Thursday, June 23, 2016

Colonel Fisher Receives Red Cross Legacy Award

Pictured l-r: Ed Barben (Red Cross Central PA Board Member), Kathy Doran (Red Cross Central PA Regional Service to the Armed Forces Director), Colonel Carla Fisher, and Jeri Sims (Red Cross Central PA Chief Executive Officer).

Retired Army Colonel Carla Fisher of Carlisle was awarded the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Legacy Award during the Rotary Club of Mechanicsburg-North Breakfast on Thursday, June 23, 2016. Colonel Fisher earned the award for her service as a Red Cross Donut Dolly in Vietnam.

Donut Dollies were young female college graduates who, beginning in 1965, deployed to Vietnam to provide entertainment and audience participation programs to the troops. Traveling by helicopter, truck, and jeep, they also provided refreshments and a sense of home to military forces serving in the field. During their peak in 1969, 110 women operated in 17 units throughout the country, reaching an estimated 300,000 troops.

Colonel Fisher served from July 1968-July 1969. Her tour took her to troops stationed in Cam Ranh Bay, Pleiku, and Dong Tam.

She noted, “The intensity of the friendships formed from sharing cold meals, hot sun, time in the bunker, cold showers, and the sounds of fighting, along with the joys of a letter home, a care package, and the day [I] actually boarded the plane to go on R&R or [for the] trip home, made me truly appreciate the service of our soldiers, their resilience, and their values.” 

Colonel Fisher was so moved by the experience that she joined the Army herself, obtaining the rank of Colonel and specializing in personnel and tactical communications during a 25-year career. Since her retirement, she has been an active Red Cross volunteer, supporting the Service to the Armed Forces Program in the Central Pennsylvania Region.

The Red Cross’ legacy of service to members of the military began with Clara Barton providing comfort on the battlefields during the American Civil War. Since then, American Red Cross staff and volunteers have served in every major military combat or conflict operation around the world. They are among a select group who have proudly worn the Red Cross emblem to provide care and comfort to members of the United States Armed Forces, their families, and our veterans.

The Legacy Project honors and recognizes the legacy of Red Cross staff and volunteers who have served side-by-side with members of the United States Armed Forces. Since the program’s inception in 2010, the Red Cross has received nearly 500 nominations. The stories and memories many of these people bring are an opportunity for the Red Cross to engage the families and individuals who share the distinct experience of serving alongside members of the military during conflicts, wars, and humanitarian operations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Red Cross Receives $50,000 From CommunityAid

The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region received $50,000 from CommunityAid during a special presentation held at their Lancaster store on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. The Red Cross is one of several organizations to receive a gift during today’s event.

“We are extremely grateful for our partnership with CommunityAid,” noted Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Regional CEO Jeri Sims. “Their support improves our ability to serve people in our community whose lives have been impacted by local disasters.”

CommunityAid seeks to raise funds for distribution to local schools, churches, synagogues, temples, and nonprofit charitable organizations by partnering with area businesses and organizations that agree to host clothing collection bins. Items donated through the bins are then sold at one of four area CommunityAid thrift stores, with the proceeds being returned to the community in the form of grants.

“Since all Red Cross disaster assistance is provided free of charge, we rely on the generosity of our corporate and individual donors to provide the resources necessary for us to support the community during disasters big and small,” added Sims. “Thank you, CommunityAid, for all you do to support our mission and the people we serve.”

Pictured Above: CommunityAid Executive Director Glenn Chandler (second from left) with Red Cross staff members l-r Tom Szulanczyk (North Central Pennsylvania Chapter Executive Director), Jenn Wiggin (Major Gift Officer), and Jeri Sims (Regional Chief Executive Officer).

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Red Cross Mid-Central Pennsylvania Chapter Honors Heroes at State College Event

The American Red Cross Mid-Central Pennsylvania Chapter honored local individuals and organizations for their heroic and selfless acts during the Spirit of the Hero Reception held at Celebration Hall in State College on Thursday, May 12, 2016.

This year’s nominees include:

Pennsylvania State Police Rockview Criminal Investigator Trooper Brian Wakefield and Trooper Trevor Danko (category – Law Enforcement)
Pennsylvania State Police Rockview Criminal Investigator Trooper Brian Wakefield and Trooper Trevor Danko were quick-thinking and quick-action during an investigation into a reported natural death at a home in Brenner Township this past June. While removing the body from the residence, area funeral director Mark Heintzelman became short of breath and incoherent before slipping into unconsciousness. Both troopers were already springing into action to assist Heintzelman when he stopped breathing and lost his pulse. Without hesitation, the troopers administered CPR until an EMS crew arrived to transport Heintzelman, who has since made a full recovery, to Mount Nittany Medical Center. By providing lifesaving CPR to Heintzelman at the first sign of his distress, Troopers Wakefield and Danko played a pivotal role in the man’s ultimate survival.

