Let Our 2012 Heroes Inspire You

The American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region is pleased to present our 2012 Heroes Awards recipients. This year’s honorees include a teenage boy who performed life-saving CPR on his sister, police officers who rescued people from a burning building, and a soldier who stayed in the line of gun fire so that his teammates could seek safety.

Click on each image to see each hero’s story.

Saint Paul resident Sarah Meggitt rescued a woman from Como Lake. One night last October, Meggitt dove into cold water to rescue a woman who was trying to commit suicide. The woman did not want to be saved, but Meggitt stayed and fought to keep the woman’s head above water until professional responders arrived on-scene. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Cloquet student Kody Denison performed life-saving CPR on his 2-year-old sister, who suffered a seizure and stopped breathing at home. A ninth-grade student and hockey player, Denison learned CPR in health class at Cloquet High, which has a long-time commitment to Red Cross life-saving training. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Frank Mackall saved people from a burning apartment complex. Responding to a call involving a woman threatening to start a fire, Officer Mackall arrived early on-scene, finding a fire spreading rapidly through the apartments. With Officer Weinzierl, Mackall rescued six people including a paraplegic who was barely seen because of smoke. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Todd Weinzierl saved people from a burning apartment complex. Responding to a call involving a woman threatening to start a fire, Officer Weinzierl arrived early, finding a fire spreading rapidly through the apartments. With Officer Mackall, Weinzierl rescued six people, including a paraplegic who was barely seen because of smoke. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Ed White of Amery, Wisconsin, performed life-saving actions when a man collapsed at a fitness center. White is among the most active members of the Amery Fire Department. He’s involved with department fundraisers, prevention education, and social activities. White is a hero and an inspiration to many in the Amery community, including two of his children who have joined the Amery fire explorer program and have plans to follow in their dad’s life-saving footsteps. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Brooklyn Park youth Zachary Pierson used life-saving CPR last year to save Robert Meredith, Pierson’s baseball coach. When Pierson saw that Meredith was not breathing, he immediately started giving chest compressions and continued for about ten minutes until first responders arrived. Pierson then helped the emergency responders to the ambulance when his heart stopped again. Doctors later performed heart surgery on Meredith and told him 95 percent of people like him do not survive because rarely is someone close enough to perform CPR during a heart emergency. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Plymouth resident and charity founder LaDonna Hoy  founded Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP), a social services charity that helps families in crisis. Hoy was instrumental in guiding IOCP to raise more than $5.5 million dollars that was used to renovate an old grocery store. The store now houses IOCP’s food shelf, case management, mental health resources, financial assistance, computer lab, re-sale shop, and other services that move families from crisis to stability. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Andrew Strege, United States Army soldier and resident of Wyoming, Minnesota,  performed courageous acts while on patrol in Afghanistan last September. A hostile insurgent force ambushed Strege and his squad. In spite of his injury, Strege returned fire, enabling his squad members to seek cover and coordinate movements for his rescue. As a result, Strege lost half of his right leg, but saved the lives of his squad members. While still undergoing rehabilitation and learning how to live with a leg prosthesis, Strege is sharing his experience with others and looking forward to a career in education and law enforcement. (Photo credit: Tommy Hutlgren)

Ham Lake resident Elizabeth Estepp founded Friend 2 Friend, a mobile clothing charity that continues to assist people affected by the Minneapolis tornado. Immediately after a tornado hit North Minneapolis on May 22, 2011, the Friend 2 Friend mobile unit was on-the-ground providing water, hygiene items, gloves, clothing, and other essential supplies to affected people. This past fall, Estepp delivered school supplies, clothing, and meals to more than 200 children and their families in metro area apartment complexes and mobile home courts. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Dolly Ruark of Saint Paul reached a 100-gallon blood donation milestone. Ruark started donating whole blood in the late 1960s. In 1984, Ruark began donating platelets—a blood clotting component with a five-day shelf life—and has continued to do ever since. Donating blood honors her brother who died from complications of AIDS. (Photo credit: Andy King)

