Back to School: Are You Red Cross Ready?

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Written by: Paige Rachel, American Red Cross New Hampshire Intern

Whether you’re heading to college for the first time or strolling in as an upperclassmen, the Red Cross wants you to be prepared for anything that comes your way. College can be an exciting time in anyone’s life but there are many things to consider to make sure you are having the safest experience possible.

Highway Safety

Are you and your parents hitting the road for a long drive?  Do you have your essentials packed – the mini fridge, flatscreen TV and every sweatshirt you’ve ever owned?  Okay, okay Mom… I mean the textbooks, external hard drive and the printer.  Be sure to pack the car carefully and make sure you can still see through the rear window.  Also, do a simple safety check before you take off and check your lights, tire pressure and fluid levels.

Click here for more Red Cross traveling and moving tips.

Dorm Life

Once you’re moved in, share your contact information and class schedule with your roommates in case of an emergency and also let them know of your emergency contacts like your parent’s information.  A simple first aid kit will definitely come in handy more than you think.  Whether you get involved with intramural sports or get a cooking lesson from someone down the hall, those bandaids and ace wrap will be helpful!

Click here for the anatomy of a Red Cross first aid kit!

As much as you probably don’t want to hear it, the fire alarm WILL go off.  Whether it’s just a test, someone burnt their popcorn, or a kid thought it would be funny at 2 AM, you WILL experience the fire alarm going off at least once in your dorm.  So check with your RA about the protocol and the emergency exits so you’re prepared no matter how late it happens.

Your school has probably already sent you hundreds of emails about the upcoming semester and you may or may not have opened them all but what is really important is that you sign up for email and text message alerts in case of an emergency on campus.  Double check that your email address and cell phone number is correct and up to date so you know what’s going on the minute it happens.

Volunteering

Getting involved around campus can be a great way to meet new friends and network for future internships or even a job!  The Red Cross has many locations – see where your local chapter is here.  You can either donate your time or you can donate blood!  Start building your resume through volunteering with the Red Cross and make a difference with your free time, there’s so much more to college than classes and Netflix.

App Downloads

Did someone say free?  Along with all of the campus freebies you’ll get when you get back to school, why not download some helpful Red Cross apps since you always have your phone on you?  No matter where you go on campus, you can have helpful information in the palm of your hand by downloading the Red Cross mobile apps, free on iTunes and Google Play stores.  Step-by-step instructions have never been more clear than with the First Aid app!  Depending on where your school is, whether you attend school down South or even all the way on the West coast, the Red Cross weather apps can be extremely helpful.  Topics like tornadoes, floods and hurricanes are covered through individual apps.

Getting to Know You: Margaret Wedge, Program Manager for Nurse Assistant Training Programs in NH and VT

“I am proud to be part of an organization whose mission is to provide help in times of crisis, and to educate people on how to prevent and prepare for a variety of natural and man made disasters.”

By David Moore, American Red Cross New Hampshire Blog Writer

If you stop by the Red Cross offices sometime and happen to spot a pretty girl wearing a Hawaiian shirt and gardenia in her hair, and strumming a ukulele, don’t break out in the Hula just yet … chances are that you’ve just met the subject of this month’s Getting to Know You blog posting.

Margaret Wedge is the Program Manager for the Nurse Assistant Training (NAT) Programs in New Hampshire and Vermont. A National Red Cross employee (one of just a handful of paid Red Cross staff in New Hampshire), Margaret is a former Red Cross Regional Business Manager and has worked with the NH Chapter Executive Director to regionalize the program.

As the NAT Program Manager, Margaret helped to develop the program’s Standard Operating Process and to implement an Educational Career School Model. However, she credits the program’s success to all those who work to administer and conduct these valuable educational classes.

“I work with an amazing team of dedicated school staff and instructors who always go the extra mile to help and guide our students,” Margaret said.

Margaret Wedge, Program Manager for Nurse Assistant Training Programs in NH and VT.

Margaret Wedge, Program Manager for Nurse Assistant Training Programs in NH and VT.

Born and raised in the Boston area, Margaret moved north to New Hampshire in 1988. She currently lives in Manchester with her husband, four cats and a dog. She is a grandmother of two: a grandson from her son’s family in Alaska and a granddaughter from her other son’s family in New Hampshire.

She loves to travel, and lived and worked in Antigua, West Indies, before settling down to come to work with the Red Cross in 2007. Margaret loves the ocean and spends summer weekends at the family camp on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Margaret also supports the Friends of Manchester Animal Shelter, and, just for fun, she sings and plays guitar, ukulele and the mandolin … in fact, she even performs as a singer/musician with the NH Ukeladies.

So, what makes Margaret tick? Well, the RCBlog asked her to answer some of our scientifically-designed, psychologically-probing, immaculately researched … well, basically, the best questions we could come up with on short notice … that we hope might give you some insight.

RCBlog: What song do you love to sing along with when it comes on the radio?

MW: I love to sing… so I sing along with most everything.

RCBlog: What book or movie can always make you tear up?

MW: “Love Actually” I love happy endings …

RCBlog: Who is your favorite celebrity and why?

MW: Tony Bennett- because he is a Talented Singer, a Humanitarian/Activist, and an Artist.

RCBlog: If you were to star in a reality television show, what would its title be?

MW: Proud Mom.

RCBlog: What do you like to do when you have some free time on your hands?

MW: Take a pottery class.

RCBlog: If you built a time machine, where would you want to go first?

MW: Rome during the Renaissance

RCBlog: What is your favorite quote and why?

MW: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” Gandhi … I think that everyone has the power to make a difference in a positive way in their own lives, in their community, or even in the world.

 

Bank of New Hampshire Purchases AED Machines From American Red Cross

By: Sara Harper, American Red Cross New Hampshire Communications/External Relations Intern.

On June 24, 2014, Bank of New Hampshire received 22 Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machines from the American Red Cross. Bank of New Hampshire is a corporate partner of American Red Cross New Hampshire, and the purchasing of the AED machines contributed to this partnership.

Vickie Routhier, SVP – Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Bank of New Hampshire said, “We decided to go with the Red Cross for the AED machines because we are a supporter of the Red Cross not only in the Lakes Region, but throughout the state and we felt that they [Red Cross] would be a great partner for us not only supplying AEDs but helping us create a training program.”

Donna Stevens, American Red Cross Health and Safety Account Executive pictured with Vickie Routhier, SVP – Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Bank of New Hampshire display a Red Cross Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machines. Bank of New Hampshire purchased 22 AED machines for their locations.

Donna Stevens, American Red Cross Health and Safety Account Executive pictured with Vickie Routhier, SVP – Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Bank of New Hampshire display a Red Cross Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machines. Bank of New Hampshire purchased 22 AED machines for their locations.

The realization of needing AED machines came to Bank of New Hampshire when there was a situation at one of the bank’s offices. This situation took place maybe a year and a half ago where an AED machine was needed. The fire department was close by and was able to respond quickly to the incident and they were able to revive the person.

“We would like to thank Bank of New Hampshire for being one of our partners and purchasing AED machines through the Red Cross,” said Donna Stevens, American Red Cross Health and Safety Account Executive. “We look forward to helping out with getting Bank of New Hampshire’s employees trained on how to use the AED machines.”

Bank of New Hampshire has partnered with the American Red Cross for a variety of different events. This is just one of the partnerships that they have done. Others include fundraisers, social media voting help and getting the word out about blood drives that are happening through the Red Cross.

Volunteer Spotlight: Fred Coolbroth, Jr., Executive Committee and Board of Directors Member

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Okay, so most of us are used to seeing Red Cross shelter tents and brightly-colored volunteers at disaster sites, blood drives, and public service events across the New Hampshire region and wherever people are impacted by disaster in the US and around the world.

Let’s call this the Public Face of the Red Cross.

