Claire Gilmore is a second-year graduate student at the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service. While in high school, Claire first got involved in her community when she took part in a local blood drive. She was fascinated by the incredible stories she heard from people about why they continue to donate. Claire is excited to be learn and contribute at our Heart of Texas Chapter.
Rio O’Neal is a second-year graduate student at the Bush School of Government and Public Service and Texas A&M University. When he was a AmeriCorp volunteer, he was introduced to the Red Cross when he spent a summer installing smoke alarms at a Red Cross Sound the Alarm event in Pennsylvania. He is excited about his new journey, and to serve alongside the Red Cross volunteers of the Heart of Texas Chapter.
Rachael McBride is from Oklahoma and is in her second-year at the graduate Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. As a child, Rachael fondly remembers attending Red Cross blood drives with her dad and says she loved reading about American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton. Rachael looks forward to carrying on Clara Barton’s legacy of strength, volunteerism, and compassion for those in need at our Heart of Texas Chapter.
Even with the recent changes interrupting her the normal routine, this big-hearted pre-teen has found a way to be constructive. After learning about the American Red Cross’s Service to the Armed Forces “Thank A Hero” program, Payton took pen to paper and, within 5 days, had authored 100 thank you letters to American service members in active duty all over the world.
The year-round “Thank a Hero” program is open to anyone willing to spare a moment to thank American military service members and bring smiles to their faces. In Payton’s case, there’s family history here. Her grandparents were both military officers, and she was introduced to “Thank a Hero” by her mother, Anne, who heard about it from other American Red Cross volunteers. Anne was captivated by the “Thank a Hero” concept and immediately knew it would be a good fit for her daughter. Anne’s simple request of Payton to “write something legible,” exploded when Payton found she truly enjoyed the assignment. Payton put her heart into writing personalized letters to as many service members as possible. “I appreciate our military service members and their families… without them, our world wouldn’t be the same” says Payton. Anne goes on to say “I knew how much she liked writing, but this was something else.”
Like so many generous American Red Cross volunteers, Payton hopes to continue using her passion for good. She has raised the bar even higher by committing herself to completing 500 letters by the end of the summer. Payton has also set a goal of getting her school involved with the “Thank a Hero” program, hoping her classmates will find the project as rewarding as she has.
When asked if she would like to become an American Red Cross volunteer one day, she says, “I’m looking forward to it, because it’s an organization that I believe is really good.”
Central & South Texas Region headquartered in Austin, through five local Chaptersserves over 7.1 million people in 83 Counties.
** Special welcome to the counties of Culberson, El Paso and Hudspeth (West Texas) that are joining CSTAR.
The American Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas responded to 170 calls for assistance in May 2020 and assisted 436 people across the Central and South Texas Region. Red Cross volunteers contacted those affected by disasters to assess their immediate needs and provide the resources for their long term physical and emotional recovery.
Information on our new counties:
Culberson, El Paso and Hudspeth Counties are three of nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas, as originally defined in 1887 by the Texas geologist Robert T. Hill. Trans-Pecos defines that portion of Texas that lies west of the Pecos River. El Paso along with Hudspeth County, are the two counties in Texas in the Mountain Time Zone.
Volunteers make up over 90% of the American Red Cross workforce, and whether it’s responding to home fires, supporting behind the scenes operations or educating the community on preparedness initiatives, our volunteers do it all. Some volunteers, like Central Texas Red Crosser, Joanne Sims, volunteering also includes sharing the Red Cross mission with those she works with as well.
Joanne’s introduction to the Red Cross came through her employer, Amplify Credit Union. Amplify Credit Union has been a supportive corporate partner of the American Red Cross in employee engagement and giving, and after participating in a general Red Cross overview, Joanne was intrigued to learn more. Part of that intrigue came from Joanne’s desire to find her volunteer “home”, and seeing the passion shared by the Red Cross team was contagious.
Part of Joanne’s excitement about joining the Red Cross is the myriad of opportunities for all. “There is something for everyone, and there are many tools and people to help volunteers find the job that is the best fit,” Joanne shares.
Joanne’s first training role after joining earlier in 2020 was to support our Disaster Action Team as a responder but with the coronavirus pandemic making its way into our communities, her disaster relief learning took a pause. But as the consequences of the pandemic took its many forms, for the American Red Cross, one big concern was how we could supply the nation’s blood supply with scheduled blood drives being canceled left and right.
