Volunteer of the Month Archives

April 2015: Linda Kohler

Congratulations to Linda Kohler, of Larson, on being named one of the April 2015 Volunteers of the Month by the American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region.

Linda joined the Red Cross in November of 2010. “I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to get out of the house, but continued to volunteer because of the staff at the Red Cross,” explained Linda.

Volunteering about 8 hours per week, Linda supports the front desk at both the Oshkosh and Waupaca offices. As her nominator, Nick Cluppert, wrote, “Linda is always willing to help however she can. She puts on a smile and welcomes everyone that comes to the office. Linda is always eager to take on special projects from staff to help out by making phone calls, researching information, and putting together packets of information for upcoming activities. If it was not for our front desk volunteers the other staff would have a difficult time getting these things done. Linda really helps the office function smoothly and offers different perspectives on how things might be able to get accomplished.”

Linda’s work impacts the value of Red Cross every day. Not only is Linda a valuable resource for staff, but an important welcoming face of the organization. Nick explained, “Linda has a great sense of humor that she brings to the office every time she comes in. If anyone is having a bad day you can bet that Linda will bring a smile to your face. Linda is also very good at working with the clients and guests that come into our offices.”

Linda encourages everyone to join as volunteers of the American Red Cross. According to Linda, “My favorite part of volunteering is being able to help people that need it. The staff makes me feel like I am part of their team and I feel really at home. Every day I’m there is a memorable moment even with the little things that happen. I would definitely recommend volunteering with the Red Cross. It will enrich your life and make a big difference, just as it has mine.”

Thank you, Linda, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

April 2015: Linda Arnold

Red Cross - Wisconsin - Employee of the Month - Linda Arnold

Congratulations to Linda Arnold of Milwaukee on being named one of the April 2015 Volunteers of the Month by the American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region.

Intrigued by what nurses could do to help clients affected by disasters, Linda joined the Red Cross in February of 2008. Linda explains, “my daughter had volunteered for Red Cross when she was an undergrad at UW- Milwaukee (First Aide Service Team), so I checked it out and met April EagleBoy who was in charge of staffing and new volunteers at the time. She [April] was a good recruiter, and I took a number of classes at the Red Cross "Institute" that was held for the chapter a month later in March. In April of 2008 there was a tornado outbreak in Atlanta and I was deployed. It was only a 6-day deployment, but by the time it ended, I was hooked on Red Cross.”

Volunteering about 40 hours per week, Linda works in Disaster Cycle Services as the Health Services Lead for the region. Within Health Services, Linda has taken the initiative to build the department by making policies and procedures strong, repeatable, and expandable. Linda has also invested a great deal of time in building the capacity of other Health Services volunteers within the region. Linda has set standards, developed organizational charts, and established efficient chains of command. Because of Linda, Health Services is stronger both in our region and nationally as well!

When asked about her favorite moment with the Red Cross Linda explained, “I would say it is not a moment, but a deployment. I was sent to Super-Storm Sandy in New York just before the storm hit. I was on one of the last flights into New York before the storm. I was sent to Long Island to teach and mentor the Health Services Lead and to manage Health Services there. When I arrived, there were 10 shelters open with 1500 people in them. We worked together that night to get medications for 80 people who critically needed them. We worked all night with a pharmacy that had a small generator and was willing to help and asked the nearest open hospital if they could send a doctor to write prescriptions for the people who needed them…I stayed approximately two months and developed a long lasting friendship with the volunteer I mentored.”

Linda encourages everyone to consider volunteering their time with the Red Cross, “You can find something you enjoy doing in volunteering with the Red Cross. You can feel good about the work that you do. You can spend as much or little time as you have to give. You can make friends with people you would have never met otherwise. You can use your lifelong skills to learn new ones. You will have precious memories from working with the people who have been affected by disaster and may see parts of the country you’ve never seen before. You can be part of the solution!”

Thank you, Linda, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

March 2015: Maxine Klumb

Volunteer of the Month 3/15 - Maxine Klumb

Congratulations to Maxine Klumb, of Oshkosh, on being named one of the March 2015 Volunteers of the Month by the American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region.

Retired, and eager to keep busy with volunteer work, Maxine joined the Red Cross in September of 2009. “After working in the health profession helping people in need for 30 years, I figured that this would be a good fit for me,” explains Maxine.

Volunteering about 18 hours per week, Maxine wears a number of very important hats – she is a Casework Supervisor for Northeast Wisconsin, Fox Valley Disaster Action Team Captain and Co-Chair, and a member of the Regional Disaster Planning Leadership Team. Maxine also assists with preparedness activities and deploys on national operations. According to her nominator, Nick Cluppert, Disaster Cycle Services Program Manager, “Maxine is always willing to help wherever she can. She has taken on a number of responsibilities for Disaster Cycle Services, and excels in all of them!”

