Generosity Abounds in Minnesota

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

“Gray Lady” Uniform Preserves Red Cross History

"If you keep busy and volunteer, you stay alive a little longer," says Terry Dugger, 80, who served as a Red Cross volunteer from 1968 to 1970. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Among the treasures Terry Dugger has kept through the decades is a uniform that she wore as a Red Cross volunteer at the military hospital on Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska.

“We saw the fellas coming in from motorcycle accidents. I went to different rooms and passed out shaving equipment, playing cards, and other things like that. There wasn’t anybody else on the base to do it,” she says.

Dugger’s Red Cross uniform is different from those the Gray Lady Service volunteers used during World Wars I and II. This has blue and white pin stripes. Worn for only two years and in excellent condition, the uniform is now a gift from Dugger as a means to share and preserve Red Cross history.

A "Gray Lady" volunteer uniform circa 1960s preserves Red Cross history. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Dugger, who was an air force wife for twenty years, did volunteer work when her six children were in school, serving in the Red Cross from 1968-70. Now 80 years old, Dugger still shares valuable time doing a variety of volunteer activities.

“I couldn’t wait until I got old and now I’m too old, but rather than sit home I want to get out and help people.”

Being a volunteer has given—and continues to provide—Dugger with a greater sense of purpose. Currently, she’s a volunteer at the Armed Forces Service Center at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

In the late 1960s, Terry Dugger served as a Red Cross volunteer at the military hospital on Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Dugger attended Saint Mark’s elementary school, located a couple blocks from her residence for thirty years. Growing up, both of her parents worked so she often tended to the “roomers” they had to help pay bills. Dugger says that the experience taught her to be independent, a characteristic she cherishes so much that she would never consider getting herself a boyfriend.

“Are you kidding!?! I had a good husband. I can do what I want. I can eat ice cream for breakfast. I’ve got a lot of things to do,” she says.

Dugger also has no use, she says, for a computer or a cell phone. Instead, she looks forward to getting letters from the postal service everyday.

She advises everyone, including her 40 or so grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, to stay busy throughout life.

“If you keep busy and volunteer, you stay alive a little longer.”

Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross, Northern Minnesota Region

Local volunteer earns top honors

Tom Meyer (center) received a 2011 Harriman Award at American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Please join us in congratulating Tom Meyer for being a 2011 recipient of the American Red Cross Harriman Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service. Meyer, the Volunteer Board Director with the North Central Blood Services Region and a board member of the Twin Cities Area Chapter, received the Harriman Award for Biomedical Partnership.

The Harriman Awards for Distinguished Volunteer Service are presented to American Red Cross volunteers in direct service, administration or management, with the exception of volunteers currently serving on the Board of Governors. The top honor that the American Red Cross issues, the Harriman Award recognizes extraordinary American Red Cross service that extends to people and places beyond the local community and is awarded on the basis of extraordinary accomplishments rather than length of service.

Congratulations Tom! Thank you for your outstanding service!


Remembering Denny Smith

Denny Smith before before the cancer. Photo courtesy of the Denny Smith family.

It is with a great sadness that that we say goodbye to Red Cross disaster action team member and dispatch volunteer Denny Smith, who passed away in late September.  For the past 14 months Denny had been fighting a courageous battle with brain cancer, a fight that he did not give up easily.

After his retirement from law enforcement, Denny started volunteering on the Red Cross Emergency Medical Services Team with his wife, Karen, and in 2009, became one of our most active disaster responders.  With his cheerful spirit, wonderful sense of humor, and passion to serve, Denny promptly became a valuable teammate and friend to many of us.

Denny remained active during the early stages of his brain cancer, often sending email updates, and attending meetings to stay connected with the group.

Denny is dearly missed and our hearts go out to his grieving loved ones.

Out processed and headed home

Our Red Cross chapter mobile feeding on the road in Pennsylvania after the flooding. Photo credit: Rick Campion/American Red Cross

(from Rick and Karen Campion, Red Cross Emergency Services Volunteers based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Today is day 16 of our Red Cross deployment to the Pennsylvania flood response and we’re on our way home to Minneapolis.  This morning we cleared the final mobile feeding truck inspection and out-processing without a hitch.

This Red Cross national disaster response was well organized with a full complement of volunteers covering nearly 12,000 sq. miles of flood ravaged territory. Rick and I had a mobile feeding route in some of the hardest hit areas right along the banks of the Susquehanna River. We went from house to house to deliver meals.  Many of the recipients said we were the first disaster relief people they had seen.
It was difficult to not get teary eyed when they expressed their sincere

We have traveled nearly 4000 miles since we left home on 9/11 and today was
a quiet ride allowing us time to reflect on our Pennsylvania experience.  It’s easy to
be grateful for your blessings when you see the huge loss of so many.

