Cis Big Crow Recognized for 20 Years of Red Cross Service

Cis Big Crow (center) is the 2021 Volunteer of the Year for the American Red Cross serving Central and Western South Dakota.

Volunteering comes naturally to Cis Big Crow, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and an American Red Cross volunteer. “I guess volunteering just grew on me. And I didn’t realize how many years I was with the Red Cross,” she says.

Since 1999, when a deadly tornado struck the Pine Ridge Reservation, Big Crow has been a Red Cross volunteer assisting reservation residents affected by tornados, storms, floods and other natural disasters. She has helped Tribal members reach critical aid, assisting them with filling out emergency forms and connecting them with housing, food and other types of disaster relief.

Big Crow works in the Oglala Sioux President’s Office, which previously was the place people called when there was an emergency on the reservation, such as a house fire. The Tribe now has a dedicated emergency management team, she says. But Big Crow is still the point person people call when they need help when disasters happen. She ensures they get in touch with Tribal emergency management and the Red Cross.

In the past, Big Crow has filled a variety of roles during Red Cross disaster responses, such as setting up temporary shelters, preparing meals for people and finding temporary housing for them. During the past twenty-plus years, she’s become an essential disaster action team member for the Red Cross in South Dakota, responding to an estimated 300 local disasters.

Big Crow is the 2021 Volunteer of the Year for the American Red Cross serving Central and Western South Dakota

“Cis has been an exceptional volunteer,” says Richard Smith, executive director of the American Red Cross serving Central and Western South Dakota. “Cis is always positive and upbeat, even in difficult situations. Her guidance in working with the Oglala Sioux people and the Tribal council is invaluable.”

Big Crow has no plans to stop . Asked what keeps her going, Big Crow said she finds joy in assisting people in need. “You’re out there to help people,” she says.

New volunteers are always needed, especially with busy disaster seasons happening more frequently. People interested in applying for local opportunities should visit redcross.org/mndaks.

Story by Blair Emerson/American Red Cross

Drake Hotel Fire Relief Update

Starting December 25, 2019, the American Red Cross worked 24/7 to help people devastated by the Francis Drake Hotel apartment fire that broke out at around 3 a.m. on Christmas Day. The Drake was a three-story building with 133 units and approximately 266 residents, as well as others in the community. Residents will never return.

96 percent of the Red Cross responders for the Drake Hotel fire were volunteers who supported shelter, food, health and mental health as well as housing and recovery planning. Photo: Lara Leimbach/American Red Cross

Our relief efforts began as volunteers provided support and addressed the immediate needs of people who were evacuated to city buses. After coordination with the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and other partners, a disaster shelter was opened that night at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

On December 27, Hennepin County moved 30 families to an extended-stay hotel. More than 60 people continued to stay at the disaster shelter. Resources, such as clothing, storage bins, and other supplies, were made available to prepare for a longer-term disaster shelter at First Covenant Church on December 28.

Red Cross volunteers from 20 states supported the fire relief response for former residents of the Francis Drake Hotel apartments. Photo: Lara Leimbach/American Red Cross

As of January 31, 2020, the Red Cross recorded:

  • 1,929 overnight shelter stays provided with partners
  • 11,759 meals and snacks. served with the Salvation Army and other partners
  • 2,752 health, mental health and disability contacts
  • 276 clients served by Red Cross caseworkers
  • 346 comfort kits and more than 13,900 donated relief items distributed
  • 357 Red Cross disaster responders from 20 states, 96% volunteers

On January 3 and 4, we brought together more than 40 local organizations and public agencies for a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) where social workers and community resources helped Drake residents work on recovery plans.

This work continued every day at the disaster shelter at First Covenant Church until the shelter closed on January 22. The second and final community donated-goods distribution was held two days later at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Red Cross volunteer Renee helped former Drake Hotel residents at the Red Cross disaster shelter hosted for several nights at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Photo: Lara Leimbach/American Red Cross

We are grateful to everyone across the community and region who stepped up, wrapped their arms around those affected by the Drake Fire, and did everything they could to provide the resources necessary to help them restore normalcy to their lives.