Joanne saw that need and quickly stepped up to support our local chapter with training and serving as a Blood Donor Ambassador. As local city ordinances began to implement shelter-in-place guidance, blood collection was left on the “essential” list, and volunteers, like Joanne, selflessly kept themselves on the front line to support our blood collection staff.
It didn’t take long for Joanne to see why exactly this work remained essential. “After the first time I volunteered, I could immediately see the importance of these volunteer positions,” Joanne said. “The work these volunteers do allows the Blood Collection staff to focus on the donors and collecting blood donations ensuring the whole process run more efficiently.”
Not only do our volunteers serve the mission and ensure our organization is operating efficiently, they are the best ambassadors to share how integral the Red Cross is, and why volunteers are critical to our success.
“What better way to learn and be an advocate for an organization to join their amazing team of volunteers?” Joanne shared. “There is an immense benefit in being able to speak from personal experience as a Red Cross volunteer to my Amplify team members.”
If someone is looking to find their volunteer “home” and friends that are bonded by a fundamental desire to help their community in the face of emergencies, then check out your local Red Cross and see what is in store for you!
The American Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas responded to 87 calls for assistance in March 2020 and assisted 202 people across the Central and South Texas Region. Volunteers contacted individuals affected by disasters to assess their immediate needs and provide resources for their long term physical and emotional recovery.
Disaster response is a mission essential function of the American Red Cross and we continue to perform during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our methods have changed to protect the health and safety of our clients and volunteers. Our volunteers’ primary method for responding is virtual by phone or other electronic means. In the case of a large multi-family fire or when a virtual response is not practical, volunteers will respond in person but take precautions to keep everyone safe.
Greater San Antonio: There were 37 calls for help with 82 people receiving Red Cross Support.
Greater San Antonio supports Atascosa, Bexar, Comal, Dimmit, Frio, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, LaSalle, Webb, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties.
In each case, families and individuals were given financial resources for a place to stay, clothes, food and medicine, as needed. If needed, health and mental health services are provided. Along with providing casework for the residents in a quick and efficient time frame. In addition, volunteers provide follow-up calls to assist individuals on a clear path to recovery.
Today, as throughout our long history, the American Red Cross depends on generous contributions of time, blood, and money to support our lifesaving services and programs. Donate, or sign up to volunteer at redcross.org.
As we all continue to navigate these uncertain times, the American Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas are dedicated to providing you with important information and to provide you with trusted resources for you and your families.
We continue to closely monitor the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and are prepared to carry out our lifesaving mission in the event of any possible disruptions.
We will continue to work with U.S. officials and partners to determine what support may be needed in the coming days and weeks as the situation continues to evolve. In particular, we will continue to collaborate with AABB, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the safety and availability of the U.S. blood supply for patients in need.
If you need help with food or other resources during the quarantine, you can visit:
We know people are experiencing emotions ranging from fear and anger to confusion and disbelief because of the evolving situation with the Coronavirus. Here are tips to help you and your loved ones cope during this stressful time. https://rdcrss.org/2QmfQ92
How parents and other adults react to this situation around children is important to their mental health during this time. Words matter. Here is some guidance on how to talk to kids about the Coronavirus crisis https://rdcrss.org/2WyHV13
Finally, if you would like to help, here are a couple things you can do to help:
DONATE BLOOD- We are in dire need of blood and our national supplies are running low. Without blood, we are not able to help support ALL of the hospitals that URGENTLY NEED blood during this hectic and chaotic time. To learn more you can visit: Redcross.org/blood to find a local facility near you.
Donating to the cause: Your financial support is what drives the ability for all resources to be best utilized during these uncertain times.
Remember, that we are in this together. We know that these can be scary and uncertain times, but by following guidelines and taking care of yourself and those you care for we will get through this.
Volunteers with the American Red Cross all have various motivations to give their time to prevent and alleviate human suffering. For someone like longtime volunteer Demond George, his motivations are nothing but inspiring to others.
Having been forced to evacuate due to the disastrous Hurricane Katrina storms in 2005, Demond found his way to San Antonio and back to the American Red Cross, this time as a volunteer giving his time to help others affected by disasters.
