Friday, December 8, 2017

Red Cross Holiday Gift Guide

3 Ways to ‘Give Something That Means Something’
 This Holiday Season

After responding to a string of historic disasters, the American Red Cross is appealing to the public to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season. Throughout the Holiday Giving Season, donors can help bring hope and relief to children, families and communities that need it most with their holiday shopping.

Beginning in late August, the Red Cross embarked on providing wide-ranging relief efforts in response to three historic back-to-back hurricanes—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—followed closely by the deadliest week of wildfires in California history. In response to these disasters, the Red Cross provided more food to those affected than in the past four years combined.

The need for Red Cross services is constant, and the organization’s Holiday Giving Campaign offers donors the opportunity to honor someone special with a unique gift. Gifts can help families who have lost everything after a disaster, support military heroes and veterans facing emergencies, and save children’s lives around the world.

The people of Wyoming have been very kind in supporting the Red Cross over the years by volunteering their time and donating their money,” says  Gino Greco, American Red Cross Regional CEO. We ask for your help this holiday season to support the people in need in our community.”

Through the Holiday Giving Campaign, people can give gifts that uniquely give back to people in the community while supporting the organization’s mission. Individuals can choose from three essential giving opportunities:

1.      Gifts that help disaster victims. For example, a donation of $25 can provide blankets—as well as warmth and a sense of security—for five people staying in an emergency shelter. A $30 gift can provide hot meals for three people following a disaster while a $50 donation can supply a full day of emergency shelter with urgently needed essentials, including three meals, two blankets, a cot, snacks and personal hygiene supplies for someone impacted by disaster.
2.      Gifts that help our troops. For example, a $145 contribution can show our heroes and veterans that we care by providing military hospital kits to 20 service members.
3.      Gifts that help internationally. For example, a financial contribution of $100 can educate families and vaccinate 100 children against measles—a $500 gift can vaccinate an entire village.

To give with meaning, visit Choose from the diverse assortment of symbolic gifts, and make a tax-deductible donation online or, call 1-800 RED CROSS to support the corresponding Red Cross services. Then, send a card to the friend, family member, co-worker or customer being honored by your donation.

About our Corporate Holiday Supporters:

During this holiday season, the American Red Cross is grateful for those corporate donors that generously contribute to our Holiday Giving Campaign. They include: Circle K and American Girl. Thanks to the generosity of these and other supporters, the Red Cross is able to bring help and hope to people across the country. To learn more about our corporate holiday supporters, visit

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross. In Wyoming follow us on Twitter as @WYORedcross or on Facebook as American Red Cross of Wyoming. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Disaster Workers Deploying to Support California Fires

Denver, Thursday, December 7, 2017 - The American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming is sending disaster workers to help with the wildfires currently in California.
View from Space. Courtesy USFS

Suzanne Isenhower, deploying to support logistics. Isenhower is currently a volunteer with the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado and lives in Buena Vista, CO. This will be her fourth deployment to a large-scale disaster.

Christine Sturgeon, a volunteer from Poncha Springs, CO with the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado, is deployed as a Red Cross Nurse. Sturgeon deployed to support Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma earlier this year.

Cynthia Fox is deploying to California as a Red Cross nurse. Fox is a volunteer with the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado who lives in Colorado Springs. She deployed to Hurricane Harvey earlier this year.

Sylvia Raumaker from Jackson, WY is deploying as a shelter supervisor. Raumaker is a volunteer with the Red Cross of Wyoming and she has deployed over 17 times to disasters across the country.

Diana Dalager is a volunteer with the Red Cross of the Mile High Area and resides in Littleton, CO. She is deploying to California as a shelter supervisor. Dalager deployed to support Hurricane Harvey response earlier this year.

Typical deployment for Red Cross disaster response is 14 to 21 days.

In addition to those listed above the Colorado & Wyoming region has four volunteers still deployed to support hurricane relief in Texas and the US Virgin Islands

To see the latest news about how you can help the Red Cross help the hundreds of people that have lost everything due to the wildfires in California visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Note of Thanks

We are thankful for all our Wyoming Red Cross volunteers. Without your dedication and support we could not provide the services that we do within our state. You may not realize it but you are real life super heroes to all the people you have helped during some of their most difficult times of their lives. We are so proud of all of you!

In the past year, our volunteers and staff have deployed across the country to assist during a non-stop disaster season. Our folks have deployed to California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. These deployments represent thousands of hours that you have spent away from your home and family helping those that needed a safe place to sleep, food to eat and supplies to help recover from floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires. 

