Frank Barksdale: A True Red Cross Hero

This past week, one of our youth leaders was recognized as a Richmond “Hero Among Us” by WTVR CBS 6’s Greg McQuade. I am so proud of our friend, donor and humanitarian, the extraordinary Frank Barksdale, III. He is an inspiration to me. I am grateful that he has chosen to be a multi-year financial supporter of the Red Cross

You can view Frank’s story by visiting http://wtvr.com/2014/07/03/frank-barksdale-hero/

A Great Story

Here is a Red Cross story I received from Jill Ratkovich, our regional Service to Armed Forces manager. It is truly inspirational. Thank you, Jill

Occasionally, ok regularly, I receive requests from various individuals for uplifting stories revolving around clients whom we have served. As you can imagine, it can be very challenging in the field of SAF to find “happy” stories. Thus when periodically I come across one, I am certain to hurriedly tuck it away in order that I might pull it out again when needed. However, today I learned of a story that was just too wonderful to keep under my hat. If even just for a moment, I hope it will renew your spirit in the work you do for our organization.

Every Wednesday afternoon, a group of Service to the Armed Forces volunteers facilitates a Horticultural Therapy Program for patients at McGuire VA. (As an FYI, volunteers support a similar program at the Hampton VA.) The initiative at McGuire is headed by volunteer extraordinaire Chris Buck. Today’s program not only involved activities in the vegetable garden at the hospital, but it also included a 30 minute presentation on the harvesting of honey. For those of you who do not know, Chris is a certified beekeeper. Anyway, during the presentation, there was one particular veteran, a new participant to the program, who seemed truly captivated by the subject. He asked several great questions about beekeeping and mentioned that he had always been interested in it. Later, while doing tasks in the garden, the veteran joked with the other patients and reminisced with some of the volunteers about his childhood and the fond memories he had of working in his family’s garden. At the end of the session, the veteran told Chris how much he had enjoyed the afternoon, and that he would definitely be back next Wednesday. Chris was of course pleased by the veteran’s comments.

If this story was to end here, I think most of us would consider it a “good” one. However what happened next turns this “good” story into a “great” one. After the patients had departed the garden, a therapist from the hospital approached Chris in a very excited manner. She could hardly wait to tell Chris a little more about the veteran who had enjoyed himself so immensely. The therapist told Chris that for whatever reasons, this gentleman had hardly said a word to anyone since he arrived at the hospital. The therapist said that the staff had tried in vain for days to get the patient to say something…anything…to somebody. Hence the reason for the therapist’s elation when the patient began to ask so many questions during the beekeeping brief. He was speaking! She was even more thrilled when he started interacting so freely and happily with others while gardening. The therapist could not thank Chris or the Red Cross enough for sponsoring the program. On a side note, Chris went to visit the veteran in his room before she left the hospital. He invited her in and told her to feel free to visit him anytime she was there. No doubt that from now on, whenever this veteran sees the Red Cross emblem, he will also remember the kind volunteers who wore the emblem on their nametags and helped bring a little sunshine into a dark period of his life.

Have a good evening all…

Jill

D-Day Rememberance

imageWe pause today to pay tribute to those who engaged in a valiant battle 70 years ago that changed the trajectory of global relationships. We now have allies and peace between countries who were enemies at war those many years ago. Today, as the threat of armed conflict feels ever present, I hope the fact that enemies can become friends will compel us to always exhaust all efforts to find diplomatic solutions to global tensions about resources and territory.

Ukrainian Red Cross in Action

Our colleagues with the Ukrainian Red Cross are poised to continue the lifesaving work of the Red Cross in their country.  The situation in the Ukraine remains volatile; however, the Ukrainian Red Cross, committed to our fundamental principles, is providing assistance to all those who are in need.

The Ukrainian Red Cross (URCS) emergency response teams have been working around the clock for months, providing first aid to the wounded from both sides and transporting them to hospital. In the most intense three days, more than 660 people – protesters and members of the security forces – received first aid from the URCS. Six Red Cross volunteers were injured, one of them was shot and taken to hospital, where he underwent an operation but his life is not at risk.

Response teams from the Red Cross remain on duty and are ready to respond where needed. At the end of last week the URCS, in cooperation with the ICRC, had a meeting with all regional branches to discuss the situation in the regions and how to strengthen preparedness. This short video shows the Ukrainian Red Cross in action.

A Red Cross Kind Of Day

The skies are gray.  There is a chill in the air.  The slushy streets are deserted.  Yet, the work of the Red Cross is not on hiatus.

I had a lunch meeting with a prospective donor today.  When I called her in her office this morning to confirm, she said, “other people have cancelled plans for today, but I knew you would be there . . . this is a Red Cross kind of day.”  She’s right.  We raise money, secure resources and train for days like today: days that are ripe with potential for home fires or extended power outages.  Our paid staff and volunteers are poised to assist those who need Red Cross services  today.  Hopefully, there will be  minimal need for our services.

We tirelessly promote a message of year round emergency preparedness for homes and businesses.  I hope that our campaign has resonated with the citizens of this region and folks have the supplies that they need to stay safe and warm until the snow stops falling and the ice melts.

A day without personal or natural disasters  . . . that’s a Red Cross kind of day too.

 

Gratitude List 2013

I’m sure we are all reflecting on our blessings at this time of year.  Here is a portion of my list (Red Cross version):

I am grateful that I work for an organization that is anchored in a belief that each of us bears a responsibility to care about the plight of our fellow man.

I am grateful that we have a large cadre of selfless individuals, embodying the principles of the Red Cross, who volunteer their time to help us deliver our core services.

I am grateful that we have employees who can renew their energy, by staying focused upon the role they each play in helping the Red Cross achieve our humanitarian mission.

Although we were prepared to respond, I am grateful that the 2013 Hurricane Season was much quieter than had been predicted for the Atlantic.

I am grateful for all of our financial donors.

I am grateful for the positive impact we made on the lives of people who turned to us for help this year.

As you spend time with family and friends this holiday season, please find a way to share with them the reasons that you volunteer with, work for, or donate to the Red Cross.    Also, please encourage conversations about disaster preparation and planning with your family and friends.  I think it is a great topic for conversation when the entire family is gathered for a festive meal.  You are demonstrating that you care about the safety and welfare of those you hold dear.

Thank you.

 

 

Today we pause to give thanks for all of the men and women who put their lives on the line in order to protect others.  These men and women of valor deserve to be celebrated every day.  War and armed conflict are always tragic events.  Over the years, far too many people have had their bodies or mental  stateor family bonds damaged by war.  Nonetheless, the Red Cross has always been poised to offer support and assistance to members of the military and their families.  Those ardent,dedicated Red Cross Service to Armed Forces volunteers deserve to be celebrated as well.    Thank you.ery day. War and armed conflict are always tragic events. 

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