Maxine’s work impacts the Red Cross every day. Maxine stays busy making sure that clients’ needs are always met on time. When cases are opened, Maxine ensures the case is assigned to a casework volunteer and the necessary steps are being followed to meet the client’s disaster causes needs. As a Fox Valley Co-Chair, when new volunteers come on board she will make sure they are assigned to a team and have all necessary supplies and resources to do their jobs.

“Maxine is dedicated and knowledgeable about what she does. She is reliable, and is always someone you can count on…Just this past month Maxine has gone above and beyond. There was a single family fire in Waupaca County, Maxine lives in Winnebago County, and when we were not able to get someone to respond she was on her way to assist the family. She also did a deployment recently to Washington State for a flooding operation. Maxine was recruited for her knowledge of the Client Assistance System. Upon her return, she literally landed at the airport I called her, she was then responding to an apartment fire in Menasha that had displaced 50+ residents...If this isn’t dedication and going above and beyond I don’t know what is!” Nick exclaimed.

Maxine encourages everyone to join as volunteers of the American Red Cross. According to Maxine, “there is always a need for volunteer help. You will love the feeling you get after you have helped someone, be it a single house fire or a major disaster. You can volunteer as much or as little as you desire.”

Thank you, Maxine, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

March 2015: Phyllis Wiggins

March 2015: Phyllis Wiggins

Congratulations to Phyllis Wiggins of Milwaukee on being named one of the March 2015 Volunteers of the Month by the American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region.

Phyllis joined the Red Cross in March of 2013, and her motivation to volunteer came from an incredibly unique experience. Phyllis explains, “When I was in the military, I was accused of a heinous crime. Of course, I didn’t do it but I was imprisoned. Since I did not have a lawyer, nobody in my family could find me. My family contacted the American Red Cross and Red Cross found me! They provided my family with the contacts and advice they needed to help me get out of prison. I could not wait to get out of the military and volunteer with the organization that helped my family, when I could not.”

Volunteering about 30 hours per week, Phyllis works as a Chapter Logistics Lead. Within logistics, she is involved in six different activities – transportation, warehousing, supply, facilities, life safety & asset protection, and procurement. As a leader, she is responsible for building capacity, training, and mentoring volunteers. Phyllis has also deployed on several national operations.

Phyllis recently led the new Logistics team through a massive undertaking…cleaning up the Milwaukee office’s basement! Through this project Phyllis engaged a team of more than 10 volunteers. The new space is being used to house the logistics team. Phyllis’s nominators, Kyle Roeder and Nicole Gulatz of Disaster Services and Fund Development described her as “determined, positive, persistent, organized, and willing to improvise and do whatever needs to be done to get the job done!”

“I love the fact that the American Red Cross will help anyone in need. We do not discriminate against anyone and gladly provide valuable services to people when they most need it. It is very fulfilling, to me, to help for no reason other than someone needs help.”

Phyllis encourages everyone to consider volunteering their time with the Red Cross, “If you love to help others while others help you; If you love to give for the sake of giving with no expectations other than to help others; If you love giving your all to a cause you truly respect and are passionate about; If you can imagine yourself going to places where everyone needs your help and you can give it; If you love to be the best you can be and give the best you can give, volunteer for the Red Cross!”

Thank you, Phyllis, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

December 2014: Peter Woerpel

Red Cross Badger VOM December 2014

The American Red Cross is proud to announce Peter Woerpel of LaCrosse as December Volunteer of the Month!

CPR and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) saved Peter’s life and played a role in fueling his desire to volunteer with the American Red Cross. Many years of teaching CPR and First Aid classes, organizing blood drives, and donating blood at Onalaska High School gave him a good basis to become a Red Cross volunteer in 2013.

Peter’s instant dedication and commitment to the Disaster Services team and all things Red Cross marked him as an exceptional volunteer. He enthusiastically participates in trainings and meetings, is a natural in working with clients, and is often recognized for his work by other volunteers.

“Peter supported several local disaster responses during an exceptionally active month of local disasters; including 3 requests for family assistance, a canteen operation for a local fire response, and moving materials for a community operated cold weather shelter,” according to Benjamin Hein, Disaster Program Manager. “He ‘hit the ground running’ with his volunteer work and exemplifies the outstanding work that a volunteer can do in one short year.”

Additionally, Peter has taken a lead role in developing and convening a shelter survey team, ensuring that emergency shelter facilities are suitable for emergency use. His commitment, leadership, flexibility and development plus his willingness to mentor new volunteers helps to build necessary volunteer capacity.

Peter’s favorite part of volunteering is working as part of a team to alleviate suffering and support other emergency workers. He now knows where he needs to be; following the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross.

