Help Prepare Communities for and Recover from Disaster: AmeriCorps Members Wanted!

The American Red Cross is looking for people to make a meaningful difference in our Northwest community!

AmeriCorps is a great opportunity to serve your community, build professional skills and develop your network in a positive setting.

Applications are now being accepted for 9 AmeriCorps positions: (descriptions below) Continue reading

Campaign Goal: Reducing Fire-Related Deaths, One Home at a Time

There were 351 residential fires last year in Seattle. That means that nearly every day, a home was damaged or lost. Even more frequently in Western Washington, Red Cross volunteers provided help to families who had lost their homes to devastating fires. The vast majority of these house fires were cooking related — a burner left on, a pan unattended on the stove — and in many cases, there was no working smoke alarm.

The American Red Cross wants to change that, starting this month. As part of the 2014 Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, the Red Cross is partnering with the Seattle Fire Department to install smoke alarms in Seattle homes. Starting in neighborhoods at highest risk, Seattle firefighters will go door-to-door, checking and installing smoke alarms and offering fire safety information to residents. Flyers distributed in the days ahead will announce the time and date of the visits.

Fire can spread surprisingly fast. Smoke alarms give residents a chance to respond to a fire by extinguishing it if it hasn’t spread, or evacuating to a safe place to call 911. A working smoke alarm doubles an individual’s chances of surviving a fire. Early warning of a fire can also reduce loss of property and fire damage to the home.

So why doesn’t every home have working smoke alarms?

“People are busy and don’t think about it,” says Bill Mace, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Seattle Fire Department. “Maybe they’ve never had a fire, so it’s not a priority. They don’t realize how important it is to have a working smoke alarm. They think they’ll smell the smoke or their pet will alert them.” Too often, this is not the case. Six people die in house fires every day in the U.S.

While rescue and recovery efforts after a disaster get plenty of press, prevention efforts like this one often happen behind the scenes. “One of the biggest challenges is publicizing prevention,” Mace explains. “It’s hard to document the fires we prevent. It’s not as exciting as putting out a burning building.”

Prevention is a big part of the Red Cross mission. Each year, more than 9 million Americans participate in Red Cross emergency preparedness training programs, including first responders, educators, and others who want to be prepared to help others in an emergency. With the 2014 Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, the Red Cross is bringing preparedness home to prevent fire deaths and injuries, with the goal of visiting 325,000 homes every year.

Learn more about what you can do to reduce the risk of a fire in your home by visiting the Red Cross website.

By Tiffany Koenig, Red Cross Volunteer

Why I help: Norm and Joyce Bottenberg

by volunteer journalist Deborah Griffith MacSwain

 It was love at first sight.  It was a Valentine’s Day weekend a few years ago, and Norm and Joyce Bottenberg had just gotten engaged.  They first met in 1983 at an American Red Cross Operational Management Training in Virginia. The Red Cross brought them together, and their activism with the organization cemented their lives.

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When Joyce thinks about that special weekend meeting with Norm, she fondly recollects that after the Red Cross training was over, they “exchanged mail a few times, then Norm came to Boston for a weekend [visit] in 1985.”  When he got off the plane, Joyce was waiting for him with a Valentine’s Day card and a book about Seattle (Norm’s city).  Norm recalled that when he got off the plane, he had a Valentine’s card and a book about Boston (Joyce’s city).

Imagine their surprise and delight when they found out they had picked the same Valentine’s card to give to each other!  Norm exclaimed, “It was a match made in heaven.”  Soon afterwards, they were married.  The Bottenberg’s strong marriage was matched by their dedication to the Red Cross.

Norm Bottenberg received a Certificate of Merit award, when he and a Red Crosser ran several blocks to give CPR to a collapsed person in distress.  The Certificate of Merit is the highest award given for using Red Cross training to help save a person’s life.  It is signed by the President of the United States.

At the time he received the award, Norm was manning a Red Cross First Aid station at an American Legion parade in Seattle.  Norm stated, “I like to get involved.  If the Red Cross needs someone and I have the skills, I will do it.”   His attitude reflects his actions.  For example, when Norm was 18 years old, he organized kids to take free Red Cross swim classes at a neighbor’s pool.  And later, he has taught and managed numerous Red Cross Health and Safety programs.

