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

One New Year’s Resolution: Hug me like you know me

Story by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross Minnesota Region

Some people are Natural Born Huggers. Take Jane. During a recent party, Jane came up to me. “You probably don’t remember me,” she said. I sort of did, but not really. It didn’t matter. She opened her arms wide and wrapped them around me. “Hug me like you know me,” she said.

“I want a hug,” said Fonda Buckley, a resident just beginning to recover from the historic flooding in southern Louisiana, who stopped to talk with Red Cross relief worker Lynette Nyman in Denham Springs, Louisiana, August 18, 2016. Photo credit: Marko Kokic/American Red Cross
“I want a hug,” said Fonda Buckley, a resident just beginning to recover from the historic flooding in southern Louisiana, who stopped to talk with Red Cross relief worker Lynette Nyman in Denham Springs, Louisiana, August 18, 2016. Photo credit: Marko Kokic/American Red Cross

After nearly eight years of responding to Red Cross disaster relief operations where I’ve hugged people of all types, and mostly strangers, Jane’s instruction registered deep in the reptilian part of my brain. My rigid self melted. My heart warmed. Conversation lifted. We became immediate friends. I left the party a different person. The cold winter air felt frosty only on the outside. Inside, I was delighted because people like Jane, people willing to risk closeness with the largely unfamiliar, exist.

In 2011, following a devastating tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Georgette Evans, who walked miles to find medical services and safe shelter following the devastating tornado, visits with to Lynette Nyman in Alberta City neighborhood. Photo credit: Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross
In 2011, following a devastating tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Georgette Evans, who walked miles to find medical services and safe shelter following the devastating tornado, visits with to Lynette Nyman in Alberta City neighborhood. Photo credit: Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

So, this year I’m taking on one New Year’s resolution: to hug you like I know you. I encourage you to do the same. And if, like me, you need practice, serving with the Red Cross is a great way to get it.

Happy New Year!

2016 Year In Disasters — Helping People Near and Far

In November, Red Cross volunteer Mimi Bielinski met with Milton Vallejos after a multi-unit apartment fire in Burnsville, Minnesota.
In November, Red Cross volunteer Mimi Bielinski met with Milton Vallejos after a multi-unit apartment fire in Burnsville, Minnesota.

2016 was a busy year for Red Cross disaster services in Minnesota. Our relief workers did a great job making sure people near and far received Red Cross support during times of need and helping them rebuild their lives after disaster.

For example, in November, Red Cross volunteer Mimi Bielinski met with Milton Vallejos following a multi-unit apartment fire in Burnsville, a city just south of Minneapolis. Mimi worked with Milton to assess and support his family’s immediate disaster relief needs and to direct him to additional resources for long-term recovery. With Red Cross help said Milton, “All of our problems went away. We had a place to stay, money for food and clothes.” The Red Cross assisted more than 80 people affected by the fire. After four years into serving as a Red Cross volunteer Mimi said, “I feel good when people are being helped. And, I can tell when they’re being helped just by my interactions with them.”

During 2016, the Minnesota Region of the American Red Cross:

  • Responded to 470 disasters in the Minnesota Region, which includes part of western Wisconsin
  • Helped 1,011 families affected by local disasters, mostly single family home fires
  • Installed 3,720 smoke alarms in residences, making them safer from and more prepared for home fires as part of our Home Fire Campaign
  • Reached 5,245 youth with emergency preparedness education through The Pillowcase Project

In addition to helping at home, more than 150 Red Cross disaster relief workers from Minnesota responded (some not once, but multiple times) to national Red Cross relief efforts across the country, including flooding in Missouri, Texas, and Louisiana; water crisis in Flint, Michigan; wildfires in California; and hurricane relief across multiple states along the eastern seaboard. Their service provided shelter, food, and medical and emotional support to thousands of people experiencing some of their darkest moments.

Thank you to everyone for the great work done this past year, providing assistance to neighbors near and far.

Story and photo by Lynette Nyman, American Red Cross. Click here to learn more about the Red Cross in Minnesota.  