Peter recalls his first local disaster response; a single family fire right before Christmas where the home was burned to the ground. Freezing firemen, covered with a sheet of ice, gave a look of appreciation and thanks for the hot cup of coffee he offered. Then, meeting with the affected family to offer them a place to stay, clothes to wear, food, information for other services, and even a listening ear and shoulder to cry on. Even though the experience was emotionally draining, Peter felt a sense of great satisfaction.

Peter notes the Red Cross is a humanitarian agency that responds to emergencies and is also involved in programs, training and education that prevents and alleviates human suffering.

“I was surprised to learn of all the opportunities afforded to volunteers with the Red Cross,” Peter stated in encouraging others to volunteer. “I have enjoyed all the learning experiences and training sessions…one-on-one interactions with staff have helped support and guide me to develop skills in a variety of areas.”

Thanks to Peter for joining the Red Cross and helping others during times of great need and building a more resilient community!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwestern.wi@redcross.org.

November 2014: Dorothy (Dot) Amend

November 2014: Dorothy (Dot) Amend

Congratulations to Dorothy (Dot) Amend, Madison, on being named November Volunteer of the Month by the American Red Cross.

Retired, with time to fill, Dorothy joined the Red Cross in July of 2011. “I needed some activity to give me a little structure, ability to continue to learn and stay active, and a sense of satisfaction in doing something useful. “

And that is what she found with the Red Cross. Volunteering about 12 hours per week, Dorothy manages the intake process for prospective volunteers from all over Western Wisconsin; helping them navigate the process and reminding them of steps they need to complete.

According to Josh Reiter, Volunteer Specialist, Dorothy stays positive and flexible, even when systems are not cooperating. ‘With her friendly personality and willingness to help, she is an amazing and appreciated part of our team!”

Dorothy was instrumental in processing a huge number of applicants during this very busy July and reducing the work load to a more manageable number.

Dorothy enjoys working with the team and sees the dedication and great work that is done by staff and volunteers. “Helen and Betty make it very rewarding to be a part of their team.” Dorothy stated, “I learn something new every day I’m there.”

One of her favorite accomplishments was working with a new computerized system. Seeing that system work for the volunteers was very satisfying; especially with knowing that her team had a lot of input into the system.

Dorothy encourages everyone to join the volunteers of the American Red Cross. “They are a group of dedicated and effective people coming from many walks of life. There is a volunteer position for all of us within the American Red Cross.”

Thank you, Dorothy, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwestern.wi@redcross.org.

October 2014: John Meinke

Badger - Volunteer of the Month 10/14

We are pleased to announce John Meinke as October Volunteer of the Month for the American Red Cross.

Staying active was a top priority transitioning from full time work in public education to retirement in 2013.

‘Volunteerism appeared to be a fine way to remain engaged in meaningful endeavors,’ John stated, ‘and the American Red Cross was at the top of my list of possibilities.’

John found the right mix of activity working with Disaster Public Affairs. He photographs volunteers and donors in action and organizes and preserves archived photos and publications that represent the history of the American Red Cross. Most recently, he put together a presentation and newsletter celebrating the Badger Chapter’s 105 years of serving the community.

‘He travels across Wisconsin to capture photos of our volunteers and donors in action and we use those images to share the Red Cross story with our communities.’ according to Kaitlyn Gaynor, Communications Director. ‘It can be daunting to see someone come up to you with a camera in hand, but John has a way to make people feel comfortable.’

His favorite part about volunteering is photography on location. His more memorable projects were Holiday Mail for Heroes at the State Capitol which included legislative members signing Holiday Greeting cards for veterans, and active military; and the Badger Chapter Heroes Breakfast which recognizes local community members for their work and actions, oftentimes during emergencies.

‘I prize the opportunity to help tell the story of these wonderful Red Cross events through meaningful photography,’ John noted.

John’s most memorable moment occurred when he met new parents, Amber and Andy, at a community blood drive with their newborn son. Imparting their personal values, they were including their son by simply holding him while they took turns donating life-saving blood.

John notes that becoming a Red Cross volunteer can affect a person in many ways. Initially, he felt good about himself and how his newly-found free time was being spent. But that was just a snapshot of what was happening. As time went by, he knew he was a member of an organization whose primary purpose is helping those in need.

‘Think about that! Red Cross volunteers move quickly and efficiently into areas where devastation has occurred.’ John stated. ‘Their goals include helping those who need shelter, nourishment, and comfort.’

Once he saw the big picture, he knew being a member of the American Red Cross is an excellent way to spend his time. John encourages others to take the same path.

The Red Cross thanks John for his attention to detail in archiving and restoring historical photos and for sharing his remarkable ability to capture powerful, personal Red Cross stories in pictures.

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwestern.wi@redcross.org.

September 2014: Margaret Stine

September 2014: Margaret Stine

We are pleased to announce Margaret Stine, Madison, WI, as September Volunteer of the Month at the American Red Cross.

