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EverythingFireSafetyNov13

The American Red Cross—Help When Disaster Strikes

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By Allison Mowatt

“We’re always ready to serve and we’re just a phone call away,” said Michele Baehr, Executive Director of the Eastern PA Region of the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross is a not for profit organization providing shelter, food, and emotional support to victims of disasters, nationally and internationally. Locally, the Wayne/Pike Chapter of the American Red Cross operated out of the Hawley Silk Mill in Wayne County until the end of last year when the chapter office closed in order to save money spent on rent and make better use of donor dollars. Now, these counties are sharing assistance with Monroe and Pike counties under the American Red Cross of the Pocono Mountains, which now encompasses all four counties. All administrative functions for Wayne, Pike, Carbon, and Monroe counties are handled out of the Pocono Chapter office in Stroudsburg.

According to Ms. Baehr, this restructuring has not affected the level of service or care. “It was a seamless transition,” she said. “We haven’t missed a beat in serving the community. Most of the work is carried out in the field. The main difference is the Red Cross staff utilizes space at the Northern Pocono Chamber of Commerce office for open houses seeking volunteers and holds monthly meetings at local emergency management centers such as the Pike County Training Center.

The American Red Cross does not receive any federal funding and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the public for monetary donations. “We rely solely on the goodwill of the community,” said Ms. Baehr. “This remains vital as emergency response can be costly with mass care services.”

Ms. Baehr said 100% of the funds donated by the community will come back to that community when it’s needed. If a mass disaster occurs and more funds are required, then the Red Cross helps out on a national level.

In the event of a disaster, the Red Cross provides immediate assistance with shelter, food, clothing, and connecting people with resources to help them get on their feet. “When we get that call, we go straight to the people and help out any way we can,” said Ms. Baehr. The Red Cross provides victims with a debit card, which allows them to pay for a local hotel and shop for food and clothing at nearby stores. “We give them the financial support they require right at that moment.”

About 95% of the organization’s manpower is comprised of volunteers. People can offer their time and skills in any capacity. “You don’t have to be a nurse of phlebotomist,” said Ms. Baehr. “You can assist at the canteens during a blood drive and give people a smile and a hug or hand them juice and a cookie to get their sugar levels up. People skilled in data entry can help with administrative duties. Another avenue of volunteering is representing the American Red Cross during community events through spreading awareness.

Volunteers can help where they live or offer assistance in remote locations. For deployment, the Red Cross provides specific training at a national and international level. Most recently, about five local volunteers went to South Carolina to aid with the flood victims through thirty-five mass care shelters.

With improvements in technology, it’s easier for volunteers to find out ways they can help.   Anyone with a smart phone can now download free apps, which alert them of local blood drives and emergencies occurring nearby.

In addition to emergency response for relief during a fire, flood, or other natural disaster, some services available to the community include classes and training in CPR and first aid, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training, blood drives, baby-sitting seminars, programs about fire safety at local schools and elderly care facilities, and community events. The money from the training or classes helps fund disaster relief, so it all gets recycled and helps the community in all aspects.

Ms. Baehr said visiting local school districts is something the Red Cross plans to continue. Last year, the Red Cross educated over 400 area elementary school students about emergency preparedness. They helped them think of meeting places and escape routes and advised them not to hide. The organization also shows them how to stay calm with breathing techniques, thinking logically in an emergency, and educating their families.

Fundraisers also remain important. Anyone can hold a fundraiser and be hero for the American Red Cross. This past August, the Red Cross received $800 from the Paupack Sailing Club during the Sailboat Rides, which took place during Wally Lake Fest.

For information on volunteering or donating, visit www.redcross.org or call (570) 476-3800.

Upcoming Blood Drive: The Inn at Woodloch Pines on November 9th from 1 to 6 p.m., 731 Welcome Lake Road, Hawley PA 18428

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A Night for the Cure

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We’re all family. Right? Well, we all share 99% of the human genome with each other at least. So, if we think about that for a second, we should always be there for our family. Families work together, experience hardship together and, of course, share in a lot of laughter together. So, as often as we can, in any way that we can, we need to support one another, give a helping hand, and share a smile.

I guess family can be used interchangeably with community.

A brave woman stood up a few years ago, wanting to change just one person’s mind. She didn’t know who that person was in particular, but she knew what she had to do. You see, Selina McHugh was marred in her own battle, realizing that until you’re fighting the fight you really have no idea what the fight is about. Thus, “A Night for the Cure” was born. The uplifting evening is about inspiration, support, and maybe most importantly, laughter and smiles.

This year, Woodloch Resort will host the 8th annual “A Night for the Cure,” a tricky-tray event designed to raise awareness, funds, inspiration, and hope in the fight against breast cancer. The doors open at 5 p.m. on the Nightclub at the award-winning resort on Sunday, October 18th, and as you step into the room, the energy can be intoxicating and positively pink!

The evening will feature over 200 items donated by local individuals and businesses, as well as wine and beer tastings, hors d’oeuvres, a dessert table, and a 50/50 raffle. Guests will enjoy live entertainment and have the chance to win overnight stay packages at the area’s leading resorts and hotels, a big-screen LED television, dining out gift certificates, unique gift baskets, and much more! This year will have some new, fun additions (as this night is ALL about having fun) like the NEPA Party Bike and Irving Cliff Brewery.

With over 400 attendees and nearly 200 prizes to be auctioned off to winners, the scene is full of energy, inspiration, and lots of laughter, especially when listening to the comedic quips of the evening’s emcee, Brad Kiesendahl, co-owner of the resort.

Last year’s event netted nearly $18,000, 100% of which benefits the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. 50% of the dollars raised stay right here in Northeast Pennsylvania for education, screening and treatment grants, and 50% goes towards cancer research.

“It gets better every year! It’s a great night to get together with friends, show support for survivors and caregivers, and raise money for a great cause,” said Bob Kiesendahl, co-owner of Woodloch Resort, co-founder of Hope Cures, and a leukemia survivor.

If you’ve been to this event in the past, you know, when you step foot in that door for the first time, you’re family. Family and community stick together. And Selina has changed the minds of thousands and helped raise tens of thousands of dollars in the process to help those who find themselves in the same situation that she was once in. So, if you’re looking for more information about Hope Cures and this October’s great event, you can visit www.bkhopecures.org/trickytray or call 570.685.8002.

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