Many thanks to those of you that stayed within our state and helped with local house fires, flooding incidents, covering Response on Call, training and representing the Red Cross at local meetings. We also installed more than 750 smoke alarms in homes to make our residents safer. We taught the Pillowcase Preparedness program to 300 youth and gave general preparedness presentations all around the state. 

Since 11/22/16, we opened 129 cases and assisted 336 individuals after a local disaster. We gave more than $70k in direct financial assistance to help them on their road to recovery. YOU are the backbone and helping hands to our Wyoming residents when they need our services.

During this time of “thanks giving” we THANK YOU for giving the American Red Cross of Wyoming the most precious thing you own – your time and talents.

Warm Regards from your Team Wyoming Staff,
Spencer Pollock – Executive Director
Shelby Hinze – Volunteer Service Manager
Jan Daugaard – Manager of Donor Relations
Cindi Shank – Senior Disaster Program Manager
James Lenell Ledwith – Disaster Program Manager
Kaleigh Good – Disaster Program Manager

Friday, November 17, 2017

Too Long Alone - Restoring Family Links

Story and Photos By Karen Baldwin, Red Cross Restoring Family Links Caseworker

When I first met Shadia, it took only that first sight to halfway break my heart. She seemed young – VERY young. She had that slender, delicate look that makes one want to encircle her within a protective embrace. Huddling her arms close about herself, she sat hunched at the single, tiny table in her bare-as-bones one-room apartment. She bore the saddest expression on her beautiful young face, framed by a bright hijab – the only spot of brightness in the room.

Glancing around as we settled ourselves to talk on one of only two (hard) chairs, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of any curtains on the window, and the small, ragged futon sofa that clearly doubled as her bed -- the sole remaining content of the room. The other half of my heart broke to see this young girl in these circumstances.

Shadia’s ‘Restoring Family Links’ file revealed the terrible circumstances of her escape. Her mother had died giving birth to her twin sisters, Salma and Salha. Her father had been killed while serving in the Burundi military. She and her sister Hafsa, and the little twins, began living with her grandparents, two cousins and her Aunt, whose husband had been involved in politics and murdered because of it. But their home of Bujumbura, Burundi, was still torn by civil war.

Shadia, then only 14, was at the market with her little sister Hafsa, her aunt and cousins when a rebel attack arose. In the midst of gunfire and violence, and not daring to return home, they fled, not even knowing if the rest of the family had gotten away. With the continuing gunfire and violence in the streets, it was unthinkable to consider returning home even after a little time had passed, as the danger had not. (Indeed, much later she would learn that her grandparents, still at home, had been murdered.) On foot, the little family troupe faced a journey of over 1500 kilometers to reach the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, far to the northwest. Prospects looked bad for a woman alone with four young children and no resources.

Long days spent traveling the road brought them to the refugee camp. But Shadia’s aunt was overwhelmed by all that had happened. After just a few months, her aunt stole away in the night with her own two children and all their belongings, leaving the two sisters confused and abandoned. After sleeping for a time in the camp’s refugee reception area, the officials eventually placed them with various foster families in the camp. A year later, 16-year old Shadia stayed home sick from school, one day, and her 10-year old sister went off to class as usual … but never came back.

Shadia, sick with grief and fear, searched desperately for her sister. In the camp. In the nearby town. With the camp officials. With the town’s police. But there was no word, no witness. Hafsa had disappeared without trace.
Shadia feared that everyone in her family had been killed, kidnapped, or both. She could not help but think with heartache of her tiny twin sisters, left behind those awful days ago. And wondered why someone had taken Hafsa from her, her sole remaining hearts’ tie. She had lost everything and everyone she had ever known.

But time passes, as it must, and two years later, Shadia was allowed to emigrate, alone, to the United States late in 2014. Shortly after, she was referred to the Red Cross Restoring Family Links team in Denver in hopes of finding her missing family members.We stayed in touch with Shadia providing both a shoulder to lean on and a sympathetic ear to the displaced young girl. Even here, Shadia had it rougher than most. She was placed with a family that had neither room nor much patience for her, but at least let her sleep on their couch. She soon ended up homeless, moving between the homes of school friends.

Through all this, Shadia somehow continued to attend school, learn English, keep up with her lessons, and learn to negotiate a sometimes baffling culture that does not always welcome people like her. She took care of herself as best she could. One day, while exploring yet another place to stay temporarily, a teacher at her school overheard and offered help. That teacher changed things for Shadia. She found Shadia a subsidized low-rent apartment and even picked up the extra expense for it that Shadia had no way to pay.

All her perseverance, though, could not allay her deep sadness. When I met her, her face was full of pain, her eyes were downcast and would not meet mine, her arms wrapped close around herself. Despite all she’d survived, and all she’d accomplished for herself, she was still utterly alone in the world, and clearly felt it.

