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 a 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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, 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.

MORE SAFETY STEPS

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 redcross.org 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 redcross.org, 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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Safety!

Have a fun and safe time trick or treating this Halloween!

1. Remember, do not go into a home when trick or treating. Stay outside and wait for the treat.
2. Make sure that you have plenty of lighting and that goes for the "trick or treater" and for the home and neighborhood.

3. Take care of your pets. Bring them inside and remember chocolate and other candies are not good for pets.

4. Dress for the weather by putting some extra layers underneath the costume.


Parents, you can do double duty with this week's preparedness and safety post:

Work on your kids' ABC's while going over some Halloween safety before doing your annual candy-hunting next week.  While costumes, masks, pranks and fun are all part of Halloween, there are some great tips here for keeping your holiday fun and festive.  Courtesy of the CDC website.

Alphabet letter SSwords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Alphabet letter AAvoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Alphabet letter FFasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Alphabet letter EExamine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
Alphabet letter HHold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house.
Alphabet letter AAlways test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
Alphabet letter LLook both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
Alphabet letter LLower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
Alphabet letter OOnly walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
Alphabet letter WWear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
Alphabet letter EEat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
Alphabet letter EEnter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
Alphabet letter NNever walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Big Picture; An overview of the last eight weeks


In the last eight weeks, the American Red Cross has launched wide-ranging relief efforts to help people devastated by three historic, back-to-back hurricanes—Harvey, Irma, and Maria. We have supported the community of Las Vegas after the tragic shooting, and now, the Red Cross is helping thousands of families affected by the deadliest week of wildfires in California history. The Red Cross is on the ground, part of a large team of agencies and organizations responding to provide help to communities turned upside-down.

The response is massive and the needs are great. In the last 65 days, the Red Cross has sheltered more people than it has in the last 5 years combined. A total of more than 16,800 trained disaster workers, 91 percent of them volunteers, have been mobilized to support relief efforts. Many of these workers have supported multiple relief operations or deployed multiple times. Of those workers, nearly 250 are from right here in the Colorado & Wyoming Region and the opportunity and expectation that we will send more volunteers is anticipated to continue through the holidays as these communities move toward recovery.

California Wildfires
  • Since the fires began, the Red Cross, community and government partners have provided more than 27,800 overnight stays in emergency shelters.
  • With the help of partners, the Red Cross has served more than 159,000 meals and snacks, and provided more than 11,700 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.
  • The Red Cross has distributed more than 129,000 emergency relief items such as masks, gloves, rakes, trash bags and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items to people in need.
  • To help people recover and get back on their feet, the Red Cross has opened more than 580 cases, reaching more than 1,400 people.


Hurricane Response Efforts (Harvey, Irma and Maria)
With the help of partners, the Red Cross has served more than 6.7 million (6,768,000) meals and snacks—that’s more food than the past 4 years combined. Additionally, we have distributed more than 4.9 million (4,935,000) emergency relief items to people in need. Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 197,600 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.

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 
redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Red Cross disaster workers heading to U.S. Virgin Islands

Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Puerto Rico. The Red Cross has been on the ground since the very beginning providing food, water, medical and other immediate needs. Nearly 720 Red Cross disaster workers have supported the relief efforts and it is expected to be a long recovery for the millions of people affected by the storms.
Red Cross disaster responders at the Red Cross office
on St. Thomas, USVI. Photo American Red Cross

Red Cross disaster workers continue to deploy to the region to replace those that have been working diligently.

Colorado and Wyoming Red Crossers will be deploying this week to the U.S. Virgin Islands:

Mary Crawford is deploying to St. Croix. She will support staffing services that provides support for our deployed responders. Mary is a long-time volunteer with the Mile High Chapter in Denver.

Larry Cornett is deploying to St. Thomas. He will support the logistics effort getting supplies onto the island and then distributing them to those in need. Larry is the Disaster Program Manager working from the Red Cross office in Pueblo.