But there are a few volunteers, like Fred Coolbroth, Jr., who do important Red Cross work that most people never even think about. These are the faceless few who organize and manage everything from budgets and fundraisers toeducation and testing programs, medical transportation, personnel recruitment and disaster response resources.

Leading the way in this behind-the-scenes work is the New Hampshire Region’s Board of Directors, a group of professionals, business owners and community leaders from across the state who form the backbone of American Red Cross New Hampshire.

Let’s call this the Private Face of the Red Cross.

“As a member of the Board of Directors, these volunteers are often somewhat removed from our day to day mission work. They don’t work with disaster victims or meet military families who request our help, and they don’t always see the work of the Red Cross in action,” said Maria White-Devlin, CEO of Red Cross New Hampshire. “Instead, Board Members like Fred have faith that this organization is serving the community in unique and amazing ways. Without the hard work of dedicated people like Fred, we would not be able to help those who need us during their most desperate times.”

So, who is this Fred Coolbroth, Jr., guy?

Good question. The first thing you ought to know is that Fred is actually the second “Fred Coolbroth” to sit on the Board of Directors. Fred Coolbroth, Sr., was a longtime Red Cross volunteer and a member of its Board of Directors for many years.

“I learned about these opportunities through my father,” the younger Fred said. “I deeply believe in the American Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.”

Fred Coolbroth, Jr., has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2008.

Fred%2c Maria%2c Roxanne - Golf 2013

Fred lives in Concord with his wife, Lexie, where he is a successful tax and corporate attorney at Rath, Young and Pignatelli, P.C.Prior to joining the New Hampshire Region Board of Directors, Fred was a member of the Board of Directors of the Granite Chapter. And each year he still comes out from behind the curtain to volunteer at the annual Heroes Breakfast, honoring ordinary citizens and groups from across the state who took extraordinary measures to help out a neighbor in need. The local impact of the Red Cross work is especially important to Fred.

Toyota of Nashua to Sponsor This Year’s Red Cross Golf Tournament, Again

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by David Moore, New Hampshire Red Cross Volunteer Blog Writer

That’s right Red Cross supporters and golf fans, the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Red Cross is teeing up for its annual fundraising golf tournament, held this year at the Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown.

This is the 21st year for the annual Red Cross golf tournament event, and it has become a major fundraiser for the New Hampshire chapter. The tournament is held in country clubs across the state, but Toyota of Nashua has been a major sponsor from the very beginning.

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“Each year that the annual golf tournament has been held, Toyota of Nashua has been our title sponsor,” said Maria White, Chief Executive Officer for American Red Cross New Hampshire. “We want to thank Toyota of Nashua for being our title sponsor for 21 years and we encourage other area businesses to consider joining them in sponsoring this traditional event.”

The 21th Annual Golf Classic Tournament will be held on September 9th at the Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown.  The entry fee is $700 per foursome ($175 per person), which  includes all greens fees, cart, use of driving range and putting green, breakfast and lunch. The event begins with registration and a continental breakfast at 8 am, and will wrap up with a fun-filled awards lunch and raffle.

The Red Cross is currently seeking sponsors for the Golf Classic. As a Red Cross sponsor, you will get the opportunity to network with some of the area’s leading businesses and organizations, while also become an integral partner with the Red Cross in serving our New Hampshire neighbors in need.

September 9th is just around the corner, so be sure to secure your tee time today. Help the Red Cross hit a hole in one during this important fundraiser. The good work the Red Cross is able to do depends largely on your support … and, besides, what better way to promote the community investment your business is making than by becoming part of the Red Cross support network.

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 www.redcross.org/nhor visit us on Twitter at @NHRedCross.

Be Red Cross Ready this July 4th – Holiday Safety Is No Accident

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by David Moore, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Blog Writer

Okay Red Cross Blog fans, show of hands: How many of you out there are planning to gather with friends and family, make some noise and eat some barbecue this upcoming Fourth of July weekend? Hmmm … looks like most of us are planning to join the celebration.