From Florida to the Carolinas

From Florida to the Carolinas, American Red Cross workers from Minnesota have supported Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. Assignments have ranged from working in a shelter and serving meals to coordinating with response partners and providing medical and mental health services. Others gathered stories and helped raise money for the response. Big picture number as of October 27: more than 50 Red Cross workers from Minnesota have deployed to areas impacted by the storm across the southeastern United States. Take a look.

14712963_10154611990962179_2000084266616440590_oCarole Madland visited people in shelters and neighborhoods in North Carolina. Sometimes she hitched a ride to reach isolated communities. Overall, the Red Cross mobilized 2,200 workers, 13 kitchens with partners, and 111 response vehicles for the state. Big picture number as of October 25: the Red Cross has mobilized more than 5,800 disaster workers since Hurricane Matthew first threatened communities in the southeast.

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Rachel Olmanson took meals to people in affected communities. Above is the view from Rachel’s truck while her team was next in line for food pick-up at a field kitchen in North Carolina. Big picture number as of October 25: the Red Cross and its partners have served more than 1.3 million meals and snacks in affected communities in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

matthew_daveschoeneckIn Florida, Dave Schoeneck (upper left) assisted with relief effort coordination. The Red Cross has worked closely with government officials and non-government organizations (NGOs), such as Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and others. Big picture number: around 13,000 homes are affected in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

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In South Carolina, Dave Snetsinger (second on right) was a shelter worker. Overall, the Red Cross has had nearly 1,200 workers, 5 kitchens with partners, and 53 response vehicles for relief efforts in the state. Big picture number as of October 25: the Red Cross has helped provide nearly 100,000 overnight shelter stays in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

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Mark and Gail Noren (right and center) are doing search and care, which means finding neighborhoods and people in need of meals and feeding them in North Carolina. Big picture number as of October 25: Red Cross and its partners have served 697,000 meals and snacks across hurricane affected areas in the state.

 

a9r13mhx5w_h375qp_a98-2In Georgia, Judy Hanne Gonzalez helped gather and share stories about the Red Cross and its Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. Judy also assisted with fundraising in Florida. Big picture number: as of October 25, the Red Cross has raised $8.1 million in designated donations and pledges for a relief response that’s estimated to cost $24-$28 million.

Thank you to everyone who has responded to the Hurricane Matthew relief efforts!

Hurricane Matthew: How The Red Cross Is Helping

The storm hit in the early morning, just after midnight, says Stephanie Hughes on the porch of her home while speaking with a Red Cross relief worker in Pembroke, Georgia. They were very scared especially, she says, when trees started to come down and water started rising around the house, which has been in her family for generations. October, 8, 2016. Photo credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross
The storm arrived in the early morning, just after midnight, says Stephanie Hughes on the porch of her home while speaking with a Red Cross relief worker in Pembroke, Georgia. They were especially scared, she says, when trees started to come down and water started rising around the house, which has been in her family for generations. October, 8, 2016. Photo credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Hurricane Matthew. Thousands of people in shelters. Thousands of relief workers responding. Too many lives lost. This disaster is a big one, for all of us, requiring many hands, heads, and hearts pulling together to help others in dire need. Shelter, food, and relief supplies are Red Cross priorities. And blood and platelet donations are needed from people in unaffected areas to make up for canceled drives. Check out the stories below. They’ll show you how the Red Cross is helping.

You Just Gotta Be Strong: a video from the American Red Cross features Terry, a shelter resident who was forced to evacuate his home in Tarboro, North Carolina, because of Hurricane Matthew

Haiti Needs Help from All of Us: an opinion piece from American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern published in Huffington Post addresses rumors, issues, and concerns about disaster relief responses in Haiti

Hurricane Matthew: An Inside Look: a blog post featuring photos and stories about people in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Georgia and South Carolina

Suffering Continues After Hurricane Matthew: a news release from the American Red Cross with details about how the Red Cross is responding to the disaster in the U.S. and in Haiti

From Minnesota, there are 24 Red Cross relief workers deployed to help in the affected areas. More will likely be on their way in the days to come.

Karen and Rick Campion are taking a Red Cross mobile feeding truck from Minnesota to North Carolina where they distribute meals and relief supplies. October, 11, 2016. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross
Karen and Rick Campion are taking a Red Cross mobile feeding truck from Minnesota to North Carolina where they will distribute meals and relief supplies. October 11, 2016. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Please support this relief effort. Click here to donate money to Red Cross disaster relief. Click here to make a blood or platelet donation appointment.