Cindi Shank is deploying to St, Thomas. This will be her second deployment to the island. She deployed originally for Hurricane Irma support and endured the Hurricane Maria landfall. She is the Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Wyoming and is from Gillette, WY.

Rodger Ortiz is deploying to St. Croix. Rodger is from Pueblo and is a relatively new volunteer with the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado. This will be his second deployment following a deployment to support Hurricane Harvey response. Rodger will support the sheltering effort on St. Croix.

The latest news release about our response to Hurricane Irma is at Hurricane Irma One Month Progress Report.

The video below is a short example about the Red Cross response on the U.S. Virgin Islands. Courtesy American Red Cross.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Restoring Family Links after a Hurricane

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - Now that Hurricane Irma has impacted the islands in the Caribbean we know that people are concerned about loved ones that they may have lost contact with. Here is
some information that might be helpful when searching for those people.

Keep calling, sending text messages and trying to connect via email or social media; calling during off-peak hours may help to get through clogged phone lines.

Contact other family members or neighbors who live nearby or may also be concerned about the sought person.

Situation Overview

The islands of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten (Dutch territory) as well as the islands of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy (French territory) have been hit by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 leaving widespread damage. The communications infrastructure on the islands has been heavily damaged.

Restoring Family Links Response

The Dutch territories of Saba, St Eustatius, and St Maarten, fall within the jurisdiction of the Netherlands Red Cross. The Netherlands Red Cross has launched a Safe and Well website: https://ikbenveilig.nl . 

The Safe and Well website facilitates communication from inside the disaster-affected areas to family members outside the disaster areas. 

The Netherlands Red Cross is actively engaged in assisting individuals on the islands to register on the site as ‘Safe and Well’. Inquirers must provide the sought person’s name and the sought person’s address or phone number in order to search the list of those who have self-registered and view any "safe and well" messages that they may have left for their loved-ones. The website is available in English and Dutch. At the present time, the Netherlands Red Cross is not able to conduct active tracing on the ground, and therefore traditional tracing inquiries are NOT accepted at this time.

The French territories of St Martin and St Barthelemy fall within the jurisdiction of the French Red Cross. At the present time, Tracing inquiries are NOT accepted. For the time being, please advise inquirers concerned about relatives on St Martin or St Barthelemy to contact the French authorities at +331 82 71 03 37.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens (on foreign land, i.e. US Citizen in Cuba) should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 and http://www.usa.gov/directory/federal/overseas-citizens-services.shtml.

Inquiries concerning U.S. territory (i.e. USVI, Puerto Rico, continental USA, etc.) should be referred to American Red Cross Safe and Well website. Website: www.safeandwell.org. Individuals can search for loved ones based upon entering 2 of 3 components (Full Name AND Phone Number OR Address). In the event that the sought person may be part of vulnerable population, a health and welfare check can potentially be initiated.

Domestic Disaster Emergency Welfare Inquiry and Family Reunification Request can be invoked. Please see www.safeandwell.org for forms to invoke a Welfare Inquiry. Vulnerable can include, but not limited to: health concerns; mental health concerns; mobility concerns; unaccompanied minors; and elderly. The form must be completed and submitted by Red Cross.

Remember to keep calling, sending text messages and trying to connect via email or social media; calling during off-peak hours may help to get through clogged phone lines. Try to contact other family members or neighbors who live nearby or may also be concerned about the sought person.

During a disaster the free Red Cross mobile app, Emergency, can help you stay in touch with family and loved ones. Download the app from www.redcross.org/apps or your preferred app vendor.

    Wednesday, September 6, 2017

    Disaster Response: Hurricane Irma

    Monday, September 11, 2017 - The Red Cross has a massive relief effort underway across multiple states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, providing safe shelter to people in the path of Irma’s fury. The Red Cross is part of a large team of agencies and organizations responding to provide help to those in need.

