One Alarm Could Save a Life

By Geof Sloan, Volunteer Contributor 

In January 2017, Red Cross volunteers across the country committed to installing smoke alarms in homes that needed them as part of our nationwide Martin Luther King Day of Service. In the Central and South Texas Region, more than 300 volunteers installed 802 smoke alarms in a single day.

But the impact of the Home Fire Campaign extends beyond any single day. People can call the Red Cross any day of the year if they need smoke alarms or fire safety education.

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Red Cross volunteers made a house call to the Scott family in Georgetown, Texas to install free smoke alarms and help them develop an escape plan.

Georgetown resident Donald Scott heard about the Home Fire Campaign on the news, and contacted the Central Texas Red Cross office to inquire about obtaining smoke alarms for his residence.

“The people at the office were extremely nice, and we would like to thank them for their timely manner in which they were able to schedule and install the new smoke detectors,” said Mr. Scott.

Austin volunteers LaToya Kelly and Geof Sloan visited the Scott home to perform the education portion of the campaign and install new smoke detectors in the home.

Mr. Scott is disabled, and was especially concerned about the possibility of a house fire because he has trouble getting around.  He said he felt much safer with this extra level of safety in his home.

“I appreciated the information the installers provided on the smoke alarms, and also reviewing the details of our fire escape plan in case of any fire emergency or smoke issue.  We would like to thank the Red Cross and the Fire Department for the smoke detector installation,” Mr. Scott said.

Since the Home Fire Campaign launched in 2014, we know that nearly 160 lives have been saved. People just like Mr. Scott suffered home fires and were able to escape with their lives because of a Red Cross-installed smoke alarm.

If you or someone you know needs working smoke alarms, or if you would like to volunteer to install smoke alarms in your community, visit our Central & South Texas Region Home Fire Campaign website.

One Alarm Could Save a Life

The Morning After the Storm

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Jeanette Mouser, a resident of Pocmont Trail in Southeast Austin, talks to Red Cross damage assessment volunteers about the storm that ripped off her back porch.

When Jeanette Mouser called her daughter in the early morning hours of February 20th, she was so upset she had trouble finding the words to explain what had happened. The rain and wind had been pounding the house for hours, when suddenly she heard a terrifying noise.

“It sounded like a bulldozer was trying to punch out the back wall,” said Mouser. “I tried to open the back door, but I couldn’t because something was lodged in front of it.”

The Mouser family spent the morning cleaning up the debris that was left behind by the storm, and began repairing what they could.

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The porch cover on Jeanette Mouser’s home was ripped off and flipped backwards onto the roof of the house. Nearby trees snapped in half and were thrown up against the house by the strong winds.

Mrs. Mouser says she knows how lucky they are. “I know many of our neighbors are in much worse shape. It was scary, but we got really lucky. I’m glad we are all okay.”

Many families in the nearby community of Mustang Ridge were also feeling lucky to have made it through the storm. The strong winds and possible tornado tore off entire rooftops, sent branches and wooden beams flying through walls like arrows, and sent children’s trampolines flying down the road like weapons of mother nature.

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Red Cross damage assessment volunteers went door to door in these neighborhoods — just as volunteers are doing in many communities across Central and South Texas today — to get a better picture of the damage. During this process they are able to check in with families and make sure they have a safe place to stay, plus get a feel for what type of assistance will be needed to help them get back on their feet.

To find out how you can help your neighbors in need, visit Redcross.org/Austin or Redcross.org/SanAntonio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Morning After the Storm

More than 800 smoke alarms installed during MLK Day of Service events

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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On Saturday, January 14th,  volunteers across the nation came together with one common goal: to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by installing free smoke alarms and educating families on fire safety.

This event was part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign’s MLK Day of Service. In the Central and South Texas Region, more than 300 volunteers installed 802 smoke alarms in homes that needed them.

Here are a few stories of the Red Crossers who made it happen, residents who invited us into their homes on a cold January morning, and partner agencies who turned out to support the mission.

 

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Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Kiley Davis teaches a group of new volunteers how to safely install smoke alarms in Austin, Texas. Nearly 100 volunteers braved the rain and chilly weather to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by helping their community through the Home Fire Campaign.

 

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Red Cross volunteer Izadora Martinez talks to homeowner Juan Rocha about home fire and flood preparedness while Austin Fire Department firefighters replace his out-of-date smoke alarms with new ones. Mr. Rocha lives in East Austin with his wife and five children. “I’m glad you’re here for us,” Rocha said. “I’ve talked to my kids about fires, but I appreciate you coming to the neighborhood and putting the alarms in the right place.”

 

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Three-year-old Elizama Rocha shows Red Cross volunteer Tamika Smith her favorite show while the firefighters install a new smoke alarm in her bedroom and her dad talks with a Red Cross volunteer about disaster preparedness.

 

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Montopolis neighborhood resident Michael Sorian was thankful for the Red Cross volunteers and firefighters who stopped by his home on Saturday morning to install free smoke alarms.

 

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Red Cross volunteer Izadora Martinez poses with Montopolis neighborhood resident Michael Sorian and his 6-month old black Labrador, Royal, while firefighters checked his upstairs smoke alarms.

 

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Red Cross volunteer Izadora Martinez talks to resident Michael Sorian about how he can create an escape place for his 7-year-old son.

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Odessa firefighters and Red Cross volunteers gather for an early morning briefing with staff members from the American Red Cross Serving the Permian Basin before they begin their door-to-door smoke alarm installation event in Odessa, Texas.

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In San Antonio, Texas, Red Cross workers gathered at a local block party and basketball tournament hosted by the Alamo City Aztecs to honor first responders and connect them with the people they serve. Red Crossers Tracy, Stephen and Henry shared home fire preparedness information and recruited volunteers for a smoke alarm installation event the chapter is conducting next Saturday.

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In Kerrville, Texas, Red Cross Volunteers teamed up with the Kerrville Fire Department and Kerr County CERT to install free smoke alarms during a “block walk.” They met at the local Red Cross chapter for a briefing, then dispatched into the neighborhoods.

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Kerrville firefighter and Red Cross volunteer review the family escape plan with Kerrville residents. More than 100 alarms were installed in homes that needed them on Saturday, January 14th in Kerr County, Texas.

 

More than 800 smoke alarms installed during MLK Day of Service events

Now Hiring: Join the Red Cross Corps

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WHO: Highly energized and passionate individuals who are prepared to serve full-time (including nights and weekends) to serve the mission of the American Red Cross. Ideal for recent graduates.

WHAT: Red Cross Corps (RCC) is a National AmeriCorps program with a goal of building capacity to deliver Preparedness Education across the country. Members will aim to reach 750 youth and 250 adults with Preparedness Education. In addition, each member will train 5 volunteers to help make Preparedness Education a sustainable community program.

WHEN: Members start on October 3 OR October 24, 2016 and serve 11 months, completing the program on September 1 or September 22, 2017

WHERE: Positions open in Austin and San Antonio!

American Red Cross Serving Greater San Antonio
3642 East Houston Street
San Antonio, TX 78219

OR

American Red Cross Serving Central Texas
2218 Pershing Dr.
Austin, TX. 78723

Contact: Kiley Davis; Kiley.davis@redcross.org

Click here for a full listing of American Red Cross AmeriCorps programs (National and State)

WHY: Red Cross Corps members will have an unique opportunity to impact their communities with life-saving preparedness education. By serving with the Red Cross, members are not only part of a national movement of service, but will also be connected to a humanitarian organization that strives to help people when they need it most!

Member Benefits:
• Living allowance up to $14,000 (taxable) for 11 months of service
• $5,775 Education Award. The Segal Education Award is good for seven years from the end of service and can be used to repay qualified student loans or for future education at eligible schools. National members age 55 and older at the time of service may be eligible to transfer the award to certain family members. Learn more about the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
• Possible forbearance of qualified student loans. Note that interest continues to accrue. However accrued interest on qualified loans is eligible for payment by the National Service Trust.
• Health plan benefits. Members are eligible to enroll in an Affordable Care Act compliant health plan.
• Childcare benefits if you qualify. Learn more about our childcare benefits.

If you are interested in applying, please visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps

Now Hiring: Join the Red Cross Corps

Work for the American Red Cross

As one of the nation’s premier humanitarian organizations, the American Red Cross is dedicated to helping people in need throughout the United States and, in association with other Red Cross networks, throughout the world. We depend on the many generous contributions of time, blood, and money from the American public to support our lifesaving services and programs. If you share this passion for serving your community, apply today!

Disaster Services Specialist, San Antonio, TX
At the Red Cross, there is no such thing as a small disaster. In every single case it is the Red Cross’ mission to help people affected by disaster meet their emergency needs that include shelter, food, clothing, and health and mental health services. As a paid staff member, you will support our loyal Red Cross disaster volunteers who serve selflessly to provide a bridge of assistance until individuals and families can resume a normal life.

Regional Communications Program Manager, San Antonio, TX
The Communications Manager is a critical component of the American Red Cross regional team and infrastructure.  It is responsible for carrying out the communications and marketing functions in local markets to drive results.  It works to raise the visibility of the Red Cross to help communities understand how to access Red Cross services and supports revenue generation across all parts or the organization.

Regional Volunteer Services Officer, San Antonio or Austin, TX
This position is a critical component of the American Red Cross regional team and infrastructure.  It is responsible for strengthening and growing programs and services that will meet the regional community needs within resource constraints. Develops long- and short-term program strategies and oversees implementation for large-scale single programs/services or multiple smaller-scale programs/services. Directs and oversees the work assignment and performance of staff and volunteers. Develops and executes a recruitment strategy, managing the volunteer on boarding process for the region. Ensures coordinated outreach and partnerships within the larger Red Cross organization and external constituents (e.g.: community agencies). This person will serve as a program or service subject matter expert (SME) to staff, management, volunteers and external partners. Represents the Red Cross within the assigned region for the purposes of volunteer engagement.

