Three Cheers for Paul!

So, the other day, this young man named Paul van Vliet stops by Red Cross offices in Minneapolis and drops off comfort kits for kids. How cool is that? He (Paul) comes up with his own project idea (making comfort kits for kids) and provides them (the kits) to us (Red Cross) so that our disaster relief workers can give the kits to kids affected by disasters (like fires, floods, & tornadoes).

Now, let’s give some credit to us (Red Cross) because we came up with the original comfort kits for adults and children idea, but we rely on motivated and generous peeps like Paul to make this kits and help reduce the suffering of people who escape burning buildings or high waters. Paul’s dad John was on hand for the comfort kits for kids drop off. He took a fine photo of his son Paul (top & bottom) and then sent us a nice note (excerpt below left).

“It was great to meet you at the Twin Cities’ Red Cross office today. Thanks for your interest in my son, Paul’s, Eagle Scout project. It was a wonderful surprise and honor to meet Phil Hansen, an Eagle Scout himself. I know Paul was very impressed and honored by Mr. Hanson’s enthusiastic reaction to his project. And I am sure Paul will remember this day for the rest of his life. Most important, he and I are gratified to know these comfort kits will benefit the littlest and most vulnerable victims of disasters.”

Well, John, we think your son is the bee’s knees. We could not do what we do without him and others like him. We wish Paul many happy days during his next adventure (college) and hope that he will make his way around the world and back to us some time in the future.

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

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.

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.

A field report from Pennsylvania following the flood

Greetings,

One destroyed house along the route where Red Cross volunteers are providing meals and snacks following the Pennsylvania flooding. Photo credit: Rick Campion/American Red Cross

It’s now day 11 in our Pennsylvania flood deployment with the Red Cross and we’ve settled into a regular mobile feeding route in the mobile feeding truck (ERV).  We travel about 2 hours to get to our first scheduled stop and then serve between 100-150 meals.  Our route follows the river and some of the homes that were very close to the river bank (see pic).  We recognize our “regulars” and it’s fun to give and get hugs from people who really appreciate the help that the Red Cross provides.  Ah, this our reward.

When people see “Minneapolis, MN” on the side of our truck, they’re always surprised and grateful at how far we’ve traveled to serve them.

The Red Cross disaster relief effort in Pennsylvania has served more than 221,000 meals/snacks and it is now down to 4 open shelters.  We can see that people are slowly getting back on their feet.  Many of the original shelters were opened in schools and it causes some logistical problems with the school’s now regularly scheduled activities.  So after 3 weeks, those affected by the floods are encouraged to find alternate housing arrangements.

We expect to be released from the operation next week and look forward to coming home.

Take care and God bless,
Rick and Karen

Home from Irene

Red Cross volunteer Dave Schoeneck displays his newly earned Red Cross pin from New Hampshire following Hurricane Irene. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Some of our Northern Minnesota Region volunteers are returning home after weeks-long deployments to states all along the east coast. Dave Schoeneck, one of our local volunteer stars, was in New Hampshire where he served on the government relations team. He returns happy to have deployed to help those affected by Hurricane Irene. Among the many take-aways for Dave: making new Red Cross friends, using and refining his response skills and knowledge, and earning a New Hampshire Red Cross pin. Go-Dave-Go!

The Red Cross response to Irene continues with more than 5,000 people relying on Red Cross shelters for a safe place to stay. To support this and other disaster relief efforts, you can make a donation via redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also click here and learn more about becoming a Red Cross disaster relief volunteer.

Red, not orange

Jeff Skoog is a Red Cross volunteer disaster relief work based in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Red Cross volunteers are amazing for about one billion-gazillion reasons. Take Jeff Skoog, who serves as a volunteer disaster relief worker during both local and national responses.

When Jeff could be out reeling in a sturgeon or walleye on this incredibly lovely summer day in Minnesota, he is instead here at work sprucing up the chapter’s mobile feeding truck.

“The red should be red,” he says.

Simple how-to instructions:

1. Find shiny up stuff

2. Get wet soft cloth

3. Wipe on shiny up stuff

4. Get dry soft cloth

5. Wipe off shiny up stuff

 

One for the money, two for the show

Three to get ready, now go cat go! His shoes weren’t blue or suede, but we were delighted to have Elvis on hand for the 2011 Run for Blood Quarter Marathon & 5K.