    Overnight. Sunday 9/10, an estimated 208,000 people sought refuge from Hurricane Irma in as many as 680 government and Red Cross evacuation centers across 6 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes--
    o   In Florida, an estimated 200,100 people in 587 evacuation centers.
    o   In Georgia, more than 6,500 people in over 40 evacuation centers.
    o   In Alabama, about 40 people in 16 evacuation centers.
    o   In South Carolina, about 660 people in 23 evacuation centers.
    o   On the U.S. Virgin Islands, almost 380 people in 6 evacuation centers. 
    o   In Puerto Rico, 154 people in 6 evacuation centers.
    o   In Tennessee, 131 people in 4 evacuation centers.
    o   In North Carolina, 33 people in 4 evacuation centers

    As Red Cross volunteers continue to support the operations in Texas, in response to Hurricane Harvey, more volunteers have answered the call to help Florida and the southeastern states as Hurricane Irma made landfall and continues to move up into Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. More than 1,800 Red Cross workers are responding to Irma now with more than 400 on the way. As of this morning we have more than 125 people deployed from the Colorado & Wyoming region.

    From Southeastern Colorado
    Paula Gregory - Government Relations
    Sally Martin - Shelter Worker
    Bill Fortune - Public Affairs

    From Northern Colorado
    Julia Stamper - Shelter Worker
    Diane Littlefield - Shelter Worker
    Denise Kinde - Shelter Worker

    From Western Colorado
    Sallyanne Johnson - Disaster Mental Health
    Kelly Paulsen - Shelter Worker
    Della Wilson - Disaster Mental Health
    Amy Mueller - Shelter Worker
    Josh Stewart - Public Affairs

    From Mile High Area 
    Catherine Leventhal- Digital Volunteer
    Veronica Quinn - Shelter Worker
    Geoff Goodman - Government Relations
    Helen Robinson - Technology Support
    Thomas Jones - Shelter Worker
    Nicole Kersey - Shelter Worker
    David Schneider - Shelter Worker
    Harry Ladewig - Shelter Worker
    Dan Mosely - Disaster Mental Health
    K. Nigel Holderby - Public Affairs
    Melanie Roth-Lawson - Shelter Worker

    From Wyoming 
    Monte Haas - Shelter Worker
    Cindi Shank - Shelter Supervisor
    Mel Warren - Government Relations

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - Hurricane Irma continues to move toward Florida with landfall on Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Red Cross has already mobilized equipment, supplies and disaster responders at a staging area in Orlando, FL.
    Noon MDT 090617 from NOAA/National Hurricane Center

    While nearly 70 disaster responders from Colorado and Wyoming have been deployed to the Texas Gulf Coast for Hurricane Harvey Relief, we have also deployed ten of our disaster responders to the Orlando staging area ahead of Hurricane Irma landfall. The Red Cross is mobilizing hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster relief workers and deploying truckloads of relief supplies to support this response effort. Shelter supplies for 120,000 people are on the way to help people impacted with Irma, along with 100,000 shelf-stable meals and almost 80 emergency response vehicles.

    In addition to those listed below the following volunteers are heading to Florida:
    From Southeastern Colorado
    Keith Mercantel - Shelter Supervisor
    Gregory Adkins - Shelter Worker
    Cathleen Smith - Shelter Worker
    John Hartling - Shelter Worker

    From Northern Colorado
    Sierra Horner - Shelter Worker
    Christy Lard - Shelter Worker
    Donald Nelson -  Shelter Worker

    The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Irma by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word IRMA to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. The Red Cross honors donor intent. Donors can designate their donation to Hurricane Irma relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on redcross.org or on 1-800-RED CROSS. The best way to ensure your donation will go to a specific disaster is to write the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check. We also recommend completing and mailing the donation form on redcross.org with your check

    If you have people in Florida that you are concerned about you can advise them to download the Red Cross mobile app, Emergency. Using the app can help you stay in contact with those people in Florida. You can also get near realtime information concerning the Hurricane by using the free Emergency app. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

    To get updates on Hurricane Irma and the Red Cross response visit www.redcross.org.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - Even while our disaster response is in full swing in Texas with over 3,000 responders on the ground in the disaster zone, our teams are gearing up to support relief efforts, should they be needed with Hurricane Irma.