Volunteer Services Specialist, Midland, TX
The Volunteer Services Specialist implements and participates in helping volunteers increase Red Cross visibility through program/service delivery for the 10 counties that make up the Central Texas Chapter.  This person will recruit, interview, place, train and conduct follow-up with volunteers to support Chapter operations. Conducts needs assessment with Chapter leadership and staff to determine volunteer opportunities and develops plan for implementation.

Regional Preparedness Manager, Kerrville, TX
This role serves as the lead functional expert in a Red Cross Region for Individual and Community Preparedness and Resilience. Tailoring national program offerings for the Region and communities within the Region, providing technical expertise, and leading local implementation of preparedness and resilience offerings, this position works through regional employees and volunteers to build prepared and resilient communities.

 

Work for the American Red Cross

Dennis ‘The Menace’ on Giving Back

By Lois Beckman and Lena Morris, Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteers

American Red Cross casework volunteer, Dennis “the Menace” Lutz believes he has two sets of people to care for while deployed to the recent disaster in Texas — the first group is of course the families who have seen their homes damaged or destroyed by the recent floods — the second group of people are his fellow volunteers.

“Casework can be a difficult job because of the things you hear from people; their stories of loss,” says Lutz. So he makes it a point to help lighten the load of the volunteers by making them laugh.  His fellow volunteers jokingly refer to him as Dennis “the Menace”.

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Dennis ‘The Menace’ Lutz helps families affected by recent floods with their case management to receive the assistance they need.

Lutz, retired from the fire service, is from Kentucky.  His deployment to Austin, Texas is his third such assignment with the Red Cross this year.  As a firefighter, Lutz appreciated the support of the Red Cross to those on the front lines.

“They were always there with hot coffee for us in the winter and cold water in the heat,” He said. “Being a volunteer is my way of giving back to the Red Cross.”

When asked what one word Lutz would use to describe the American Red Cross, he chose “Phenomenal”.  He states, “People come from all different backgrounds and from all across the country when disasters hit.  They hear the call and they jump into action.  Volunteers hit the road to help people they’ve never even met. My fellow Red Cross workers are the some of the best people in the world.”

Over 50 feeding units have gathered in Texas to provide relief for the families affected. As of two weeks after the sever storms on May 26th, 2016, there are more than 400 volunteers from all over the United States working as a part of the Red Cross disaster relief.

Lutz says he feels lucky to be able to be a member of the Red Cross. “I’m blessed with being able to have a pension, and an understanding and caring wife who says, ‘go help, they need help,’ so that’s why I do it,” he said.

The American Red Cross wouldn’t be able to distribute its aid without volunteers like you. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.redcross.org.

 

Dennis ‘The Menace’ on Giving Back

Volunteers Assess Damaged Homes in Southern Texas

By Lena Morris, Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteer

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Red Cross volunteer Diane Telfer, from Monmouth Oregon, stands in front of a home damaged by recent flooding in Washington County, Texas, as she assesses the damage.

While the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and case management during disaster relief, there’s another crucial job conducted by volunteers that help the organization give aid to those who need it the most. The homes of those affected by disasters are assessed in order for the Red Cross to determine the assistance required for each household.

The volunteers are given a list of addresses, search for these homes and determine the level of damage, and the information is then sent to headquarters instantly through a mobile app. It might sound easy, but Red Cross damage assessment volunteer Diane Telfer said sometimes these homes are hard to locate or may be difficult to access due to the disaster.

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Diane Kelfer examines a home damaged by recent flooding in Washington County, Texas.

“Challenges included access to the affected areas and affected homes, determining the extent of the damage, and getting the information timely to the right people in order for the information to be useful,” Diane said.

The volunteers often speak with the homeowners if they are present, hearing about their stories of surviving the storms. They are sometimes permitted to see the full extent of the damage inside the home and learn about all that they have lost. The losses are often very severe, making the volunteer’s job even more crucial to properly assess all the help that is needed.

“It is gratifying to help people,” Diane said. “I feel that it is a way to give back for how much God has blessed me.”

Diane traveled from her home at Monmouth, Oregon to assist in the Red Cross disaster relief in Bryan, Texas. Volunteers travel from all over the country when disasters strike. Since the severe weather hit Southern Texas on May 26th, 2016, the Red Cross has opened 37 shelters,  served 55256 meals and snacks, with the help of 483 volunteers from all over the nation.

“We all should find a way to serve others whether near or far from home,” Diane said.

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Red Cross volunteers Diane and Bill Wilson from California speak with Goodwill Baptist Church Deacon Tom Sullivan, whose church was destroyed during the recent flood.

If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance please direct them to the American Red Cross serving Central Texas, 1-800-928-4271. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.redcross.org.

Volunteers Assess Damaged Homes in Southern Texas