Thank you!

Red Cross disaster relief is not about Rick

By Lynette Nyman, American Red Cross

Rick Graft working flooding relief response, Louisiana. Photo provided by Rick
Rick Graft working flood relief response in Louisiana. Photo provided by Rick

It’s not about me, says Rick Graft when talking about his Red Cross volunteer service. But it kind of is. Because without people like Rick, the Red Cross would have, so-to-speak, no foundation. People like Rick are the tick-tock of all Red Cross disaster relief, from responding to a house fire leaving a family homeless a few blocks away, to flooding of historic volume displacing thousands of people hours away in another state.

After Rick returned from Louisiana, following two weeks of volunteer service for the Red Cross relief effort, he stopped by the regional Red Cross office in Minneapolis to pick-up a new relief worker vest. This one is five years old, he says, and worn out. The ground-in dirt is a badge of good work done again and again (and, do I dare say, again and again?). In Louisiana, he wore the vest while handing meals to people recovering in once flooded neighborhoods, coordinating food truck drivers getting ready for the day’s deliveries, gathering truck route intelligence for updated maps, and packing up a field kitchen that cooked hundreds of meals for distribution to people across dozens of communities.

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Household items ready for pick-up after flooding in Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Rick Graft

In Louisiana, while wearing his vest Rick became the Dude, Yard Dog, Route Mapping Spy. He wore it while making a training program for Red Cross food truck drivers. He wore it will looking people in the eye and asking, how are you doing — under the circumstances, and getting most often a reply of, not bad — all things considered, and then he kept the conversation going. People were impressed, he says, that volunteers like him had come from all 50 states. (During the Hurricane Sandy response, Rick wore the same vest, then nearly new, when he, a man from Minnesota Vikings territory, was paired with a partner from Green Bay Packers land. How do you get along, people asked. We’d say we don’t and we’d all laugh.)

I get it. Red Cross disaster relief is not about Rick. It’s about the service. The service, he says, is about giving people a lift in their very bad day.

For me, that’s a true meaning of amazing.

Click here to learn more about how the Red Cross is helping in Louisiana.

Red Cross volunteer returns home after two-week deployment to Louisiana

Red Cross volunteer Dave Snetsinger (right) serving food at the River Center shelter in Baton Rouge, LA. Photo courtesy of Dave Snetsinger.

Dave Snetsinger, of Naytahwaush, Minnesota, returned home on September 6 after a two-week deployment assisting with flood recovery in southern Louisiana.

Snetsinger was stationed at the Baton Rouge River Center and was one of eight Red Cross volunteers from the Northern Minnesota Chapter.

The volunteers focused on the immediate needs. The group mostly worked in shelters, ensuring displaced people had adequate housing. Other volunteers helped feed people and focused on medical needs. As a part the feeding group, Snetsinger worked 12-hour shifts that started at 7 a.m. On August 28, he helped serve lunch for 900 shelter residents.

Snetsinger, a White Earth enrollee, has been a Red Cross volunteer for more than 20 years, and now that he’s retired he will continue to volunteer to go out on national disasters to help others. Over the years as a local volunteer firefighter, he has responded to home fires throughout Mahnomen County and on tribal lands.

The northern office of the American Red Cross will be starting a volunteer recruitment drive in your area and are looking for people willing to help those who are displaced locally due to emergencies. With training and experience a Red Cross Volunteer can be deployed throughout the country to help. All training is free and much of it is online. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer or have questions, please contact Tony Guerra at (218) 722-0071 or tony.guerra@redcross.org.

Volunteers are the heart of the Red Cross. Nearly 4,000 volunteers support the Red Cross in Minnesota. They contribute a varying number of hours – from very infrequently to nearly full-time. Volunteers are needed for a variety of response roles, including those who respond in-person, those who coordinate efforts behind-the-scenes, those who provide their medical expertise, those who provide their mental health expertise, and those who provide their public affairs expertise.

This story originally appeared in Anishinaabeg Today, the monthly chronicle of the White Earth Nation, and is published on this blog with permission. Click here to learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer.