Thursday, November 17, 2016

Red Cross Honors Local Heroes during Annual Award Breakfast

The American Red Cross South Central Pennsylvania Chapter, which covers Adams, Franklin, Fulton, and York Counties, will honor 16 people with nine different awards during the 14th Annual Spirit of the Hero Award Breakfast being held at the Wyndham Garden York Hotel on Thursday, November 17, 2016. Recipients are honored for their heroic and/or selfless acts that improve our communities and show all of us that not all heroes wear capes.

This year’s honorees include:

Frank Roloson, Jess Miller, Shannon Shutika, Shannon Bair (category – Medical)
Things were going well at SpiriTrust Lutheran, The Village at Utz Terrace in Hanover, on November 4, 2015. The staff was going about its normal routine, with a couple of them performing physical therapy on an elderly patient who was in the facility for rehab following bypass surgery. The patient wasn’t feeling well, but no one was expecting her wound VAC (vacuum-assisted closure) to blow, causing instant severe and massive bleeding. Without hesitation, the center’s staff sprang into action. Frank Roloson, Jess Miller, Shannon Shutika, and Shannon Bair worked closely to slow the blood flow and move the patient to bed while keeping her calm and conscious until the paramedics arrived to transport her to a local hospital for emergency surgery. Their quick-thinking response to a potentially fatal situation bought the woman valuable time, time that was needed to get her the emergency medical care that ultimately saved her life. VIEW VIDEO

Erik Swanson, Chad Deardorff, Miguel Cabrera, Christina Sneeringer, Ted Hake (category – Animal Rescue)
In December 2015, the York City Fire Department and White Rose Ambulance were dispatched to a multi-home fire on the 700 block of West Princess Street in the city of York. As the flames were brought under control, firefighters were told that two dogs were still inside the structure. Entering the building, Firefighter Erik Swanson located the first pet and quickly removed him from the home. Barely breathing and suffering from smoke inhalation, Deputy Fire Chief Chad Deardorff, Paramedic Miguel Cabrera, and EMT Christina Sneering administered oxygen using a pet resuscitation mask. Meanwhile, Swanson reentered the building, where he located and removed the second dog, who appeared to be unharmed. As the condition of the first dog stabilized, Paramedic Ted Hake transported both pets to the veterinary hospital, where they were able to receive emergency care. Our pets are part of our family, and thanks to the efforts of these fine first responders, both dogs are happy, healthy and back home with their owners. VIEW VIDEO

Andrew Shaffer (category – Good Neighbor)
Honor, Fidelity, Service. Those are the three pillars of the Northern York County Regional Police Department and the three words that define Officer Andrew Shaffer. In July 2016, Officer Shaffer was dispatched to a residence in Dover Township for a report of an elderly male in cardiac arrest. Officer Shaffer arrived at the home to find the gentleman, who had been mowing the lawn, collapsed in the backyard from what was determined to be a fatal heart attack. Before resuming his 12-hour shift, Officer Shaffer stayed at the home to notify the family and to assist the coroner and funeral home. After completing work later that evening, Officer Shaffer returned to the residence, offered his condolences to the family, and then proceeded to finish mowing the lawn that the elderly gentleman had started before he passed away earlier in the day. Officer Shaffer’s act of kindness and compassion make him a shining example of what it means to serve others. He is a true role model for us all. VIEW VIDEO

Timothy Himes (category – Good Neighbor)
Timothy Himes was out behind his wife’s North York Borough office building when he stumbled upon a man lying unconscious and barely breathing June 2016. As police were being dispatched, Himes began performing CPR in an attempt to revive the gentleman who was later determined to have overdosed on some type of illegal drug. A police officer arrived quickly to the scene and immediately joined Himes in administering CPR – while one person handled the chest compressions, the other breathed air into the now nearly lifeless man. Minutes passed and Himes and the officer noticed no improvement, so Narcon was administered. More time passed and still no improvement, but the two kept giving CPR, not willing to give up hope. When the paramedics arrived, more advanced emergency care was provided, ultimately resulting in the man being revived while still on scene in the ambulance. “Thank God I learned CPR through the American Red Cross,” Himes was noted as saying after the ordeal was over. VIEW VIDEO