Elvis kicked of this year's Run for Blood, helping support the Red Cross. Photo credit: William Kahn/American Red Cross

More than 460 people raced around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, helping to raise more than $10K for the Red Cross and its humanitarian mission to help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

Thank you to Mr. Luther Hagen, event founder and all around booster for the Red Cross, and to everyone who helped make this event a great success.

Congratulations!

Holding onto optimism three weeks after the tornado

Dennis Parker is holding onto optimism that his family will soon have a new place to call home and move out of the Red Cross shelter in north Minneapolis for families displaced by the May 22 tornado. Photo credit: Bill Fitler/American Red Cross

“I’ll never forget that day,” says Dennis Parker Sr. while sitting down for breakfast at the Red Cross shelter at North Commons Recreations Center nearly 3 weeks after the tornado ripped through north Minneapolis.

“It started raining, it got real windy. I didn’t hear the siren until it was all over,” recalls Parker. “When the tornado came, it sounded like a bunch of trains. Bang! Bang! Bang! The tornado ripped the trees right out of the ground. It laid down five of them on our house, and we had a tree limb in our attic. Our basement flooded. It didn’t touch the neighbors on either side of us.”

Parker’s speech is animated as he describes how he, his wife, and four children sought refuge in their house during the storm, but his voice loses some intensity as he shares details about his family’s experiences looking for a new place to call home.

“My wife is in the computer room looking for other places for us to live. We’ll go visit anything she finds, and then we may go to the library. Yesterday we checked out a couple of apartments, but landlords don’t want to rent to us because we’re low income.”

Cots placed in a circle help families create personal spaces in the Red Cross shelter sleeping area at North Commons Recreation Center in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Amanda Mark/American Red Cross

For Parker, shelter life is something he has come to accept. The shelter’s sleeping area is in the North Commons gym. While not very private, each family has tucked their cots closely together, leaving any extra space they can manage between the different family groups. Families with small children have arranged a little play area in the middle of the cots for them.

“The Red Cross has been doing the best they can,” says Parker. “These people we call family, we’re all in the sandbox together. I kind of like being here. We really haven’t had any problems.”

During a graduation party held in the park behind North Commons a few days ago, and how the party organizers donated the rest of their food to those living in the shelter. He helped by cooking at the center’s outdoor grill.

That night, Parker met with a local group that’s helping people find new places to live after the storm. Parker says he’s holding onto optimism for him and his family.

“They were very uplifting, very reassuring,” he says. “They say ‘soon.’ Maybe we’ll find out today.”

(Reporting by Bill Fitler, Red Cross disaster relief volunteer)

Personal strength inspires Red Cross disaster responder

Red Cross disaster relief worker Jacob Tolle (l) and Daniel Schultz (r) are meeting one-on-one with families affected by the May 22 tornado in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Jason Viana/American Red Cross

Volunteers have come from many Red Cross chapters across the country to help the north Minneapolis residents recover from the devastating tornado that swept through town on May 22.

Take Jacob Tolle, 20, a caseworker for the Red Cross. Here from Cinncinati, Ohio, he has been trained for Red Cross disaster relief deployment for only five months.

“I want to give my attention to the families in need,” says Jacob.

His inspiration is one of amazing strength. At the age of 16 Jacob decided to take part in a demolition derby. The night before the derby Jacob’s stepfather told him he was nervous and thought participating in the derby was a bad idea. Despite what his father told him, Jacob took the risk.

“Not more than ten minutes into the derby my car started on fire and the whole car shot into flames while I was trapped inside with my seat belt on,” Jacob explains.

He was rescued from the burning car and rushed to Adams County Hospital where he was given multiple numbing medications.  From there he was sent Shriners Hospital Burn Center.

“From day one of treatment, the doctors told me that I would be unable to walk for at least 6 months,” says Jacob.

With perseverance on his side, Jacob walked with a gait belt support within 3 days of his recovery treatment. A week later he walked on his own to check-up at the hospital.

Jacob has used his accident as a way to inspire others to never give up.

“That’s why I volunteer for the Red Cross, because of the devastation of someone telling you that you won’t walk,” say Jacob.

Jacob arrived in Minneapolis on May 27, just a few days after the tornado,and he plans to stay and help until things settle down.

(Reporting by Nicole Baier, Red Cross volunteer)