Monday, May 16, 2011

Chicago Red Cross Staff Serves in Flood Disaster

A week and a half of being on the clock 24-7, little sleep, helping distressed families, and observing what the widespread flood has damaged can sound stressful or even frightening to anyone. But Becky Streifler, a Chicago Red Cross staff member, looks forward to experiencing all of the above.

Becky feels compassionate about relieving families of stress through the mental health team in the Memphis, Tennessee flood.

“You never clock out and you are there to provide people with mental health support the whole time. As a mental health deployment team we have to be useful to ourselves or we can’t be useful to others,” said Becky.

When disaster-affected areas ask the Red Cross network for help, trained volunteers can be sent nationwide to aid those in need of help.

“When the American Red Cross is there, the community knows help has arrived,” said Becky.

She’s been deployed several times before to locations such as Greensburg, Kansas and Haiti as a mental health specialist. She is there to care for those who need comfort and reassurance that feelings of distress can be normal after a traumatic experience.

Of course Becky has her moments of being nervous like anyone else would, but what motivates to help is being there for the disaster victims. And that is rewarding enough for her.

Take a few minutes and check out Becky's video interview one day before she deployed.

If you would like to sign-up for volunteering at the American Red Cross, visit these links: volunteer and take a class . So the next time disaster strikes in your neighborhood or across the country, you will be ready to serve. One of the ways you can assist others down South is through taking a disaster service human resources class that the American Red Cross offers. Complete this class and you too can become a part of serving people who were affected by the flood.

Written by Rachel Moten

Photo from American Red Cross on Flickr

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Staying Afloat

Rescued boat at Montrose Harbor Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

No doubt it’s been a heavy spring storm season for much of the United States. While those in the south continue to recover and prepare from the destruction in the past month, Chicago had its own close call last night.

There was the typical thunder boom and flash of lightning most of us saw, but what got one woman startled was the absence of her phone ringing. A Chicago resident, 48, had warned her husband, 62, of the violent weather to come later in the evening as he boated on Lake Michigan near Montrose Harbor. The panic set in when she went hours without hearing from him.

That gut feeling – wrenched stomach and unorganized thoughts – likely sent her into panic mode, the phase just before most of us stop short of taking action due to fear.

Instead of stopping short, she pushed though the paralyzing stage and became a hero.

After launching a speed boat with the help of two other boaters nearby, she found the capsized boat just half a mile from the coast along with her husband and two other men struggling in the water. Rescuing all four, she brought them to safety back at the harbor.

With the water between a chilling 30 to 40 degrees, the men were incredibly lucky to have survived after remaining in the cold for 45 minutes.

Summer is just around the corner and so is boating season. What happened last night can occur anytime, anywhere. Don’t let a Chicago favorite activity turn into the scare these residents went through. At the first sign of severe weather, get to safety. Make sure your water vehicle is stocked with personal floatation devices (PFDs) and take the time to learn CPR though one of our Red Cross classes, offered year-round. By reading our water safety tips, you’ll be prepared to push through the panic and become a hero yourself.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Red Cross will be Honoring Our Own Mother this Weekend

In case you happened to forget, this Sunday is Mother’s Day. While some will be taking their mothers out to brunch and showering them with flowers, we will be celebrating our own mother of the Red Cross: Clara Barton.

This year, it just so happens that Mother’s Day falls on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Every year, May 8th marks a time to honor Barton, who founded the American Red Cross while serving as a nurse in the Civil War. Tending to the wounded soldiers on the front lines, she became the president of the American Red Cross in 1881.

This day also marks the anniversary of Red Cross founder Henri Dunant, who was the first to appeal to political leaders of the necessary protection of the wounded and sick he witnessed at the Battle of Solferino in 1859. His persistence turned into the Geneva Conventions and the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, serving every region of the world.

Dunant’s vision of an international organization and international treaties served as the building block for Barton’s motivation to protect
. She saw a need to keep the wounded in the midst of armed conflict safe, leading her to establish the American Red Cross. Both Clara and Henri’s passion can be seen in today’s work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Network, composed of the ICRC, the IFRC and 186 national societies.

As each of you carry on traits and memories of your own mother, we do the same. We carry on the legacy of educating the world on the importance of international humanitarian law (IHL) especially since one in five youth are unfamiliar with the rules of war . The Red Cross offers international virtual IHL classes you can attend, despite what country you live in. Schools across the nation can also incorporate Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) curriculum to educate students about human dignity.

While you thank your own mother for her hard work, love and dedication this Sunday, join us in celebrating the legacy of ours.

Next Virtual IHL Class: Wednesday, May 25th

Next EHL Teacher Training: Saturday, May 14th