David Riley (category – Adult Good Samaritan)
When a masked, armed robber entered Waynesboro’s Antietam Pharmacy in June 2016, owner and pharmacist David Riley saw a situation rapidly go from bad to worse for he and his two employees. Upon entering the store, the robber quickly went to the cash register, where he pulled money from the drawer before turning his attention to the pharmacy counter. Trapping one employee against a wall, the man handed Riley a bag and demanded drugs. Riley, attempting to calm the robber, told him he would give him whatever he wanted if he would just put the gun down. With the perpetrator becoming more and more agitated, Riley began to realize the lives of he and his employees were in jeopardy. Without hesitation he pulled and fired the gun he kept holstered at his side, striking the bandit and bringing the ordeal to an end moments before the police arrived. Riley’s ability to take concise action during an extremely stressful and potentially deadly situation enabled he and his staff – although greatly shaken – to go home to their families unharmed at the end of the day. VIEW VIDEO

Emmah Bowers (category – Youth Good Samaritan)
Emmah Bowers, a senior at New Oxford High School, loves to dance. A longtime student of the Unabashed School of Dance in Hanover, Bowers decided she wanted to share her passion for dance with others – especially children with special needs. So, with the support of the dance studio, Bowers started First Position, a distinctive free dance program designed to inspire special needs children in trying something new in a warm and inviting climate. Over 20 students took part in this year’s classes, which ran from June through August and covered ballet techniques, jazz, and contemporary movement. The sessions culminated with a special showcase, complete with costumes, where the students were able to demonstrate what they learned throughout the summer. Bowers shows us that all people can be a part of something great if they are given the support they need to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. VIEW VIDEO

Michael Ryan (category – Community Impact)
How many times while driving have you witnessed other drivers playing on their mobile devices? How often have you, yourself, looked away from the road to check a text, an email, or to take a selfie? After losing close friends in a horrific head-on collision that took the lives of five young adults, New Oxford High School senior Michael Ryan decided he wanted to do something to honor the memory of his friends and protect others from suffering the same fate. Realizing that distracted driving was becoming a major problem and a common cause of fatal automobile accidents, Ryan took $10,000 he had set aside to purchase his first car and instead purchased the software he needed to create a mobile app designed to block incoming notifications whenever a vehicle reaches a speed greater than 20 mph. Ryan put the safety of others above his own materialistic desires and, in the process, set the stage to make our roads a safer place for all. VIEW VIDEO

Nathan Tracey (category – Firefighter)
When a call went out concerning a car crash on the 100 block of Indian Rock Dam Road in December 2015, York Township’s Goodwill Fire Company Chief Nathan Tracey was first on scene, where he found a vehicle with its front end crashed into a utility pole and was fully engulfed in flames from the back. Realizing the driver was trapped inside the car, Tracey sprang into action. He approached the burning vehicle, opened the driver’s door, and was faced with an unconscious, yet breathing, person behind the wheel. Using his own protective gear to shield the man from the heat and flames, Tracey pulled the gentleman safely from the vehicle before fire crews had arrived to extinguish the flames. Though Tracey would say he was only “doing what he was trained to do,” we realize it takes a true hero to place one’s own life at risk to save the life of another. VIEW VIDEO

John Salvadia (category – Military)
Dog T.A.G.S. (Train Assist Guide Dogs) is a Mechanicsburg nonprofit that incorporates veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma in the training of their own service dogs. In this unique approach, veterans are able to bond with their dogs from day one, working with them as they are trained to be their own service providers. At the same time, veterans in the program participate together with a social worker as a support group where they are able to share their thoughts and experiences. Lewisberry resident John Salvadia, a former member of the United States Air Force and a retired Harrisburg Police Corporal and K-9 handler, was named the organization’s president in 2013 and was tasked with helping the relatively new and struggling group get a foothold in the marketplace. His leadership, fundraising ability, and training acumen have helped to solidify the group as a vital resource for veterans in the area. VIEW VIDEO

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Red Cross Assisting Following North Pennsylvania Floods

Volunteers and staff from the American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region have been assisting those impacted by the storm that caused flooding in Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, and Sullivan Counties.

