A Call to Serve During a Mission to Aid Missourians

By: Caitlin HurleyDavid

When I met David Blunt, he was sitting in a fold-up chair with a smile on his face at the MARC in Arnold, Mo. A nine-hour drive from his home in Mobile, Ala., Blunt is an American Red Cross caseworker who traveled to Missouri to fulfill his own personal mission.

“We all have direction,” Blunt told me as he sat in the warm, muggy gym at Arnold’s First Baptist Church, fiddling with a stuffed animal destined to bring comfort and a smile to a child’s face. “The Red Cross gives me the opportunity to help out… put a band aid on their soul.”

Blunt tells me he first became interested in the Red Cross last September when he was trying use his mobile kitchen to help out during a disaster in New Orleans, La. He typically used the kitchen to fill the bellies of people who are homeless in Mobile. He says without the Red Cross, he wouldn’t have access to the resources to help those who need it during a disaster.

“It makes me feel good to put a smile on their face and food in their stomach,” Blunt told me. But this time, Blunt didn’t bring his mobile kitchen with him. Instead, he offered up his time to be a caseworker to help Missourians at the MARC, a Multi-Agency Resource Center where the Red Cross and other relief organizations and government agencies work to provide resources and information to those in need.

“Seeing how the people are suffering, their needs are great,” Blunt told me. When I spoke with him, it was his second time volunteering at a MARC that week in Arnold. “The Red Cross can only help so much. The MARC can help more.”

Blunt, who was on first deployment, was one of about twenty Red Cross volunteers and staff at the MARC last Thursday. Many of them traveled far to help those in need here. That included Mary Brod of Richmond, Va. After she retired last year, she wanted to work in the community and started volunteering with the Red Cross last September. Like many of the out-of-town volunteers, she spent nearly two weeks in Eastern Missouri helping flood victims. Brod told me services like the MARC can provide a critical service.

“Just the fact that this is one stop shopping is great,” Brod said as she looked around at the other groups and agencies there to provide assistance.

It’s important to note that Red Cross caseworkers pick up where the Red Cross’ Disaster Action Team leaves off. Caseworkers can work closely with families for weeks or months to make sure they have what they need to fully recover. But the needs of those impacted by disasters goes beyond help for repairs, fresh water, and a dry place to stay. What many don’t think about is the psychological impact of disaster-related events. It’s why the Red Cross provided mental health services at the MARC to support residents impacted by the floods.

“It’s not a need people seek out,” casework supervisor Hannah Bruce said. “But it’s a natural need.”

As for Blunt and Brod, they’re now back at their homes on opposite ends of the country. But the work they started in Arnold this month will leave a lasting impact on the families and the community they volunteered to help.

“I enjoy doing what I was able to do,” Blunt told me. “But I wish I could do more for them.”

The Red Cross depends on volunteers to turn compassion into action and fulfill its mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering during times of crisis. Volunteers make up 94 percent of the American Red Cross’ workforce. If you would like to learn about the volunteer opportunities in the St. Louis area, go to redcross.org/volunteer. If you would like to support disaster relief efforts in Missouri and Illinois, donate online at redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Struck by Floods Twice, Arnold Residents Seek Help at the MARC

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When the floodwaters were rising in Arnold, Mo., Diane Bargeon was huddled in her home near Arnold Park with her dog and two cats.

“The water was coming in from two directions,” Bargeon said as she stood outside of the Multi-Agency Response Center, or MARC, at First Baptist Church in Arnold on Thursday. “I just sat there and then boom! The water was there.”

The MARC is a one-stop shopping location for people impacted by floodwaters. Information and services from the American Red Cross and other relief organizations, faith-based groups, and government agencies were provided. This is just one example of how the Red Cross helps families make a full recovery after a disaster.

Like many who attended Thursday’s MARC, this isn’t the first time Bargeon’s home has been impacted by floodwaters. Bargeon had nearly finished making repairs from the flood in 2015 when the waters rose again this spring. She says five feet of water two years ago forced her to have her HVAC, insulation, and skirt around her home replaced. Now there’s a chance she may have to repair or replace all of that again.