Okay, so how many of you plan to spend part of your weekend in the Emergency Room of your local hospital? Anybody?

Well, according to government statistics almost 10,000 people ended up being hospitalized because of July 4th – related injuries over the past three years, more than a quarter of those cases involved kids age 15 and younger. The study goes on to say that most of these injuries are related to fireworks, and that injuries include serious burns and even blindness.

The American Red Cross wants to help you to keep your Fourth of July celebration a happy and healthy one by offering some helpful safety tips to ensure that your family outing is not ruined by grilling, swimming or firework accidents.

Water Safety

If swimming is part of your holiday plans, be sure to check the weather, obey posted safety rules, and swim only at a lifeguard-protected pool or beach. Avoid alcohol before and during any water activities and make sure to never swim alone. Other safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Actively supervise children at all times – even if a lifeguard is present. Stay within arm’s reach of young children when they are in the water.
  • Have weak swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Don’t rely on water wings or inflatable toys.
  • Always enter shallow water feet first. Dive only in areas marked safe for diving.

 

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Additional water safety tips are located at redcross.org/watersafetytips.

Sun and Heat Safety

I don’t know about you guys, but every time the wife and I go to the beach she spackles me up with sunblock so thick that I look like a crazed Kabuki dancer in baggy shorts and a Red Sox cap. However, medical experts agree that we all should limit the amount of direct sunlight we are exposed to between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and throughout the day we should apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb UV sunlight, and remember to wear some kind of beach shoes to protect those tootsies.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Wear loose-fitting clothing, lightweight and light colored (avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays). Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors, and don’t leave any people or pets in vehicles.

During particularly hot spells, be sure to check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone, or who are more likely to be affected by the heat, especially the elderly.

Fireworks Safety

Nothing says “Fourth of July” like fireworks. To help stay safe while enjoying them, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

 

Grilling Safety

If a picnic and grilled goodies are part of your holiday plans, then be sure to follow these steps:

  • Always watch the barbecue grill when in use.
  • Never grill indoors – not in a house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure children and pets stay away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.

 

In addition to these tips, all iPhone and Android smart phone owners should download the American Red Cross First Aid Suand disaster preparedness apps now so they will have finger-tip access to helpful information during both local disasters and everyday emergencies.

And for our Spanish-speaking friends out there, the American Red Cross has launched six Spanish-language apps for disasters and home emergencies with easy, lifesaving information that will help keep families safe during hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, wildfiresor floods. Nuestra colección de aplicaciones móviles bilingües provee la información adecuada que Ud. necesita para las emergencias cotidianas y los desastres naturales. Y ahora, dentro de la aplicación puede cambiar fácilmente de inglés al español con solo tocar un botón!

The Red Cross First Aid app gives people direct access to expert advice for everyday emergencies, and the five Red Cross disaster preparedness apps give people local, real-time information during times of severe weather or disaster.

All these apps are free, and you can find them in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

Volunteer Spotlight: Heidi Foster, Red Cross Club Advisor for Hollis Brookline High School

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By David Moore, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Blog Writer.

First of all, I’d like to give a big “Hello There” to our loyal Red Cross Blog readers. Also, afriendly “How YaDoin” to you occasional readers out there who enjoy a good blog posting now and again … and, of course,a trendy “WuzUp”to those of you who clicked on the wrong web address while searching for Red Rock Crossing in Sedona AZ.

This week, lucky you, you get to read about an inspiring Red Cross New Hampshire volunteer who is working to extend her tradition of service and commitment to community into the next generation.

Heidi Foster has strong family ties to the American Red Cross, so to speak. Her mother’s father served in Europe during WWII and the International Red Cross delivered her grandmother’s letters and pictures of Heidi’s mom (then a baby) to him on the battlefield. As a child, Heidi remembers her father’s dadgetting his Red Cross pin for donating 10 gallons of blood, a goal she hopes to reach someday.  When the Indian Ocean tsunami hit in 2004, her grandparents were quick to donate to help the International Red Cross get life-saving food, water, and medical supplies to survivors. Each of these stories is a part of Heidi’s family history, and, collectively, they have shaped her life … and, by extension, the lives she touches everyday.