The Search Begins

Not every search is a straight line. With the help of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) we continued to search for her family for two years. After so long with either no tidings at all, or leads that hadn’t panned out, in June 2016, we at the Red Cross finally had good news for her … the Red Cross in Africa sent word that her paternal Aunt had been found, and this aunt knew where all three of Shadia’s sisters were -- I was so filled with anticipation to be able to tell her so!

Hearing the news that day, Shadia’s face awoke in light – her arms unwrapped from about herself and her hands raised to Allah together with her eyes. Her entire body seemed to unfold itself and a half-moon smile flashed large in relief and joy across her face. We celebrated, together.

But even then, we weren’t entirely out of the woods. Shadia did not know this ‘Aunt’ we had found, and doubt crept back into us when that Aunt proved unwilling to share the location of her sisters, and asked Shadia for money to travel to Rwanda. She refused to share phone numbers or addresses or the names of those with whom Shadia’s sisters were living. In our uncertainty, we at the Red Cross feared the possibility of an opportunistic stranger impersonating family and pressing for monetary gain (not, after all, an unknown exploit).

But we got lucky – the Burundian Red Cross had contacted a former neighbor who’d moved into the girls’ original home, and that kind woman knew where another of Shadia’s aunts – her maternal Aunt Betty, was living. She contacted Aunt Betty to tell her Shadia had long been searching for her sisters. Through a phone call, Shadia received the happiest, most exciting word that she had an aunt she’d never even known as a child, and not only that, all three of the missing sisters were there. But even so, Shadia wasn’t yet able to confirm things by actually speaking with her long-lost sisters.

Time for the American Red Cross Phone Project!

Robbe Sokolove and I went back to Shadia’s apartment, once again. This time, even that small room seemed to have bloomed together with Shadia’s spirits. Not only had it been furnished with a real bed, a beautiful desk, some comforts and curtains and brightness, but Shadia even had a laptop computer for schoolwork, and had found a job. With her teacher’s help, Shadia had obtained financial aid, and gained admittance to a college in Denver, where (she told us proudly) she was soon to begin studying aeronautics and pursuing her dream of becoming a pilot.

With a mix of hope and trepidation, we sat with her to place the call to her sister.

There they were! All three of Shadia’s sisters were living with their Aunt Betty, happy and healthy and each attending school. Shadia chattered joyfully with each of them in turn, beginning the process of re-connecting and catching up.

Shadia’s sisters were as happy to hear from Shadia as she was to hear their voices. And her family has now expanded to include her Aunt Betty. We could see the joy and excitement visibly radiating throughout Shadia’s whole being as they finally spoke together, after so many years apart.

Thanks to her teacher, the Red Cross, and her own strong will, Shadia’s future has been entirely changed – not only in the opportunities she has found here, but in the joy of reunion with her long-lost sisters and Aunt. No longer alone, no longer anguished, no longer destitute, the future for her looks bright, as bright as her eyes now shine when we see her.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Celebrating Veterans Day...Every Day

Story by Bill Fortune, a veteran and a Red Crosser

Veterans Day is a day to recognize the sacrifices that members of our armed forces have made throughout America’s history. It began as Armistice Day following the end of WWI. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day saying, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”

After WWII, Americans saw the sacrifices that again were made to protect our freedom and witnessed again during the Korean War. The voices rose to have Armistice Day become more inclusive of all the sacrifices that have been made and that will be made. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the law that made the name change from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Since that time our resolve has been tested on many occasions and our freedom remains in tact and our appreciation for those who have served remains unwavering. 

Father/Daughter photo from our story about Red Cross
support no matter what your rank.
Across America there are ceremonies, parades and events commemorating all veterans for their sacrifice in the protection of our freedom.

Celebrating Everyday
The American Red Cross celebrates Veterans Day every day of the year through our Service to Armed Forces program. Many of our Red Cross volunteers are veterans who recognize the value of Red Cross services and the importance of caring for those who serve in our armed forces.

A photo from our story about a letter
home from Vietnam
Every day, the Red Cross provides hundreds of global emergency communications services that serve to connect a service member to a family back home. Every day our volunteers provide comfort and care to thousands of veterans at military treatment facilities and veteran hospitals and clinics across the country and around the globe. Every day we partner with military support organizations to help our military members and their families cope with deployments and to rebuild their lives after deployment.  Every day we provide access to financial assistance to military members and their families. Every day we provide community outreach and conduct resiliency courses and workshops for military members and their families.

Whenever possible we like to post stories on this blog about military members, family members and veterans and how the Red Cross has supported them. 