“It’s just awful,” Bargeon said. “I can’t afford to move… It cost $7,000 to repair the damage last time, but I had help from outside resources, including the Red Cross.”

Like after the 2015 floods, the Red Cross and other organizations are now working to figure out what is salvageable in Bargeon’s home.

“I want to thank them for all that they do,” Bargeon said.

Others, like Danya Canovi, are searching for help and information where they can. Canovi, who has called Arnold home for 34 years, had about $25,000 in damage done to her family’s home near the Meramec River in 2015. Now, two years later, Canovi says three feet of water destroyed nearly everything in their basement and dealt upwards of $10,000 in damage to their home.

“God has a purpose for everything,” Canovi said. “We will find the help that we need.”

While the floodwaters have receded, the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts aren’t over. The Greater St. Louis chapter will be helping people in the weeks and months to come. The Red Cross is a charitable organization and depends on the volunteers and the generosity of Americans to perform its mission. If you would like to support disaster relief efforts, donate online at redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Regional Volunteer Services Officer

American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri
Location – St. Louis, Missouri


The Regional Volunteer Services Officer is a critical component of the American Red Cross regional team and infrastructure.  It is responsible for strengthening and growing programs and services that will meet the regional community needs within resource constraints. Develops long- and short-term program strategies and oversees implementation for large-scale single programs/services or multiple smaller-scale programs/services. Directs and oversees the work assignment and performance of staff and volunteers. Develops and executes a recruitment strategy, managing the volunteer on boarding process for the region. Ensures coordinated outreach and partnerships within the larger Red Cross organization and external constituents (e.g.: community agencies). This person will serve as a program or service subject matter expert (SME) to staff, management, volunteers and external partners. Represents the Red Cross within the assigned region for the purposes of volunteer engagement.

Some Responsibilities:

  • Strategy: Develops growth strategy for area of responsibility. Design and implement retention strategies with departments and programs to assist with volunteer development, leadership development and managing goals and objectives. Oversees risk management issues specific to Volunteer Services. Provides oversight and maintenance of database/computer systems. Provides innovative thought leadership and shapes the knowledge base. Maintains clear and current knowledge of any legal and administrative requirements and/or issues specific to volunteer programs. Maintains knowledge and awareness of trends in volunteerism and designs the program to capitalize on them. Builds relationships and provides managerial guidance to Regional and Chapter executive teams, staff, volunteers, community, and other external partners. Develops and cultivates professional relationships with key internal & external partners/organizations.
  • Relationship Management and Community Outreach:  Participates in communication/civic activities and events to promote volunteer opportunities. Develops and cultivates professional relationships with key internal and external partners/organizations. Attends regional and community meetings and events and facilitates exchange of information and resources within jurisdiction. Develops and conducts presentations to promote Red Cross services and programs to community.
  • Fiscal Responsibility: Builds financially sound, executable, data-driven business strategies in support of a program area and/or services. May have ongoing fiscal and budget responsibility with grant coordination duties in contract-funded programs. Identifies possible funding sources for program or service initiatives from various sources like government agencies and philanthropic foundations/organizations.
  • Staff and Volunteer Management:  Provides strong leadership, develops and sets individual and team performance goals and manages/drives change. Hires, manages, trains and evaluates staff and volunteers. Designs, develops and implements a targeted volunteer management recruitment plan for the region and proactively outreaches to business leaders and others to support volunteer needs. Implements recruitment plan with particular attention to diversity and inclusion goals of the region and ARC strategic plans. Oversees curriculum design for volunteer training modules and recruitment presentations. Creates performance review process to accurately assess volunteer performance and adjusts performance as and when needed. Finds and implements ways to improve or increase the quality and production for the work directed.
  • Lead through change
  • Strategic implementation of National initiatives
  • Active and engaged in executive leadership of the region
  • Targeted recruitment strategies to fill high volunteer needs assessment

Competencies:

Customer Focused

Strong Interpersonal Communication

Strong Written and Oral Communications

Dealing with Ambiguity/learning on the Fly

Motivating Others/Influencing

Priority Setting

Problem Solving

Qualifications:

Education: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience.