“Demond is one of those volunteers that brings everyone together, and his positive attitude is contagious to all,” Disaster Program Manager, Tracy Beach, who serves as Demond’s primary volunteer manager said very candidly, “I don’t know where the San Antonio office would be without him. He is the glue that keeps us all connected and serves as a bridge between departments, communities and clients.”
Of all the things Demond does as part of his volunteer work, he says driving the Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV) is his favorite as it usually lets him do what he loves the most about volunteering: getting the chance to help clients rebuild. Demond’s gentle and caring persona allows him to connect both with community partners and clients alike building relationships that are essential to Red Cross success. As Tracy adds, “His work in the community shows how we need volunteers of all backgrounds and walks of life to help us achieve our goal of helping as many people as possible.”
Citing former President Barack Obama as someone he looks up to, Demond shares that’s why the Red Cross is the place for him. “We do what we need to help people,” Demond said. “President Obama stands up for what is right, and that’s what we do too. We find a way to get to ‘yes’ to help people.”
Just as President Obama serves as an inspiration for Demond, Demond does the same for many other volunteers. “Other volunteers see how cross-functional he is across all departments, and they are inspired to do the same,” Tracy shared. “From washing cars and responding to home-fire calls to building comfort kits and supporting other lines of business, Demond motivates others to get out of their comfort zone and try new opportunities.”
In the next 10 years, Demond hopes to continue serving the Red Cross mission in the community but also could become our next YouTube viral sensation showing off his hidden talents and connecting with individuals all over the world. Even his goals of becoming a YouTube sensation is founded in the hopes of having a platform to do good, and for as long as Demond is a Red Cross volunteer, we will continue to thrive as an organization serving vulnerable communities.
Congratulations to Demond for winning Volunteer of the Quarter after being nominated by several individuals across multiple lines of business in the American Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas Region!
In February, the American Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas responded to 163 calls for assistance and assisted 405 people across the Central and South Texas Region. Volunteers met with individuals affected by disasters to assess their immediate needs and provide resources for their long term physical and emotional recovery.
Central Texas: There were 43 calls for help with 95 people receiving Red Cross support. The Red Cross Serving Central Texas serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Milam, Travis, and Williamson counties.
Heart of Texas: There were 36 calls for help with 98 people receiving Red Cross support. The Red Cross Serving the Heart of Texas supports Bell, Bosque, Brazos, Burleson, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Grimes, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas, Leon, Limestone, McLennan, Madison, Robertson, and Washington counties.
Hill Country: There were nine calls for help with 30 people receiving Red Cross support. The Red Cross Serving the Texas Hill Country chapter supports Bandera, Blanco, Crockett, Edwards, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Llano, Mason, Maverick, Medina, Menard, Real, Sutton, Uvalde, and Val Verde counties.
Permian Basin: There were 13 calls for help with 43 people receiving Red Cross support. The Red Cross Serving Permian Basin supports Andrews, Borden, Brewster, Crane, Dawson, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Howard, Irion, Jeff Davis, Loving, Martin, Midland, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Sterling, Terrell, Upton, Ward, and Winkler counties.
Greater San Antonio: There were 60 calls for help with 139 people receiving Red Cross Support. The Red Cross Serving Greater San Antonio supports Atascosa, Bexar, Comal, Dimmit, Frio, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, LaSalle, Webb, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties.
In each case, families and individuals were given financial resources for a place to stay, clothes, food and medicine, as needed. If needed, health and mental health services are provided. Along with providing casework for the residents in a quick and efficient time frame. In addition, volunteers provide follow-up calls to assist individuals on a clear path to recovery. Today, as throughout our long history, the American Red Cross depends on generous contributions of time, blood, and money to support our lifesaving services and programs. Donate, or sign up to volunteer at redcross.org.
Patients fighting cancer need more blood than patients fighting any other disease, using nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply. That’s why this February, the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society have teamed up to encourage people across the country to Give Blood to Give Time, ensuring loved ones have the strength and support to battle cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. An estimated 129,770 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Texas this year. Many of these people will likely have a need for blood.
“A loved one’s cancer diagnosis often makes families and friends feel helpless. That’s why the Give Blood to Give Time partnership with the American Cancer Society is so important,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer, American Red Cross. “When someone donates blood or platelets or makes a financial gift, they are helping to give patients and their families time, resources and the hope they need to fight back.”
