Click Here to view the Southeasten PA Chapter's Top 20 Accomplishments from 2012.
Click Here to view the PDF of our Top 20 Accomplishments of 2013
In July, SEPA assisted more than 200 people and responded to seven disasters, three major ones in a five-day span alone. On July 24th, a house fire in Chester claimed the lives of three children. Two days later, SEPA responded to a 4-alarm fire in Bucks County that destroyed 43 apartments. An overnight shelter was set up to help some of the 100 people who lost their homes. Then on Monday, July 29th SEPA opened a reception center for more than 12 hours to assist dozens of people following an explosion and building collapse in South Philadelphia. Later in the year, as winter approached, SEPA responded to more than 100 disasters, helping 358 people. In November, SEPA averaged more than two disaster responses per day, and Red Cross House was full for a third of the time in 2013.
The RDCC, formerly known as “The Bridge,” is a 24-hour call center housed in SEPA headquarters. Red Cross workers monitor developing disaster and weather information, answer the 24-hour help line, evaluate the region’s disaster response needs and coordinate response efforts. In 2013, the RDCC expanded to handle off-hour disaster response efforts for 29 Pennsylvania counties and the Red Cross National Capital Region (Washington, DC), with plans to expand even more, saving the Red Cross more than $100,000 a year.
SEPA held its first ever Disaster Training Institute, inviting Red Crossers to come to Philadelphia. More than 500 people attended classes, which included training on FEMA’s Incident Command System, Mass-Casualty Response Training, and public affairs and social media training. The five day institute attracted Red Cross employees and volunteers from the United States and Europe, as well as a participant from South Korea. The institute also addressed topics such as Restoring Family Links, Cooking for Disasters and Forklift Driving.
When a building undergoing demolition near the corner of 22nd and Market collapsed onto a Salvation Army thrift store next door, SEPA immediately provided emotional support to Salvation Army employees, food and comfort to first responders, and mental health counseling to witnesses and bystanders. For more than 18 hours, the Red Cross staffed a comfort station for firefighters, police, search crews, and construction workers at the scene.
When Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, American Red Cross Southeastern PA went right to work. SEPA partnered with TV stations 6ABC and CBS3 to hold fundraising events for Typhoon relief efforts. Volunteers also staffed the Regional Disaster Coordination Center (aka The Bridge), taking calls from people as SEPA became a call center for people all over the country looking to locate loved ones in the most heavily damaged regions of the Philippines. In all, SEPA fielded 400+ Typhoon related calls and raised more than $500,000 for relief efforts.
To mark the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, in conjunction with CBS Philly TV and radio stations, SEPA held a “Sandy Thank a Thon” phone bank. Red Crossers called more than 3,000 donors from the region to thank them for their generous support. Red Crossers also encouraged donors to look at the Sandy one-year report to see how the money was put to use to provide relief for people whose homes and businesses were in the path of the storm.
SEPA supported 14 National Disaster Operations: from the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, to flooding in New York, and even the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Twenty-three SEPA workers served a total of 35 deployments, many in leadership roles such as Operations Management, Advanced Public Affairs and Supervisory positions.
SEPA expanded its role with local military and veteran families. In April, the chapter hosted a first of its kind Veteran and Military Service Organization Consortium. This quarterly event brought together more than 20 different organizations servicing military and veteran families in the Southeastern Pennsylvania area with the goal of addressing gaps in services through collaboration. Former Congressman and retired Vice Admiral, Joe Sestak, was the keynote speaker and applauded the Red Cross and its partners for creating the consortium.
Philadelphia and SEPA formed an exciting partnership to train citizens to become providers of Mental Health First Aid. The eight-hour course certified trainees to provide immediate support and vital resource information to people experiencing mental health distress. The goal is to train 360 people through Red Cross by June 30th.
On the 10th anniversary of Red Cross House, SEPA and its longtime partner the Star Group unveiled a multimedia campaign to showcase former residents of Red Cross House. The campaign includes several “I am Resilient” PSAs, social media photos and posts, billboards, webpages, Red Cross House founders dinner, brick sales, and stuffed toy dogs to be sold to partner organizations.
Beginning January 11, 2013, SEPA partnered with Red Paw Emergency Relief to kick off “Fire Safe Fridays”, a new initiative to bring vital fire safety and pet fire safety materials to residents in the five-county region. Every Friday at 2pm, Red Cross and Red Paw volunteers distributed up to 200 fire safety kits, helped homeowners install smoke alarms, and provided fresh batteries.
The 2013 Red Ball, one of Philadelphia’s premier galas, had another record-breaking year, raising more than $400,000 for disaster relief and Red Cross House. The event included an expanded VIP and Main Event area and VIP Lounge catered by R2L. National American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern was among the honored guests.
In its sixth year, Camp Save a Life expanded from four to six full weeks. Red Cross House hosted 35 youngsters per week for training in vital preparedness, life-saving, and leadership skills. A partnership with the YMCA also allows campers to learn “Survivor Swimming.”
To prepare for the possibility of electrical and communications failures during a disaster, SEPA joined with several agencies to conduct a Communication Disaster Response Drill on Saturday, March 2 at the Darby Borough Building in Delaware County. This drill was designed to test the ability of Red Cross volunteers and various partner agencies to get communications up and running under extremely challenging circumstances.
On Veterans Day, Philadelphia Eagles players helped SEPA celebrate five special volunteers who gave their time and energy to help military veterans in our region. Eagles defensive backs Nate Allen, Colt Anderson, Brandon Boykin, Patrick Chung, and Bradley Fletcher were on hand to hand out awards, mingle with veterans and volunteers, and sign autographs. Then on December 28th, the day before the Eagles big game against the Cowboys, SEPA joined with the Blood Services Region for a blood drive at Lincoln Financial Field.
The theme of this year’s Celebration of Volunteers was #SuperStrong, a word that has come to mean resilient in the wake of disasters. More than 300 volunteers attended this year’s event, with 12 volunteers receiving special recognition for their service to SEPA and the nation, some during Sandy and the Oklahoma tornadoes. Five volunteers were awarded the President’s Call to Service Award, honoring them for committing more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service. 6ABC’s Alicia Vitarelli hosted the event, which included a performance by the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts choir.
For the first time, SEPA hosted its annual 5K walk/run fundraiser at the Philadelphia Zoo. Participants were invited to either walk or run, individually or in teams, to raise money for the Red Cross. They also enjoyed free admission to the Zoo for the rest of the day. The event laid the groundwork for the Walk and Run to expand in the years to come.
Local boxing champions Bernard Hopkins and Danny Garcia joined the staff of Red Cross House and We Feed the Homeless Philly to give away 450 holiday turkeys to House and local neighborhood residents. On a cold day in November, the line for turkeys was a block long. Hopkins and Garcia then toured Red Cross House. There are hopes this will become an annual tradition.
With the help of a half dozen of Philadelphia’s leading BBQ vendors, SEPA hosted a first ever BBQ cook-off in West Philadelphia to benefit Red Cross disaster relief and Red Cross House. Hundreds of BBQ lovers attended and enjoyed great food, music, and family activities.
As part of the American Red Cross ongoing leadership in digital and social engagement, it is launching a unique and cutting edge digital volunteer program. SEPA is one of a dozen or so regions in the nation to be part of the pilot training program. The training will include teaching volunteers how to use social media to help the general public prepare and respond to disasters.