Experience: Minimum of 7 years in implementing and advancing social service programs and providing leadership to a department, program or service. Track record of leadership results in non-profit and/or for-profit organizations. Proven results in achieving financial success in a business unit or area and leveraging relationships with diverse levels of internal & external stakeholders.

Management Experience: Minimum of 5 years staff management experience.

Skills and Abilities: Develops strategies to achieve organizational goals. Demonstrated analytical and decision-making skills to develop creative processes for continuous program or service improvements.

Other: Intermediate proficiency with MS Office software, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and
Outlook. Familiarity with federal, state and local employment laws.

If this sounds like the kind of opportunity that you’ve been waiting for, please visit our website at:

https://americanredcross.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/American_Red_Cross_Careers/job/St-Louis-MO/Regional-Volunteer-Services-Officer_RC8632

The American Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that offers employees growth and development, team spirit, competitive salaries and a comprehensive benefits package.

We are proud to be an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer M/F/D/V.

Red Cross Volunteers Answer the Call to Help Flood Victims

By Caitlin Hurleyollie

With floodwaters still rising in some parts of Missouri and the Greater St. Louisa-area, dedicated American Red Cross volunteers working around the clock to care for those forced from their homes.

Wednesday night at the Red Cross shelter at Hope Lutheran Church in Granite City, Illinois, Tom Ollie and Dawne Miller dished up dinner to the more than half-a-dozen people who sought refuge from the rising floodwaters. Both volunteers have been partnered together for three days, working tirelessly from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. when the next team of volunteers arrived to oversee the shelter and provide a safe place for those displaced by the flooding. Ollie and Miller both say the long hours are worth it.

“I love it,” Miller, a Red Cross volunteer for more than three years, said. “It’s giving without expecting anything back.”

“Getting people fed, safe, and secure is important,” said Ollie. But for Ollie, who began his Red Cross service in March, volunteering is about fulfilling a promise. “I promised my mom I’d do one year of service to the Red Cross… She volunteered [with the Red Cross] for 50 years.”

Staffing shelters during disasters is just one way Red Cross volunteers serve their community. In all, volunteers carry out 90% of the Red Cross’ humanitarian work, including disaster relief, blood donations, and aiding the armed services. If you would like to see the volunteer opportunities available in the St. Louis area, go to redcross.org/volunteer.

Red Cross Responds to Historic Flooding by Offering Safe Shelter

By Caitlin Hurleygranitecity2

For the second time in two years, floodwaters forced Tamara Luna and her family to leave their home in Granite City, Illinois, and turn to the American Red Cross for shelter.

“Our home is raised, but the water has reached the electrical box,” Luna said. “They shut off our electricity for safety.” That same situation unfolded in 2015 and early 2016, when rising floodwaters threatened her home.

When we spoke with her Wednesday night, Luna and her family were preparing to spend their third night in the Red Cross shelter at Hope Lutheran Church in Granite City. They had just finished eating dinner together around a table and chatting.

While Red Cross volunteers staff the shelter and provide cots and comfort kits, it takes a community to help those who need it in a time of disaster and uncertainty. The Lunas’ dinner was donated by Ravenelli’s and Hope Lutheran Church opened its doors to provide shelter space. It is home to one of the ten shelters managed by the American Red Cross in Missouri and the Greater St. Louis area during the May floods.

“[The American Red Cross does] great things. The least we could do is put our two cents in to help those who need it,” said Phil Lamm, the president of the Hope Lutheran Congregation. “You have to love them as you love yourself.”

Lamm said he and Pastor Alan Beuster agreed to help out and move church activities out of the parish hall to provide a warm, dry space for those in the community who needed it. “Every little bit helps,” Lamm said.

“Their generosity was in the spirit of brotherhood,” said Tom Ollie, an American Red Cross shelter volunteer.

As the Luna family wait for the rain to stop and the floodwaters to recede, they said, “We are very thankful for the Red Cross. Without them, we wouldn’t know what to do.”