American Red Cross Heroes are honored for demonstrating the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. You can support this mission by becoming a Red Cross volunteer, giving financial contributions, or donating blood. Learn more on redcrossmn.org

Red Cross and the Minneapolis Tornado

A year ago, May 22, 2011, an EF1 tornado swept through Minneapolis, mostly on the North Side where it ripped up homes and trees, displaced hundreds of our neighbors, killed two people, and injured dozens of others. The American Red Cross responded immediately, providing safe shelter, food, water, and emotional support to survivors. Like others, right now we’re remembering this tragic event. Watch our tribute video.

Disaster relief workers at the Red Cross shelter lifted spirits and gave people a shoulder to cry on. They connected displaced families with a network of organizations focused on long-term recovery. In all, the Red Cross provided 1,377 overnight stays for people with no place else to go and more than 151,000 meals and snacks. (Photo credit, left: Amanda Mark, American Red Cross)

“People often enter a shelter at their lowest point. Sometimes that’s really what people need…someone to support them and provide energy they don’t have.” A Red Cross Shelter Worker responding to the Minneapolis tornado that hit May 22, 2011.

Red Cross emergency disaster relief also includes distribution of bulk items, such as blankets, personal hygiene items, and cleaning supplies. Red Cross workers distributed more than 10,800 such items, including 1400 comfort kits for individuals, to meet basic needs after the tornado. (Photo credit, left: Carrie Carlson-Guest, American Red Cross)

“Thank you Red Cross! We’re getting what we need thanks to you.” A Minneapolis Tornado Survivor after receiving relief supplies from the Red Cross.

 

Disasters affect everyone, adults and children alike. Red Cross disaster mental health volunteers responded and met with individuals and families, providing more than 2,800 health and mental health consultations to help people cope with the tornado, its destruction, and the stress of rebuilding a life after disaster. (Photo credit: Lynette Nyman, American Red Cross)

“Without the American Red Cross we would have nowhere to go.” A Tornado Survivor who relied on the Red Cross shelter for many nights after the disaster.

 

More than 350 Red Cross workers were part of the Minneapolis tornado relief operation. Ninety-five percent were Red Cross volunteers from Minnesota and around the country who contributed more than 25,000 volunteer hours worth nearly $600,000. (Photo credit, left: Lynette Nyman, American Red Cross)

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” From everyone…

 

The Red Cross relies on donated money and goods from individuals and organizations to help our community. Donations for Red Cross disaster relief from the storm included $525,000 in money and $188,000 in goods – totaling $713,000. However, due to the scope of the disaster, the Red Cross spent $793,000 on the response – $80,000 more than what was donated – to help those in need.   (Photo credit, left: Anne Florenzano, American Red Cross)

If this post inspires you, consider becoming a part of the Red Cross. There’s a place for everyone. You could give time, money, or blood. You could help us prepare for the next disaster, tornado, or emergency. You could learn CPR or First Aid. You could provide comfort when people need it the most. Learn more on our website.

“Many many thanks…” From all of us…

¡Muchas Gracias Viviana!

Thanks to Red Cross worker Viviana Sotro thousands of people in Minnesota’s diverse communities are safer and better prepared for emergencies here in Minnesota.

This month way say “adios amiga” to our friend and co-worker Viviana Sotro who has accepted an executive director position at a local Latino family organization.

For twelve years, Sotro has provided emergency preparedness education to thousands of people across the Minneapolis-St.Paul metro area. In the Latino community alone, she has reached around 10,000 people with safety & preparedness education, which she believes is worthwhile. “I can say, yes, preparedness education makes a difference. I can see it on their faces. They say, now I know.”

Trained as a Red Cross EMT in Argentina, Sotro has long understood that diverse communities in Minnesota might need to learn about being safe during severe weather and other emergencies. “I could relate to them because most people from Latin countries have never experienced tornadoes.” In 2002, Sotro joined the Red Cross in Minnesota as a volunteer and the following year she accepted a staff position. Later, she became the community outreach manager guiding staff and volunteers in their work teaching people from Africa, Asia, and Latin America who now make Minnesota their home. “I really like to be respectful of other cultures. Everyone has something unique to appreciate.”

Although Sotro is departing her Red Cross job, she plans to continue being involved as a volunteer. Her hope, she says, is that diverse community engagement with the Red Cross increases. “I would like to see more Latinos wearing Red Cross t-shirts as volunteers.” She would especially like to see more people from diverse communities become Red Cross instructors, disaster relief workers, and good samaritans trained in CPR & First Aid.

Thank you, Viviana, for being a part of the Red Cross and helping to fulfill our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. We wish you and your family the very best.

EMS Gets New Equipment

Red Cross volunteer Sandy Witter helped raise money for new medical equipment for the EMS team. Thank you Sandy!

Our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) volunteer team has some new equipment thanks to Sandy Witter and her employer, Hollstadt & Associates, Inc. Witter, who serves as an EMS volunteer for the American Red Cross, put in numerous hours on the EMS team during Hollstadt’s “Big Give” charity program. The result was a generous financial donation that the EMS team used to purchase new medical equipment, including a backboard with straps and two pulse oximeters. The equipment will help save lives during emergencies at events both large and small across our Red Cross region. You can learn more about being a Red Cross volunteer & our EMS team on redcrossmn.org.

Apartment Fire Survivor “Worse than Back to Square One”

On Friday, March 9, 2012, a fire burned an apartment building in Minneapolis. That afternoon at the Red Cross service center volunteer relief worker Kevin Berger spoke with two people affected by this disaster and learned more about them.

Kimberlee Overvold and Carl Robinsen survived the March 9, 2012, St. George apartment fire in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Kevin Berger/American Red Cross

Kimberlee Overvold was at the temporary Red Cross service center just a few blocks from where she had lived for 11 months before a fire destroyed the St. George apartment building on 17thStreet. She was trying to collect herself and figure out her next steps. Overvold and her boyfriend were in the process of finding a bigger apartment but then the fire took it all away. Overwhelmed with the emotion of the situation she said,“I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and it’s going to be a dream.”

They had just gone to bed around 1:45 a.m. when the fire alarms sounded at 2 a.m. Kimberlee said at first they thought it was a false alarm because even as they headed out of the building there was no signs of smoke or fire. However, it wasn’t long before flames rushed through the building and they found themselves meeting up with their neighbors in a bus temporarily used as a shelter.

Before moving into the St. George apartments she had been homeless for nearly 2 years. Back then she said at least she had some possessions, but now “I’m worse than back to square one” as she’s lost everything. Pointing at herself with her mobile phone in hand, she said, “this is my living room now as all my stuff is gone.”

She reflected on some of her family pictures and watercolors she had from her late grandmother. “That’s the stuff I’m going to miss.”

The St. George apartments burned, displacing more than 30 residents of Minneapolis. Photo credit: Kevin Berger/American Red Cross

Her boyfriend, Carl Robinsen, was also considering how to move forward. “I’m not worried about what caused this to happen, we just need to fix it.” He said they were thankful that no one was seriously hurt or killed in the building that housed 32 units. “You can’t replace life,” he said.

One concern is replacing clippers and shears valued at more than $1500 and needs for the barber program he’s just four months from completing at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). As lunch passed by at the Red Cross service center Robinsen was wondering if he should make his way to his job as a janitor in Edina so that he could at least think about something else for a while.

The couple left the service center with information from the Red Cross and The Salvation Army for a temporary place to stay and getting some clothes before finding a new home.

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross disaster relief, helping people recover from this fire and similar disasters. Or go to redcross.org to donate even more financial support. This story and the accompanying photos are by Kevin Berger, a volunteer American Red Cross disaster relief worker based in Minnesota.

Morning blaze serves “full meal deal” to volunteer in-training

Scott Olson, a volunteer Red Cross disaster relief worker in-training, got his first on-scene experience, Friday, March 9, 2012, when his phone rang early that morning. The Red Cross was responding to a 3-alarm fire in downtown Minneapolis.