    Hurricane Irma forecast track from Sep 5, 2017
    Courtesy NOAA/NHC
    Hurricane Irma went up to a category 5 hurricane Sunday night and most recent forecasts have the
    storm moving across the Florida Keys this weekend. Our disaster responders are already being put on standby so that they are ready to move quickly if the forecast track proves true.

    Four disaster responders from Colorado are packing bags for deployment. They will travel to Orlando that is serving as a staging area for Red Cross deployments:

    Southeastern Colorado
    Douglas Van Allen - Sheltering Supervisor
    Delbert Hayden - Shelter worker

    Northern Colorado
    David West - Shelter worker

    Western Colorado
    Jenny Roberts - Shelter worker

    Friday, August 25, 2017

    Responding to the Call for Disaster Relief

    Update: Thursday, Aug 31, 2017 - Colorado and Wyoming Red Cross continues to support the disaster relief effort for people affected by Hurricane Harvey. We have a total of 43 Red Crossers assigned to the disaster response in Dallas and Houston, Texas and 1 person assigned to support sheltering in Louisiana.

    August 29, 2017. George R. Brown Convention
    Center, Red Cross Mega Shelter, Houston, Texas.
    Photo:Daniel Cima/American Red Cross
    Recent deployments to the Texas Gulf Coast
    Southeast Colorado:
    Stephan Brewton - Shelter Supervisor
    Ronald Quay - Shelter worker

    Northern Colorado:
    Julie Demaree - Shelter worker

    Wyomng:
    Megan Michael-Smith - Disaster Mental Health Counselor
    Britney Good - Shelter Worker



    Update: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 - Since Sunday, 20 additional disaster responders from Colorado and Wyoming have deployed to support the Hurricane Harvey response. This brings our total to 39 people assigned to Hurricane Harvey Relief. The list below has the names and home chapters of the responder.

    Almost 1,000 volunteers are on the ground and more help is on the way. They will be joined by a group of highly-skilled volunteers from the Mexican Red Cross who will help support shelters, distribute aid, and connect with Spanish speaking disaster survivors. Along with our partners we have served nearly 30,000 meals and snacks since the storm began.

    More than 80 tractor-trailer loads of cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, kitchen supplies and cleaning supplies are now on the ground in Texas. More than half of our emergency response fleet - 200 Emergency Response Vehicles - have been activated for the operation.

    You can find shelters by calling 800-REDCROSS (800-733-2767), visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App.

    Mile High Chapter/Colorado
    Bob Dewey
    Constance Hoffer
    Kendal Nigel Holderby
    Gretchen Burdekin

    Wyoming: 
    Kaleigh Good
    Robert Robertson
    Darcie Wisehart
    Sylvia Raumaker
    Gypsy Petz - to Louisiana

    Northern Colorado:
    Ron Hedrick
    Ruben Marez
    Ron Hedrick
    Michael Jones
    Cheryl Ann Hood

    Western Colorado
    Kathy Urso
    Michael Leak
    Anthony Lopez

    Southeast Colorado
    Richard Muszynski
    Stuart Nieburgh
    Stephen Brewton

    How can you help? CLICK, CALL or TEXT
    The best way to help the Red Cross help the people affected by Hurricane Harvey is to go to www.redcross.org and click on donate. You can call 1-800-REDCROSS and donate by phone. You can text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
    Helping a family at a shelter! Photo:American Red Cross
    ane Harvey is through a financial donation. You can go to

    Can I volunteer to help?
    YES, we need community volunteers to help out. If you are a strong, compassionate person with some time to volunteer contact your nearest Red Cross office or visit www.redcross.org/wyoming.

    For the latest news release from the Red Cross about our Hurricane Harvey response go to: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/In-the-Wake-of-Hurricane-Harvey-Red-Cross-Relief-Efforts-Underway

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    UPDATE: Friday, August 25, 2017 - as of 9 AM, Friday a total of 18 Colorado and Wyoming Disaster Responders are heading to the Texas Gulf Coast to support the disaster relief efforts due to Hurricane Harvey. In addition, one volunteer (Catherine Leventhal, from Mile High Area is responding from home in Denver to help monitor social media.

