SEPA played an essential role in responding both locally and nationally to Hurricane Sandy. In our region, SEPA utilized more than 200 volunteers, opened 17 shelters and provided safe refuge from the storm to more than 615 people. SEPA served more than 33,000 prepared meals and provided showers, food, warmth and a safe place to stay for more than 4,500 people at Palisades High School in Bucks County.
Nationally, SEPA deployed more than 30 volunteers and staff to NY and NJ to assist with operation management, sheltering, feeding, bulk distribution, and mental health. Within 60 days, SEPA also raised $7.4 million for Sandy Relief.
SEPA answered the call to assist in the response to Hurricane Isaac at the end of August. SEPA helped with sheltering, food/bulk distribution, logistics, damage assessment and mental health. SEPA also sent one of its Emergency Response Vehicles. SEPA’s Director of Emergency Services Leo Pratte served as Operations Manager for the national Red Cross response to Isaac.
On April 9th, one of SEPA’s busiest days ever, staff and volunteers responded to 13 disasters in 24 hours, providing food, clothing, shelter, counseling, and comfort to more than 250 people. The day started in Philadelphia with an overnight 4-alarm warehouse fire that killed two firefighters and ended with SEPA setting up a shelter in far western Chester County for firefighters battling a forest fire in Berks County.
The Exelon Foundation and PECO made a contribution of $500,000 to Red Cross House and PECO employees redesigned the 2nd floor library. The donation equals the largest gift to date to the Red Cross House endowment fund.
Over the course of three weeks in mid-summer, SEPA deployed about a dozen staff and volunteers to assist the American Red Cross response to storms in NJ, West Virginia, Washington, DC, Florida, and wildfires in Colorado. SEPA workers contributed expertise in mental health, damage assessment, sheltering, case management, and nursing.
On February 6th, SEPA assisted 21 families, totaling 55 people following a blaze at the Wallingford Estates complex in Chester, Delaware County.
On February 26th, SEPA assisted 11 families, totaling 39 people following a fire that swept through a dozen homes in Morrisville, Bucks County.
On September 18th, SEPA set up a shelter and assisted 10 families, totaling 33 people following a multi-home deadly fire in Coatesville, Chester County.
From October 5th through October 7th, SEPA opened a shelter at Cheltenham High School and assisted 40 families, totaling 55 people following a fire at the Church Road condominiums in Wyncote, Montgomery County.
The Red Cross Club program began the year with big plans to expand beyond the Philadelphia School District. Since the start of the 2012-2013 school year, the number of Red Cross Clubs has grown from 15 to 40. There are now Red Cross Clubs in both suburban high schools and colleges in all five counties served by SEPA.
Gail McGovern, American Red Cross President and CEO, made her first formal visit to Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter Tuesday, April 10. The day was spent honoring her achievements as CEO, as well as the accomplishments of SEPA. McGovern took a tour of SEPA's Red Cross House; she also met with officials from The Pew Charitable Trusts and community leaders at an event hosted at the Comcast Center.
This past year Red Cross House housed 945 people including 347 children (average stay three weeks), added new artwork to the halls and had several of the rooms painted. In addition, Red Cross House continues to be on the cutting edge of disaster case management and disaster recovery by establishing valuable community partnerships to further help our clients on the road to recovery. A partnership with Temple Law School resulted in the creation of a Disaster Relief Clinic. At the clinic, law students and professors will work closely with RCH personnel to assess and tackle legal obstacles families may encounter in their recovery.
2012 ushered in an expanded, innovative and educational four week summer program called Camp Save-a-Life, adding three additional weeks to the one week camp hosted by SEPA during previous summers. The program reached 150 youth ages 10-14 with important life-saving and life-expanding skills including swimming safety, communication, leadership and disaster preparedness education. Additionally, attendees also obtained lifesaving training and certifications in CPR and First Aid. These skills provide youth with the necessary tools to become leaders in their communities and beyond.
During a job fair, U.S. Representative Bob Brady (Dem- Pennsylvania 1st District) and Sunoco CEO Brian MacDonald announced a $200,000 donation by Sunoco that will help create more than 100 Nurse Assistant Training jobs and provide leadership skills to hundreds of school children taking part in Red Cross Clubs across the Philadelphia region.
A newly designed website at RedCrossPhilly.org officially launched in August. SEPA was one of eight chapters to have a vital role in designing the national website template. SEPA also launched its Mission Moment campaign over social media, which doubled SEPA’s Twitter following and increased activity on its Facebook page, raising SEPA’s profile regionally and nationally.
Red Cross volunteer and Philadelphia firefighter, Jen Leary saw a need to help animals affected by everyday disasters. In one year, Red Paw responded to more than 150 disasters and helped 250 animals displaced by disasters by providing them free shelter and care until they can be reunited with their owners.
Three brand new Ford Escapes and a 15 passenger van were added to SEPA’s fleet of vehicles during 2012. The Escapes are used to respond to disasters in Philadelphia and its nearby suburbs. The van is used to help transport disaster survivors to Red Cross House. The Escapes were paid for through a donation by the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Fund of Delaware County. The donor for the van wishes to remain anonymous.
The Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence presented the highly prestigious Drum Major Award for Community and Civic Responsibility to SEPA CEO, Judge Renée Cardwell Hughes during its annual awards luncheon on January 16th. The Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence Drum Major Awards honor individuals whose lives have been exemplary and who have made outstanding contributions to their community and society in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King’s teachings and philosophy of love and nonviolence.
More than 1,300 guests attended the 12th annual Red Ball presented by ModSpace on Saturday night March 10th at the Please Touch Museum. The Red Ball raised $329,836 the most ever for any SEPA Chapter single day event. The 2012 restaurant winner was Cakes and Candies by Maryellen.
SEPA received a $150,000 grant from the Public Health Fund (PHF) to benefit the Reaching Elders and Seniors with Preparedness, Education, Concepts, and Tools (RESPECT) program. The RESPECT pilot program is designed to emphasize the American Red Cross’s “Be Red Cross Read” initiative. RESPECT is set to launch in early 2013.
To prepare for the possibility of a tornado striking our region, SEPA joined with several Chester County agencies to conduct a Tornado Readiness Drill on June 2nd at Avon Grove High School. This drill tested the ability of Red Cross volunteers and various partner agencies to respond to a hypothetical severe tornado where homes and businesses are destroyed and hundreds of people need shelter. Lessons learned from the drill proved very useful when Superstorm Sandy hit the region.
SEPA honored Wawa and its CEO Howard Stoeckel with the 2012 Citizen of the Year Award during its 30th annual breakfast on June 12th. The Wawa family provides support to the Red Cross in every way possible, including disaster relief and blood donations.
SEPA and the American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood region worked very closely on a number of projects throughout the year. SEPA volunteers were present at the Eagles and Flyers blood drives, held two blood drives at its offices and recorded two Public Service Announcements, including one with Mayor Nutter asking for both financial and blood donations.