Services to the Armed Forces spreads holiday cheer to new Ft. Wainwright soldiers

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Leadership from Ft. Wainwright and the The American Red Cross of Alaska Services to the Armed Forces (SAF) teamed up to make Christmas Eve a little merrier for a group of new soldiers.

The Red Cross of Alaska Services to the Armed Forces hosted a Christmas Eve dinner at our Fairbanks office for soldiers that  just arrived at Ft. Wainwright.

Leadership from Ft. Wainwright contacted Misty Bruce, our Regional Services to the Armed Forces Specialist to identify this opportunity for the Red Cross to spread some holiday cheer in the local community.

The Red Cross was excited to host a good old-fashioned home cooked meal, and were pleased to host more than 50 soldiers.

SAF staff and volunteers decked the halls and put up a Christmas tree, and even streamed some live football to make the Red Cross office feel homey. The atmosphere offered some familiarity and comfort to the new soldiers who are facing a lot of firsts and are a long way from home.

“Many of the new soldiers have just completed basic training in the lower 48, where the climate is significantly different,” said Bruce. “Additionally, being that Alaska is considered an OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States) duty station, it is extremely costly for soldiers to fly home last minute or during the holidays.”

Bruce went on to explain many of the recruits also face the challenge of not yet having their own car; thus, Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces coordinated with the units to provide transportation, so all had the opportunity to attend the Christmas Eve meal.

And finally- the most important information: What was for dinner?! Red Cross provided a traditional meal of turkey, ham, potatoes and side dishes. All agreed the meal was a success and hope to make this an annual tradition.

 

 

Disaster Response Summary November 2017

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The American Red Cross of Alaska responds to calls for assistance, on average, almost once a day state-wide. In November, 58 people were assisted; of those assisted, at least 8 were children under the age of 18.  Including, 6 who were listed as young children (0-5).

VOLUNTEERS, all across the state, give up their free time to make this amount of help in their communities possible.

Breakdown of service by area:

Anchorage: 39 individuals received aid.

Fairbanks: 4 individuals received aid.

Delta Junction: 2 individuals received aid.

Wasilla: 2 individuals received aid.

Willow: 4 individuals received aid.

Copper Center: 1 individual received aid.

Soldotna: 4 individuals received aid.

Kasilof: 2 individuals received aid.

About the American Red Cross of Alaska:
In FY17, the American Red Cross of Alaska offered food, shelter, comfort and hope to 949 Alaskans. We responded to 305 disasters.  Our preparedness / Health and Safety teams installed 2,311 smoke alarms statewide and educated 1,884 youth through our Pillowcase Project. Additionally, our Service to the Armed Forces staff exchanged 957 emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit
redcross.org/Alaska or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossak.

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Voices of Volunteers: Meet the Jesuit Volunteers

Ella and Carly- 2017 to 2018 Alaska JVs

The Red Cross of Alaska is proud to partner with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a full-time volunteer program that places each participant at a non-profit that strives for social justice for an entire year of service.

At the Red Cross, we treat our “JVs” as we fondly refer to them just like staff. They work regular office hours, attend staff meetings ,etc.

We’d like to introduce you to our two JVs at the Red Cross of Alaska for the 2017-2018 year:

Meet Carly, serving the South East

Carly at the Fire Chief's Conference Tabling in Sitka
Carly Jenkinson, Red Cross of Alaska Jesuit Volunteer for the South East district.

What inspired you to be a JV? One of my greatest friends and mentors, Kathryn, works in Campus Ministry at the college I attended, and served in JVC Northwest in Montana. I am constantly inspired and impressed by her capability to remain so grounded in such a highly stimulating city like NYC; she expressed these were skill sets she acquired through her service in JVC Northwest  and intentional community: what a great reminder to remain present, inclusive, and socially aware. It was incredible how even after years of her experience in Montana she still very much lives in the spirit of the four core values that JVC Northwest embodies: Community, Simple Living, Social and Ecological Justice, and Spirituality/Reflection.  When looking into the program, these four values really resonated with me, and I was really struggling in my life post-gad to find my role in society and fulfillment. Although I am a bit older than the typical JV, I knew JVC Northwest/AmeriCorps was the right avenue to explore in my life presently. I’d been active in serving various marginalized populations throughout college, as well as after college working in Admissions, that I loved the opportunity to partake in the service I love, with an organization (or two, counting the Red Cross of Alaska) I believe in.

