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Make Someone’s Day Lucky

Last weekend my husband, son, and dad played in a disc golf tournament at a nearby county park. My daughter and I wanted to watch them throw a few discs and hopefully cheer them on to victory, so once we wrapped up our morning activities we drove out to the park.

We had just climbed out of the car and were preparing to coat ourselves in sunscreen when a woman came running out a nearby grove of trees. In my direction – and in the general direction of all those in the parking lot – the woman shouted, “do any of you have a bandage?!”

One man completely ignored the woman’s request, while another couple began searching frantically through their bags. When the couple came up empty handed, I walked calmly to my trunk, popped it open, and pulled out my trusty American Red Cross first aid kit.

photo 2-4

As I did so, my daughter quietly asked, “you have Band-aids, right Mama? You always have Band-Aids”.

I called the woman over to my car and asked her describe the victim’s wound. As I pulled supplies – alcohol wipes to clean the wound, gauze pads to stop the bleeding, a bandage to apply once the bleeding had slowed, and a back-up bandage for later – from my first aid kit, the woman took a deep breath, smiled, and acknowledged that she “should have known to ask a mom first”. She added that I seemed more prepared than most, to which I replied, “I’m not just a mom, I’m also a Red Crosser.

The woman thanked me profusely and ran back into the trees to rejoin her friends. They must not have been too deep into the woods, because soon after she disappeared I heard her exclaim, “it was my lucky day! I found a mom who was also a Red Crosser!”

Will you be able to make someone’s day lucky? Click here to sign up for an American Red Cross CPR and First Aid class, and click here to purchase an American Red Cross first aid kit!

Memorial Day Post: Grampa’s House

I always loved going to my Grampa’s house. When I was a baby, Grampa would relieve my mom by walking me to his house every day, just the two of us. I thought it was hysterical to throw my hat as far as I could, and he loved holding on to a stroller with his granddaughter, rather than to a cane.

When I got a little older, Grampa would pile all of his grandchildren into his sky blue, ivory fringe-topped Harley Davidson golf cart, affectionately called “The Harley,” and drive us around Balboa Island. I can still feel the wind coming off the bay, hear the laughter of my cousins interrupted by the cawing of pelicans, taste the sugar rush of a pink hippo cookie from Dad’s Donuts, smell the fresh beach air, and see the toothy smile on Grampa’s face.


When my grandparents moved in with us when I was 9, going to Grampa’s side of the house was just as special. He welcomed me home every day, told jokes and stories, and helped with homework. At first I would rush to the rhythmic cling of his cane, then eventually to the electric whir of his scooter, then the metallic swish of his wheelchair, and eventually, in those last few weeks in 2004 when I was 16, to his silent bedside.

Home and family were always all that mattered to Grampa, probably because he knew he was so lucky to have them. Born months early at only 2.5 pounds in 1925, he would not have made it had his family not had the untested idea to incubate him in the oven. When his mother died when he was a toddler, and his father abandoned him and his little brother, they were raised by their grandparents, immigrants from a famine-ridden Sweden. They raised their grandchildren as patriots and let them know how lucky they were to live in America, even during the Depression.

Grampa Army2 When Grampa was 17, his cousin, who had been raised essentially as an older brother, died in WWII. When he found out, Grampa wrote the number “18” on a piece of paper, placed it in his shoe, marched down to the Army recruiting center, and answered “Yes, Sir” when asked if he was over 18.

Grampa spent two years away from home to fight for his home. The sweet and humble man that he was, we always had to rely on his accolades and reading between the lines of his stories to figure out what a true hero he was in WWII. It was not until recently that we found this video of him and his fellow soldiers liberating the Ludwidlust concentration camp, forcing the townspeople to respectfully bury the dead, and marching them through the camp so they could never deny what had happened. The Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC awarded him a Liberator’s Pin posthumously.


At age 19, after receiving the Bronze Star of Bravery, when shrapnel permanently disabled him on the battlefield, he finally came home, with the help of the Red Cross, especially the nurses. He would joke that it all worked out for the best, because he was the first boy home to Sioux City, so he got to marry Frankie, the princess of the town, my Gramma.

Grampa Gramma Wedding Announcement


I am so honored to be a part of the American Red Cross, especially the Service to the Armed Forces department. I know Grampa would be proud to see that I grew up to become a part of the very same exact organization that helped him through WWII and is still today helping service members and their families. I hope that along with his wife who loves him to this day, 3 children, 9 grandchildren, and now 5 great-grandchildren (with another on the way), my work at the Red Cross is a part of his legacy. I work in Washington, DC at the National Headquarters, a short walk from his home for the last decade: Arlington National Cemetery.