“This is why we do the training the rest of the year,” says Audrey, a Red Cross volunteer while supporting a donated goods distribution. “Working directly with the clients is truly very rewarding.”

Audrey, a Red Cross volunteer who supported Drake Hotel fire relief efforts. Photo: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

For more information about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, click here. To make a financial donation that supports our mission, click here.

Post by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Minnesota woman honors parents while helping her country

Red Cross volunteer Dun Bui talks with a Hurricane Irma survivor at the Red Cross shelter in Estero, Florida. Photo credit: Daniel Cima for the American Red Cross

Dun Bui is following the example of her mother and father by supervising an American Red Cross shelter for people in Estero, Florida, affected by Hurricane Irma. “Mom and Dad did charity work back home (in Vietnam),” she says.

Though they live in the United States, Dun’s parents went back to Vietnam to buy food and water to help an orphanage and others in need. “That’s what they did in the past so I thought it would be a wonderful idea to do,” she says. “America’s my home, so I want to volunteer here.”

A volunteer from the Twin Cities Chapter of the Red Cross in Minnesota, Dun has been working as night supervisor in a shelter for more than 450 displaced people, making sure people temporarily living there have food and other services – “that everything that’s needed is available and ready.” She also translates for those who speak Vietnamese and need disaster relief.

She started with the Red Cross after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, took a break for a while and then reactivated, deploying to help last year after flooding in North Carolina. Dun is one of more than 2,700 Red Cross workers who are responding to Irma. “Giving back to the community … really inspires me,” she says.

Story by Pauline Jelinek. Click here to learn more about the Red Cross response to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Thinking of becoming a Red Cross volunteer? These three opportunities support disaster relief.

Icon Disaster ServicesThis year, are you thinking of becoming a Red Cross volunteer? Right now in Minnesota, we’re recruiting for three opportunities supporting disaster relief. Each position ensures disaster workers can deliver humanitarian aid at home and around the corner. 

Icon DisasterSupport daily operations for disaster relief services
The American Red Cross serving Twin Cities Area seeks a volunteer to support instructor-led training by scheduling in-person classes and performing other administrative tasks, as needed. This is a flexible-schedule position that can be performed remotely during daytime hours. If interested, please contact Angela Antony (angela.antony@redcross.org).

Icon DisasterPrepare new volunteers for Red Cross disaster relief service
The American Red Cross serving Twin Cities Area seeks volunteers to assist Workforce Engagement with bringing on-board new disaster volunteers. This role guides new volunteers through the first steps of joining the Red Cross, from turning in the right paperwork and signing up for training, to helping them feel prepared for their roles. On-boarding volunteers enjoy working with people, being flexible, and serving on a team. If interested, please contact Hannah Linsk (hannah.linsk@redcross.org).

Icon DisasterHelp volunteers get out the door to disaster relief responses
The Minnesota Region needs volunteers to help deploy volunteers to both regional and national disasters. Deployment team members will assign volunteers to Disaster Relief Operations (DROs), give the proper information regarding deployment procedures, distribute mission cards, and perform other duties as necessary. The best candidates will be comfortable working with online platforms and on the telephone. Help us volunteers get out the door! If interested, please contact Susan Waananen (susan.waananen@redcross.org).

rco_blog_img_centenniallogoIt’s a great year to join us! Click here to learn more about our Century of Service, year-long celebration during 2017. #mnredcross100

Post by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross Minnesota Region

From Pints to Preparedness

More than 1.8 million people visited this year’s Minnesota State Fair. And in-between eating cheese curds and visiting the animal barns, some made their way to engage with the American Red Cross, making this year’s fair a great one for our region, too! Below are highlights from our participation this year. This outreach would have been absolutely 100 percent impossible without Red Cross volunteers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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2014 Minnesota State Fair

 

 

 

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  • Dozens of children and adults practiced house fire safety on the Governor’s Fire Prevention Day

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  • 168 people gave 684 volunteer hours to our state fair outreach programs

 

 

 

We’ll see you next year at the Great Minnesota Get Together. Meanwhile, download this Make_a_Plan_Flyer and start working on your own disaster preparedness plan.