If you, or someone you know, needs to find a shelter, visit redcross.org/emo, check the Red Cross Emergency App, or call 1 (800) 768-8048.

As floodwaters begin to recede in some areas, only return to if it is deemed safe by officials. For other safety tips for returning residents, click here.

Perryville Family Survives Tornado; Home and Daycare Destroyed

Meyer Damage - External with Cars
Last Tuesday night, Kelsey Meyer bathed her four young sons, saw to it they brushed their teeth and got them ready for bed. As the young boys — ages 4, 6 and twins, 8 —  delayed bedtime, a screaming tornado warning hit Mrs. Meyer’s phone. The young family quickly took shelter in their basement. Minutes later, an EF4 tornado tore through Perry County Missouri, killing a young man and injured 12 others. Huddled in the basement under a blanket, the family survived as shattered windows, debris and dirt showered them. Mrs. Meyer lost her Perryville home and her nearby childcare business.

Four days later Mrs. Meyer said she wanted the public to know about her experience. The young mother didn’t talk about all she had lost or what she and her family had been through. She didn’t talk about the terror the she felt as the tornado roared above them. The young mother had a preparedness message: “We should have had an emergency kit in the basement.”

Meyer Damage - Inside Daycare2

“When the tornado passed, glass was everywhere and it was dark. We didn’t have power … We didn’t have shoes; we didn’t have a flashlight; we didn’t have clothes … and outside, glass everywhere and down powerlines … “

“I have an emergency kit in the basement of my preschool; if I had treated my family the way I treated my business …” and her voice trailed off.

Mrs. Meyer wants everyone to create an emergency kit. “You just don’t think it will happen to your family. We learned the hard way.”

The American Red Cross wants all families prepare for emergencies. Build your emergency kit and download the Red Cross Emergency App, which gives instant access to customizable weather alerts, safety tips and preparedness information in the palm of your hand.

Meyer Damage - External TreesMeyer Damage - External with TreesMeyer Damage - Inside Daycare

Volunteer Spotlight: Velma Clark

The American Red Cross is known around the world for its charitable work. It is not uncommon to regularly hear about the organization’s assistance in alleviating suffering associated with disasters, providing lifesaving blood, offering health and safety courses, and assisting America’s military families. The story often untold, however, is that of the person selflessly giving their time to better the Red Cross’ mission.

In June of 2015, the St. Louis Area Chapter received one of its most impactful volunteers. Known around the office as one of the sweetest and often described as a “super volunteer,” VelmCardsa Clark answered the call to help when she discovered that the Service to Armed Forces department needed help with a project providing holiday cards to heroes.

“Holidays for Heroes,” as the project is now called, is the Red Cross’ effort to provide holiday cards to active service members serving away from home. Velma, along with her team of fellow Service to Armed Forces volunteers, collects cards from schools, churches, veteran associations, and communities not only in the Missouri and Illinois region, but from across the nation. Velma noted that people from across the US catch wind of their efforts and feel the need to help the cause. This past winter, the St. Louis team was able to collect and distribute over 64,000 holiday cards to service members stationed away from their families. The project gave much joy to the members of our service that were unable to spend the season with their loved ones.

Now that the holiday season has passed, Velma and her team are spearheading another project—The Women Warriors Baby Shower. The American Red Cross and VA Medical Center are teaming up to throw a baby shower for expectant and new mothers (with infants up to six months). In celebration of the St. Louis Chapter’s 100th year, Velma and her team are anticipating celebrating motherhood for 100 women. Members of the US Armed Forces with E-7 or below, spouses of our military, and women veterans receiving care through the VA are encouraged to register for the event.

To many, Velma’s commitment to serving the Red Cross seems heroic, but to her it’s second nature. She loves to work with people, and especially enjoys being in an environment such as the Red Cross “The people here don’t just talk the talk,” she said, “they truly walk the walk.” Here at the Red Cross, Velma knows that everyone genuinely cares about the lives they are impacting—and that makes all the effort priceless.

 

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in The Women Warriors Baby Shower, register by calling 314-516-2702 or emailing Velma Clark at velma.clark@redcross.org