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Like must attract like, because his wife, Joyce Harvey Bottenberg, also received a Certificate of Merit.  In 1981, she performed life-saving CPR on a neighbor.  But much earlier than that, she had discovered that helping people was in her blood.  Her first acquaintance with the American Red Cross was when she was just three years old.  She said, “I remember walking with my dad to the Melrose Massachusetts Chapter, so he could sign First Aid certificates.”

Later on, Joyce worked with the Red Cross as a night caseworker, where she often took calls that required quick thinking. “I learned how to provide assistance over the phone, give referrals, and, in essence, become a trouble shooter for people in need,” she said.

Over the years, both Bottenbergs have served in volunteer and paid positions with the American Red Cross organization.  Both have received their 55-year pins.  They remarked that they continue to volunteer for the Seattle Red Cross chapter because … “we want to make a difference!”

Help Red Cross Sell Out the ShoWare Center!

The Seattle Thunderbirds hockey organization is hosting a Safe in the Sound (SITS) night to promote Red Cross and Puget Sound Energy safety and preparedness messages on March 9 at 5pm.

Red Cross volunteers, staff and community partners are invited to enjoy a 25% discount on tickets with the discount code “SAFE” at the website below.  After the discount, tickets are $18/per person.

  •  TICKETS: http://tickets.seattlethunderbirds.com/
  •  DISCOUNT CODE:  “SAFE”
  •  WHEN: Sunday, March 9, 5pm, Seattle Thunderbirds vs Vancouver Giants
  •  WHERE: ShoWare Center, 625 West James Street, Kent, WA 98032 (free parking)

Feel free to wear red to show your Red Cross love. We can’t wait to see you there to support the Red Cross and the Thunderbirds!

Red Cross Helps Seattle Family Recover From Devastating Fire

Verice is an advocate for renter's insurance and encourages those without it to sign up!

Verice is an advocate for renter’s insurance and encourages those without it to sign up!

On November 19, Verice Carter was at work in the University District when her neighbor called and said her house was on fire. Verice thought it was a joke.

“I looked at my boss and said, ‘I guess my house is on fire,’” Verice said. “It was no big deal – I didn’t believe her.”

She called her neighbor back and that was when she heard sirens in the background. Verice realized it wasn’t a joke and hurried home as fast as she could.

When Verice reached the duplex where she lived with her father and daughter, she saw fire trucks with their lights flashing. The big window in the front of her duplex was busted out and her landlord was out in the street talking to firemen.

Luckily, nobody was in the house when the fire happened. Verice’s neighbor saw the roof of the duplex on fire and kicked in the back door to make sure nobody was in the house.

“It was very dramatic,” Verice recalled. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”

While the Seattle Fire Department was finishing its job, the American Red Cross arrived at the scene.

“I didn’t know anything about the Red Cross,” Verice said. “I was in shock looking at my house burn down. But the Red Cross showed up.”

The duplex was no longer livable and the Carters had nowhere else to go. Seattle Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteers gave Verice a hotel voucher for three days.

“It wasn’t home, but the hotel was comfortable,” Verice said. “I was so happy the Red Cross was able to help so much.”

With assistance from the Red Cross, Verice was able to hit the ground running and began her recovery process just days after the fire. A client caseworker spoke with her boss and sent a letter to her workplace to verify her absence from work while she looked for a new home.

A week after the fire she found a new place and went back to work. Verice’s daughter is in a new school and they are very happy in their new home.

“We’re so thankful. The Red Cross helped out with so much: food, clothes, gas, shelter, they helped get me into my new place. It was needed and very much appreciated,” Verice said. “The Red Cross is here for a reason. I never thought my family would need them, but they were there.”

On average, the American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties responds to an emergency like this every other day. All Red Cross disaster assistance is free of charge. For more information about the local Red Cross, call 206.323.2345 or visit http://www.redcross.org/wa/seattle.