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

Hearts, Hammers and Smoke Alarms

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By: Nancy Waddell

Photos by: Jen Blackwood

The first Saturday in May is a special day on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle WA. Hundreds of community volunteers with the non-profit organization Hearts & Hammers turn out to help residents in need fix up homes and yards.

For the third year in a row, local Red Cross volunteers joined the South Whidbey event to provide and install smoke alarms in these homes. For the first time, they worked with the Central Whidbey group this year as well. Continue reading

Seeking Applications for 2017-2018 AmeriCorps team members!

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The American Red Cross is currently accepting applications for our 2017-2018 AmeriCorps team throughout the Northwest Region!  AmeriCorps is a great opportunity to serve your community, build professional skills and develop your network in a positive setting. Continue reading

Volunteer Spotlight: Anne Isenhart

Anne I In 2013, Anne Isenhart was representing the Red Cross at an event in Bellingham when her husband called to tell her that their daughter was in the hospital after falling out of a second-story window. Anne didn’t want to abandon the newly trained volunteer at her side, but her manager, who happened to be at the event, insisted she go and take care of her family. Anne’s daughter was airlifted to Harborview in Seattle. While she recovered, Anne took a break from her role coordinating speakers, and her colleagues at the Red Cross gave her the time and support she needed. One even came to her house to look after her kids so Anne could rest for a few hours. Her colleagues’ help embodied the heart of the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. “My family was a priority, and they understood that,” Anne says. “They took care of me. That’s what I love the most about being a Red Cross volunteer—it doesn’t stop when I walk out the door. They’re invested in me as a person.” For Anne, it’s a relief to work with an organization that understands that its employees and volunteers are only human—especially after a career in the airline industry, where there was no room for mistakes. She’s even able to bring one of her two small children with her when she comes to the office. As for that frightening day when her daughter was injured, Anne now uses the story in her preparedness presentations, encouraging people to keep toiletries and a change of clothes in their vehicles. “I was in a jean skirt and flip flops, and I didn’t have any extra clothes in my car. I didn’t know I was going to be staying the night in Seattle….You never know what the day holds.” Anne got started at the Red Cross after meeting Stacy Rice, formerly the Emergency Services director for the Mt. Baker chapter, during an aviation drill for an airline out of the Bellingham airport. Stacy and other Red Cross volunteers made a strong impression on Anne, and when she left the airline, she turned to the Red Cross as a way to stay engaged in her community. Four years later, Anne now serves as the preparedness lead for her chapter. She teaches the Pillowcase Project, a youth-based program that helps kids get out of the house in a hurry during an emergency. Through the Speaker’s Bureau, Anne teaches people how to give presentations on preparedness for organizations. She’s also working to expand preparedness programs into Spanish-speaking communities. One of her favorite events to work is the annual Real Heroes Celebration in Bellingham. This Red Cross fundraising event allows people in the community to nominate someone who’s done something extraordinary in the course of their daily lives, like a Birch Bay woman who performed CPR on a man who collapsed next to her in the supermarket. Anne says of the event, “I always walk away from it with that warm, fuzzy, goosebump feeling that there are people in the world who do really awesome things. This is how we see our classes and trainings and programs being put into action within the community.” Anne’s message for other volunteers is simple: “The Red Cross will take as much or as little as you’re willing to give. It might not seem like a lot to the volunteer, but it’s huge and so appreciated by other volunteers and staff.” Story by Tiffany Koenig

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

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!