Heidi Foster, Red Cross Volunteer

Heidi Foster, Red Cross Volunteer

“I’ve been a Red Cross blood donor and have made financial contributions for most of my adult life, and I’d also taken CPR, First Aid and Shelter training,” Heidi said. “I wanted to follow the examples my parents and grandparents set and pass some of that along to a new generation.”

And so, in 2008, when a destructive tornado ripped through five New Hampshire counties killing one person and damaging more than 500 homes, Heidi decided it was time to deepen her commitment to both her Community and the Red Cross. She started the Hollis Brookline High School Red Cross Club that year with eight members and a determination to show young people that they can play an important role in school and community safety.

“I saw an opportunity to empower young people to help others andto make a real difference with our neighbors during their greatest time of need,” Heidi said.

This past school year the Red Cross Club had more than 30 members and is currently among the most active of the four Red Cross high school clubs in the state. During the six years Heidi has been advisor, the youth club has:

  • Organized five blood drives, collecting 176 pints of life-saving blood.
  • Conducted several fundraisers including bake sales, Murder Mystery Dinners, 50/50 raffles, etc. raising more than $12,000.
  • Organized the Hollis Upper Elementary School Safety Fair for six years, providing information and interactive games focusing on fire safety, basic first aid training, disaster preparation and water safety.
  • Wrote holiday cards for military personnel through the Red Cross Holiday Cards for Heroes Program (this past year they sent 480 cards!).
  • Ensured all members are Red Cross CPR and First Aid certified.

 

Alaine Williams, Director of Volunteer Services, NH Region  Heidi Foster Maria White, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross NH

Alaine Williams, Director of Volunteer Services, NH Region with Heidi Foster and American Red Cross NH CEO Maria White

“The annual Safety Fair is probably one of the best examples of what we accomplish as a club,” Heidi said. “It’s become a tradition since the first club president, David Muse, handed over his Eagle Scout Project for the club to continue annually. With the support of administration and teachers at Hollis Elementary School, club members teach the younger students important safety information and have a blast doing it.”

Of course, Heidi’s volunteer spirit and energy shines out beyond her role as youth group advisor. A mother of three grown children who lives in Hollis and teaches literature and writing, Heidi also has collected cards for St. Jude’s Hospital Camp, visited area nursing homes, participated in the Penguin Plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics, and bought gifts for kids in need during the school-wide holiday program – The Giving Tree.

However, she says it’s hard to beat the feeling she gets when she sees the satisfaction in her students’ faces after running a successful blood drive, or sending a check for several thousand dollars because of the club’s fundraising efforts, or when students are running the 4th grade Safety Fair teaching Masters of Disaster, Basic Aid Training, and Water Safety.

“There’s nothing like it!” Heidi said. “I know my kids are learning the lessons of volunteerism, and that they are likely to go on and ‘do good’ long after they graduate.”

Volunteer Opportunities

The American Red Cross depends largely on volunteers like Heidi who are trained to help prepare their communities for emergencies, teach  lifesaving skills, connect families or simply lend a helping hand to their neighbors in need. In return, our volunteers receive fulfillment, enrichment, gratification and a renewed spirit of belonging and giving. To learn more about volunteer opportunities in your area, go to the American Red Cross of New Hampshire website or download the Team Red Cross app. Each year, more than a million Americans work as Red Cross volunteers. Join Team Red Cross and discover how you, too, can make a difference.

 

Red Cross New Hampshire 2014 Annual Meeting Recap

By Michele Robertson, American Red Cross New Hampshire volunteer.