Some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, reducing red blood cell and platelet production. Other times, the cancer itself or surgical procedures cause the problem. Blood products are often needed. In fact, five units of blood are needed every minute to help someone going through cancer treatment. Yet only 3% of people in the United States give blood. More people are needed to donate regularly to help meet the need.
“The need for blood in cancer treatments is an important and untold story,” said Gary Reedy, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “The American Cancer Society is excited to be working with the Red Cross on Give Blood to Give Time. Through this partnership, we want people to know there are multiple ways they can help and make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and their families.”
Individuals can honor their loved ones by making a blood donation appointment or financial contribution at GiveBloodToGiveTime.org.
Who donations help
In March 2017, Celisa Alston’s cancer diagnosis came as a complete shock. Her treatment included 12 chemotherapy rounds and a blood transfusion. In remission since 2018, Celisa continues to enjoy being a mom of two and her work as Red Cross Volunteer Intake Processing Center divisional manager.
“It’s hard to believe it’s almost been three years,” Alston said. “I’m thankful blood was available when I needed it and really grateful to be healthy and looking forward to watching my son graduate from high school this spring.”
Upcoming blood donation opportunities:
Austin, TX February 20, 2020 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Student Activity Center (SAC), 2201 Speedway
Cedar Park, TX February 15, 2020 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple of Austin, 2509 West New Hope Drive
Thrall, TX February 19, 2020 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Thrall High School, 601 S BOUNDS ST
College Station, TX February 16, 2020 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. TAMU Squadron Six, 777 Military Mall
Navasota, TX February, 11, 2020 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. First United Methodist Church, 616 Holland
How to donate blood
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% 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.
About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 1.5 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization attacking cancer from every angle. For more information go to www.cancer.org.
On January 10, 2020 through January 12, seventy staff and volunteers from the American Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas Region receivedsupervisory disaster training. This training is designed to instruct future leaders in disaster relief operations in the Central and South Texas region and across the nation. This is one way the Red Cross fulfills its mission of preparing communities for disasters. Below, hear from one of our volunteers who participated in the weekend long training.
Written by Chris Conn American Red Cross Volunteer
Ordo ex Chao, this is the slogan for the US Coast Guard’s Incident Management System. It’s Latin for “Order from Chaos” and I often think how well this slogan relates to all things Red Cross. From local disasters such as a home fire where the Disaster Action Team (DAT) members rush to assist a family who just lost everything, to large national disasters where thousands of volunteers deploy to help their fellow Americans. Red Cross volunteers are ready to go at a moment’s notice, but we don’t start off this way. Hours and hours of training combined with the experience of volunteers who have been there in the time of need lead us to continue our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.
Over the weekend of January 10 – 12 I joined seventy other volunteers as we embarked on the Red Cross Central and South Texas Region’s (CSTR) first Supervisor Academy in recent years. The impact of having so many volunteers ready to step into a supervisory role during disasters will have a tremendous impact on the delivery of the Red Cross mission during disaster relief operations (DR or DRO). These are volunteers who are ready to shoulder the responsibility of setting up a mass care shelter, lead our mental health and disaster health teams and are prepared to help our communities when the time comes.
Andrew Lopez Reginal Disaster Officer for the Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas Region (CSTR), organized this training realizing the long-term benefits that having seventy trained and willing volunteer supervisors will have on future DROs not only in our region, but others as well should the need arise. “My belief is that if we have a regular gathering of key and upcoming leaders, we will build shared values and commitments to each other which will enhance our personal experience and strengthen the consistent success of CSTR,” Lopez said.
The supervisor academy took place in San Antonio, Texas and entailed an vast amount of training. Within the weekend we covered lengthy topics such as Concept of Operations, Shelter Fundamentals, Supervising the Disaster Workforce, DAT Fundamentals, and even courses that involve responding to events with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). As a volunteer myself, it was incredible to see so many people engaged and actively learning about how to further themselves and help the Red Cross.
As we approach storm season, followed by hurricane season, we’ll be ready for the inevitable. Storms will strike, hurricanes will make landfall, and homes will catch fire. As much as we don’t enjoy the aftermath of these disasters, we are trained, and we are Red Cross ready. We will do what we’ve been doing and what we always do. Respond with passion, respond with empathy, respond with care, and most importantly, respond with experience.