Penn State LionCare (category – Medical Professional)
Amidst clinical rotations and long days of studying, third-year Penn State College of Medicine students at the University Park Regional Campus are putting their education into practice in a new setting. They have spent the last several months preparing for LionCare Tyrone, a student-run free clinic, which opened its doors to the public in March. “This is reminding me why I went to medical school in the first place – to help people who really need medical care,” said Clay Cooper, co-director of the clinic. “There’s definitely a need for this type of service in Tyrone, and it’s an exciting opportunity to help start this from the ground up.” To start, the clinic will be open the first Saturday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will treat acute care needs and general health and mental health needs, as well as offer work and driver’s physicals and blood pressure checks to adults over age 18. Childcare will be provided during appointments. The clinic, a partnership between the College of Medicine University Park Regional Campus, Penn State College of Nursing and Tyrone Regional Health Network, operates out of the Tyrone Hospital Rural Health Clinic building.

Harvey Corrigan (category – Adult Good Samaritan)
As he pulled behind the Subway on West College Avenue, Advanced Disposal truck driver Harvey Corrigan noticed a pickup truck blocking the roadway. Approaching the vehicle he found a man unconscious and unresponsive in the driver’s seat. Corrigan pulled the gentleman from the truck, placed him on the ground, and attempted to resuscitate him using the CPR skills he had learned the year prior. A short time later he was joined by two Ferguson Township Police Officers, who used their AED to restart the man’s heart just as Centre LifeLink EMS was arriving to transport the gentleman to Mount Nittany Medical Center. Corrigan’s CPR training, coupled with his willingness to help a complete stranger he found to be in distress, worked together to keep a man alive until first responders were able to arrive at the scene with advanced life-saving equipment.

Pet Recovery Centre County/Susan Harpster (category – Animal Rescue)
Serving Centre County lost pets and their owners, Pet Recovery of Centre County is a volunteer organization that provides information and access to resources that help to bring missing pets back home. Using the power of social media, Pet Recovery of Centre County is able to turn a truly traumatic experience into a less-stressful situation that most times results in a happy ending. By encouraging its clients to stay calm and act quickly, they are able to blanket their extensive network of followers with pictures and other important information concerning the missing pets. They also work with area agencies to cast an even wider net in the community. Since its inception, Pet Recovery of Centre County has successfully reunited countless pets with their owners, creating happy endings for many area families.

Bob Perks Cancer Fund/Doreen Perks (category – Community Impact)
The Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund helps to ease the financial burden of individuals and families in our community who are battling cancer by providing funding for basic necessities such as rent, utilities, and food so the families’ focus can be on treatment and recovery. The Fund was established in 2006 in memory of Bob Perks, a State College native, who passed away in 2005 after a long battle with melanoma. Devoted to helping cancer patients long before he faced his own challenges with the disease, his wife, Doreen, family, friends and colleagues founded the Bob Perks Cancer Fund to fulfill his wish of making a difference in the lives of those who faced cancer. Over the past ten years the Fund has raised and allocated over $1 million to local cancer patients who have encountered financial hardships in Blair, Centre, Clearfield and Huntington Counties.

Brent Andrews (category – Miltary)
Brent Andrews has served in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard since March 1990, and continues to make a difference in the lives of the next generation of soldiers. While deployed to Iraq on combat operations in 2009, he served as the mounted vehicle commander for his platoon. It was during enemy actions on more than two occasions that he directed the mounted element to provide security for the dismounted squads while maintaining communications with higher headquarters to provide necessary support.

Katherine Spicer (category – Youth Good Samaritan)
As Katherine Spicer approached her tenth birthday, she decided she didn’t need things for herself and set out to raise money to help animals. With the help of her mother, Christina, she started a GoFundMe page called, Katherine’s 10 Years for $10,000. Katherine decided to raise the money to benefit Centre County PAWS, an organization that has been committed to finding forever homes for cats and dogs and educating citizens on responsible pet ownership for over 30 years. Her goal was to raise $5,000 by her mid-April birthday, and the rest as the year progresses. Katherine exudes a wisdom beyond her years. Her desire to help others over gaining material things for herself humbles us all, reminding us of what is really important in life.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Red Cross Holds Two Fire Safety Events

Over 100 American Red Cross and community volunteers joined forces with the fire departments in Mifflinville and Mount Carmel to install close to 500 free smoke detectors and educate residents on the importance of home fire preparedness during special events held in Mifflinville and Mount Carmel’s Ward 3 on Saturday, April 30, 2016.

“Seven times each day someone dies in a home fire,” noted Tom Szulanczyk, American Red Cross North Central Pennsylvania Executive Director. “Working smoke detectors can increase your chance of escaping safely by over 50%, yet so many homes in our community do not have them.”

Since its inception in October 2014, there have been close to 80 documented lives saved throughout the country due to the Home Fire Preparedness Program, underscoring the importance of the Mifflinville and Mount Carmel events.

Szulanczyk added, “When a home fire strikes, you have roughly two minutes to escape safely. The smoke detectors you install and the escape plans you help residents to create today have the potential to save a life.”

Pennsylvania State Representative David Millard greeted the group gathered in Mifflinville, and Mayor Philip Cimino, Pennsylvania State Representative Kurt Masser, and Fire Chief James Reed welcomed those in Mount Carmel. In all cases, the importance of the service being offered was stressed.

Opening remarks and a brief training session preceded the volunteers, grouped into teams of four, being dispersed into the community, where they traveled door-to-door to check existing smoke detectors and install free smoke detectors where none existed or where existing ones had failed. They also worked with the residents to create home fire escape plans.

The American Red Cross would like to thank our sponsors who helped to make both events possible – UGI, PPL, First Keystone Community Bank, BB&T Bank, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, Clover Hose Company, Rescue Hose Company, American Hose Company, and Mifflin Rangers. We would also like to thank The Lower Anthracite Region United Way for helping to secure the volunteers for the Mount Carmel event and Mount Carmel Police Chief Todd Owens for his support and assistance.

Friday, April 29, 2016

CD East Students Raise Money, Throw Pies

Pictured Above: Members of the Central Dauphin East High School Red Cross Club.

The Red Cross Club at Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg donated over $1,600 to the American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region on Friday, April 29, 2016. The money was raised through their “May Day Pie Throw” event held in the school gymnasium.

The students worked hard in the weeks leading up to the event and easily surpassed their $1,500 goal. As more money was raised, more faculty members were in line to be pied. Lists hung around the school naming which teachers would be added at what dollar level, with the school principal being the “grand prize” should the students hit their mark.

The Red Cross would like to thank the Central Dauphin East High School Red Cross Club, as well as the entire student body, faculty, staff, and administration, for taking part in such a great event. The money raised will be used in support of our Disaster Services Program here in Central Pennsylvania. We would also like to thank Weis Markets for donating the pies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Charli O’Neill Recognized at Area Dinner

Longtime Red Cross Volunteer Charli O’Neill (pictured center with his wife, Mary, and their son, Patrick) was recognized at a special volunteer appreciation dinner by the Centre County Council for Human Services on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

The dinner, held at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, honors local Centre County volunteers whose service furthers the missions of the Centre County Council for Human Services member agencies.

Charli was honored for his ten years of service to The American Red Cross, where he is an active Disaster Action Team member, leads Home Fire Preparedness Campaign efforts in Centre County, sits on the Chapter’s Board of Directors, and is an active blood and platelet donor.

“After volunteering for the Katrina operation,” noted Charli, “I wanted to continue helping others when they find themselves faced with an unexpected need. Continuing with the local Red Cross was the perfect opportunity.”

* Information for this piece was taken from the Centre Daily Times.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Home Fire Prevention Comes to Lancaster

Close to 200 American Red Cross and community volunteers joined forces with the Lancaster Fire Department to install over 500 free smoke detectors in nearly 200 homes and educate residents on the importance of home fire preparedness during a special event held in Lancaster City on Thursday, April 21, 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 Program close to two years ago, we have been able to document nearly 80 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 what Sims had said, added, “Seven times each day someone dies in a home fire. Working smoke detectors can increase your chance of escaping safely by over 50%, yet so many homes in our community do not have them.”

Leopold then took a moment to thank all of the program’s corporate sponsors before accepting a $20,000 donation check from PPL in support of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Program. Presenting the check on behalf of PPL was Jess Long, PPL Regional Affairs Director.

