Thursday, December 31, 2009

Your New Year's Resolution

So many New Year’s resolutions concern improving oneself. Tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, make a resolution to keep you and your loved ones safer. Be Red Cross Ready! It only takes three steps:

1. Build a Kit
2. Make a plan
3. Be informed

Don’t let disaster catch you off guard in 2010. For more information on emergency preparedness, visit

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Better to Give than Receive

The older I get, the more those early lessons my parents taught me prove to be true. One such lesson is that it is better to give than receive and it's always appropriate during the hectic holiday months.

It really hit home for me when I volunteered at the Louisville Red Cross and Louisville Professional Firefighters Union Local 345 23rd Annual Holiday Party on December 16. We got the opportunity to give a little bit of holiday cheer to over 300 Kentuckiana children who lost their belongings to home fires in the past year.

Being witness to that many young people getting to visit with Santa and not go home empty handed was quite a delight. However, the smile on faces of their parents and guardians was equally rewarding.

I had the privilege of speaking with Shawn, who takes care of her two grandchildren. She told me that they lost just about everything to a fire a few months ago. Thankfully, the family is getting back on its feet and Shawn had high praise for the Red Cross, an organization that until recently, she thought was just for donating blood. Our local chapter responds to about 25 home fires every month and provides victims with assistance for food, clothing, prescription medications, temporary shelter and other special needs a family may have. Shawn referred to the volunteer that helped her family as their "little angel." What was really moving was that Shawn, who didn't consider herself the "volunteer type," was so taken by her experience with the Red Cross that she now volunteers at her local animal shelter.

It truly is better to give than receive.

A Most Wonderful Party

I’m not sure who was more eager to watch Santa’s arrival at the Annual Holiday Party—the children, or their parents. There was lots of shouting and excitement as parents carried their kids to see the jolly man himself ride up in style atop a fire truck with flashing red and blue lights.

Since it was my first year, I tried to be everywhere at once. While waiting for their turn with Santa, children and their families could join Red Cross volunteers for crafts, games, face painting or snacks which included donated goodies from our friend Erica at Citizens for Cake!

Overall 71 families attended, and 163 Children sat on Santa’s lap to receive gifts donated by the Professional Firefighters Local Union 345. It was great to see the smile on each kids face as they received their bag of gifts, and also a great reminder of how good it feels to bring a little glimmer of hope to others during hard times.

Thanks to everyone for your donations and support of the party! Without you, it would not be possible 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Don't play with fire! ... Please :)

Waking up to a home filled with smoke is something no one expects and definitely not something anyone wants. That's just what happened this morning to families living in the Hunt Club Apartment Complex in Louisville. Luckily, everyone made it out safely, finding shelter across the street at the Auburndale Baptist Church or with family and friends. A total of six Red Cross workers were called in providing emergency assistance to 42 people.

By the time I arrived, the excitement had died down, but listening as our client caseworkers interviewed families (many of which lost everything) reinstated the importance of preparedness. Below are some tips that could just save your life, or just save you lots of money.

Make sure you have two escape routes planned. Some tenants from this morning’s fire climbed out of windows to escape.

Install smoke alarms! According to the National Fire Protection Association there were no smoke alarms present in 40% of home fire deaths that occurred from 2003 to 2006.

Make sure you have homeowners or renters insurance, which is offered by many car insurance providers. This will be a huge help during long-term recovery.

For more info on fire safety and preparedness, visit

Red Cross Disaster Action Team members Carrie Smith and Jammie Carlisle assist an apartment tenant after the fire.