On Thursday June 19th, the 2014 Annual Meeting for American Red Cross New Hampshire Region was held at the Grappone Toyota Showroom in Bow.  So, what exactly you ask, is an annual meeting?  It is an opportunity to reflect on Red Cross New Hampshire’s successes and challenges over the last fiscal year, recognize donors, conduct the formal election of new board members and say goodbye to board members who are at the end of their term.  We would love to share some of the highlights of this year’s meeting.

The evening kicked off with a chance to meet and greet fellow volunteers, donors, board members and staff.  Many of our volunteers and staff work from different parts of the state via email or phone and the evening gave us a chance to finally “put a name to a face”. Maria White,  CEO for Red Cross New Hampshire, had a lot of work to do to get everyone to settle down and get on with the meeting since all were enjoying this part of the evening!

After a brief introduction, the evening began with a few opening remarks from our host, Larry K. Haynes, President and CEO of Grappone. He pointed out that American Red Cross New Hampshire works hard to provide quality service to the folks that need our services, much like his business strives to do the same.

Stephanie Couturier, our Chief Development Officer, then took the floor to review where we stand with the financial fundraising that is crucial to our operations. She shared some interesting statistics about the American Red Cross and how we impact people every hour of every day. Stephanie explained the various levels of philanthropic giving and took the time to recognize several people who gave ARC NH these levels of contributions over the past year.

Jeff Dudley, Chairman for the Board of Directors, took over the floor from Stephanie to conduct the official business portion of the evening, the highlight of which is welcoming new board members. Jeff took the time to explain that the board of directors spent the last year working on the strategic plan for the next 4 years.

Maria White decided to forego the traditional keynote address and instead invited several volunteers to highlight a “day in the life” of an American Red Cross volunteer in New Hampshire. Maria used a fictional clock to symbolize the hours of the day and one of the twelve volunteers stepped forward to give a brief explanation of the role that they perform. The volunteers represented the First Aid Team, the Disaster Action Team, Volunteer Management, Board of Directors, Communications/External Relations, International Services, Service to the Armed Forces, Shelter Management, Mass Feeding, Community Partnerships, Disaster Health Services and the UNH Red Cross club. There were several humorous moments throughout the presentation and our volunteers did a wonderful job demonstrating the wonderful work they do every day. Our volunteers are the backbone of our organization and without them we could not do the valuable work we do each day!​

Here are some of the photos from last night’s meeting:

 

 

Getting to Know Your Red Cross: International Services

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by David Moore, Volunteer Blog Writer, American Red Cross New Hampshire

At first blush, you might think that the people working in the Red Cross International Services program here in New Hampshire shouldn’t have very much to do. After all, we’re a New England state with deep Yankee roots and a granite hard sense of community. When I was growing up in New Hampshire, my community looked much like I did. I never had much call to think about things like diversity, or to wonder what problems people from other countries might have assimilating to a new life in a new land.

Today, however, one in 20 of us living here in New Hampshire was born in a foreign country, according to 2011 US Census Bureau statistics, which means that there were some 74,000 immigrants living in New Hampshire then, and even more have come to live in our state. And as the face of the state’s population evolves, the American Red Cross International Services programs have evolved with it, today offering a variety of services to immigrants including a program to reconnect with overseas relatives, international humanitarian law support, and an initiative to promote measles and rubella inoculations.

“There is a common perception that there would not be much of a need for an international services department in New Hampshire, but, in fact, it is very much the opposite,” said Sarah Romac, International Services Program Lead for the New Hampshire Region. “This year we have put a great deal of effort into developing the International Services Department in NH.”

Red Cross International Services

When most people think about American Red Cross International Services, they envision groups of individuals being deployed overseas to help with disasters. While response to international disasters is coordinated at the nation level, the New Hampshire Red Cross chapter focuses its services on reaching out to the international/intercultural communities within NH.

New Hampshire International Services administers three national Red Cross immigrant assistance programs (RFL, IHL and Measles/Rubella) and works with outside groups to promote other services that can be adjusted to community needs. The three national programs include: Restoring Family Links (RFL), International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Measles&Rubella Initiative.