Thanks to Red Cross Volunteers

It’s National Volunteer Week. And to celebrate, we’d like to say “thank you, thank you, thank you…” to all of the volunteers in the Northern Minnesota Region who helped make the Red Cross happen this past year.

Because of you…

6 chapter facilities and supplies well-maintained,

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102 Health and Safety classes taught,

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473 families assisted during 319 disaster responses,

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6,426 holiday cards created for active military members and veterans at 22 events,

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7,748 individuals reached through Preparedness events,

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10,755 children educated on Safety Mobile topics,

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16,476 worked volunteer hours achieving the mission to alleviate human suffering,

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70,539 on-call volunteer hours standing at-the-ready to help,

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Having an amazing group of generous, dedicated, skilled volunteers serving at the American Red Cross… Priceless!

Thank you for everything you do!

We <3 Volunteers!

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the American Red Cross would like to show appreciation for our volunteers and say “we heart you!” Volunteers constitute 94% of the total workforce to carry out our humanitarian work. Valentines1 Valentines2

When asked to describe how Valentines3volunteers make a difference, Red Cross employee Mike Schroeder said “they are unselfish and what they do is very meaningful.” We took a quick poll around the office asking, “In one word, how would you describe Red Cross volunteers?”

The answers:
indispensable,
giving,
generous,
invaluable,
gracious,
dedicated,
and lifesavers.

The more than 1,700 volunteers in the Northern Minnesota Region embody these words and much more. We ❤ them, this
Valentine’s Day and every day.

Many Red Cross volunteers help in their communities as well as get trained to respond when other parts of the country are hit by a major disaster. If you want to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, visit www.redcross.org/support/volunteer to search and apply for opportunities in your community.

And The Heroes Are Off

We have in our Red Cross region fabulous people who leave behind their lives and loved  ones for days and days to help others in great need. Right now, twenty-five disaster relief workers from our Northern Minnesota region are responding to Superstorm Sandy. Twenty-two of those are volunteers. We’re incredibly grateful to have outstanding responders. We know that they’re doing great work. And, the heroes are off…

Sheldon Bruce, who will be gone for three weeks, says goodbye to his wife.

Lori Olsson brings snacks and cereal for the long drive ahead on a
Red Cross emergency response truck.

Steve Baltes (r) helps Jeff Skoog (l) and Diane Hofacker (c) map their deployment  destinations where they will provide Mass Care and Sheltering assistance.

Open shelters according to the Red Cross Hurricane App.

Disaster Mental Health volunteer Larry Larson (r) gets important deployment information from Emergency Staffing Manager Theresa Moerbitz.

Sheldon Bruce is ready to roll.

Lori Olsson waves goodbye.

To support American Red Cross disaster relief visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected. (Story by Lynette Nyman and Megan Barnes; photos by Megan Barnes/American Red Cross)

All hands unload at the Red Cross

 

The Red Cross relies on multiple generous hands during disaster response. Behind the scenes hands include the folks who locate water and food donations, the people who are around to help unload the relief supplies when they arrive, and the person who grabs a camera running after those who are doing the heavy lifting, literally. xoxo, redcrosstc

Pallets upon pallets of donated water, juice, and snacks arrive Friday afternoon at the Red Cross in Minneapolis. These items are to feed hundreds of people who will be sand bagging on Saturday as part of flood mitigation. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

 

Red Cross workers unload snacks that sand baggers will be grateful to have. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

11 pallets, 10868 pounds. They're getting a work out! Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Even the best of the best lends a hand to the off load. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Thank you, Target, for your donation. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross