Pioneer Valley Chapter Continues to Assist with Springfield Main Street Fire

Deploys Volunteers to Boston; Illinois to Assist with Disaster Relief
Responding to fires of this magnitude does put a strain on our volunteers and our financial resources.

The American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter continues to assist with a multi-unit fire at 2964 and 2972 Main Street in Springfield that occurred late on Saturday, April 20. Sixteen families have been have been displaced and the Red Cross responders are working with local municipal and community partners to help get these 70 individuals (43 Children and 27 adults) into more permanent housing. The team assisted 11 families with shelter for 3 nights as well as provided food and clothing to all of those displaced. Red Cross responders provided comfort kits, containing age and gender appropriate personal care items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, shaving supplies and other items a family might not have been able to gather in the rush to escape the fire.

Even with a depleted local disaster response fund, the Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter is fully committed to meet the needs of the families involved in this fire. This large fire comes after a particularly busy fire season. “Responding to fires of this magnitude does put a strain on our volunteers and our financial resources,” says Rick Lee, Director of the Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter. “But it’s the support of our neighbors here in the Pioneer Valley that keep us ready to respond to the next emergency.” Since the beginning of the fiscal year July 1st, the Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter has assisted over 226 families and 596 people with immediate emergency needs following house fires.

While we are responding to an increased number of emergencies locally this has also been a very busy year across the nation. The bombings in Boston, the plant explosion in Texas and the severe flooding taking hold of the Midwest have forced the nation to confront a wide range of traumatic and stressful events this past week. A local volunteer, Tim Van Cleef of Amherst, is volunteering his time on a deployment to Illinois assisting with the spring flooding by working with local government at the Emergency Operations Center.

The American Red Cross of Central and Western MA has also deployed 13 local staff and volunteers to Boston to assist with the Boston Marathon relief efforts - 4 from the Red Cross of Central MA , 7 from the Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter and 1 from the Berkshire County Chapter.

  • Karen Kappes of Worcester, Shannon Devoe of Charlton, Patti Cutler of Holyoke,
  • Patty Kelly-Bedard of East Longmeadow, Jane Lefkowitz of Pittsfield, and Wendy Grolnick of Longmeadow just returned from short term assignments in Boston to assist with emotional support.
  • Donna McKinney of Warren and Bill Pruyne of East Longmeadow also returned from short assignments assisting with nursing needs in the Boston area.
  • Trudy Epstein of Worcester and Fran Griffin of Springfield were on a short assignment in Boston volunteer with the Safe and Well program; helping to connect loved ones who were separated in the chaos after the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • Dawn Leaks, Regional Director of Communications, is currently deployed in Boston working with the Public Affairs team while Rose Callaghan of Northborough and Mary Elkins of Ware are volunteering with client casework and mass care, respectively.
  • “We’re asking for everyone’s continued donations and support as we work to provide help and hope in our communities during this trying time,” said Lee. “Your generous donations will help alleviate suffering following these devastating events.”

    American Red Cross disaster assistance is free of charge, a gift made possible by generous donations and the work of volunteers. Checks can be made out to American Red Cross and mailed to 506 Cottage Street, Springfield, MA 01104. For more information about the Red Cross and how you can help, visit www.redcross.org.

    About the American Red Cross

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/cwm or join our blog at http://masslive.com/red-cross-connection or http://americanredcrossofcentralma.wordpress.com/.