Monday, February 28, 2011

Drumroll Please...

Well, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards have come and gone. And although we may not have witnessed any scandals during last night’s event (i.e. wild pop stars hatching out of eggs or an unexpected win from an alternative Canadian band), we did get to see some of Hollywood’s greatest talent walk the red carpet and accept film’s most prestigious awards, while honoring the wide range of films released over the past year.

Much like Hollywood’s biggest night, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago also has a ceremony. The only difference is that ours celebrates individuals who live the Red Cross mission within our community. And although some of last night’s Oscar winners deservingness may be questionable, there is absolutely no denying that the 2011 Red Cross Heroes announced this year are entirely deserving of their newly crowned title. Each person has made a significant impact on the lives of others and carried out a mission that truly stands out among the rest. Every hero that the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has recognized sets a prime example of what it means to live the Red Cross mission.

The annual Heroes Breakfast is our signature fundraiser. The ceremony is made up of ten specific categories: Citizenship, Community Impact, Disaster Relief, Emergency Medical Assistance, Firefighter, Adult Good Samaritan, Youth Good Samaritan, Law Enforcement, Military, and Nurse. The Heroes Breakfast is now in its ninth year and is the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s most successful fundraiser. Last year, we were fortunate to have more than 650 Chicagoland community leaders attended the event.

We are all extremely excited for this year’s Heroes Breakfast event, which will be held on April 14, 2011 at the Fairmont Chicago.

Take a moment and check out our 2011 Red Cross Heroes at Each story represents a fantastic and unique look into what makes an inspiring hero in 2011.
Photo credit to Cinesystem Cinemas on Flickr

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Save A Life, take a CPR class

What do you do if you see someone bleeding or falling unconscious on the floor? It’s a situation no one wants to encounter and yet it happens around people everyday. It happened this January in Arizona, when the shootout left several people bleeding and injured on the ground. It also happened to Patricia Carmona, who while leaving her friends house, witnessed a man having a massive heart attack. These situations are more common than we would like to admit. In fact, more than 25% of Americans say they’ve been in situations where someone needed CPR.

“You think you’ll never need to give someone CPR, but spontaneous situations happen all the time. If you’re trained, at least you can pump the heart, and keep the blood flowing till help arrives,” said Carmona.

To make CPR more accessible and to honor congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the American Red Cross is hosting a Gabrielle Giffords Honorary Save-a-Life Saturday on March 19, 2011. This event will take place in more than 50 locations across the nation and will be free of charge, thanks to our sponsors, Safeway and Walgreens. The Red Cross will provide fast and easy classes to teach the basics of hands-only CPR, the treatment of shock and how to treat wounds. For more information and details on locations, please visit

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Are you a messenger of hope? Will you protect humanity in the midst of war?

When was the last time you considered yourself a student? How about a messenger?

A few months ago, I took a class that was worth more than any course credit. That Saturday morning, the Red Cross introduced me to international humanitarian law (IHL). The class explores the “rules of war” and how to preserve dignity in the midst of conflict. One student in my class pointed out that the “rules of war” seemed to be an oxymoron, as he questioned why these laws exist in the first place.

Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan, Iraq, and lately, Egypt have taken over international news channels. “Brutality” and “destruction” are words that come to mind, but what about “innocence” and “neutrality”? As the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, we are committed to serving victims in the center of armed conflict a dose of dignity. Built on the foundation of Red Cross values -- humanity, impartiality, and independence -- the “rules of war” are a commonality among people who may not share any other common beliefs.

A returned Peace Corps volunteer, an international relations graduate student and a professor of humanitarian action decided to be messengers of the movement, just as I have. One participant asked, “How can humanitarian law be used as part of a process for global change?”

It’s possible, but it starts with you discussing the essence of humanitarianism to others who are willing to do the same.

By helping the helpless, we – meaning you – are a part of the foundation of humanity. Is that something to risk? Do we settle for inaction when action could begin with something as simple as a conversation? We hope not.

The global part of the change is what intrigues us. By offering this class virtually in real-time to anyone, anywhere in the world with internet access, we’ll spark the conversation together.

Take the first step in making change happen. Take the class. Talk about change. Carry your message. Whoever and wherever you are.

*Light the conversation using the hashtag #RulesofWar on Twitter

By Katie Wilkes

Wake the Social Butterfly from its Winter Slumber. Flirt with Us

I don’t know about all of you, but I definitely think we deserve a little self love and appreciation from time to time, especially this February given the record snow levels and miserable cold temperatures. And I’m not just talking about sipping that $8.00 bottle of Yellowtail from 711 while watching the latest episode of House Hunters on HGTV. We deserve more than that. We deserve some “grade A” socialization with other fabulous Chicagoans who will appreciate us and what it takes to live in this city in February. With winter in full force and the weekend approaching, what better way to spend this Thursday night than by rewarding ourselves and supporting the Red Cross mission at the American Red Cross of Great Chicago’s “Flirting for Disaster” event at LuxBar with other Chicagoans.

“Flirting for Disaster” brings some of Chicago’s most interesting young professionals together under one hotspot roof. This social mixer allows a philanthropic and professional crowd to briefly forget about the miseries of February and enjoy the company of other vibrant Chicagoans, while enjoying music, drinks, appetizers, and raffles. We can leave the Yellowtail and House Hunters on hold for one night, can’t we?

This month’s “Flirting for Disaster” theme is A Heart Filled Celebration and is hosted by the Auxiliary Board of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. Tomorrow night’s event will be held at LuxBar from 6:00-9:00 p.m. and is sure to awaken the social butterfly from its winter slumber. You will not only benefit your social life and sanity, but also provide the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago with the support and donations we need to help our chapter and others during a cold season that sparks more home fires than any other time of year. Could it spark something in your life?

Buck up, Chicago, get out and flirt with us. Visit for tickets and more information.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

What happened last night?

Throughout the past day and a half the American Red Cross has been helping people in 19 states offering food and shelter to those who have been displaced due to the massive winter storm. We opened 73 shelters yesterday nationwide to help people affected by this large-scale storm which buried the country in ice and snow from the Rocky Mountains to Maine. In the Chicago area alone, more than 360 people spent the night in 10 Red Cross shelters throughout our region.

Hundreds of people were stranded in their cars on Lake Share Drive in Chicago last night, when the road was closed due to unsafe driving conditions, blinding snow and large waves splashing out of Lake Michigan and spilling onto the roadway.

Chicago Police and Fire personnel and National Guard members went car to car to get stranded motorists on warming buses and to take them to a nearby Red Cross shelter at Malcolm X College in Chicago. Many had been stranded in their cars for several hours. The Chicago Tribune released a crowd sourcing tool to help people solve blizzard related problems and we did our best to aid in this effort through our twitter feed, @chicagoredcross.

American Red Cross workers greeted the 340 weary motorists, many arriving in the middle of the night by ambulance, bus or fire truck and provided them with hot coffee and snacks. In a large open room with rows of Red Cross blanket covered cots, the motorists-a doctor, a teacher and a cab driver among them, gathered to tell their stories, get warm and discuss ways to get their abandoned cars back and how to best reunite with their families. Red Cross workers provided warm clothing and toiletries to the shelter residents and diapers and teddy bears for families with small children. The most commonly fulfilled request of the evening? Socks.

Barbie, a preschool teacher from Wrigleyville was stranded in her car for several hours. Upon arrival at the shelter she was offered water, coffee, blankets, food and a cot by the Red Cross volunteers. "I cannot tell you how thankful I am that the Red Cross was there. I am still in awe about this whole experience, but the Red Cross support was the shining moment in my night."

At last the group was able to wind down from their ordeal and get some rest on the cots in the shelter. Many stayed for a breakfast served by the Red Cross the next morning. As of mid-day today there were still a few dozen people there enjoying lunch provided by Red Cross volunteers and staying safe from the hazardous conditions outside. As for the Red Cross? We'll be at shelters today with blankets, food, hugs and comfort for people who need us. Visit the American Red Cross web site and click on “find a shelter” call 1 800 RED CROSS (1 800 733 2767) to find a location near you. Follow the Red Cross on twitter at @redcross and @chicagoredcross locally for up to date information on our response to the blizzard.

Here's some information we think you may need in the next few days. It focuses on power outage safety and how to minimize food spoilage etc. Stay safe and warm everyone.

Martha Carlos and Kendall Knysch