Would you be so kind to give us a little peak into the “simple living” of JV life, and what you are hoping to learn from this experience? The previous group of JV’s from Juneau were awesome and has definitely bestowed a lot of wisdom and tips for our next year (and hopefully the rest of our lives) concerning simple living. We have a worm farm, compost, recycling, and are strategizing on ways we can get a garden going at our house. We are definitely more conscientious about our use of electricity, whether that means enjoying the house a little darker, timing our showers, or being weary of our appliance use (Juneau’s climate certainly does not make it easy to forego dryer use.) Simple living is definitely still a struggle, as we’re only two weeks into our program, but it is a work in process, and a creative one at that!

How did you end up in Juneau, AK? We were asked to list 10 separate service placement interests, and I’d say at least 8 that I listed were based in Alaska. JVC Northwest takes one’s preference into consideration, but my mindset was to trust the process and that they knew where I would best serve; I believed that wherever they placed me, was where I was meant to be. Juneau with the Red Cross of Alaska was my first offer, and it couldn’t have felt more right.

And how did you end up matched with the Red Cross? JVC matches us with an agency that they believe based off our interview and our skill sets would be an appropriate match (at least this is how I think it works). I then interviewed with Andrew and Kate at Red Cross in Juneau, and was a good fit from the start. Many aspects of the role I am filling challenge me, and give me something to really look forward to. I accepted the position as soon as I received the offer.

What will be your job role with the Red Cross? I am the Preparedness and Casework Specialist in Juneau, Alaska. I will be facilitating two projects concerning Emergency Preparedness: The Pillowcase Project, and the Home Fire Campaign (plus Sound the Alarm). I am so excited to get my feet wet and hit the ground running!

 Anything on your Alaska bucket list while you’re here? YES! I would love to make it to any hot springs (obviously still struggling with the Simple Living aspect) and the Ice Caves. I aim to avoid any confrontations with Brown bears, but will admit I’ve gone on a few adventures already trying to spot some Black bears. I’m honestly just along for the ride, and just looking to experience as much land as I can in this year. I also have a huge interest in the native community, and would love any opportunity to be present in any of their traditional ceremonies.

Meet Ella, serving South Central

Ella Keenan Anchorage JV
Ella Keenan, Red Cross of Alaska Jesuit Volunteer for the South Central district.

What inspired you to be a JV? As the child of two former JVs, I grew up always knowing I wanted to dedicate some part of my life to service. They frequently spoke about their life-changing experience in JVC Northwest and the personal growth they each experienced. After graduation and countless hours looking into graduate programs, I came to the conclusion that I needed some time to not only figure out what I wanted to do, but what kind of impact I wanted to make. After looking into some different volunteer and research programs, I ultimately decided on JVC Northwest due to their focus on intentional community. Also, I’ve always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest!

Would you tell me a little about “living the 4 JV values?” JVC Northwest operates around four core values- Community, Social and Ecological Justice, Simple Living, and Spirituality. As a JV, I live with six other volunteers and participate in what we call an “intentional community”. This essentially means we make decisions together as a group and there is more of an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration rather than a regular roommate dynamic. Social and Ecological Justice refers to our individual service placements which mainly deal with marginalized populations. Ecologically, our goal is to leave as small a footprint as possible and we try to limit our energy and water usage accordingly. Our project at the moment is trying to establish a worm compost bin for the house! Simple living will also be a theme throughout our JV year. This includes living on a small personal stipend each month as well as working on limiting our technology use. The last value, spirituality, comes into play during weekly “spirituality nights” which are used for the purpose of intentional reflection on service and JV life in general.

Did you choose Anchorage, AK, or did it choose you? When I applied for JVC Northwest my only preference was that I be placed in Alaska! I’m very excited to be here and can’t wait to explore all that Anchorage has to offer. 

And how did you end up matched with the Red Cross? My background is in Public Health and I have had a lot of experience working on community health education projects as well as implementing various health initiatives. I was interested in the Red Cross because of the emergency preparedness education aspect as well as the amazing opportunity to work for such a well-known and established nonprofit.

What will be your Red Cross responsibilities? This year I will be working as a Preparedness & Casework Specialist. Specifically I will be taking a lead role in the implementation of the Home Fire Campaign and the Pillowcase Project.

Seen any moose or bear yet? Not yet! One of my housemates swears he saw a moose during our flight in, but his credibility is a bit questionable.

Any Alaska bucket list to dos? Travel as much as possible! Specifically, I would love to visit the Kenai Peninsula and take a trip to Denali!