The Red Cross operated a shelter at Bald Eagle Area High School in Bellefonte (Centre County) on Thursday and Friday nights and another shelter at McCall Middle School in Montoursville (Lycoming County) on Friday night. Close to 80 people stayed in the Bald Eagle Shelter on Thursday night and four people stayed on Friday night. No residents stayed the night at McCall Middle School. Both shelters have now been closed.

The Red Cross has transitioned the relief operation to disaster assessment. Red Cross staff and volunteers are making their way out into the community are and working with those impacted to assess their needs and help them on their road to recovery.

If you are in need of disaster assistance due to the storm and flooding, please contact the Red Cross at 866-311-3832.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Red Cross Central PA Region Shelters - Oct 2016

Heavy rains have caused flooding in parts of Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, and Sullivan Counties. The American Red Cross is working with state and local emergency management agencies, as well as first responders and our community partners to assess the situation and respond appropriately.

The Red Cross urges those in flood prone areas to watch the weather closely and heed any weather alerts that are issued. You can also also download the Red Cross Emergency App to learn what to do to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a flood (as well as other emergencies).

Both shelters have now been closed.

Shelter Locations:
  • Bald Eagle Area High School - 751 South Eagle Valley Road, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (Centre County)
    • now closed

  • McCall Middle School - 600 Willow Street, Montoursville, Pennsylvania (Lycoming County)
    • now closed

Friday, October 14, 2016

Red Cross Hosts Mill Hall Fire Safety Event

Red Cross and community volunteers joined together with the Mill Hall Fire Department to install nearly 150 free smoke alarms and educate residents on the importance of home fire preparedness during a special event held in Mill Hall on Friday, October 14, 2016.

“Every seven minutes, someone dies in a home fire,” noted Steve Leauber, Red Cross North Central Pennsylvania Chapter Disaster Program Manager. “Working smoke alarms and home fire escape plans can increase your chances of evacuating safely by over 50%. The service our volunteers provide today will save a life tomorrow.”

The Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is a five-year initiative aimed at reducing the number of home fire related deaths and injuries by 25%. Now in its third year, the American Red Cross can document over 110 lives saved nationally due to the program. 

Volunteers and financial support for the Mill Hall install event came from the American Red Cross, Tri-M Group, LLC, Wayne Township Landfill, Citizens & Northern Bank, Lock Haven University Red Cross Club and other students, UGI, and PPL.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Manheim Auto Auction Kicks off Annual Totes of Hope Campaign

The good folks at Manheim Auto Auction kicked off our annual Totes of Hope Campaign when they delivered close to 70 backpacks plus additional items to be used to fill even more backpacks to the Red Cross office in Harrisburg on Thursday, September 22, 2016.

Since 2011, the American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region has joined with individuals and area corporations to secure the items needed to prepare backpacks for homeless veterans throughout our footprint through a partnership with the Lebanon VA.

“I am so very grateful to everyone who supports this campaign, and am especially grateful today for the extremely generous donation by Manheim Auto Auction,” noted Kathy Doran, American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Regional Service to the Armed Forces Director. “We must all do what we can to support our veterans, and the Totes of Hope Campaign is one way to let our homeless veterans know that they have not been forgotten.”

