Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Louisville Volunteer Deployed to North Dakota

Red Cross volunteer Joe Brennan visits with a Louisville resident during a canvassing project to promote fire safety and prevention in 2009.

Louisville Area Chapter volunteer Joe Brennan has been deployed on numerous disasters, exposing him to the aftermaths of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and ice storms. His extensive experience makes it no surprise that he’s a master of speed packing.

“Within 20 minutes, I can pack,” Joe says. “I have it all in a box—everything from toothpaste, to toilet paper, to shirts. When I give an orientation, I tell people, “You never know.”

Yesterday afternoon, he packed up once again, boarding a flight to North Dakota where he will assist a fellow Red Cross Chapter responding to flooding. As a mental health specialist, Joe helps ensure that those affected by disaster receive the emotional support they need to make it through trying experiences. Once he assesses the situation and becomes familiar with local resources, he can take action to prevent additional stress.

Joe says letting people know that their reactions are normal is one of the most important things he can do, but he insists the real support comes from family and friends. Knowledge of partner organizations also helps in offering referrals for long-term support.

While deployed, Joe will also support Red Cross workers. Disaster workers are deployed anywhere from a few days to four weeks, and the stress of the operation can take its toll.

“Sometimes things get to you, and you have to pull yourself away from it,” he says. To keep himself positive, Joe reads, goes on walks and even does Tai Chi.

Disaster operations are demanding, but Joe says he loves the opportunity to meet and work with new people from all over the country and all walks of life.

“There’s no upmanship,” Joe says of working on disaster operations. “People are just people doing their job. They’re there to help others, and that’s the bottom line.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Local creative ideas raise $ for Japan

Friends Ina Miller, Andrew Wood, and Jordan Daly (pictured here with Red Crosser Lisa Grider) stopped by the Red Cross on Tuesday to turn in money donated by their friends.

Last Saturday night, hundreds of Red Cross supporters gathered at the Louisville Marriott Downtown to dance, mingle and celebrate the Red Cross mission. Little did they know another party in honor of Red Cross was going on in St. Matthews.

Under the glow of the Supermoon, Jordan Daly and his roommates threw an “80’s Spring Break” themed party as a last huzzah before moving into a new place. At the suggestion of his friend Ina Miller, the party became a fundraiser for the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief fund. By requesting donations from the parties 40+ attendants, the group was able to raise $250.

Local organizations are also doing their part to help raise money for relief efforts. The Greater Louisville Regional Japanese Saturday School (GLRJSS) used their creativity to start “Cranes of Hope.” The cranes are constructed using the Japanese paper art form Origami and sold for $1 a piece.

CORRECTION: The Louisville Orchestra has partnered with GLRJSS to host a free concert with suggested donations benefiting the relief fund. The concert takes place Saturday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, in Louisville. GLRJSS will host pre-concert activities beginning at 6:30 p.m. For more info and directions, visit the event website.

Thanks to these groups and everyone else who has donated to the relief efforts! Check out this release for the latest on Red Cross efforts in Japan.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Need something to do this weekend?

Aside from a few war battles, the legalization of gambling in Nevada and the birth of Bruce Willis, March 19 is, historically speaking, quite an uneventful day. This March 19th, join the Louisville Area Chapter as it gives winter a proper send-off.

Red Cross chapters across the nation are honoring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords with Save-a-Life Saturday, March 19, 2011. As part of the event, the Louisville Area Chapter is holding two FREE classes to teach essential CPR and first aid skills from 10-11 a.m. at the following locations:

Main Office
510 E. Chestnut St.
Louisville, KY 40201
(50 student max.)

Southwest Jefferson County Branch Office
Medical Office Bldg. I - Suite 310
9702 Stonestreet Road
(40 student max.)

Classes are first come first serve. Register online or call 561-3605.

Saturday night, members of the community are invited to the Louisville Marriott Downtown for the inaugural Wrapped in Red Gala to celebrate the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter and its community services. Cocktails, dinner and dancing to "The Atlanta Allstars" are just a few things guests can look forward to.

It's not too late to buy tickets! Visit our website to purchase tickets to either the gala or the Red Lounge--a side event featuring hors d'oeuvres, complimentary cocktails and dancing to DJ Fluid and "The Atlanta Allstars." Proceeds from both events benefit the chapter's community disaster programs.

It's been six years since the chapter's last gala event "The Great Gatsby." Visit the nFocus website for an exclusive interview with Madeline Abramson, Wrapped in Red Co-Chair.

As you walk from the Marriott to our official after party at Prime Lounge, don't forget to keep an eye out for the supermoon. As long as the skies are clear, it shouldn't be too hard to spot.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

WARNING: Do not try this at home

Home destroyed by tornado in Eminence, KY on February 28, 2011.

Monday morning’s are always rough for me, so you can imagine my displeasure at being woken up by an unyielding wailing noise at 4:30 a.m. this past Monday. After a few minutes of falling in and out of sleep, I realized that it wasn’t the neighbor’s dog or the alarm clock keeping me from REM, but the local weather siren.

Once I realized what was going on, I immediately turned on the TV for more information. Almost the entire Kentuckiana area was under a tornado warning. Knowing that the threat of a tornado was VERY highly likely, I woke my significant other and we . . . stayed in bed watching the weatherman frantically attempt to keep up with the fast-moving storm.

It’s not that I don’t know how to respond to a tornado warning. As a former disaster educator and resident of eastern Colorado, I know exactly what you are supposed to do during a tornado warning. Lying in bed is not recommended.

I must admit, I have always been terrible about following instructions, especially when it comes to tornado warnings. Perhaps it’s because ever since I saw the movie Twister, I’ve secretly aspired to be a storm chaser. I like to see what’s going on. In any case, please, as the old adage goes, do as I say, not as I do. During a storm, it just might safe your life.

Take, for example, the couple in Oldham County woken by the phone alert system. They immediately took shelter in their basement. Moments later, a tree came through their roof, landing right in their bed. If they had ignored the alert, as I did, they might not be here today.(full story)

March is notorious for stormy weather. Take time to educate yourself on how to react during tornadoes and thunderstorms, and please, leave the storm watching to the experts.