Restore Family Links

The Restoring Family Links program helps families locate missing relatives by working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations in nearly every country around the world. Annually, the American Red Cross assists more than 5,000 families trying to reconnect with their loved ones in the U.S. and around the world.

Here in New Hampshire, the International Services team works with immigrant and refugee programs around the state to both get the word out to immigrant populations that this service is available, and to educate people on how to initiate the process.

“Our goal is to inform individuals who were separated by civil unrest or disasters in the past and need assistance contacting their loved one,” Romac said. “Another goal is to make sure we have an efficient communication and network system in place for when international disasters happen, such as with Typhoon Haiyan, which will allow us to respond quickly to current needs”

If you or someone you know has lost contact due to the recent disaster in country name and is unable to communicate with family members by any other means please call the New Hampshire American Red Cross regional office at 603-225-6697 or email sarah.romac@redcross.org.

For more information regarding this service please visit http://www.redcross.org/familylinks

 

International Humanitarian Law

The American Red Cross has a long tradition of supporting the implementation of international humanitarian law and raising awareness of the legal limits in war. Today, the International Humanitarian Law initiative is a way for the organization to continue its historic mission working to strength the rule of law and alleviating the suffering of victims of disasters and armed conflict wherever they may be found. This includes the refugee population of New Hampshire.

Measles & Rubella Initiative

Launched in 2001 by the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and World Health Organization, the Measles & Rubella Initiative has successfully inoculated more than 1.1 billion children worldwide. Here in New Hampshire, the International Services team works to identify and educate refugee and immigrant populations about this initiative.

While the Restore Family Links program is up and running in the state, the New Hampshire team still is trying to developing volunteer capacity to take on all these programs and services. We would like to see the International Humanitarian Lawprogram be co-coordinated with the youth department, and the Measles & Rubella Initiative to have its own group coordinator who can focus on fundraising and developing outreach education for the initiative. So … if anybody out there fits the bill, you can’t choose a more rewarding way to share your enthusiasm and expertise.

Here in New Hampshire

Over the past year, the New Hampshire chapter has been working hard to identify both individuals and service agencies working with immigrant populations and educating these organizations about Red Cross services, education, and safety programs. Their work includes:

Community Outreach and Partnerships

  • We have been working to connect with organizations and groups throughout NH. This involves gathering information on who the intercultural and foreign born individuals, groups, and organizations are and where they reside throughout the state.
  • We reach out to organizations, groups, and individuals to build relationships through which we can share services and information about community needs.
  • We inform other organizations about what the Red Cross does in general and they can disseminate this information to their constituents.

Organizations that we have developed partnerships with include:

  • The International Institute of New England
  • Organization for Immigrant and Refugee Success
  • State Office of Minority and Refugee Affairs
  • Lutheran Social Services of New England
  • New American Africans and many others

“Doing outreach has helped us create a contact network for communication and allowed us to be more a part of the community,” Romac said.

Preparedness Education

While the Red Cross currently offers preparedness training, that training often needs to be modified and made applicable to English Language Learners (ELL) and people new to the NH environment, culture and disaster threatpotential. Some examples of topics that we are looking to make culturally sensitive and create training material for include is fire safety, winter weather storms and power outages, basic emergency and safety kits, as well as educating people on the overall services the Red Cross can provide in times of a disaster.

International Services is developing culturally sensitive materials and is working to get the word out with the International Institute of New England, Lutheran Social Services, Holy Cross Family Learning Center, Catholic Charities of NE and other non-profits that currently offer classes, mostly English Language Learning classes. By working with these organizations and sharing the preparedness information with them, we can incorporate it into the classroom curriculum or group activities in a way that is most effective for learning.

Internal/ External Awareness

This program is aimed at educating Red Cross volunteers about the intercultural NH communities they work with, as well as giving external organizations and groups an awareness of what the Red Cross services are and how theyimpact the population they serve.