This year, the Red Cross hopes to collect enough items to assemble 400 backpacks! To learn more about the program and where you can drop-off donations, please contact Lori Demchack at

Items needed this year include:
  • Socks (mens size 9-11)
  • Rain Poncho
  • Fleece Lap Blankets
  • Flashlight/Batteries
  • Pocket Mirror
  • Decks of Cards
  • Puzzle Books
  • Pens
  • Notepads
  • Sewing Kits
  • Safety Pins
  • Adhesive Bandages
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment
  • Hydrocortisone Cream
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Lip Balm
  • Toothbrushes (toothbrush cover)
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental Floss
  • Mouthwash (small bottle)
  • Deodorant
  • Bars of Soap
  • 3-1 Body Wash
  • Lotion (small bottle)
  • Disposable Razors
  • Shaving Cream
  • Combs/Brushes
  • Pocket Tissues (no boxes)
  • Hand Sanitizer (travel size)
  • Nail Clippers
  • Sturdy Backpack (at least 17” deep and a dark color)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Red Cross Holds Mifflin County Home Fire Safety Event

Close to 100 American Red Cross and United Way of Mifflin-Juniata Day of Caring volunteers joined forces with the Lewistown and Juanita Borough Fire Departments and the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy to install close to 350 free smoke alarms and educate residents on the importance of home fire preparedness during a special event held in Lewistown and Juniata Terrace on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

“Every seven minutes, someone dies in a home fire,” noted Stephanie Fost, Red Cross Mid-Central Pennsylvania Executive Director. “Working smoke alarms and home fire escape plans can increase your chances of evacuating safely by over 50%. The service provided here today will someday save a life.”

The Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is a five-year initiative aimed at reducing the number of home fire related deaths and injuries by 25%. Now entering its third year, the American Red Cross can document over 110 lives saved nationally due to the program.

Volunteers for the Mifflin County install event came from Philips and Community Service Group and were organized by the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata. They were complemented by staff and volunteers from the American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region. A special note of thanks also needs to go to the Lewistown and Juanita Borough Fire Departments, Mifflin County Emergency Management Association, Pennsylvania Fire Academy, Juniata Terrace Borough Council, Grace United Methodist Church, Lewistown Boy Scout Troop 4, Giant in Lewistown and Burnham, Weis Market in Burnham, Subway in Lewistown, and Sheetz in Lewistown.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Red Cross and Local Partners Hold Harrisburg Home Fire Preparedness Campaign Event

Over 200 American Red Cross and United Way of the Capital Region Day of Caring volunteers joined forces with the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire to install over 800 free smoke alarms in close to 200 home and educate residents on the importance of home fire preparedness during a special event held in the Uptown Neighborhood of Harrisburg on Friday, September 9, 2016.

Jeri Sims, Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region CEO, started the event by welcoming the volunteers and reminding them how important their service was to the community.

“What you do here today has the potential of saving a life,” stated Sims. “Since The American Red Cross started our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign nearly two years ago, we have been able to document over 100 lives saved throughout the country due to efforts such as this. On behalf of the people we serve, I say thank you.”

Angela Leopold, American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Board Chair, reinforcing comments made by Sims, added, “Seven times each day someone dies in a home fire. Working smoke alarms can increase your chance of escaping safely by over 50%, yet so many homes in our community do not have them.”

Leopold then noted how thankful she was for the organizations and corporations who have partnered with the Red Cross to make events such as this possible, commenting, “We are so very grateful for the support of our financial sponsors – UGI, PPL, PinnacleHealth, Giant, and Isaac’s. Their generosity and commitment to our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign enables events such as this to occur. We are also extremely grateful for the support of The United Way of the Capital Region. In addition to being a financial supporter of the Red Cross, they are also the ones who – through their annual Day of Caring – brought many of today’s volunteers to us. A huge shout-out goes to Chief Brian Enterline and the entire Harrisburg Bureau of Fire as well for their continued support of this program, and we need to show our appreciation to the good folks here at the Zembo Shrine for allowing us to use this great facility for our event. Finally, thank you to Bob Hauer and the crew at The River 97.3 for being here with us this morning.”

Pennsylvania State Senator Rob Teplitz and Harrisburg City Mayor Eric Papenfuse also addressed the crowd, welcoming them to the city and thanking them for their service to the community.