“We are so grateful for the support of our financial sponsors – UGI, PPL, Isaac’s, the Anne & Philip Glatfelter Family Foundation, Highmark Blue Shield, Capital Blue Cross, and Millers Mutual. Their generosity and commitment to our Home Fire Preparedness Program enables events such as this to occur. Thank you for making such a huge impact in the community,” commented Leopold.

Pennsylvania State Representative Mike Sturla and Lancaster City Mayor Richard Gray also addressed the group, welcoming them to the city and thanking them for their service to the community.

A brief training session followed before the group, comprised of close to 200 Red Cross staff and volunteers, Lancaster City Firemen, UGI, PPL, Isaac’s, Highmark Blue shield, Millers Mutual, Paul Davis Restoration, Armstrong, RETTEW, The Infantree, First National Bank, SACA, and Benchmark Construction employees, and Millersville University students dispersed into the Musser Park, Mussertown, and Cabbage Hill areas of Lancaster City. Split into teams of four, they checked existing smoke detectors to make sure they worked properly and installed free smoke detectors where none existed or where existing ones had failed. They also educated the residents on how to create and practice home fire escape plans.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ed Robertson Celebrates 60 Years of Red Cross Service

Pictured: Ed Robertson with American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region CEO Jeri Sims.

The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region recognized Ed Robertson for completing 60 years of service to the Red Cross during a Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast held in Harrisburg on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

“On March 19, sixty years ago [last month], it snowed in Boston,” noted Ed in a social media post to his Red Cross Family. “That snowstorm changed the direction of my life, and it started me on a Red Cross journey that still continues.”

It was 1956, and Boston was hammered by 29 inches of snow over an eight-day period. Ed, a college student at the time, was living in Boston’s Back Bay when he heard a radio announcement from the Red Cross asking for volunteers to help with the storm’s aftermath.

“Where I lived on Newbury Street was only a block from the location of the Greater Boston Chapter at that time, so I walked over and introduced myself,” Ed added. “The first question from the gentleman at the door was, ‘Can you drive in snow?’ Very quickly after I said, ‘Yes,’ he gave me the keys to a station wagon, told where the cots and blankets were and where they needed to be delivered.”

Ed continued to volunteer in Boston until he moved to North Carolina in 1980. From North Carolina he traveled to Maryland, volunteering for the local Red Cross Chapters at each stop along the way. In 1998, he made his way to Harrisburg and took a position as the Manager of Emergency Services, which he held until his “retirement” in 2001. Since that time he has held numerous additional staff and volunteer positions.

He concluded, “I’m not ready to stop. Our Mission keeps me going.”

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Volunteers Install Smoke Detectors for Adams Electric Customers

Pictured – Western Lancaster/East York SERVPRO employees Tim Brown, Anna Lasher, and Alex Lasher learn how to install a smoke detector from Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist Allen White (3rd from left) while South Central PA Chapter Executive Director Matt Leininger (right) keeps track of the progress. 

Through a partnership with Adams Electric, The American Red Cross joined forces with volunteers from Western Lancaster/East York SERVPRO to educate Adams Electric customers in York County on the importance of having a home fire escape plan and install free smoke detectors where needed.

Earlier this year, all Adams Electric customers were sent via their monthly bill a brochure that discussed the importance of home fire preparedness and working smoke detectors. Customers who wished to have free smoke detectors installed were encouraged to contact the Red Cross to arrange for the installation. Today, the SERVPRO group joined with Red Cross staff members to visit the homes who requested a smoke detector in York County. This Saturday, another group of volunteers will hit customers from the Hanover area of York County and Adams County.

The effort is part of The American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Program, which seeks to reduce the number of fire-related deaths and injuries by 25% over a five-year period. So far this fiscal year, which runs from July 2015 through June 2016, The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region has installed over 2,000 smoke detectors throughout its 22 county footprint.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Central PA Region Hosts Disaster Institute

The crew at the Friday evening, western-themed dinner and reception.

Over 60 volunteers from throughout The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region footprint came together to participate in a Leadership-Level Disaster Institute on Thursday-Saturday, April 7-9, 2016. Held at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, the institute featured a number of courses designed to improve our ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from any situation that might arise.

Courses ranged from Mass Care to Crisis Management, from Supporting Volunteers to Collaboration. It was a great time to brush up on current skills, while learning new ones that will ultimately be used in support of the people we serve in our community.

Classroom instruction was complemented by group meals, giving the participants an opportunity to meet new people and rekindle old friendships. A Friday evening western-themed reception brought everyone together for some much-needed downtime in a relaxing and fun environment.

Thanks to all who participated.

You can view all photos from the event by visiting our Facebook Page.