We plan to be home this week and will see many of you soon.

Take care,
Karen and Rick

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, 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


Help the Red Cross and the Red Cross Helps You

For Liz, not working for the Red Cross is like not breathing. Wherever she goes, she wants to know: “Où est la Croix Rouge?”… “Where is the Red Cross?”

Let’s start with a war in east Africa in the 1990s. We know this war that happened in Rwanda and how people fled to nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“Help the Red Cross and the Red Cross helps you,” says Liz, who started with the Red Cross in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “I am going to help the Red Cross until my death.” Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Some know this war better than others. Among them is Liz, a former Red Cross nurse who lived in a DRC border town with Rwanda.

“We gave food to refugees, put up tents, gave medical care, sent messages to families,” says Liz.

Liz responded for four years. As a Red Cross nurse, she tended to the war wounded, or in French “les blessés de guerre.” She helped until it was time to leave.

“Soldiers came and they tried to recruit my sons for the war,” she says.

She fled when her family left for Zambia and became a refugee. Even so, she turned to the Red Cross and started helping others.

“We helped friends and when others arrived from the Congo. We helped them with food, blankets, dishes, and pots. We approached them, to help them.”

Then she flees again. This time to South Africa where her passion for the Red Cross was put aside for getting food and money to support her children.

“Life there was hard. I could not work for the Red Cross in South Africa,” explains Liz.

Jump ahead several years to 2009 when she lands in the United States. One day while riding a bus in Minneapolis, she exits at a wrong (or perhaps a right) bus stop. That’s when she saw the Red Cross flag flying near the Mississippi River.

Dozens of manikin face masks need cleaning everyday for the next CPR + First Aid training classes. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

“I went there and I spoke to someone who asked me ‘what do you do?’ I told them and they said I will find a place for you.”

We could in this brief story dwell on the horror and trauma of war, but we will not. Instead, let’s turn to Liz and what inspires her to look for and serve with the Red Cross.

“The Red Cross helps me. It helps me to help people, to reduce suffering, to rescue people. They help me everywhere, not just in the Congo. They help people even back in the forest, sharing information. They go deep in the forest, even by foot, to help people.”

Like Red Cross people around the world, Liz serves without boundaries. In her country, she says, there’s a Red Cross song: “Night or day, blood or wound, always we serve.”

For Liz, this means serving for a lifetime, “I am going to help the Red Cross until my death.”

Liz is currently serving as a Red Cross volunteer cleaning manikins used in health and safety training classes such as CPR and First Aid for the American Red Cross Twin Cities Area Chapter in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Story, photo, & video credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Many hands made Minneapolis tornado clean-up day possible

Paul Vanderheiden is among more than 340 Red Cross disaster relief workers responding to the May 22 tornado in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

When volunteers arrived for their shifts during the Minneapolis tornado clean-up day on June 4, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer likely received them, a Salvation Army worker probably handed them a meal, and American Red Cross responder gave them bandage packs, gloves, and other useful field supplies such as hand sanitizer and sunscreen.

Once in the disaster area, workers might have made contact with Red Cross mobile feeding trucks supporting the workers on what felt like the first day of summer.

“We’re out here to make sure these folks have enough water and snacks in all this heat,” said Paul Vanderheiden, a Red Cross volunteer from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Parking his van near a group of workers, Paul offered them advice. “Make sure you get some salt. Want some chips with that?”

Red Cross disaster relief worker Chris Thomsen surveys the unloading of water during the Minneapolis tornado clean up day on June 4. Photo credit: Bill Fitler/American Red Cross

Paul and fellow volunteer Chris Thomsen had been driving their mobile feeding vehicle around these neighborhoods every day since they had arrived the previous Saturday.

“Back home I’m a surgical nurse,” said Chris. “This is the first time I’ve worked outside the chapter on a disaster. We’ve been out here long enough so I’m starting to know folks, and I’ve been so touched by some of the stories I’ve heard.”

Paul and Chris are among more than 340 Red Cross workers, from as far away as California and Connecticut, helping people affected by the Minneapolis tornado.

To date, Red Cross disaster relief workers have distributed more than 145,000 meals and snacks to affected families and clean-up crews responding to this tornado disaster.

(Reporting by Bill Fitler, Red Cross 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)

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