Thursday, August 15, 2013

Families of the Deployed Event

Written by: Luanne Nelson, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
The Nebraska/SW Iowa Region American Red Cross assisted Offutt AFB Chapel organizers in a special event to recognize the families of deployed soldiers on Wednesday, August 7th. Chapel account manager and event organizer Mary Burden described the effort as a way to help families "learn about the different agencies that provide resources to families." She added, "This event helps families with children relax a bit by providing fun activities and companionship with others in the same situation."
In addition to serving at events like these, the Red Cross also offers a "Coping With Deployments" course which addresses the stresses and strains that deployments place on the families of service members. Other Red Cross services for families of the deployed include: An Emergency Communications network; Emergency financial assistance; Counseling and referral services; Representation for veteran entitlements; and health, safety and disaster assistance. 

Tamsen Butler, whose husband is serving in Afghanistan, enjoys the evening with her children Abram (8) and Monet (9). Butler said she appreciates the evening because "My kids have a good time and I really like the fact that this event shows them that the Base has not forgotten how we're all feeling during this deployment."

Retired airman Tim White and his three children, Samantha (11), Victoria (6), and Dean (5) have experienced a busy summer while his wife serves in Kuwait. He and the kids drove from the Omaha area to Delaware and then to California to visit relatives. White likes this deployment event because "My kids can relax a bit and know others are acknowledging what they are going through. They are old enough to really miss their Mom."

 California native Jennifer Ward is quietly raising 19 month old Bryce on her own while her husband is stationed in Japan. Ward is a registered nurse who works at the Offutt Clinic. "I really appreciate the Air Force community and their efforts to support families," she said. "It's difficult working all day and saving energy for Bryce."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New AmeriCorps Member is a Familiar Faithful Red Cross Volunteer

The American Red Cross Nebraska/SW Iowa Region is thrilled to welcome Katheryn Casebolt to our hard working team through the AmeriCorps program. “I really enjoy helping,” says Katheryn.

While Katheryn is new to the position, she is not new to the American Red Cross. Roughly 11-years ago, Katheryn joined the Red Cross while she and her husband were stationed in Italy. “I was looking for something to do and went to the Red Cross,” recalls Katheryn. Since moving back to the United States with her husband and son, Katheryn gives her time and talents at the Red Cross office on Offutt Air Force Base.

Katheryn studied Electronic Warfare Repair during her stint in the Army, has a B.A. in Psychology from UNO, an M.A. in Counseling Ministry from Grace University and is working on her D.M. in Formational Counseling through the Ashland Theological Seminary. Most recently, she worked at Hayneedle as a Senior Customer Advocate.

The AmeriCorps program’s mission through the American Red Cross is to focus on community outreach and disaster relief. Katheryn is especially excited to help people who have been impacted by a disaster adding, “I look forward to serving others during their time of need.”

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Excited to Welcome Corine Sawadogo, Volunteer Manager

Written by: Linyu Huang and Liz Dorland

From Burkina Faso, Africa to America, Corine Sawadogo’s American Red Cross journey has been an international one. Sawadogo joined the American Red Cross Nebraska/SW Iowa Region and started working as the Volunteer Manager on July 22nd.

Sawadogo came to the U.S. in 2003 to study International Studies and Non-profit Management at UNO. She says, “It was challenging for me to study abroad in another language.” Corine had to step out of her comfort zone to make new friends and learn a new culture. At that time, she developed a strong passion for volunteering. “Volunteering is a way to make new friends and also give back to the community” says Sawadogo. After graduating, she worked at the Open Door Mission, which is a non-profit organization providing shelter, food and community services to the homeless  in Omaha. Sawadogo was in charge of the volunteer department there. “Being able to work professionally with your passion, it is just fulfilling,” says Sawadogo.

Sawadogo sees the Red Cross as a broader and bigger platform to make a difference. “I have known the Red Cross when I was in my country. The Red Cross is a huge international organization, and they do so much including disaster relief, education, and being prepared for disasters. I’m happy to be a part of the Red Cross. It’s my honor to work with all the dedicated volunteers here.” 

As a volunteer manager, Sawadogo’s goal is to grow the volunteer base in the Region in order to offer more help to the community. She is eager to know the volunteers and willing to be a resource for them. “After meeting with a few volunteers, I am amazed by how giving and selfless they are,” says Sawadogo, “I would like to get to know all the volunteers and hopefully be a resource for them to help them navigate new technologies such as the Team Red Cross Apps and Volunteer Connection.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Volunteering for the American Red Cross is a Family Thing

Written By: Luanne Nelson

Katie Kmezich is an energetic American Red Cross volunteer and recent graduate of Westside High School in Omaha.  She took advantage of volunteer efforts in high school and realized the importance of "giving back" to her community so she decided to serve the Red Cross as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member.

Katie also acknowledged that her dad, Nick, was very influential in her decision to volunteer for the Red Cross. He stressed the "good the organization does for people" and has volunteered for the Red Cross in the past. He is now training to be a paramedic.

Katie recently responded to her third disaster and first apartment fire at the Apple Creek Apartments near 144th & Center after receiving a 10:30 p.m. call to come to the scene.  While there, she assisted the team by providing ice buckets, snacks and water for firefighters. She also provided comfort for families who had to evacuate the building and were displaced from their homes due to the fire.  Katie's skills were noticed by team members and her mature reaction to a crisis was appreciated.

Katie plans to attend Missouri Valley College in the Fall and major in Special Education and Community Counseling. The Omaha community is very fortunate to have such a dedicated young adult like Katie willing to volunteer her time and talents to the American Red Cross.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Red Cross Worker Gina Troncone Talks about her Red Cross Volunteer Experience

Written by: Linyu Huang & Liz Dorland
American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles continue to work they way through destroyed neighborhoods where Red Cross workers are hand out food, water and relief supplies to victims in Oklahoma where thousands suffered devastating Tornado damage. More than 2,400 homes were mangled or simply wiped away; hundreds of people were injured and others were emotionally scarred in May. Hundreds upon hundreds of caring Red Cross disaster workers opened shelters, kitchens and emergency aid stations in Oklahoma. The scene in tornado ravaged neighborhoods to our south hits home for Gina Troncone, she recently returned from New York after spending five months helping those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. “It prepares me after working for Sandy to go to Oklahoma for case work or help,” said Troncone.

Troncone is a Red Cross worker from the Nebraska/Southwest Iowa Region. She joined the Red Cross in November 2011 after a deadly tornado ripped through the Midwest town of Joplin, Missouri. Troncone said she trusted the Red Cross which is why she has dedicated countless hours to helping others. “I want to make everybody aware that a disaster can happen to anybody. Tomorrow your house could be the one that is affected, so why not give,” questioned Troncone before adding, “One thing I found is that a lot of people don’t know how to ask for help. Having somebody help you is a humbling experience.”
Troncone left the comforts of her home in November 2012 for New Jersey, to help those who had lost nearly everything when the massive Superstorm Sandy churned through the East coast. Gina worked in the call center, assisted to distribute supplies and succored victims to move forward. In January, Gina was deployed to New York and worked in the intake center where she focused on casework and interviewed the victims to learn their needs. Finally, she transferred to recovery service to move victims into assistance programs aimed at helping them get back into their homes. “For me, the most fulfilling experience was working on the recovery side because you get the finalization. You get to help the clients either move back into their home or get them into sustainable living,” recalled Troncone with a smile.
The Red Cross has given Troncone more than just a sense of fulfillment. She has learned practical skills including computer skills, team work, decision making, reaction capability, and mental health services. Troncone sees herself as having developed a better personality and achieved personal growth from the experience and admits she is now more patient, understanding, mature, and considerable. “The Red Cross was just an organization out there before I joined it. Now, I am committed to it, it’s a part of me,” said Troncone. “The American Red Cross means smiles, happiness to me because that what we are here for. We are here to help and bring changes to our clients’ life.”

Troncone wants to deliver her fulfilling experience by encouraging everyone to participate in Red Cross. “I would let them know how fulfilling it is. Everybody needs to help their community in somewhere.” said Troncone, “If you just become a volunteer, to take as many classes as you can, participant as many events as there are to get yourself involved.”    

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Give a Hand to Disaster Victims by Shopping

Written by: Linyu Huang & Liz Dorland

Hundreds of dedicated and caring American Red Cross works continue to help thousands of people who have suffered a heavy blow from Mother Nature this spring season. From devastating wildfires in Colorado, to tornado ravaged Oklahoma and water logged states in the Midwest, people impacted by these devastating disasters are receiving food, clothing, a safe place to sleep at night, lots of comfort in the form of hugs and hope for recovery from the Red Cross and thanks to the millions of people who have opened their pocketbooks and made a monetary gift.

Now until July 17th , helping the Red Cross provide disaster relief is easy – especially if you love to shop. You can shop at all Bon Ton stores across the country and help those who have been hit hardest by these disasters by giving to the Red Cross. Customers who shop at any Younkers or Herberger’s in Nebraska and Iowa will receive $10 off their purchase of $25 or more when they donate $3 to the American Red Cross. The deal gets even better –the discount applies in stores and online.

Your donation will enable the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance for people affected by these disasters. The goal is to raise $100,000, which means 10,000 meals for disaster victims or 20,000 blankets for people who stay in American Red Cross shelters.

There is no need to wait for a great sale to do some guilt free shopping! Get yourself down to any Younkers or Herberger’s and help the American Red Cross.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fired Up for a Frozen Showdown

Fired Up for a Frozen Showdown

Posted on  by Laura Howe

Wow! What an end to All Star Celebrity Apprentice. The last two contestants are standing and it’s Trace Adkins and Penn Jillette! Penn’s a great competitor, but we love Trace and the voice he’s given to disaster victims the last several weeks. All of us at the Red Cross are so proud of Trace and what he’s accomplished on behalf of our organization and all the people we serve. He’s represented the Red Cross with integrity and lots of heart and we’re cheering him on to the finish line.  

We’re not just cheering him on, we’re ready to put our money where our mouth is-literally-and we hope you will too. This week’s task involved Trace and Penn developing custom ice cream flavors for the Walgreens Delish brand. Team Trace developed “Maple Macadamia Mash Up“, based on his favorite candy flavor-maple nut. (Team Trace also had to create a commercial for the ice cream, which featured Gary Busey busting a move because the ice cream is so good. I can’t wait to see the final product next week.)

If Trace’s flavor is the top seller this week, he’ll win an extra $100,000 for the Red Cross and disaster victims around the nation. That’s 10,000 meals for disaster victims or 20,000 blankets for people who stay in our shelters. That also means you don’t have to ask me twice to buy ice cream.

So get yourself down to a Walgreens or a Duane Reade store this week and pick up Maple Macadamia Mash Up. When you do, make sure you tweet some photos of yourself enjoying that creamy goodness. Not only will you help the Red Cross and propel Trace to the top of the boardroom, but you can also rest assured that, somewhere in America, Gary Busey is doing a happy dance. That should make everyone smile.