A brief training session followed before the group, comprised of Red Cross staff and volunteers and additional volunteers from Penn National, Highmark, Aetna, Capital BlueCross, IBM, and Helping with Pride, dispersed to go door-to-door into the Uptown Community, where they checked existing smoke alarms to make sure they worked properly and installed free smoke alarms where none existed or where existing ones had failed. They also educated the residents on how to create and practice home fire escape plans.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Williams Atlantic Sunrise Donates $7,500 to Support Home Fire Preparedness Campaign

The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region recently received a $7,500 grant from Williams Atlantic Sunrise in support of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign in Lancaster. The money will be used to help the Red Cross reach its goal of reducing the number of fire-related deaths and injuries by 25% over a five-year period. The American Red Cross is one of 57 Pennsylvania organizations to receive a grant this funding cycle.

The Williams Atlantic Sunrise Community Grant Program is designed to assist in the development of projects that directly benefit the communities in which the proposed Atlantic Sunrise project would be constructed and operated. Grants are awarded based on community need and can be used to provide environmental benefit, economic development, and community benefit.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Red Cross Partners with PinnacleHealth to Reconnect Family Torn Apart by West African Violence

By Dan Tobin, Red Cross Central PA Director of Marketing & Communications

Victoria, Liberian Refugee living in Harrisburg
Imagine being separated from your children due to war and not knowing how to contact them. Years go by and you wonder whether or not they are still alive. Had they managed to escape the violence? You have little information about their whereabouts and don’t know where to turn. You, yourself, are alone in a different country and speak little of the native language. Where do you go for help?

This was the situation facing Victoria, a refugee from Liberia now living in the United States.

Liberia, a country in West Africa, ended the last century rocked by two civil wars that left the nation deeply divided. Ethnic conflict and the resulting land disputes caused thousands of refugees, some of whom resettled in the United States.

Victoria had lived in the village of Pleebo with her three children, two sisters, and two brothers. Her husband was deceased and she was in a relationship with another man. This was near the end of the country’s second civil war, which ended in 2003.

“There were rebels fighting in my little city of Pleebo,” commented Victoria. “We became refugees as a result of the violence.”

Victoria’s boyfriend told her that the United States was accepting refugees and that they should go and start a new life there. Although hesitant to leave her children, she followed him to America, settling in Harrisburg in 2004.

“My boyfriend used to help me contact my family when we first arrived since I did not know how to contact them on my own,” she stated. “When he left me, I could no longer contact them.”

Victoria, who speaks little and can write no English, relied on her boyfriend of seventeen years for everything. Although their relationship was rough, he made it possible for her to survive in this country and provided her with the means to stay in contact with her family back in Liberia. When he walked out on her three years ago, she found herself all alone. She had no friends and no local support mechanism. She had nowhere to turn and no one to help.

In Steps PinnacleHealth

Mike Dolatoski, PinnacleHealth Case Manager
It was during this time that she began working with Cori Drenning, a Licensed Social Worker at PinnacleHealth, an outpatient health clinic located in her neighborhood. In addition to providing healthcare, PinnacleHealth offers support services to assist individuals with their non-health-related needs. Three years ago, Mike Dolatoski, a PinnacleHealth Case Manager, joined the team and started working directly with Victoria on a regular basis.

“My role as a case manager is very similar to social work,” noted Dolatoski. “After completing an initial assessment and getting to know someone, we work together to set personal goals. Those related to basic needs are focused upon first. We then look at additional goals and figure out how best to attain them.”

One of Victoria’s long-term goals was to once again make contact with her children, brothers, and sisters. She had no idea where they might be and Dolatoski had no idea where to start. He approached a colleague for advice, and she directed him to the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Red Cross Restoring Family Links

“My supervisor mentioned the Restoring Family Links Program and was able to connect me with the right person,” he added.

The American Red Cross Restoring Family Links Program is a joint effort of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement that reunites people who have become separated due to armed conflict or other situations of violence, natural or man-made disasters, or migration. In 2015, Restoring Family Links was able to distribute over 100,000 messages and facilitate close to 500,000 phone calls between relatives in countries throughout the world. Close to 1,000 children were reunited with their families through the program.