Here is a list of recent stories showing how we thank our veterans through service:

Every day we recognize and remember the sacrifice. Every day we are here for our service members, their families and our veterans and every day we salute them for making our lives safer.

Thank you to all who have worn the uniform and especially to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. You are in our hearts, every day. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Red Cross Assists 166 People After Disaster in October; Thanks Partners for Support.

American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming, November 6, 2017 — Every day, volunteers continue to meet the needs of individuals and families who have suffered from disaster. In the past 5 weeks, 166 people needed our assistance. In addition to the response, we are also helping people prepare.

Did you know that if a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape? During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.The American Red Cross announced last week that one million smoke alarms have been installed and 285 lives have been saved due to the efforts of the volunteers and community partners who have participated in the organization’s Home Fire Campaign.

“Since 2014, Red Cross volunteers in the Colorado & Wyoming Region and across the country have been working with local fire departments and community partners to reduce home fire tragedies in at-risk communities,” said Gino Greco, American Red Cross Regional CEO.  “We are grateful to everyone who has supported our Home Fire Campaign and helped us reach our one-millionth free smoke alarm milestone and save lives.”

Locally, thanks to support from local fire departments and community partners, we installed nearly 1,500 smoke alarms in communities across the Region; between Sept 23 – Oct 14, 2017. We want to take this opportunity to say 'thank you' to some of our partners who not only helped us with smoke alarm installations, but continually are the link between those in need and our Disaster Action Teams. When a home fire occurs, we are there because you identify the need and call us to respond. This THANK YOU goes out to our Fire Department Partners. We truly are better together! 

Breakdown of the CO & WY 87 county service area:

Mile High Chapter (MHC): 46 individuals received aid; more than 23 were under 18 years old. The MHC response area includes 10 counties in the Denver Metro area. 

Southeastern Colorado Chapter (SeCO): 48 individuals received aid; 2 were age 65 or older while 12 were under 18 years old. The SeCO response area includes 16 counties.

Northern Colorado Chapter (NoCO):  16 individuals received aid; 4 were under 18 years old and 1 was age 65 or older. The NoCO response area includes 11 counties.

Western Colorado Chapter (WeCO): 19 individuals received aid. 10 of those helped were under 18 years old. The WeCO response area covers 27 counties, serving all western Colorado and the San Luis Valley.

Wyoming Chapter: 37 individuals received aid; 10 were under age 18 and 3 over the age of 65. The Wyoming Chapter response area covers all 23 counties that make up the state of Wyoming. 

The families and individuals were provided a place to stay, money for clothes, food and medicine. Along with providing casework for the residents in a quick and efficient time frame, Red Cross volunteers will continue to provide support to these families going forward, by doing follow up work to ensure all needs are met and the individuals have a clear path to recovery from this personal disaster.

About the American Red Cross:The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Turn and Test

It has been an incredibly busy year for all of us and some of us are amazed that it is already November and time to change our clock from daylight savings time to standard time. Time to TURN and TEST!

Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday, November 5 at 2:00 a.m., so remember to TURN your clocks back one hour before you go to sleep. While tackling the clock changing, the American Red Cross reminds everyone it’s the perfect time to TEST the batteries in their smoke alarms too.

Home Fire Campaign A fire in someone’s home is the greatest disaster threat we face. During a home fire, smoke alarms help save lives. If you don’t have them, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements. If you have smoke alarms, test them to make sure they are working. If they are ten years old, replace them.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters every year – the majority of which are home fires. That means that every day in this country, on average, seven people are killed in a home fire and another 36 people suffer injuries. To end these tragedies and save lives, the Red Cross launched a nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014 with the goal of reducing the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent.

The campaign is making a difference. As of July 31, 2017, the Red Cross and our partners have saved at least 285 lives through the Home Fire Campaign. The campaign is happening all over the country and involves Red Cross workers joining with local fire departments and community groups to visit neighborhoods at high risk for fires. Those visits include educating people about fire safety through door-to-door visits and installation of smoke alarms in some of these neighborhoods. Find out more here.


While you’re at it, this weekend is also a good time to take these steps to make sure your household is prepared for emergencies.

  • Check carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Get a kit. Build an emergency kit in an easy-to-carry tote that contains supplies for about three days, to include a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications and copies of important documents. Full details are available here.
  • Make a plan. Have all household members plan what steps they should take if an emergency occurs so everyone knows what to do in a crisis.
  • Be informed. Learn what emergencies can occur in the area and how officials notify residents should a disaster occur. Take a First Aid and CPR/AED course.

You can visit to find out more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from fire or contact your local Red Cross to find out about smoke alarm installation events in your community. You can also help by volunteering your time or making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.