Nearly 150 gathered at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh for the Ninth American Red Cross Hero Award Reception on Thursday, September 27, 2018. WTAE-TV news anchor Kelly Sasso served as the emcee for the morning event, which recognized the positive impact local citizens and corporations have made in our community.
After a breakfast reception in the lobby area, the group made its way to the auditorium, where Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania CEO Patricia Waldinger gave an update on the national Hurricane Florence Relief Effort before introducing Sasso and thanking WTAE for their continued support of the Red Cross.
Awards presented during the event included:
Hero Award – Disaster Relief and Recovery
Highmark Health (video) - When the United States was hit by back-to-back hurricanes last fall, Highmark Health stepped to the plate, deploying physicians, nurses, paramedics, and other specialists to the impacted areas to treat people in need. Highmark Health also worked to replace lost medications and donated much-needed financial resources to the hurricane relief effort.
Hero Award – Service to the Armed Forces
Mike Stevens (video) - After a nearly thirty-four-year career, Mike Stevens retired from the United States Navy, having served his last few years as a Master Chief Petty Officer, only the thirteenth person to hold this position in Naval history! Following retirement he joined the team of Moon Township based Viqtory, first as COO, now as CEO. In his capacity, Mike and his team connect the military community with opportunities that exist in the civilian sector, working to ease the transition to civilian life for retiring military members.
Hero Award – Biomedical
Wanitta Stuthers, R.N. (video) - Nurse Wanitta Stuthers is the Medical Services Administrator and serves as the Blood Drive Coordinator at Emerson Process Management in Fox Chapel, where she leads a group of eight volunteers in recruiting blood donors for the company’s quarterly blood drive. Recently, when a blood drive was in jeopardy due to a room scheduling conflict, Wanitta – understanding the critical need for blood – worked with a local hotel to secure an alternate location and then made sure all donors were able to get to the new location on the day of the drive. Her dedication to collecting blood has touched the lives of hundreds of hospital patients and their families.
Hero Award – Preparedness, Health and Human Safety
Reverend Eileen Smith, R.N. (video) - Reverend Eileen Smith is a registered nurse and the Pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in West Newton. She is also the founder of the Minority Emergency Preparedness Task Force in Pittsburgh, a group that advocates for specific emergency preparedness needs of racially disparate communities through coordinated assessment, mitigation, and recovery initiatives that aim to empower low-income neighborhoods to take responsibility for their preparedness needs in the event of a major disaster. The impact of her effort was clearly realized when, in December 2017, a broken water pipe in an Arlington Heights Housing Authority building forced the evacuation of several families who lost everything – food, clothing, and furniture. Working in collaboration with the Housing Authority, emergency responders, the Red Cross, and other community groups, Rev. Smith was able secure the resources needed to assist those impacted on their road to recovery.
Hero Award – International Service
Barbara Murock (video) - Barbara Murock is the recently retired Manager of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Immigrants and Internationals Initiative, a program designed to meet the unique needs of immigrants and refugees in Allegheny County through a combination of capacity building, research, information exchange, and community empowerment activities. During her tenure as Manager, Barbara has spearheaded efforts to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. She has also developed a human service network which empowers immigrants to build on their individual and collective strengths, to achieve self-sufficiency, and to celebrate their cultural identity as they integrate into the community.
Community Award – Community Champion
Frances Jordan (video) - Frances Jordan, Executive Director of Homewood Community Ministries, played a crucial role in the Red Cross Sound the Alarm Home Fire Campaign event held in Homewood earlier this year. She not only helped to recruit over 130 volunteers for the event, but she was also instrumental in the effort to notify the community that the Red Cross would be going door-to-door, offering to install free smoke alarms and providing important fire safety information. Since the event, Frances has continued her partnership with the Red Cross, helping us to stay engaged with the residents of Pittsburgh’s Homewood community.
Community Award – Community Leadership
National Honor Society at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy (video) - Over the course of two school years, thirty National Honor Society students from Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy have delivered the Red Cross Pillowcase Project to elementary students in the Pittsburgh Public School System. Due to their effort, over 300 third through fifth graders have been taught the importance of preparedness and how to respond to emergency situations such as home fires and severe storms.
* photos of recipients
Thank you to this year’s Hero Awards Nomination Committee:
- Carol Adams (ALCOSAN)
- Candace Baranski (Highmark)
- Barbara Cottrell (F.N.B. Corporation)
- Lisa Epps (Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire)
- Ange Loiseau (Covestro)
- Crystal McCormick Ware (University of Pittsburgh Library System)
- Marcia Tongel (UPMC)
- Allison Zeigler (Jones Lang LaSalle)
A special note of thanks also goes to this year’s event sponsors: the University of Pittsburgh and II-VI Incorporated. And, a thank you to the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania for their continued support of our mission.