Honoring Our Volunteers

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Dennis Allen retired in 2012 with a background in accounting. He volunteered for the Red Cross auditing CAC cards and performing Case Management and Damage Assessment. Dennis says that when he hears the dispatcher call out codes, he quickly calls in to see if the Red Cross is needed on site. He volunteers one eight-hour day per week in this role and is starting to volunteer another day for Janet Oriatti, Regional Chief Operating Officer, Eastern Missouri Region, doing monthly forecasts and other financial projects.

Thanks for your service.

Honoring Our Volunteers

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John Kelley has been volunteering for the Red Cross for about six years. He works in Case Management and Damage Assessment and concentrates on helping clients mostly in St. Louis City. Although he’s taken Emergency Response Vehicle training, he hasn’t yet been asked to drive one to a disaster. He volunteers one eight-hour day per week. He says the DAT team as a whole has responded to over 1,000 disasters this year.

Thanks for your service.

Honoring Our Volunteers

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Dick Bylund has been volunteering for the Red Cross for 17 years. He spends one eight-hour day a week monitoring a dispatch radio in case he hears codes for fire trucks. Dick performs Case Management and Damage Assessment at disaster sites. That means he provides food, clothing and shelter to clients in need as well as create paperwork assessing damage to the client’s home.

Dick originally volunteered for the Red Cross when he came upon a booth at a local establishment. He asked if they needed volunteers and well the rest is history.

Thanks for your service.

Open our Chapter

It takes someone to learn
in order to teach

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By Cassie Nesbit

He has great advice.

Not just a thing or two, but everything.

He speaks from faith, family and fun to leadership, music and Batman.

But nothing means more to Ken Hardin, American Red Cross executive assistant, than the first three.

“I hit the core of everything that we talked about,” said Hardin. “The first three are really what best describe me: my faith, family and having fun.”

Hardin comes from a long line of preachers.

“My grandfather is a preacher, my dad’s a preacher,” said Hardin. “I grew up in the church: that’s all I know from the moment of inception to right now.”

Where faith was, family was near too.

“My friends came over one day,” said Hardin. “We were in the back yard. He (Hardin’s father) told us all to gather sticks, so we all got sticks. We brought them over. He says, ‘Kenny,’ because that’s what he called me. ‘Break a stick,’ so I took it and broke it in my hand.”

He told his two friends, Brandon and Elanzo, to break their stick too.

Then he told the boys to gather more sticks.

“We went to go get more sticks,” said Hardin. “He said, ‘give them all to Kenny.’”

Hardin had a pile of sticks in his hands.

“Kenny, Break it,” said his father according to Hardin.

But Hardin couldn’t.

“United: we stand,” said Hardin’s Father.  “Divided: we fall. Together we can do whatever we want to do but individually we can’t do anything.”

Lessons so big were taught at age 7 or 8.

Hardin plans to teach his 19-month-old son too.

“My father is really why I am the man that I am,” said Hardin. “But more importantly than that, one of the things his father instilled in him and my father instilled in me and that I plan on instilling in my son is family first and for most: making the sacrifices necessary for your family.”

Right now, Hardin and his son enjoy relaxing to music with one another.

“My son and I: we sleep to music at night,” said Hardin. “Right now we’re listening to this jazz lullaby stuff that I found on YouTube: it’s awesome.”

Before his son, Hardin’s marriage came first.

He’s been married for 4 years now.

“Just bought a house a year and a half ago and we’re trying to live a little piece of the American Dream,” said Hardin.

A dream based on faith and family.

But we can’t forget fun.

“Ask anybody who knows me, they’ll tell you, ‘Ken loves to have fun,’” said Hardin.

He’s not joking.

This funny guy loves to make people smile and laugh.

“There’s no harm in being serious about those things that are serious but I feel like you can find comedy and something funny in just about everything,” said Hardin.

That includes finding humor in a meeting.

“We were at Jefferson Barracks on Friday, and even though it was a very serious situation, we were still about to laugh at moments,” said Hardin. “We’re able to laugh in the best of times, the worst of times and that really is what gets you through.”

And something like fun is contagious.

“Laughter: I thought it to be infectious,” said Hardin. “So when you’re dealing with people who are having a hard day: whenever you start laughing, it tends to rub off of them. It’s contagious if you will.”

He’s not profit driven.

“I could very easily make more money and work for a larger organization and do different things other than what I’m doing right now,” said Hardin. “but it’s because the fact that I’m really mission driven at this point of my life and not even profit driven which is why I even work here.”

