.

Visit to learn more and purchase your tickets.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mapping Out the Fires

How many fires does the Red Cross respond to in America each year? Google knows pretty much everything, so it’s no surprise that we can now check for the answer there. The folks at our national office have compiled a Google Map with this info. Check it out here.

I was chatting with a friend in Boston the other day who didn’t believe me when I said our chapter goes out to fires almost every day here in the Chicago area. Yep, it’s true. And during this season of fire safety, it’s a good time to brush up on yours.

What do you do to keep your house fire safe? Do you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen? Do you check your smoke detectors regularly? Do you smoke cigarettes in bed while using hairspray? Just kidding. Really, how do you stay fire safe?

-Kristin Claes is a writer with the Greater Chicago Chapter. She checks her smoke alarms AND never uses hairspray around an open flame, but she does enjoy using hairspray. Safely.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Greater Chicago Red Cross Connected Runners, Ran Red!

We supported this year’s Chicago marathon by taking on the role of reuniting runners who may have been hospitalized with their loved ones. We have a cool program called, Patient Connection that allows us to help in this way. It’s completely unique to Chicago-we’ve even been written into HIPAA so that we can get patient info from hospitals and take the burden of patient reunification off hospitals in times of disaster, or when large numbers of people have been hospitalized. The program worked great! Our volunteers ultimately made hundreds of family contacts and connected about 75 people with their loved ones.
In addition to supporting the event with our Patient Connection Program our Run Red team made us proud by going the distance. This dedicated group of runners raised much needed funds for our chapter by getting pledges from friends and family for completing the marathon. If you are interested in joining next year’s Run Red team visit
Did you get inspired by this year’s event to run the marathon next year?

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Fire Prevention Week!

Do you have a Family Disaster Plan?
Do you test your smoke alarms?
How often do you replace the batteries in your smoke alarm?

In order to prepare for a fire disaster, there are a couple of items to have set in place.
A Family Distaster Plan is a start! Sit down with your family members and map out a disaster plan. Some items to identify in your disaster plan are: locations to meet family members after a fire disaster, establish an out of state individual as a family contact, be aware of all exits of your house and neighborhood. Once you have developed your plan make sure you practice it twice a year.

Are your smoke alarms working properly? Be prepared by testing them. Testing smoke
alarms should be conducted on a monthly basis. To make sure they alarm if there is a fire, replace the batteries every six months.

Keep these few things in mind when you begin your fall clean up! For additional information or purchase of products, check out our website at

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Summer is Officially Over..But I Remain Hopeful

Fall is my favorite season of the year. Why? Firstly, because in my opinion, it is the best fashion season (Gotta love the scarves and boots!) but most importantly because it reminds me of my grandmother and all that she stood for.

She loved gardening and manicured her lawn almost daily. As a kid, I loved when fall rolled around and the leaves began to change colors and ultimately fall from the trees. She, however, was not a happy camper. I remember playing for literally hours after school in the piles of leaves that she had raked and put into neat piles for disposal. Although I knew she despised it, she never said a word because she knew it made me happy. It was that kind of selflessness that made her so special to me and everyone she knew.

She truly believed in the sense of community and the concept of “we.” We was not just me and you, we was whoever needed or could offer help if any one of us needed it. She always put her needs last after family, friends, coworkers, and fellow community members. She lived and breathed giving back and supporting her community by doing whatever was necessary. She was and will always be my motivation and inspiration for believing that the world is full of hope and can change for the better.

I am surrounded by volunteers, coworkers and even clients who embody that same spirit of hope and change. Now more than ever, we are challenged to maintain hope in the face of extreme economic adversity. While some days are better than others, even the not-so-good days are bearable when I think about my grandmother’s strength, compassion and belief in change. I support the American Red Cross in her honor and because I have seen firsthand the impact that organizations like this one can make.

Who inspires you to make a difference or create hope? Share their story by making a gift in their honor or memory. Holiday season is just around the corner. Consider giving a tribute gift and change lives in your community. Visit

-Shemiah W.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Slumping Economy May Lead to More Home Fires

The economy’s slump has people worried about the heating bills this winter, and a Red Cross survey released yesterday shows that this might result in an increase in home fires. When people try to be frugal with their furnaces, they often resort to other, more dangerous methods of heating their homes, like cozying up next to space heaters or even turning up their ovens and stoves. From the release:

The majority (79%) of Americans are concerned about the rising cost of heating their homes, and many will use an alternative heating source to reduce their bills this winter.

Every year, our Greater Chicago chapter goes out to hundreds and hundreds of home fires. It’s our primary, most common disaster response (though a lot of people don’t even know that the Red Cross helps victims of fires!).

In an effort to educate and empower people to heat their homes safely this winter, we’re going to be visiting homes in Joliet tomorrow—and in other neighborhoods for the rest of the month. Our Team Firestopper will show people where hazards might be lurking in their own homes, and we’ll give them a lesson on draft-proofing their homes.

Want to join the Team? Sign up today! We’ll be doing events until early November.

Interested in learning more about this issue? Read our press release.

What do you think? Are you going to wear a sweater, Jimmy-Carter style? How do you keep your home both cozy and fire-safe?

Fundraise For Disaster Relief!

Although the effects of the Midwest floods and Hurricanes Ike & Gustav are no longer a focus in mainstream media, there is still a great need to raise money for disaster relief. Relief aid has been used to serve thousands of Americans in need of food, shelter, and other Red Cross services after being displaced from their homes.

The American Red Cross has launched a $100 million nationwide fundraising campaign and encouraging all, especially youth and young adult volunteers, to promote this effort within their communities. Youth volunteers are passionate about the mission of the Red Cross and are awesome in building awareness about important issues to networks of people on their school campus and organizations they belong to. National Youth Council Vice-Chair, Chris Chen, has stated, “If the Red Cross is going to be successful in fundraising for the Disaster Relief, youth need to play a key part.”

Yes, indeed!

Join youth in this effort to raise awareness & funds for Disaster Relief! Have any great fundraising or project ideas for students? Let us know.

Check out to see what other youth & young adult volunteers are doing to help.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Playoffs Fever!

The Cubs/
cross-town rivalry is
in full force, and we're joining in at the Red Cross by asking our chapter staff to come dressed in their best Cubs or Sox garb on Friday to show their spirit!

While some of us at the Red Cross are loyal to our north or south side team, when it comes to disasters, we don't take sides. Over 90% of our disaster response is to home fires, and that covers the north side, the south side and everywhere in between.

Speaking of home fires, we want to remind you that October is fire safety month. While you're reveling in the excitement of the playoffs and preparing for your own Cubs or Sox party this weekend, take a minute to do a fire safety check in your home. We promise you won't regret it.

You can find helpful fire safety tips on the Get Prepared section of our website.