    Volunteer Andrew Aerenson in the Emergency Response
    Vehicle ready to head to Houston. Photo by Bill Fortune/
    American Red Cross
    in addition to those mentioned in earlier messaging (see below) the following are on their way to help with the response effort:

    Mile High Area:
    Maureen Kelly
    Carroll Larremore
    Larry Walz
    Kevin Erickson
    Catherine Leventhal (virtual)
    Jaici Murcia 

    Western Colorado:
    Ted Mueller
    Steven Harris
    Volunteers from Northern Colorado Red Cross get ready
    to head to Houston. Photo/American Red Cross

    Northern Colorado:
    Ken Harnett

    Southeastern Colorado:
    Sally Broomfield

    Wyoming:
    Spencer Pollock
    Charlie Magee
    Charlotte Handy

    Red Cross volunteer checks out the ERV before
    heading to Houston. Photo by Nigel Holderby/Red Cross
    In addition to those listed above, we continue to have 2 volunteers deployed to the fires in British Columbia and 1 volunteer deployed to Kansas City, MO.

















    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thursday, August 24, 2017 - The Red Cross is responding to several disasters across the Country. Major Flooding in Kansas City, Mo. and potential flooding in the Texas Gulf Coast. Equipment and volunteers from Colorado and Wyoming are heading out to help.

    Kansas City, MO Flood Response
    Dennis Hoyt, a volunteer from Walsenburg, CO, from the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado, will travel to Kansas City, MO to help as a member of the Government Liaison team. He will coordinate with local, state and federal government to help direct the Red Cross response in that area.

    Texas Gulf Coast Flood Response
    As tropical storm Harvey increases in strength the threat of major flooding and storm surge will increase along the Texas Gulf Coast and points inland.

    The Red Cross has rallied resources including people and equipment to prepare for the impact that the flooding might bring. Three Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV) and six Red Cross volunteers from Colorado will travel to Houston to begin preparation for response. The volunteers and their ERVs will depart from the Mile High Area facility in Denver.

    The Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) is a large box-type vehicle that serves as the primary Red Cross vehicle for transporting food and cleanup supplies. The vehicles will be assigned to specific kitchens where they will carry food into the stricken neighborhoods. They may also be assigned to a Red Cross warehouse to transport cleanup supplies.

    Bill and Judy Howell are a husband and wife team from the Northern Colorado Chapter will take the ERV from that chapter.

    Andrew Aerenson is a volunteer with the Western Colorado Chapter. He and Herman Dieball from the Northern Colorado Chapter will take the Western Colorado ERV to Houston.


    Eugene McGuire and Corey Hixson ,who volunteer with the Mile High Area Red Cross, will take the ERV from the Mile High Chapter to Houston.

    The Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming will keep other equipment in the Region to support any disaster response needs within Colorado or Wyoming.

    If you are interested in helping the Red Cross provide relief for disasters like floods you can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by visiting www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

    If you are interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross visit our website, www.redcross.org/colorado.

    Monday, August 21, 2017

    Disaster Workers Deploying to Canada Wildfires

    Denver, Monday, August 21, 2017 - The American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming is sending disaster workers to help with the devastating wildfires in British Columbia, Canada.

    Photo courtesy BC Fire
    Dana Goldsmith is a volunteer with the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado. She has been a volunteer for more than 4 years and is an important member of the southeast Colorado team. In British Columbia, Goldsmith will serve as a member of the Staff Services team. As such she will work to ensure that other volunteers have lodging and other Red Cross support. She will travel from Colorado Springs on Tuesday, August 22.  

    Heather Zoccali will travel to Kamloops, British Columbia to help with the wildfire recovery as a Client Services Specialist. As such she will help individual families as the try to recover from the devastating wildfires. Zoccali is a volunteer with the Red Cross of Northern Colorado and has deployed to large scale disasters on other occasions.