His priorities in life have led him to a purpose much greater than money.

That’s the message.

Not just any message, but truth.

“I think that if I were to pick my favorite sermon, it would probably be the woman at the well,” said Hardin. “This woman’s at that well getting water encountering Jesus and it really is a conversation that changes her life. What is so interesting about it is that when she leaves, she goes back into town and gets everybody ‘come see a man I met who told me everything that I ever needed to know about myself.’ That’s the core of the message: is that Christ was able to impact her in such an impactful way with love and truth in such a way where she wanted to tell everyone that she knew him.”

Awareness of what we do.

We can spread that too.

“That’s another thing that’s important being in the Red Cross,” said Hardin. “Being able to spread that message with hope and love regardless of who you are or what the circumstance is.”

Like a wise man once said, “united: we stand. Divided we fall. Together we can do whatever we want to do but individually we can’t do anything.”

Hardin teacher more than a lesson or two…

Hardin preaches a way of life.

Simulations: A Powerful IHL Teaching Tool

Originally posted on Humanity in War:

Raid Cross participants - St. Louis Region Raid Cross participants – St. Louis Region

At the end of last year, the American Red Cross – St. Louis Region conducted its Raid Cross event with college students from Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis Community College – Meramec.  The facilitators were Francis Abari, Nermana Huskic, Michael Pfeifer, Marie Rantz, and Shima Rostami.

The first day was devoted to general education about International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the IHL Action Campaign, and simulations on topics such as prisoners of war, humanitarian aid, wounded, artillery, military headquarters and trials.

The prisoners of war (POW) simulation took on an added level of realism because one of the facilitators, Francis Abari, had been a POW and a “secret prisoner” in Africa. The students paid rapt attention as he described his disappearance and his eventual release. The POW simulation was modified to include a “secret prisoner”. Some of the other “prisoners”…

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Open our Chapter

Answers your calls with a smile
and offers kindness during hard times

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By Cassie Nesbit

Debbie Engel Peek, volunteer front desk receptionist at American Red Cross, describes herself in three ways: She is social, she is introverted and she is physical.

She is all that and so much more.

“I’m always interested in understanding the spiritual and physical part of the world and myself in it,” she said.

A prolific poet, Ms. Engel Peek said “Conversations with God,” a story written by Neale Donald Walsch was her inspiration for her poetic responses. She has written 100 poems, which she self-published into a book Just a Thought.

Ms. Engel Peek graciously shares her work through Facebook, too. Her poems share a similar theme. “They start out with some kind of conflict and then it’s working through to the end. It’s resolving the conflict going inside of me.”

Engle Peek has used her poems for more than just for herself.

She worked once for the Salvation Army, and taught a parental class there. During her sessions, she would incorporate her poems into the hand-outs given to her students.

One example is her piece called “Unconditionally.”

We vow to love you unconditionally.
It matters not what you say or you do.
Through good times or bad, we’ll be by your side,
It’s LIFE we’ll be traveling through.

You’re the love of our lives, we created you.
What a beautiful blessing you are.
You’re a great gift from Heaven, God’s perfect design,
A wonderfully bright shining star.

Every day we’ll ask God to guide all our words,
To let Love be our ultimate goal.
We love you so much; you’re the joy of our lives,
You’re a part of God’s own special soul.

We thank God for you and we’ll do our best,
To provide you with all that you need,
To grow up the person God planned you to be,
By loving you Unconditionally.

Engel Peek always had a motive for work.

“Just reminding these people they created this baby,” said Engel Peek. “To love it no matter what (unconditionally).”

Engel Peek used her poems one other creative way. “You know what I did one time,” asked Engel Peek. “I wanted to be in the Christmas Spirit, and I wanted to go to the malls and appreciate the people there, so I took this one poem I wrote called Joy and I put 5 dollars in it and just put it in a little scroll, and then I went into the St. Louis Galleria and pretended that I was on a scavenger hunt.”

Engel Peek approached those with a fur coat, hoop earrings or purple hair just to spread her poem. “I kind of look for the unique people,” said Engel Peek. She really was spreading the Joy around.

As a front desk receptionist, that’s exactly the type of person needed for the job. A phone call came through during this interview. “My apartment caught on fire and now I have nowhere to stay,” said a woman from the other line.

Crisis calls like that occur at Red Cross often according to Engel Peek. That’s when someone who can shed some joy on a disastrous situation comes in handy. Engel Peek is the first and last person employees/volunteers see, and she really sets the tone and represents the American Red Cross well.

Thank you Engel Peek for the Joy you give internally and externally.