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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Jeri Sims Named Red Cross Regional CEO

The American Red Cross is pleased to announce the appointment of Jeri Sims as the new Chief Executive Officer for the Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region. Sims comes to the Red Cross from the Community Arts Center in Williamsport, where she served as Assistant Executive Director and Director of Development since 2007. Her leadership, professionalism, and vision, helped to elevate the organization to a widely-supported, top-ranking arts center with over 250 strategic community partners.

Sims is also active in the local community, having served on the Loyalsock Township School Board (President), the Loyalsock Township Recreation Board (Vice-President), the board of the Williamsport Lycoming Arts Council (President), and the boards of many other area organizations.

“With her dedication to nonprofit work and her strong leadership skills, we are very excited to have Jeri join the team,” noted Angela Leopold, American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Board Chair.

Sims will be based out of the region’s Harrisburg office and will start on Monday, April 11. A welcome reception will be planned for later this spring.

“The Red Cross plays a huge role in the community, helping people to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters big and small,” stated Jeri Sims. “I’m excited to be joining the team, and I look forward to working with the staff and volunteers who give so much of themselves to help others in time of need.”

Friday, April 1, 2016

Local Heroes Honored in Lewisburg

The American Red Cross North Central Pennsylvania Chapter honored several individuals for their heroic actions during a Spirit of the Hero Breakfast, which was held at the Country Cupboard in Lewisburg on Friday, April 1, 2016. This year’s award recipients included:

Rudolph Frazier (category - Adult Good Samaritan)
As Rudolph Frazier of Sunbury went to the register at the Family Dollar Store in Sunbury to pay for his purchase this past July, he saw a masked person holding a knife to the cashier’s throat, who was placing money into a bag from the register while being verbally threatened by the assailant. Not hesitating for a moment, Rudolph jumped on to the counter then to the back of the robber, taking her to the ground. During the fight that ensued, Rudolph managed to pull the mask from the robber’s face, but also suffered cuts to his legs and bruising to his hands. Despite his injuries, Rudolph was able to hold the robber to the floor until the Sunbury Police Department arrived on scene and arrested the suspect. Rudolph’s willingness to take action despite the risk of personal injury not only resulted in the apprehension of an armed robber, but it also potentially saved the cashier and others from injury.

Jacob Bobersky (category - Youth Good Samaritan)
Jacob Bobersky and his father, both from Benton, were enjoying a beautiful fall day fishing from their kayaks on Lake Silkwood this past October when things went suddenly wrong. The father accidently flipped his kayak. Realizing his father was in distress and not able to pull himself from the situation, 10-year-old Jacob quickly paddled his way over to the overturned kayak, grabbing and towing it to shore, ultimately saving his father from drowning. Jacob’s ability to stay calm and act quickly during a potentially tragic situation meant the difference between life and death for his father, who will now be able to enjoy many more days fishing and paddling across Lake Silkwood with his son.

Abby Erdley (category – Animal Rescue)
So often in the news we hear of families going through tough times and of food banks and shelters looking for individuals to provide donations to support their efforts in the local community. We seldom hear of the pets, the most vulnerable and often overlooked members of families in need. Abby Erdley of Lewisburg has worked hard to address this pressing issue through her nonprofit pet food pantry, Arthur’s Pet Pantry. The Pantry’s mission is to provide for people who might otherwise not be able to afford food for their animals. The ultimate goal is for families to be able to care for their pets without needing to turn them over to local shelters. This past January alone, Abby’s shelter helped to feed 235 local pets, animals that might have otherwise gone hungry or needed to be given up due to unfortunate circumstances in their families. Abby’s dedication has not only helped families stay together, but has also enabled them to properly support their pets during times of economic crisis.

Borough of Berwick Police Chief Kenneth Strish, Detective Brandon Shultz, Detective Gregory Martin, Officer Reagan Rafferty, Officer Holden Sprung (category – Emergency Services Personnel)
Police officers never know what they will encounter during their shifts. They place their lives on the line each time they wear the uniform in order to keep our communities safe. This past November, when a shooter opened fire in the Berwick Industrial Development Association Complex, Berwick Police Officer Holden Sprung was the first to arrive at the scene and was able to notify his fellow officers of the potential deadly situation that was unfolding. Fellow Officer Reagan Rafferty, Detectives Gregory Martin and Brandon Shultz, and Police Chief Kenneth Strish were quick to respond. Negotiations with the suspect commenced and lasted until the suspect opened fire on the officers. Forced to take action, Officer Rafferty returned fire, neutralizing the threat. Placing their own lives in danger, Strish, Shultz, Martin, Rafferty, and Sprung did what they needed to do in order to shield the public from harm by confronting an individual determined to do damage to others. 

Sidney Apfelbaum (category – Military)
They are often referred to as our “Greatest Generation,” the men and women who played a huge role in the events that surrounded the Second World War. Sidney Apfelbaum of Northumberland epitomizes what it means to be part of that generation. Though today known by many as a local lawyer, Sidney’s early life saw him as a solider during World War II, where he found himself in the middle of one of the war’s most terrible battles – The Battle of the Bulge. Serving as a scout for his unit, Sidney was far ahead of his fellow soldiers when he stumbled upon two armed German soldiers. Reaching for his weapon that was slung over his shoulder, he accidently fired into the air, catching the Germans complete off-guard and resulting in their surrendering. Instead of glamorizing the events leading up to the capture, Sidney downplayed the event, telling the truth of how he apprehended his prisoners. His honesty and integrity on and off the battlefield have defined all aspects of his life, and have earned him the respect of his family, friends, and the community he calls home. Photo courtesy of Rob Inglis, photographer, Daily Item.

John Pagana, MD (category - Dr. Charles P. Fasano, D.O. Medical Award)
Since the 1980s, Dr. John Pagana, affectionately referred to as Dr. John by his patients and coworkers, has brought medical care to those who need it most in Sunbury. Realizing the need to serve individuals who couldn’t afford medical care or were uninsured, Dr. John started a small, free clinic from inside his private medical practice. In 2001 he was asked to expand his outreach by opening and becoming the volunteer Medical Director of a free clinic in Sunbury that would go on to serve patients in 4 counties who were working, yet unable to afford medical insurance coverage. Since then he has served the clinic, working closely with Geisinger Medical Center and Evangelical Community Hospital to provide laboratory, radiology, and specialist services. He has also worked to secure free medications to those who need it most. Dr. John’s willingness to volunteer his time and expertise has literally meant the difference between life and death for countless individuals who, without his caring and compassionate commitment to the community, would have not been able to receive vital medical services.

Nala (category – Special Recognition)
As everyone was sleeping on a cold Turbotville February night, Nala, the family’s four-month-old German Shepherd, realized something wasn’t quite right. As flames and smoke began to overtake the home, Nala started to bark frantically, waking Tim from his sleep. Immediately understanding the danger, Tim sprang into action, quickly gathering his three children – Kiflin, Logan, and Zachary – and rushing outside. With his children clear of the burning building, Tim turned to retrieve Nala and their other pets. He tried desperately to re-enter the house, but the flames were too intense, the home fully engulfed. In all, three pets died that night. Sacrificing her own life to save that of her family, Nala reminds us that “not all heroes wear capes.”