Any overall goals or aspirations for the next year you wouldn’t mind sharing with us? Without internet in the house we will definitely have some time to pick up new hobbies! Some of my personal goals for the year include learning to play guitar, getting more into baking, and completing an Anchorage triathlon.

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November Volunteer Anniversaries

Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross.

Our vital work is only possible because of people like you.

Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it’s through the efforts of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.

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10 Holiday Cooking Safety Tips from Red Cross

Millions of people will gather for Thanksgiving  this week to enjoy time with loved ones and a delicious holiday dinner. With cooking being the number one cause of home fires, the American Red Cross recommends that everyone follow these fire safety steps:

  1. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year if your smoke alarm requires it.
  2. Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.
  3. If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended – stay in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  4. If you’re simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food, check it regularly.
  5. Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  6. Keep kids and pets away from the cooking area. Make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  7. Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  8. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  10. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.

Bonus Tip

The Red Cross First Aid App provides expert advice for common mishaps or emergencies including cuts, burns and what to do if someone is choking. Download the app for free in your app store or text GETFIRST to 90999.

Mat-Su Free Smoke Alarm Sign-Up Event: Saturday, November 25

The Red Cross of Alaska Will be at West Lakes Fire Department station #71 Saturday, November 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. registering residents for free smoke alarm installations. West Lakes Fire Department is located at 1685 Pittman Road, Wasilla, Alaska 99623. Upon registration, the Red Cross will contact you to set an appointment. During your appointment, the Red Cross will come to your home and install as many smoke alarms as needed at no cost. The Red Cross will also complete a home fire safety checklist with you and help you and your family create a fire escape plan.

 

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Disaster Response Summary October 2017

RedCross AK image

The American Red Cross of Alaska responds to calls for assistance, on average, almost once a day state-wide. In October, 51 people were assisted; of those assisted, at least 8 were children under the age of 18.  Including, 4 who were listed as young children (0-5).

VOLUNTEERS, all across the state, give up their free time to make this amount of help in their communities possible.

Breakdown of service by area:

Anchorage: 21 individuals received aid.

Fairbanks: 4 individuals received aid.

North Pole: 5 individuals received aid.

Nome: 10 individuals received aid.

Delta Junction: 4 individuals received aid.

Wasilla: 6 individuals received aid.

Valdez: 1 individuals received aid.

Red Cross, Alaska Regional Hospital deliverers hope at Anchorage VA Stand Down

 

black and white vet shot

Friday morning in late October in Anchorage dawned cold and bright with a hint of snow: perfect timing for the Veterans Stand Down at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport North Terminal.

This annual, one-day event connects homeless and at-risk veterans with businesses and organizations who can help provide medical, legal, housing, financial and employment assistance.

The Red Cross of Alaska came bearing gifts of medical supplies, provided by Alaska Regional Hospital. Each kit included medical tape, bandages, band aids, an ace bandage, alcohol wipes, safety pins and hand-warmers.

These kits were a hit, especially among the veterans who are living in shelters, or still out in the rough.

In addition to the Red Cross,  representatives from federal, regional and local agencies were available to veterans, including Social Security, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and VA Voluntary Services.

service dog and volunteerLocal volunteers provided a hot breakfast and lunch. Representatives from National Crisis Response Canines wandered the hall with a collection of service dogs, who offered up fuzzy cuteness and friendliness throughout the day.

A local day spa gave out massages and the hairstylists were out in force, giving haircuts and makeovers to eager veterans. Another organization gave out new socks and toiletries.

It was a fun day. And it came in the nick of time: Saturday, it snowed.

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October Volunteer Anniversaries

Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross.

Our vital work is only possible because of people like you.

Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it’s through the efforts of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.

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Disaster Response Summary September 2017

RedCross AK image

The American Red Cross of Alaska responds to calls for assistance, on average, almost once a day state-wide. In September, 47 people were assisted; of those assisted, at least 14 were children under the age of 18.  Including, 5 who were listed as young children (0-5).

VOLUNTEERS, all across the state, give up their free time to make this amount of help in their communities possible.

Breakdown of service by area:

Anchorage: 18 individuals received aid.

Fairbanks: 2 individuals received aid.

Seward: 1 individuals received aid.

Soldotna: 2 individuals received aid.

Sterling: 1 individuals received aid.

Nome: 6 individuals received aid.

Toksook Bay: 7 individuals received aid.

Palmer: 1 individuals received aid.

Wasilla: 5 individuals received aid.

Juneau: 4 individuals received aid.