Dolatoski noted, “I reached out to the Red Cross in December 2014. My Red Cross contact at the time met with Victoria and me to gather all of the available information. He was very upfront that the process could take a long time and that there was no guarantee of success.”  

Following the meeting, the Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region based in Harrisburg initiated a Restoring Family Links case with the greater Red Cross Network. At this point, the local Red Cross, working in conjunction with the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., reached out to the Red Cross in Liberia with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross. For the next several months, representatives from the Red Cross in both countries worked collaboratively to exchange information needed to locate Victoria’s family.

A Message from Home

Hope Roaten, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager
In May 2016 word came through the Red Cross network that contact had been made. The family was located in a very remote area of the country, which was a 90-minute drive followed by a 60-minute walk to the nearest communication center. No cell service was available, so all communication would be done via handwritten messages.

“I immediately contacted Mike and told him I had news to share with him and Victoria,” commented Hope Roaten, American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Disaster Program Manager. “We setup a meeting for the three of us at PinnacleHealth.”

Roaten had received messages and photos from Victoria’s family. She decided she wouldn’t tell Dolatoski or Victoria until she could do it in person.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Roaten stated. “The look of relief, satisfaction, and gratitude on Victoria’s face was wonderful to see. It was as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her.”

Victoria added, “I saw the pictures and letters and was very happy. It had been three years since I spoke to my children and 12 years since I’d seen them. I was so happy.”

Dolatoski commented, “We were both not expecting this to happen. It was such an exciting day. For Victoria, the moment was so profound.”

Despite all that she has been through, Victoria has an infectious glow about her. Her smile and laugh brighten the room. Her gratitude to those who help her clearly shines through.

She is now torn between two lives – the one she left behind so many years ago in Liberia, and the one she has started here in Harrisburg. One moment she wants to travel home to be with her family, the next she talks about finding a way to bring her now grown children here.

“I sent them a letter,” she said. “I want to see them. I miss them so much.”

A Perfect Partnership

Using the American Red Cross global network, Victoria was once again able to connect with her family. Since the initial connection was made, Victoria has now been able to send messages through the Red Cross network back to Liberia. In addition, the Red Cross has been able to provide PinnacleHealth with referrals to resources that might enable Victoria to meet some more of her long-term goals.

“It’s wonderful to see the impact our partnership with PinnacleHealth has had on Victoria. Being able to reconnect her with her family shows how multiple organizations working together can enact positive change in our communities,” noted Jeri Sims, Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Regional CEO. “PinnacleHealth has been a strong partner with the Red Cross, providing financial support for our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign and supplying volunteers for our home fire install events. Victoria’s story highlights a new chapter of collaboration between our organizations. Working together, there’s no end to what we can accomplish.”

Friday, July 8, 2016

Red Cross Installs Smoke Alarms in Wysox

Close to 50 American Red Cross staff and community volunteers joined forces with the Wysox Fire Department to install over 230 free smoke alarms and educate residents on the importance of home fire preparedness during a special event held in Wysox on Friday, July 8, 2016.

“With the help of community volunteers, the fire alarms we installed in Wysox have the potential of saving a life,” noted Jeri Sims, Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region CEO. “Since the Red Cross started our Home Fire Preparedness Program close to two years ago, we have been able to document nearly 100 lives saved throughout the country due to efforts such as this. On behalf of the people we serve, I say thank you to our partners and volunteers for helping us to make the community a safer place.”

Seven times each day someone dies in a home fire. Working smoke alarms can increase your chance of escaping safely by over 50%, yet so many homes in our community do not have them. The Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness program looks to change that, holding events in communities that have an increased risk of home fires and a lower chance of buildings that contain working smoke alarms.

Sims continued, “We are so grateful for the support of our community partners – UGI, PPL, the United Way of Bradford County, Gannon Associates, Tuscarora Wayne Insurance Company, Citizens and Northern Bank, Repsol, Woody's Ale House, Claverack Rural Electric Company, Marlene's Floral, and the Wysox Fire Department. Their generosity and commitment to our Home Fire Preparedness Program enables events such as this to occur.”