    For stories and background information visit the Canadian Red Cross Blog at http://www.redcross.ca/blog/home or visit the Canadian Red Cross of British Columbia at http://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/current-emergency-responses/british-columbia-fires, or for wildfire information visit: https://www.facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo/.

    To help the Red Cross respond to disasters like floods and wildfires donate on line by visiting www.redcross.org. You can also call 1-800-REDCROSS to make a donation.

    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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

    Tuesday, August 8, 2017

    Cat and Dog First Aid Online Course Now Available

    Learn how to provide emergency care for pets until veterinary assistance is available


    For more than 100 years, the American Red Cross has been training people to perform first aid skills so they could save the lives of others. Now, the organization announces the release of its new Cat and Dog First Aid online course so that owners will know what to do in an emergency until veterinary care is available.

    “Millions of people learn how to respond to emergencies and save lives by enrolling in American Red Cross training programs,” said Gino Greco, CEO for Colorado and Wyoming. “Now, cat and dog owners, pet-sitters and dog walkers can take the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course and learn life-saving skills for their pets.”

    People can access the course on their desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at their own pace. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete the course. Participants can stop and pick up where they left off if Fluffy needs a treat or it’s time to take Fido out to the dog park.

    The interactive course includes:

    · How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so that owners can notice if there are any irregularities;
    · Step-by-step instructions and visual aids for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound, or is having a seizure; and
    · Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being.

    DOWNLOAD THE PET FIRST AID APP

    The Red Cross Pet First Aid App complements the course by providing cat and dog owners with instant access to expert advice, an animal hospital locator, pet-friendly hotels, content on how to include pets in family emergency preparedness plans and more.

    The app can be downloaded for free in mobile app stores or by texting ‘GETPET’ to 90999. American Pet Nutrition is a proud sponsor of the Pet First Aid App.

    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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

    Monday, July 31, 2017

    Red Cross helps 110 people after disasters during July 2017


    American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming, July 31, 2017 — The American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming responds to calls for assistance, on average, twice to three times a day.
    From flooding and house fires, or damage caused by weather, Red Cross volunteers respond to provide help and hope 24 hours a day and all 7 days of the week. Of the 110 people helped by Red Cross, more than 40 were children under the age of 18, and nearly a dozen were age 60 or older.

    “July has not been as busy for us as the past few months have been,” said Gino Greco, Regional CEO for Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming. “We like to think this reflects a higher level of awareness for the importance of preparedness in the communities we serve.” As part of the Red Cross mission, we continue to educate communities around fire safety and the importance of working smoke alarms, as well as general weather safety.

    Breakdown of the CO & WY 87 county service area:

    Mile High Area (MHC): 40 individuals received aid; Half of those who received help were under 18 years old. The MHC response area includes 10 counties in the Denver Metro area.

    Southeastern Colorado Chapter (SeCO): 33 individuals received aid; 11 were under 18 years old while four were age 65 or older. The SeCO response area includes 16 counties.

    Northern Colorado Chapter (NoCO): Seven individuals received aid; Four were under 18 years old. The NoCO response area includes 11 counties.

    Western Colorado Chapter (WeCO): Seven individuals received aid. Three 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: 23 individuals received aid; Seven were under age 18 with the oldest person receiving assistance being 84. 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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.



    Thursday, July 20, 2017

    Wyoming Red Crosser Deploying to Wisconsin

    Cheyenne, WY - Thursday, July 20, 2017- Red Cross disaster workers deploying to Wisconsin in response to significant flooding.
    Flooding in southeast Wisconsin

    Heavy rains have caused significant flooding over Wisconsin this week and many people have been displaced requiring the opening of multiple shelters. Additional heavy rain is forecast for the region.

    Sylvia Raumaker, a volunteer with the Red Cross of Wyoming, will deploy to Wisconsin to serve as a shelter supervisor. As such, Sylvia will work closely with shelter workers and residents to provide the services needed by those affected. Sylvia has been a Red Cross disaster worker for several years and is a frequent responder when the call of support is given. Sylvia recently returned from supporting the affected by the Arizona wildfires in June.

