Sounding the Alarm for her Neighbors

By: Dale Steinke

Photos by: Betsy Robertson

Gretchen 1

If someone offered to put something in your house that might save your family’s life at some point over the next 10 years… and do it for free, would you take advantage of it?

When Gretchen Atkinson, chairman of Shoreline’s Meridian Park Neighborhood Association, learned about how people could get free smoke alarms installed through the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, she took it upon herself to make sure people in her community had a chance to sign up. Continue reading


How to Raise Water-Smart, Water-Safe Kids

By Gordon Williams


There is one very grim statistic that no parent should ignore: that nearly 400 children under 14 die from drowning in the U.S. each year. And five times that number require emergency treatment for non-fatal water-related injuries.

You can’t hope to keep kids away from water. Even if you live far away from lakes and ponds, your community or a neighbor is likely to have a pool. So how do you let your kids enjoy the water without becoming another statistic? Continue reading

Preparing youth in Kitsap County

Our Youth Preparedness team teaches free classes to schools, Scouts and other youth groups. They teach four different classes, each designed to empower youth in our community to be better prepared for emergencies. Here’s a look into our Youth Preparedness programs in Kitsap County:

On December 18, Krystina Duckworth and Ari Hock presented Passport to Preparedness at Richard Gordon Elementary School in Kingston. They informed more than 400 students how to prepare for disasters that occur in western Washington, such as earthquakes and floods. The kids especially enjoyed determining which items belong in their disaster kits by sticking pictures of potential items on the board.

Krystina teaches students  about types of food are good for their disaster kit.

Krystina teaches students about types of food that are good for their disaster kit.

On January 8, Ari and Krystina presented about community disaster preparedness to seven people at Kitsap Community Resources. Krystina has been presenting here regularly to low-income parents who are interested in learning more about how to take care of their families. One of the women recounted a story of a house fire that she had experienced and had taken her mother’s life. This moving testament was a reminder to the importance of fire safety and preparedness.

Survival Scenarios is a fun, interactive program that encourages middle schools students to work in groups to tackle tricky problems related to first aid and natural disasters. Ari and Krystina went to John Sedgwick Junior High in Port Orchard to pose these scenarios to over 100 students.

Ari leads students in the Pillowcase Project Pledge

Ari leads students in the Pillowcase Project Pledge

Ari went to Bainbridge Island on January 12 to present the Pillowcase Project to about 10 children at the Boys and Girls Club. All of the students elected to participate in the presentation and contributed to a practical discussion about disaster preparedness.

Ari and Krystina went to South Colby Elementary School on January 13 and 14 to teach the Pillowcase Project to about 300 students. The kids were excited to learn, practice, and share the information about how they could build up and use their own emergency supply kit. And of course, they were excited to receive their Disney pillowcases so they could get started.

Ari and Emily teach young museum-goers about fire safety.

Ari and Emily teach young museum-goers about fire safety.

The Children’s Discovery Museum on Bainbridge Island invited the Red Cross to teach Passport to Preparedness on Saturday, January 17. In this zany environment, Ari and Emily LaCroix managed to rally about 10 kids together for half-an-hour to teach about what items to put in an emergency kit, and how to prepare for house fires.

Ari and Emily at the Kitsap Community Resource's Hygiene Drive.

Ari and Emily at the Kitsap Community Resources Hygiene Drive.

Ari and Emily participated in Kitsap Community Resources Hygiene Drive for a productive day of service dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. They engaged customers at the local Walgreen’s for about three hours and managed to secure several boxes full of razors, toothbrushes, and the like to benefit the local homeless population. This event was organized in part by Krystina.

If you are interested in scheduling a free youth preparedness presentation, please visit our website.

Broadening the Red Cross Blogosphere

Cody teaches local law students about the Restoring Family Links program.

Cody teaches local law students about the Restoring Family Links program.

Sarah presents the Red Cross' seven fundamental principles.

Sarah presents the Red Cross’ seven fundamental principles.

Check out these excellent posts written by Western Washington Red Crossers!

Cody Austin, International Services Coordinator and AmeriCorps, wrote about Contributing to Social Justice through our Restoring Family Links program.  Cody writes of his experiences helping Iraqi clients, “As a member of an organization committed to protecting humanitarian values and social justice, I consider it a great privilege to help Iraqi refugees obtain their due and restore their human dignity.” His compassion certainly exemplifies what it means to be a Red Crosser.

Sarah Rothman, International Services and Language Bank Manager, wrote about Clara Barton in honor of International Women’s Day.  She writes, “Throughout her entire life, Clara was a fearless leader in the humanitarian movement as well as the movement towards equality for women.” Sarah’s insight reminds us of the importance of our past and how it has affected our work today.

Both posts appear on the national Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links blog. The blog is dedicated to documenting the successes of the international program to reconnect family members separated by armed conflict and natural disaster.

Cody and Sarah’s posts serve as great reminders of the hard work Red Crossers do locally and all over the world to reconnect families and alleviate human suffering. Thank you for all you do!