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Red Cross of Massachusetts Annual Meeting Honored Volunteers, Shared Inspiring Stories

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The annual meeting is always a great way to bring together the Red Cross of Massachusetts volunteers

     The American Red Cross of Massachusetts held its annual meeting on June 18 at the British Consulate in Kendall Square, Cambridge. The Consulate generously offered the space for the meeting. The event began with opening remarks by Bob Gittens, the Vice Chair of our Regional Board of Directors who also led board nominations and voting. 

      The main focus of the evening was our volunteers. Bob Bowers, Regional Volunteer Services Officer, presented twenty awards to hardworking volunteers for going above and beyond to help fulfill the Red Cross mission. Two “Mission Moment” videos were played throughout the award ceremony to remind us all why we give to this organization, along with a year in review slideshow showcasing all of our volunteers in action.

      To end the meeting Ralph Boyd, CEO of Red Cross of Massachusetts, gave some closing remarks and two presentations. The first was a Certificate of Merit presented to Brandon Prentiss for saving Caleb Huntington’s life with the skills he learned from a Red Cross CPR class. The well-deserved award was signed by President Barack Obama. The second was a Red Cross flag presentation given to Vanessa O’Brien. Vanessa will be climbing K2 soon and she will honor the organization by putting the Red Cross flag at the top of the mountain. 

      The annual meeting is always a great way to bring together the Red Cross of Massachusetts volunteers to give them the recognition they deserve. Learn more about the volunteers awarded below. 

Service to the Armed Forces     

Dupree Wilder

Dupree Wilder has been a volunteer with the Red Cross since 2013. After serving with the United States Army in the Airborne Brigade he worked with the Water Department in the City of Springfield for 23 years before retiring. Not only does Dupree provide information about Service to the Armed Forces, help at-risk and homeless veterans during stand down, and move the Boots to Business program; he also assists Disaster Services. Dupree and his wife Novella often work together and is a great asset to the team in Western Massachusetts. Thank you for all that you do. Congratulations Dupree Wilder, Service to the Armed Forces Volunteer of the Year!

Food and Nutrition                                                                                                                                          

Wil Illas

Wil is a dedicated volunteer whose commitment since December 19, 2012 to making a difference in the lives of food insecure families in Greater Boston has resulted in him being chosen as this year's "Volunteer of the Year’ for the American Red Cross Food Programs. Wil is one of the first people to arrive at our Food Programs facility every Tuesday and Friday morning (we are talking before 7am) to set-up the day in many respects.  He understands better than most that it is the fine planning and preparation that a successful day in pantry distribution relies on.  He helps in off-loading our food delivery trucks, sorts and organizes all the donations received and he sets up the tables used for assembling non-perishable bags for distribution.  Handling millions of pounds of food can be a lot of work, but Wil has never complained and he is always looking to assist even more whenever or wherever it is needed.  Wil is as adept in using all our warehouse industrial equipment as he is leading volunteer groups in doing preparation work for the following pantry day. He helps a lot in keeping the inflow and outflow of food running smoothly. He is such an important part of our food operations not only in Boston but also with our mobile markets.  He is always open and available to come in early at the last minute to help us with unexpected hunger relief activities.   So far In FY 15 Wil has worked 475 hours.  That is far and away the highest amount—150 hours more than the second highest.  Wil is second to none in a land slide!! Congratulation Wil Illas, Food and Nutrition Volunteer of the Year!

Financial Development                                                                                                                                                        

David Tangredi

Dave is a multi-faceted volunteer who can tell the hands-on, heartfelt stories when meeting with financial donors.  Dave joined the American Red Cross of Central MA as a Disaster Action Team volunteer in 1998 where he then became the Communications Lead for the Chapter which morphed into the position of Disaster Support Technology (DST) Lead.  During his 34 years working for the IBM Corporation, Dave secured annual funding from his employer for the Chapter’s technology needs.  In 2014 Dave was elected to the Board of Directors for the Central MA Chapter and in his retirement, has donated his time to help the Financial Development department by working on strategies to engage corporations in the mission of the Red Cross. He has become an essential team member in corporate presentations and attends networking events all to promote the Red Cross. Congratulations David Tangredi, Financial Development Volunteer of the Year!

Volunteer Services                                                                                                                                     

Paula Arsenault

Since joining the American Red Cross in December of 2014, Paula has taken the Volunteer Services office by storm, quickly coming up to speed in all things Volunteer Connection. Initially applying for an office position to sharpen her skills as she transitions back into the workforce, Paula also accepted a position in BioMed as a Donor Ambassador where one of her earliest assignments was to help in the uploading of Blood Services volunteers into Volunteer Connection.  From profile setups, calling volunteers to have them activate their accounts, walking volunteers through the various screens and taking the Schedule Tool Training, Paula has learned the system from front to back in a very short time.  She is solely responsible for creating and administrating the BioMed Volunteer ID tag program. In addition to her office assignment, and participating in 3 or 4 Blood Drives monthly, Paula is also taking DAT Training and is currently a Trainee with the Central Mass DAT providing valuable daytime availability 3 day a week. Paula is able to accomplish this while being a single mom to 2 teen age children with her daughter graduating from High School just last month. Congratulations Paula Arsenault, Volunteer Services Volunteer of the Year!

Disaster Cycle Services: Jerry Tice Award                                                                                         

Christopher Thomas     

Given in memory of Grant “Terry” Tice to a volunteer for dedication, skills, excellence and service for others through the ARCEM Disaster Services in addition to another area of ARC service.

Chris is the Co-Captain of the Merrimack East Disaster Action Team. He is always willing to call and help volunteers in any way he can. He is always well prepared for meetings with currant local and national information to help keep the team up to date.  He very often fills in for a shift when there is no one from his territory signed up. Chris is also an advanced instructor for Disaster Services and teaches regularly at the Lawrence office along with teaching the instructor program and supervising new instructors.  Chris is also part of the Disaster Services Technology group. You will often see Chris attending training or update DST materials. Chris has also been on regional interview teams. Thanks Chris, for all you do - you are a great Red Cross leader!  Congratulations, Chris Thomas, Disaster Services Jerry Tice Award Winner!

Disaster Cycle Services: Herbert Cook Award                                                                               

Ellen Patashnick     

Given in memory of Herbert Cook to a volunteer who demonstrates dedication, skills and excellence in a leadership role through the ARCEM Disaster Services

Ellen brings a high level of professionalism to every aspect of her Red Cross roles. Since beginning her Red Cross career in 2007, her background in social work has benefitted both volunteers and clients alike.  She has long been a local leadership volunteer, DAT Captain and DAT Supervisor.  Since we started the process to grow together as one Region, she has lent her expertise across the state to teach Client Casework classes as well as Psychological First Aid wherever needed.  She has worked with our military partners to teach Disaster Classes enabling us to work together in times of large events and is currently helping to develop our Regional plan to establish a Family Assistance Center team.  Ellen has been on many national deployments where she has had the opportunity to share her knowledge and bring what she has learned back to enrich our Region.  She is also our “go to” shelter manager in Western MA and has filled that role wherever needed throughout the Region.  During all of her activity and interaction with fellow volunteers, Ellen never ceases to be a mentor, share her expertise and guide us all to be our best. Congratulations, Ellen Patashnick, Disaster Services Herbert Cook Award Winner!

Disaster Cycle Services: Chandler Blackington Award                                                                             

Frank O’Laughlin    

Given to a volunteer who has made a significant impact on the quality of service that ARCEM has been able to provide to a specific community through prolonged commitment and collaboration with other community partners

Frank has been with the Red Cross since 1996. His expertise as a meteorologist has proved invaluable, especially during large scale weather events. He reports out an in depth analysis of the forecast, which helps the team plan service delivery. Frank is also critical member of the Disaster Service Technology team, where he donates his time and talent insuring that we have the technology we need when a disaster strikes. In particular, his help during the 2013 Marathon Bombings was critical, helping to connect teams and bolster communication. Congratulations, Frank O’Laughlin, Disaster Services Chandler Blackington Award Winner!

Disaster Cycle Services: Dorothy “Dottie” D’Ambrosio Award                                                                                        

Suzanne Sampson   

The Dottie D’Ambrosio Award is given to a volunteer who has shown a compassion for assisting and caring for families following a disaster and demonstrates a passion for mentoring new volunteers

Suzanne Sampson has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2012. She is a DAT Supervisor for the Metro Territory, a Patient Connection team member and a Follow-up Caseworker. Suzanne is an incredibly committed volunteer whose passion is serving the needs of our clients. Suzanne often picks up more than her standard shift schedule when necessary in order to make sure the clients’ needs are continuously being met. She is an incredibly compassionate and kind volunteer whose willingness to assist is an essential part of our team. We are incredibly grateful for her presence and support. Congratulations Suzanne Sampson, Disaster Services Dottie D’Ambrosio Award Winner!

Disaster Cycle Services: Northeast Territory                                                                                                                           

Tom Vozzella

Tom is a member of the Disaster Action Team, Disaster Services Technology Team, and the Logistics team.  Tom signs up for regular shifts: however, he is always available if needed to do additional shifts.   Tom has also made himself very available for DST activities and disaster drills and exercises.   Monthly, Tom completes an inventory for the North East Territory and submits 5904’s to the Logistics manager.   Tom always does everything with a smile on his face and a “sure I can help” attitude. Thanks Tom for everything you do for the Red Cross. We appreciate it! Congratulations Tom Vozzella, Disaster Service Volunteer of the Year, Northeast Territory!

Disaster Cycle Services: Mass Bay Territory                                                                                                                                           

Lisa Contee

Lisa Contee is an active Disaster Action Team volunteer since April of 2011. Lisa learned about Disaster Services as a result of going into the Cambridge office to renew her first aid/CPR certificate with Health Services. She began going into the office two days a week where she started working in follow up casework, as well as training on the scene of fires. She also helps in Logistics and advanced from trainee to member and is currently a DAT Response Supervisor leading a team.  Lisa has accrued 2,668 volunteer hours.  Lisa is a certified Red Cross instructor, among her many certifications, and was instrumental in rolling out the “Home Fire Preparedness Campaign” and recently did a cable access show with the Town of Stoughton. We are very proud of her work and dedication with the Red Cross. Congratulations Lisa Contee, Disaster Service Volunteer of the Year, Mass Bay Territory!

Disaster Cycle Services: Cape, Islands and Southeast Territory                                                                                            

Mark Cook

Mark joined the Red Cross in 2014, and quickly proved himself as a skilled and capable member of the Bristol County DAT. He was a rising star; being promoted from trainee to supervisor quickly because of his excellent abilities and dedication. In his short tenure, he has been on-call for over 1000 hours, and been to almost 200 hours of responses. He is known for being extremely professional and attentive on scene with other volunteers and our clients. Mark leads by example, and is a great asset to Bristol county communities and the Red Cross. Congratulations Mark Cook, Disaster Service Volunteer of the Year, Cape, Islands and Southeast Territory!

Disaster Cycle Services: Central Mass Territory                                                                                                                         

Ralph Swick

Ralph joined the Red Cross in 1994 out of the Northern Central Chapter.  When that was rolled into the Central Mass chapter, Ralph continued to volunteer and accept progressively more responsibility. His contribution to the Central Mass chapter as well as the region is immeasurable. As an Instructor he first orients the new volunteers to the operation and as DAT Captain, leads dozens of volunteers who insure that the people of the greater Worcester area have to tools they need to rebuild after a disaster.  Along with his Captain responsibilities, Ralph is currently serving on the Regional Disaster Operations Center Task Force, The Disaster Technology Team, is a trained Ambassador and has most recently accepted the position of Community Volunteer Leader for Central Massachusetts.  Ralph was also on the screening committee and instrumental in selecting the new Disaster Program Manager for Territory 3. Congratulations Ralph Swick, Disaster Service Volunteer of the Year, Central Mass Territory!

Disaster Cycle Services: Western Mass Territory                                                                                                                                         

Jane Robinson

Jane has been a true role model since joining our team seven years ago.  Having recently retired as an elementary school teacher, she quickly gravitated toward our Preparedness Outreach Programs.  Not only did she become our primary presenter, she also stepped up to be the coordinator of the program, ensuring that every upcoming event or presentation would have the proper materials and resources compiled and ready to go.  With her attention to detail and dedication to this vital piece of our mission, she ensures that all of our presenters have what they need to be successful.  When the Pillowcase Project came to Western MA last year, Jane completely embraced the program becoming our lead presenter.  Her enthusiasm and wonderful way with children led her to complete 68 presentations and reach 1700 elementary school children during the one year trial phase.  When not working on the Preparedness piece of the Disaster Cycle, Jane makes herself readily available to respond to fires.  She is a compassionate caseworker whose gentle nature calms and reassures even the most distraught clients.  She is a constant participant in our Mentoring program and those she mentors have a high rate of engagement and longevity.   We thank Jane for her constant dedication to our Western MA team! Congratulations Jane Robinson, Disaster Service Volunteer of the Year, Western Mass Territory!

International Services                                                                                                                                                               

Joshua Boyce

Joshua Boyce has been a volunteer with the Red Cross since 2013. He is most known for his extensive efforts in International Services, specifically, International Humanitarian Law and Restoring Family Links. As a caseworker for Restoring Family Links, Joshua has helped families separated by disaster and armed conflict through the long process - in hopes that one day we will deliver a message that their loved ones have been found. Not only is Joshua a caseworker, but he became a Restoring Family Links Instructor by completing a three day training in February in Las Vegas. Joshua was also recognized by his employer, Iron Mountain for volunteering the most hours of any employee in North America with a total of – 830 hours! More than 100 of those hours were spent volunteering with the American Red Cross. Congratulations Joshua Boyce, International Services Volunteer of the Year!

Biomedical Services                                                                                                                                    

Charlie Peter 

Charlie has been a Red Cross Volunteer for Biomedical Services for more than 30 years and is considered a Triple Crown winner!  Not only does Charlie volunteer as a dedicated Donor Ambassador at blood drives greeting donors with a smile, he is a blood donor himself as well as a blood drive sponsor, what more can we ask for! As a former employee of Johnson and Johnson, Charlie successfully helped organize blood drives for over 20 years at the company.  This past March Charlie gave blood at an area blood drive completing his 28th gallon. Charlie knows firsthand the importance of giving the gift of life.  This July will be the 30th year Charlie has sponsored a blood drive in memory of his son, Chris Peter and wife. This blood drive has collected 2,500 units of blood over the years and possibly helped over 5,000 people in need.  Congratulations Charlie Peter, Biomedical Services Volunteer of the Year!

Youth Programs: High School                                                                                                                                       

Felice Liang

Felice Liang began volunteering with the Red Cross during her freshman year at Brookline High School, and has been an active leader in the Youth Advisory Board for the past three years. Through her involvement with her Red Cross Club and the Youth Advisory Board, she has experienced great times of success as well as times of great learning. In her own words, “Volunteering with the Red Cross has been an extremely valuable experience for me, because it gave passionate teens the tools to create action in their communities and made peer leaders out of them along the way. I can say that working with the Red Cross throughout high school showed me so many things about kindness, leadership, responsibility, and of course community organizing. It truly has been a great experience!"Congratulations Felice Liang, High School Youth Programs Volunteer of the Year!