2:30 got the call; 3:00 arrived on scene

Scott Olson, Red Cross volunteer-in-training, at Minneapolis apartment fire, March 9, 2012. Photo credit: Dave Schoeneck/American Red Cross

We tried to walk close to the building, but there were flames licking out the second and third floor windows. The whole area was cordoned off by fire trucks and police.

We went to the shelter bus. About that time there were ten people on it. Most of them were very upset, crying, sort of in shock. I remember another responder saying she expected more people to be on the bus. She handed me a clip board and told me to go ask them some questions. Then they started to trickle out of the bus, finding places to go.

The other responder said this isn’t typical for a first response. I hope it’s not scaring you away she told me. No, I’m not scared. It was neat. I got the full exposure. I got to watch the media. It was the full-meal deal, really.

8:00 am close to getting parking ticket, left the scene; 8:10 am arrived home; stripped and fell on bed; magic happened after that

Want to join us? Click here.

Bashir gives blood in the room with a view

The view from the room with a view:

Bashir excited to be in the room with a view:

Bashir relaxing on a chaise in the room with a view:

A life-giving gift from Bashir in the room with a view:

Thank you, Bashir, for donating to one human from another in the room with a view:Click here to schedule a blood donation appointment in the room with a view.

Stuffing Comfort

Wells Fargo employees, including Emily Wilke (center), stuffing Red Cross comfort kits. Photo credit: Carrie Monroe O'Keefe/American Red Cross

Little things do matter. Take a Red Cross comfort kit. It consists of shampoo, toothbrush, washcloth, and other toiletry essentials. These are small things that add up to big comfort after disaster.

Recently, Minneapolis-based Wells Fargo employees helped make more than 300 comfort kits that Red Cross volunteers will give to families affected by home fires, flooding, and other disasters.

Helping out like this is a darn cool thing to do for your community. Thank you, Wells Fargo, for stuffing a bit of comfort for when people need it the most.

Others can help too by shopping the 2011 Red Cross Holiday Giving Catalog.

Generosity Abounds in Minnesota

Red Cross responder Carrie Carlson-Guest helped promote Give to the Max Day at a giveMN.org event.

We’re not surprised by your generosity even though others around the country might be. Minnesotans have long been givers–of time, wisdom, and money. This was no exception during the 2011 Give to the Max Day.

The American Red Cross in Minnesota ranked 35 out of nearly 4000 and made the Top 100 leader board. YOU donated more than $35,000 to support our mission to provide humanitarian relief during disaster and to help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

And so we extend our appreciation most heartily during this season of giving thanks. We can also say without a doubt that the beneficiaries of your generosity are incredibly grateful as well.

If you missed Give to the Max Day, you can still share with others. Check out our 2011 Holiday Giving Catalog.

Tips for a safer Halloween

As ghosts and vampires get ready to roam the streets, we offer these tips to make this a frightfully safe Halloween:

We like these pumpkins. Have a safe and fun Halloween. (Image credit: Lynette Nyman)

Costume Safety

Whether a child wants to be a princess, a monster or a superhero for Halloween, parents can help keep it safe by:

  • Adding reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Using flame-resistant costumes.
  • Using face makeup instead of masks, which can cover eyes and make it hard to see.

Navigating the Neighborhood

To maximize safety, plan a route ahead of time. Make sure adults know where children are going. If the children are young, a parent or responsible adult should accompany them as they walk through the neighborhood.

Here are more safety tips to follow as children go from house to house:

  • Make sure trick-or-treaters have a flashlight.
  • Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door—never go inside.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.
  • Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  • Be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.

Trick or Treat!

For those who expect to greet trick-or-treaters at their door, they can make sure it’s fun for everyone by following a few tips:

  • Make sure the outdoor lights are on.
  • Sweep leaves from sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
  • Restrain pets.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in jack-o-lanterns to avoid a fire hazard.