“Our role is to support organizations providing direct services to the immigrant population while providing information about emergencies and disasters and how to be prepared for them when it is possible. This also includes making sure that the NH Red Cross and state officials include English Language Learners and foreign-born individuals in the disaster plans so evacuation notices, emergency instructions, shelters, transportation and other resources crucial to disaster recovery are available to everyone,” Romac said. “It is our role to make sure we are preparing before and responding during and after disasters to all individuals, equally.”

 

Did You Know: In Washington, D.C., last October, Bao Dang became the first New Hampshire Red Cross volunteer to be presented with the International Humanitarian Service Award. The award recognizes an individual or group whose work exemplifies or inspires the humanitarian values of human dignity, respect and compassion implied in the Fundamental Principles of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network.

Getting to Know You: Ian Dyar, Regional Disaster Program Officer

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“In times of disaster, the Red Cross is there for you and your family. Whether it’s a house fire, a regional flood or a crisis during military deployment, the Red Cross will help you with emergency needs and support to get you back on your feet.”

Ian Dyar, Regional Disaster Program Officer

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Ian with Maria White, Chief Executive Officer, NH Region and Skip Dehart, Manager of Services to the Armed Forces, New England

It wasn’t all that long ago that Ian Dyar was painting his body orange and blue in support of the University of Florida Gators football team (don’t deny it, Ian, we’ve got ESPN photos). Today, Ian brings that kind of enthusiasm and team spirit to his work as Regional Disaster Program Officer for the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Last year, Ian was deployed in Colorado to assist with Disaster Relief Operations following devastating flooding there. Ian reported back to New Hampshire Red Cross supporters by posting regular updates on the NHRC Blog site. While in Colorado, Ian also recorded a promotional YouTube video in which he talks about the immediate and long-term impacts made by Red Cross volunteers. In the video he relates a story about being a young boy racing around the family pool with a neighbor girl. When she fell in and started to drown, Ian remembered his Red Cross rescue training from a beginners swimming class: “Reach or Throw, but Don’t Go.”

That day he managed to help his neighbor out of the pool without endangering himself. More than twenty years later he received an invitation to the girl’s doctoral graduation … she was becoming an oncologist, helping people to battle and survive cancer.

“What I’ve discovered is, as a Red Cross volunteer, regardless of what we are doing on the ground, we are making an impact, today, tomorrow and twenty years from now,” Dyar said.

So what kind of person is Ian? Well, a few fun questions might give you some insight. Then again …

RCBlog: What was your most rewarding experience as a Red Cross staff member?

Ian: My experiences are always rewarding, and unfortunately I can’t discern a “favorite.”

RCBlog: What is your favorite quote and why?

Ian: “Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.” It was something that stuck with me through college, and is, no doubt, relevant to today’s environment.

RCBlog: What song gets the most play on your iPad?

Ian: I don’t have an iPad, but I have to say my favorite station on Pandora is my personalized Daft Punk channel.

RCBlog: If you could magically have any skill for a day, what would that be and why?

Ian: Just one?? And Skill or Superpower? Could invincibility be a skill?

RCBlog: Which celebrity do you look the most like?MV5BMjE4NDMwMzc4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDg4Nzg4Mg@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_

Ian: I have been told Gerard Butler ……………………………………………………………………………………..

RCBlog: When you have some free time on your hands, what is it you like to do?

Ian: Doing anything outdoors – Camping, Hiking, Beaching

RCBlog: What do you miss most about being a kid?

Ian: Acceptable irresponsibility and high metabolism.

RCBlog: What movie or book or reality television show always makes you tear up?

Ian: Tosh.0

RCBlog: What is the best part of waking up each day?

Ian: The excitement of the unknown and what new challenges will arise.

RCBlog: What advice would you give somebody who is thinking about becoming a Red Cross Volunteer?

Ian: There is a lot going on, and even after several years I am still learning new things. Be as much of a sponge as possible with all disciplines, open minded, understanding, and flexible. Semper Gumby!

 

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