Youth Programs: College                                                                                                                                

Lorenzo Cosmo-Tourreilles

Lorenzo Cosmo-Tourreilles is the graduating President of the UMass Amherst Red Cross Club. Lorenzo has been an active leader in the club for the past three years and says that he was inspired to join out of a desire to help his community and others. In his own words… “When I joined college, I wanted to help not just the community, but the whole world. The ARC offered me that opportunity and it fulfilled me to know that I was not just serving the local community but the world as a whole. There are so many people in this world who are living in worse conditions who are in dire need of blood to save themselves or a family member’s life. 1 unit of blood goes a long way. This year, in partnership with the American Red Cross, the UMass Red Cross Club held 32 blood drives which collectively collected 2000 units of blood which can offer aid to 6000 individuals from across the globe!” Lorenzo has done an outstanding job leading the UMass Amherst Club and has created an effective club model which we hope all of our college clubs will adopt. The Youth Programs department is thankful to Lorenzo for his hard work and is proud to recognize him with the College Student Volunteer of the Year award. Congratulations Lorenzo Cosmo-Toureilles, College Youth Programs Volunteer of the Year!

Preparedness, Health and Safety Services

Lynn Nosek

Lynn Nosek began as a volunteer with the Red Cross in 2009 and has been a devoted PHSS instructor ever since.  She has taught nearly 100 courses, and trained thousands in life saving CPR skills as well as Babysitter’s Training.  Lynn holds a Masters degree in Biological Sciences and has an extensive background in clinical trial research.  She has written publications on her research and has traveled abroad to present her studies.  Lynn has also worked to develop quality control trials that aided in the detection of bacterial contamination of platelets used for platelet donations and established a scanning system to track vaccine candidate stability in clinical trials.  Lynn is dedicated to her work, and all that she does. We are proud to have her as part of our PHSS team. Congratulations Lynn Nosek, PHSS Volunteer of the Year!

Communications                                                                                                                                                        

Faisal Misle

Faisal has been an all-star Communications volunteer for almost three years. Faisal came on as a Communications team “Ninja” and that description could not fit him better. From staffing social media, to finding the latest and greatest online tools (and scoring us free trials and subscription discounts!), to helping edit videos, send press releases, work a food pantry shift (while also taking photos and videos), Faisal truly does it all. Even when out of state working an internship he still found time to check on his colleagues dealing with snow-pocalypse this winter. We are so excited to have Faisal back in town and on the team both because he is a valuable asset to us and a fun guy to have around. Congratulations Faisal, Communications Volunteer of the Year. Congratulations Faisal Misle, Communications Volunteer of the Year!

CEO Volunteers of the Year                                                                                                                     

Carol and Paul Neuger

Five years ago, the American Red Cross received an incredible gift in the form of power couple Paul and Carol Neuger. Curious to know more about the volunteer work of their friends Bob and Betty Hartman, the Neugers came to a disaster orientation class and soon found their niche. Specializing in staff services, the Neugers are leaders on both the local staffing and national deployments teams. Their work contributes to the mobilization and management of disaster volunteers, which is no easy task given the constantly shifting landscape during a disaster operation. They give countless hours of time and talent to our region, and have also deployed to assist with Colorado wildfires and Hurricane Isaac relief. Paul is a national instructor and has trained hundreds of colleagues on disaster management principles along with the how to use the Disaster Management databases in Volunteer Connection. Paul and Carol are also essential members of the Volunteer Services Intake Team. They give several hours each week to review volunteer applications and give personal attention to the over 3000 applications we receive annually. When the Team gets together in person, the Neugers bring the excitement, preferring to stand on the MBTA for a more thrilling ride, and always willing to make an ice cream pit stop or two.  And somehow in the midst of balancing all these Red Cross activities with their family and social lives, they find time each month to volunteer at community blood drives. Paul and Carol are extraordinary volunteers. They model dedication, selflessness and generosity of time in their flexibility and willingness to support their chapter, region, and country. They inspire staff and volunteers alike to appreciate and uphold our mission with integrity and purpose. Though both are equally deserving of this award as individuals, all who know and work with them know that they are a dynamic duo. Congratulations, Paul and Carol Neuger, CEO Volunteers of the Year!