After reading a newspaper article about a unique need following a large apartment fire on Madison’s south side, Margaret Stine first became interested in joining the American Red Cross. The article mentioned that many of the families spoke only Spanish and additional bilingual Red Cross disaster responders were needed. Being a fluent Spanish speaker, Margaret started volunteering in 2005. She responds to local disasters, such as home fires, and has also worked on local large-scale disasters as a caseworker, completing the paperwork needed to offer assistance.

“When we need a Spanish speaking caseworker, Margaret is the first person who comes to mind. She is always willing to help.” Marytha Blanchard, Disaster Program Officer, noted. “She often completes cases over the phone, giving support and assistance to disaster clients throughout western Wisconsin.”

Additionally, Margaret reviewed and translated casework forms and documents into Spanish. She also volunteers with Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces, often working for the Badger Honor Flights.

One of Margaret’s favorite parts of volunteering is seeing how grateful clients are for Red Cross assistance, and their surprise at the comprehensive help they receive; food, clothing, shelter and additional services.

Her most memorable volunteer experience was interpreting for a family with two small children. They had just purchased and moved into their new condominium. On their first night in the new home, a kitchen fire (not in their kitchen) burned all of their belongings and home. The Red Cross helped navigate their recovery by providing direct assistance for food, shelter, and clothing; helped them work with friends who wanted to donate bedding and a local church that gave the family furniture, and the Red Cross helped guide the family through legal problems with their condominium. A few weeks later, Margaret was reunited with the family who visited to thank Margaret and the Red Cross and tell her they moved into their new home!

After becoming a volunteer she was surprised to discover that many of her friends were not aware of the variety of services the Red Cross provides free of charge. Margaret often tells recently retired friends about the rewarding work of the Red Cross, and that there are many ways to volunteer with the Red Cross in addition to a disaster response.

According to Margaret, “It is a great place to volunteer!”

Thanks to Margaret for communicating with our Spanish speaking clients and for improving our ability to serve all clients!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

August 2014: Barbara Skolaski

Barbara Skolaski

Barbara Skolaski embodies the dedication and hard work of American Red Cross office support volunteers. Her work entering data may seem mundane, but is essential to keep information comprehensive and useful.

Barbara started with the Red Cross in 2003 after retiring from her lifelong job in 2002 and working a part-time job for a year. A friend who volunteered for years with Biomedical Services encouraged her to try out the Red Cross, while another friend suggested a local retirement community. Barb was able to fit both organizations into her schedule. “This gave me the feeling of having a ‘part time’ job,” Barbara stated.

Barb loves data entry and the Red Cross was able to offer that kind of work. However, Barb noted it is the people at Red Cross that make it a real pleasure to ‘go to work’ and associate with such friendly, sincere and helpful people.

Of course her team members at the Red Cross note she is one of their most dedicated volunteers, working about 12 hours per week. “Barbara is kind, caring, and always welcomes us in the morning with a ‘Good morning dear, how are you today?’” noted Dana Pavelsky, Red Cross Major Gift Associate. Although Barbara works in two departments, she is still a steadfast ally when someone needs assistance on short notice. She arranged her schedule to work on a time-sensitive project related to the Typhoon Haiyan response and used her expertise to complete the job in a flash! Ms. Pavelsky also noted that, “No amount of nasty Wisconsin weather keeps Barb from her mission of getting here to ‘help us lovely ladies out’.”

The fund development team says Barb is a joy to be around and has great insight about the Red Cross. Barb feels that volunteering with the American Red Cross is a wonderful way to give back to the community while providing much personal satisfaction. Thanks to Barb for making our work easier and our day brighter!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwestern.wi@redcross.org.

June 2014: Rachel Goodrich

Red Cross Wisconsin Volunteer Rachel Goodrich

We are pleased to announce Rachel Goodrich, of Madison WI, as June Volunteer of the Month at the American Red Cross.

Rachel has been a volunteer since July 2013 when she signed up after moving to Madison with her two daughters. Because Rachel has been blessed with a strong support system throughout her life, she is drawn to helping others, even strangers. Rachel insists on creating that same motivation to help others into her children. On a daily basis she instills a message about giving your time and being engaged in the community. “No matter what situation we may be in, we can always offer others a helping hand, a smile, hug, support, laughter and friendship. It only takes a second to make someone smile and show them you care” she says.

With 3 of her own loved ones deployed with the military, Rachel was drawn to the Red Cross ’Services to the Armed Forces’ program. As a Red Cross volunteer Rachel works with veterans, military members and their families. She attends troop send-offs, family support night, organizes Holiday Mail for Heroes and so much more. “Rachel's passion and empathy for the military community is contagious. Because she has personal experience, she is committed to working on providing resources and thinking of ways to better support our community” said Katie Gaynor, Red Cross Communications Director.

Rachel’s favorite part about volunteering is, “meeting so many amazing people! It is the look on others faces when you are helping, the little moments you give someone mean the world to them and make their lives easier”. Her most memorable experience was at a troop-send off at Volk Field. “I witnessed raw emotions that day. Pure joy, happiness, laughter, tears, sorrow. You name it, I witnessed it. I watched a father feed his baby girl a bottle, knowing that when he gets back his baby would not need bottles anymore. I spoke with a Commander who was going to miss seeing his daughter graduate high school. Those moments make you really appreciate their sacrifice and feel honored to be a part of their day”.

When asked what she would say to someone who is considering becoming a Red Cross volunteer she responds, “Red Cross is the most rewarding agency you could ever get involved in. Being a part of Red Cross is the best thing that I have done for myself and my kids.” The Red Cross is thrilled to have Rachel serving with us!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwestern.wi@redcross.org.

May 2014: Connie Miller

Red Cross Wisconsin Volunteer Connie Miller

We are pleased to announce Connie Miller, of West Salem WI, as May Volunteer of the Month at the American Red Cross.

Connie has been a volunteer since January 2014, and while she is relatively new volunteer, her history with the Red Cross mission is extensive. Connie’s mother was a Red Cross volunteer, her children enrolled Red Cross babysitting courses, and her husband and sons are military members who were supported by Red Cross. Because of her deep passion for the Red Cross mission, Connie signed up to volunteer after years of teaching elementary education. Her skill set and varied interests makes her versatile - Connie provides free disaster preparedness presentations to students age 8-11, companies and community groups. She also supports the Red Cross Services to Armed Forces program as a volunteer at the Respite Care Center at the VA Hospital in Tomah and as a Red Cross representative at pre-deployment briefings for military members. “I am impressed by Connie’s natural ability to engage community members from age 8 to 80. She truly believes in the value of her volunteer work. Her dedication to the mission is evident in the professional manner in which she represents the Red Cross in our communities”, says Ben Hein, Disaster Preparedness Education manager.

Connie’s favorite part about volunteering is, “working with other volunteers. It is heart-warming and inspiring to see individuals give freely to help others. It is also a chance to learn from volunteers with diverse backgrounds and experiences.” Her most memorable experience has been teaching 3rd graders about disaster preparedness through the Pillowcase Project. When Connie enters the classroom, students are excited to have a member of the Red Cross facilitate interactive learning in how to be safe and stay calm during an emergency.

“She has special qualities of leadership, collaboration, knowledge and enthusiasm. Connie took on new projects, built it from the ground up, and is doing a fantastic job”, says Mary Liz Murphy, Service to Armed Forces manager.

When asked what she would say to someone who is considering becoming a Red Cross volunteer she responds, “Volunteering is a decision which positively impacts your life in a multitude of ways. Everyone has some special gift or talent which they can use to make an impact.” The Red Cross is thrilled to have Connie serving with us!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact Western Wisconsin Region at volunteernwestern.wi@redcross.org.

April 2014: Ying Zou

Western Wisconsin Red Cross, April 2014 Volunteer of the Month, Ying Zou

We are pleased to announce Ying Zou, of Madison WI, as April’s Volunteer of the Month at the American Red Cross. Hailing from China, Ying has taken her spirit for volunteerism across the globe. While attending High School in China, Ying was a dedicated volunteer with the Chinese Red Cross. When she moved to the United States to attend UW-Madison as an international student, she decided to continue her service with the American Red Cross.

Ying volunteers 8 hours per week in the Administration Department where she assists with office inventory, sets up meeting spaces, organizes service projects, and helps with special events such as Red Cross ‘Day at the Capitol’. Ying’s supervisor appreciates her presence in the office, “Ying has a wonderful spirit and is very engaging with all she meets”.

Ying’s most memorable moment as a volunteer was assisting with the Red Cross ‘Day at the Capitol’. She felt proud to walk into legislatures offices, share Red Cross achievements from the past year and thank them for their continued support. She reflects, “It was a cold day, but my heart was basking in the warm sunshine. I was so proud of who we are and what we are doing.”

Her favorite part about volunteering is the awesome opportunity to interact with and learn from others. “It helps me improve my leadership skills, examine the knowledge I learned in school, and fulfills my self-actualization”, she says. The Red Cross is very thankful for Ying’s volunteer service. Ying is inspired, passionate and has a bright future in front of her.

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact Western Wisconsin Region at volunteernwestern.wi@redcross.org.

March 2014: Dee Vetter

Red Cross Volunteer of the Month Dee Vetter

Another mental health colleague got Dee Vetter, Red Cross March Volunteer of the Month, started with the Red Cross …even though her colleague never did join.

Not realizing she could restrict her training and activities solely to mental health, Dee started taking the required training in 2003 and joined the local disaster responder group or Disaster Action Team (DAT). Starting with Member In Training, Dee followed the ‘career path’ moving to Member, Team Leader, and then Chair of the Dane County DAT. Now she is Supervisor on Call for the southern portion of the Western Wisconsin Region. Dee volunteers nearly 100 hours per month!

‘Because of the coursework taken, national deployments, airport exercises, and other work, I am currently a supervisor for Disaster Mental Health, Client Casework, Financial and Statistical Information, and an Operations Manager.’ Dee noted of the extensive training that has allowed her to move into management positions within the Red Cross.

With staff support, Dee also became a member of the Wisconsin Functional Assessment Service Team and often teaches the Red Cross portion.

‘Dee is always available for instructing Disaster Mental Health courses or last minute courses.’ Red Cross staff Melisa Myers noted. ‘She is one of our few advanced instructors in the region which allows us to host advance level courses.’

‘Dee is a dedicated, hard-working volunteer,’ Melisa noted. ‘She always puts the needs of volunteers and clients first. She stands by the Red Cross humanitarian mission and shares her passion with everyone she meets!’

The best part about volunteering, according to Dee, are the opportunities to interact with people; from the Red Cross staff and volunteers to the clients that we are privileged to serve. Her most memorable moment occurred after she responded to an early morning apartment fire at about 1:00 am. The only private place available to complete the interview and paperwork was the back seat of Dee’s car. About six month later she was in a gas station paying for her gas and there was a woman speaking Spanish to the cashier.

Dee noted, ‘I heard her mention "Cruz Roja". Then she turned to me and said: "May I give you a hug? You were the lady who came to our home when it caught fire.” Needless to say, that was the best hug I've ever received; and how she could have recognized me, I do not know. But I treasure that hug and its memory.’

To Dee, this story demonstrates what being a Red Cross Volunteer is about. Being a Red Cross volunteer allowed her to experience the warmth and appreciation from a grateful woman.

February 2014: Sylvia Allen

W. Wisconsin Region - Volunteer of the Month - Sylvia Allen

Sylvia Allen, American Red Cross Volunteer of the Month for February 2014, called the Red Cross to volunteer on September 12, 2001. As retired chemists, Sylvia and her late husband, John, thought they might be able to help after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. They started volunteering in Blood Services where Sylvia continues to volunteer with the Community Blood Drive.

After Hurricane Katrina struck, Sylvia volunteered for Disaster Services. She and John were trained and arrived in Baton Rouge, LA one week later for three exhausting and satisfying weeks of volunteering. After returning home, they received additional training and became local disaster responders; helping people who suffer local disasters like home fires.

‘Sylvia is my right hand lady,’ according to Red Cross staff member Melisa Myers. ‘She makes time to help with just about any task, has taken extra training to help fill in when we needed help, and helps in multiple departments. No job is too small or big for Sylvia.’

When the Red Cross transitioned to a new computerized volunteer database, Sylvia took extra training to facilitate a smooth transfer of records. She also takes shifts as a deployment officer, covering holidays and weekends, so the right volunteers are sent to national disasters at the right time. Melisa also noted that tasks are done on time with all details covered.

‘Sylvia has stood by the Red Cross and the mission through thick and thin.’ Melisa stated, ‘She is an outstanding volunteer who continues to grow and develop.’

Sylvia remembers one time she was helping distribute relief supplies in a shopping mall in Louisiana on a VERY hot day. ‘After a long wait, a woman in the line stepped up to get the offered supplies, thanked us, and then noted that I did not sound like I was from Louisiana. When I told her there were volunteers from 15 states, she was totally overwhelmed that we had come from so far and were not getting paid to be there. I will not soon forget her look of surprise and gratitude.’

Sylvia noted, ‘If you want to help others when they are having one of the worst days of their life, meet and work with wonderful people, and feel really good about being tired at the end of the day…the American Red Cross is a great group to volunteer with!’

December 2013: Santo Carfora

Western Wisconsin Red Cross, Volunteer of the Month, Photo of Santo Carfora

Santo Carfora embodies the ideal Red Cross Disaster Responder and Disaster Instructor. During the times of a disaster, sometimes all a person needs is somebody who will listen to them, someone to express their tragedy with. “We are the ears, we listen. We can’t fix everything they’ve lost but we can listen”, said Santo. Santo joined the Red Cross in 2011 after he received a request from the Red Cross looking for disaster volunteers in Rock County. Shortly after, Santo took an entire weekend of training in order to prepare himself for Disaster Services. In 2012, Santo did all he needed in order to become part of the Disaster Action Team, which responds to both local and national disasters. It didn’t take long for Santo to have to utilize his skills on a national level.

Santo responded to Hurricane Sandy by deploying with the Red Cross. He says that his most memorable experience with the Red Cross was when, “I was deployed to New York City to assist with folks who were uprooted by Hurricane Sandy. Being part of the Red Cross team was an amazing experience, offering food, shelter, clean up supplies, and in many cases emotional support”. It was during this deployment that Santo realized that playing even a small part in a large operation can be a life changing experience. “It helped me find patience, deal with change, and realize it wasn’t about me” said Santo in regards to how he felt after he came back from deployment.

Santo’s flexibility as a Disaster Responder in Rock County has been on more than one occasion the difference between providing those affected by disaster with a good experience compared to providing them with a superb experience. “Santo's willingness to go above and beyond the normal DAT response led to him serving as a Red Cross representative and liaison on scene with the City of Beloit during the recovery phase of a large apartment fire. The end result of a whole community response effort would not have been nearly as effective without Santo being there”, said Josh Reiter, an American Red Cross employee.

More recently, Santo has become a Disaster Instructor, where he has been putting 34 years of teaching experience to good use. Santo’s communication skills have been an invaluable asset with those he teaches, and his willingness to always have a positive attitude has provided them with an experience they’ll never forget.

November 2013: Shirley Stinson

Western Wisconsin Red Cross, Volunteer of the Month, Shirley Stinson

If you look up the definition of a Disaster Action Team Leader, Shirley Stinson is probably on the top of the page. In the past year alone, Shirley has responded to nearly a dozen local disasters as part of the Disaster Action Team, and additionally has deployed for three National Disaster Relief Operations including the Oklahoma Tornadoes, the Arizona Wildfires, and the Colorado Floods.

After returning from each and every disaster, Shirley not only has a story to tell others, she also has an increased skillset that she can share with other volunteers. “I have been fortunate to witness Shirley’s development and growth as a Disaster Volunteer in the past year from someone interested in being involved to a leader willing to share her skills with others”, said Ben Hein, a Red Cross employee.

Shirley always puts the clients first, and her compassion and attention to detail help her to provide the best that she is able to all Red Cross clients that come her way. Shirley had a dream ever since she was young that she wanted to be a part of an organization that consistently helped people. It came to her about two years ago that if she did not pursue this dream soon, that it had the possibility to never become a reality. This aspiration drove her to finding a cause that fit her values and exemplified her skills, and so Shirley found a home at the Red Cross.

“I get to see people at their most vulnerable time with a moment of comfort. I can get them to release a held in breath” said Shirley. It is these moments when Shirley knows that she has accomplished not only her goal as a Red Cross volunteer, but also her dream as a humanitarian. For Shirley, having to roll up her sleeves and get to work as a volunteer is a reaction caused by a natural instinct to truly help others.

October 2013: Jane Corkery

Badger Red Cross, Volunteer of the Month, October, Jane Corckery

Although Jane Corkery started with the Red Cross only about a year and a half ago in May of 2012, she has already made a huge impact with her guidance and leadership. Jane serves as an Instructor Coordinator with the Red Cross, guiding new First Aid and CPR volunteer instructors. She also works with the Training Scheduler to ensure the course scheduling system is up to date.

Jane knows that communication is key when it comes to being an Instructor Coordinator. She maintains the volunteer status of new First Aid and CPR instructors while simultaneously making sure that the volunteer instructors feel welcomed. Brigit Bye, an American Red Cross employee, says that “Jane's ongoing communication with our volunteers has played a key role in making them feel engaged.”

Jane’s work with the Red Cross isn’t the only volunteer work that she does however. On top of her Red Cross responsibilities, Jane also helps other organizations with fundraising, helping immigrants learn English, and working with her church to help homeless people as part of an outreach program. Jane sure likes to keep her plate full, as she is looking for even more opportunities to help those in need!

So what drives Jane to volunteer? Jane says, “The most gracious answer to this question would be that I like helping others and that is true. However, I also like the flexibility in volunteering.” Jane likes the challenge of keeping up with multiple roles and the ability to learn a variety of new things. She also likes to see the growth of her First Aid and CPR instructors as they learn and commit to teaching others lifesaving skills.

Jane is most impressed by the generosity of the volunteer instructors to spend their free time teaching classes to the public. It is Jane’s leadership that has given these instructors the opportunity to better themselves and subsequently better others. Without Jane there would be a noticeable difference in quality, dedication, and engagement. Jane’s work with the Red Cross has an indirect result of saving lives, as it is because of her leadership and instruction that the volunteer instructors are able to communicate successful methods of First Aid and CPR to other volunteers. In turn, those volunteers now have the capability to better handle situations in which a person’s life may be in danger.

September 2013: Laurie DeFlorian

With her children grown, Laurie DeFlorian decided she wanted to involve herself and continue her passion of helping others, so she became a Red Cross disaster responder in May of 2011.

Laurie has responded on national disaster relief operations five times since November of 2012. Her time away from home totaled 72 days, responding to Hurricane Sandy three separate times, Central Illinois flooding and the Tornado in Oklahoma.

One of Laurie’s most memorable volunteer moments occurred during her time in Oklahoma. A man’s house collapsed on him and he was taken to a local hospital. After being treated and released, he was dropped off at a Red Cross shelter. He was listed as ‘missing’ by local fire and police departments, as well as by his family. Laurie was able to reach his nephew and inform his family that he was okay.

“Just thinking about helping people brings tears to my eyes. I am so happy that I could help him and others in need,” said Laurie.

With great experience helping on a national scale, she is an excellent role model for other Red Cross volunteers and goes out of her way to help them learn.

“Laurie has willingly deployed with two first-time volunteers from Wisconsin, sharing her experience and expertise with these volunteers less familiar with national deployment,” said Ben Hein, Red Cross employee. “The feedback from these volunteers reflected Laurie’s invaluable support and guidance.”

Not only is she involved nationally, Laurie also gives much of her time to support local disaster action teams. She has also been an important part of raising awareness of Red Cross programs and services by providing media interviews and working at local fundraising events.

“My favorite part of being a volunteer with the Red Cross is being able to help people who are in need, no matter how big or small the need is,” said Laurie. “Being a volunteer with the Red Cross gives me the ability to help these people when they may have just experienced the worst event of their lives.”

Laurie is an exceptionally active and dedicated volunteer and has impacted not only Red Cross employees and volunteers, but also communities across the nation.

“Laurie provides her time and expertise selflessly and modestly,” said Hein.

Laurie offers advice to people considering joining the American Red Cross, “Jump in with both feet, have an open mind and get ready to learn a lot. You will have an awesome adventure.”

August 2013: Dave Sharpe

Badger Red Cross, Volunteer of the Month, August 2013, Dave Sharpe

With over a decade of service to the American Red Cross, Dave Sharpe has been named the August 2013 Volunteer of the Month. Over the years, Dave has given back to his community and beyond through his active involvement within both the Disaster Services and Preparedness Education departments.

Retired and volunteering with other organizations, Dave decided to try the American Red Cross in 2002. He began taking courses to train as a disaster responder. He enjoyed learning all the various ways to be involved and take on leadership roles, which he proceeded to do. Dave currently volunteers on Disaster Action Teams, instructs training classes and works with the media during disaster response. Further, Dave deploys on large scale disasters across the country. He also spends time traveling throughout his community and beyond to teach preparedness.

“Dave is responsible for training hundreds of volunteers for both local and national Red Cross relief efforts. He has been requested by surrounding regions and by our National Headquarters for instruction. We are extremely lucky and grateful for all Dave does,” said Melisa Myers, Red Cross staff member. “In just the last year, Dave has logged over 2682 volunteer hours.”

One of Dave’s fondest Red Cross volunteer moments occurred during a deployment to New Jersey in the spring of 2010.

“The folks there next to the Passaic River had been flooded over for the previous two years and were being flooded a second time in that year. As we went from house to house, the fact that the Red Cross was still there for them helped ease their already heavy burden,” Dave stated.

Dave has appreciated working with countless other volunteers who give their time to local and national responses, but he also enjoys “seeing the smiles on the faces and even sometimes tears in the eyes of clients. The relief of their anxiety and assurance that they are getting help is an amazing satisfaction.”

Another staff member appreciates Dave’s passion and dedication. “Dave sees a need and steps up to the plate to get it done,” said Linda Soltis-Schroeder.

July 2013: Sara Kruse

Sara Kruse

“Helping people is in my fiber-it’s at the core of who I am,” says Sara Kruse, Red Cross July 2013 Volunteer of the Month. In just a couple short years, Sara has definitely helped a number of people-from Red Cross employees to local communities to national disaster victims.

After volunteering locally and internationally with various organizations, Sara was interested in seeing how the Red Cross worked. Becoming a volunteer in April 2011, she has since made her way in various facets of the organization. She volunteers in the Financial Development department as well as Disaster Services. Her role in Financial Development involves assisting with Special Events and generating funds that support the mission of the Red Cross.

Molly Kelly, who works closely with Sara, says she has been instrumental during two busy seasons of special events. “During staff changeovers, Sara rose to the occasion, taking on additional responsibility and ensuring success of the events,” says Molly.

Volunteering with the Red Cross, Sara particularly enjoys giving back locally while also being able to give nationally. Her most memorable volunteer moment was being deployed to help with Hurricane Isaac in 2012 as a Client Caseworker.

“I see my skills being used and appreciated. I’m proud to volunteer for an organization that is a gift from the American people to the American people.”

Not only is Sara’s hard work noticed by staff, but also her attitude and passion. “Sara brings positive energy to the Red Cross. She is always smiling, friendly and full of ideas. Sara is professional and maintains a ‘can-do’ attitude through the special events season. Sara has built deep and lasting relationships with staff and fellow volunteers at the Red Cross,” says Molly Kelly.