    Red Cross volunteers and staff are currently working more than 15 disaster responses from California to New York. A typical deployment to a large scale disaster is from 14 to 21 days. If you would like to become a Red Cross disaster responder visit our website at www.redcross.org and click on the word Volunteer.

    The Red Cross relies on donations to help disaster victims. Please click, text or call to
    donate to the Red Cross to help people affected by disasters big and small. Every single
    donation brings hope to those in need.

    You can help people affected by disasters like floods and wildfire crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief.  Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to
    make a $10 donation.


    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

    Disaster Responders Heading to California Wildfires

    Smoke from California wildfires. Photo courtesy NOAA/NWS
    Denver, Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - The American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming is sending disaster workers to help with the wildfires currently in California.

    Dennis Hughes, with the Mile High Area Red Cross will deploy as a shelter supervisor. Hughes is currently the Disaster Program Manager for the Mile High Area. This will be his first deployment to a large-scale disaster outside of Colorado.

    , a volunteer from Powell, WY with the Red Cross of Wyoming, will travel to California to serve as a shelter supervisor for the shelters in California. As such she will supervise shelter operations to ensure high quality service delivery for those in the shelters. Charlotte has deployed to many large-scale disasters across the country.

    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 http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-Responds-as-Wildfires-Rage-in-California.



    Monday, July 17, 2017

    Here When You Need Us; No Matter Your Rank

    Every day, the American Red Cross provides 24/7 global emergency communication services and support to members of the military community and their families. Through a network of volunteers and staff, we are here when you need us; no matter your rank.

    Recently, we had the honor to talk with Major General Reiner, Adjutant General for Wyoming, about his experience with the Red Cross emergency communication process. Throughout his military career General Reiner has seen the process used to help his fellow service men and women, but it wasn't until he had his own personal family emergency that he got to see how the process worked first hand. As an Honorary Board Member for the Red Cross of Wyoming, General Reiner has a strong connection to the Red Cross services and knew who to call when he needed to have his daughter, who was on active duty away from home, return home when her grandmother passed away. "There is a process in place that is important, no matter what rank you get to," said General Reiner. "When you have an emergency the Red Cross provides validity and substantiates the request." Red Cross verified information assists service members and their commanding officers with making a decision regarding emergency leave.

    People eligible to receive an emergency communication message include:
    • Anyone on active duty in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard
    • An activated member of the Guard and Reserve of all branches of the U.S.
    Armed Forces
    • An immediate family member or dependent of anyone in the above categories
    • A civilian employed by or under contract to the Department of Defense and
    stationed outside the Continental United States and any family residing with them
    at that location
    • A Cadet or midshipman at a service academy; ROTC cadet on orders for training
    • A Merchant Marine aboard a U.S. Naval Ship

    Knowing in advance that military families will be able to reach their loved one and have access to financial and other types of assistance during an emergency brings peace of mind to families who are separated. "You know bad things happen in life and as we, in the military, are scattered all over the world it is important to have rapid and accurate information," said General Reiner. "This network of great Red Cross volunteers is here, and they're doing a great service in the states and across the nation. When you need them, they are here. You just have to make sure you know who to call."

    The Red Cross has a new online option to give military families more flexibility and expanded access to help during times of crisis. People can now request help online at redcross.org/HeroCareNetwork or by calling 877-272-7337. This new and secure online option is easy to use and just like the toll free number, is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from anywhere in the world. With this new online option, in addition to starting an emergency message, online users will be able to monitor the status of there message as it goes through the verification and delivery process.

    The American Red Cross Hero Care App is another way we help members of the military, veterans and their families identify and access both emergency and non-emergency Red Cross services from anywhere around the world. The Hero Care App is available to download for free in app stores, by texting 'GETHEROCARE' to 90999 or by clicking the following link from a mobile device. http://3cu.be/sharehc. 

    *Photo used, courtesy of Major General Reiner and family. 

    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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.