Grampa- today, on Memorial Day, I’m coming over to your house.

 Herbert Frank Marshall 1925-2004


Share your Memorial Day stories or pictures with us in the comments box, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using #RedCross #MemorialDay. To find out more about the Red Cross history, visit redcross.org/history, or to learn about Service to the Armed Forces today, visit redcross.org/military.

A Quick Swimming Lesson

By: Connie Harvey, Director
American Red Cross Aquatics Centennial Program 

At the beach

If you watch people around a pool, most seem to be comfortable around the water. If you ask them about their swimming skills, most are pretty confident in their abilities.

The American Red Cross recently asked people about just that- their swimming skills. Nearly 80% of Americans said they could swim but when we went a little deeper what we learned was surprising.

Take a look at these results:

  • Of those surveyed, the vast majority of adults who think they know how to swim — when measured by Red Cross standards — really don’t.
  • In fact, less than half of the adults surveyed have basic “water competency” skills, which is defined as the ability to jump into the water over your head and surface, swim for 25 yards, find an exit from the water and actually get out.
  • And it’s not just adults; only four out of ten parents of children aged 4-17 believe their child has all five of these basic swimming skills.
  • Only 2 percent of adults plan to take swimming lessons this summer to improve their skills, and only about one in five children (20 percent) are likely to take swimming lessons.

We found some other troubling things:

  • Nearly half reported an experience where they feared they would drown, but many said they would not know what to do if someone else was in trouble.
  • Yet nearly all of those adults surveyed plan to be near water this summer; including one in three who expect to swim in a place without a lifeguard.

All of this reminds us that people should take steps now to become competent swimmers and make sure their children learn to swim. We’re asking every family to make sure that both adults and children can swim and that parents and caregivers know how to make good choices about the water and how to respond in a water emergency.

Marking a century of swimming safety education, the Red Cross is responding to this need with a national campaign to reduce the drowning rate by 50 percent in 50 cities where drowning rates or numbers of drownings are high in the next three to five years. Join in by enrolling you and your kids in Red Cross Learn-to-Swim classes. Call swimming pools in your area and ask for Red Cross training.


The Surf Report

A few fun, Red Cross related things we found on the Interwebs that we thought would be fun to share…

1) Red Cross Workers Help Save Ducklings

7News Boston WHDH-TV

2) We think our chapter in Richmond, VA is deathly afraid of children

Have a good weekend!

Wildfire Evacuation — What Would You Take?


We asked, and boy did we get an answer! In light of the multiple wildfires in Southern California and parts of the Southwest, we discovered through Facebook and Twitter what you would take if you had only five minutes to evacuate. True to form, our online community made sure their cats were a primary focus. Kids, important documents, phones, and “go bags” were also top of the list. A few Twitter users even pointed out digital storage, such as external hard drives, as their method of saving important documents and photos.

Let us know what you would take, make sure you have your plans ready, and check out what the Red Cross community said below.

You Have 5 Minutes to Evacuate…

Imagine this scenario…

You look outside your house and see this:

image courtesy of KEYT

Within two minutes, a firetruck is rolling down your street announcing a mandatory evacuation for the area and you have five minutes to get out of your house.

You have five minutes…what do you take?

Now, this can easily turn into an episode of “Supermarket Sweep” where you just grab as much as humanly possible and hope you’ll be OK…OR you can have a plan in place, practice it a few times, and KNOW you’ll be able to get what you need out of your house in five minutes.

Sadly, my area has been through this drill a LOT in the past five years, so I have this down to a science. I can get my important paperwork, extra medications, dog + supplies, and any “irreplaceables” in the car in this amount of time. But it took practice. I remember the first time I had to evacuate, I had absolutely NO IDEA where anything was or what I should even bring! Thankfully, our Red Cross Wildfire App can really help you figure out what to have ready ahead of time, and what to do if you’re ever told by authorities that you need to leave the area immediately.

Let’s walk through this (as seen through using the app on my phone):

1) As soon as you know there’s a fire in your area

WF app 2

2) Make sure you have at least these things packed


3) Then pack things that YOU and your family may need
This can include toys/items for your children, your pets food/leash, your important documents (mortgage/lease papers, ID, Passports, etc.)

4) Lastly, just get out and know where to go.
You can do this by looking at the Shelter portion of the Wildfire App. You should also tune into a local news station or check in with a local fire authority’s website or Twitter feed to learn more information.
shelter mao

Here are a few personal tips for making this 5 minutes go as smoothly as possible…
1) Have a lot of your important stuff “grouped” – for instance, I have ALL of our mortgage papers, IDs, bank info, etc. stored in one of those large file folders – it’s in a safe spot, so all I have to do is grab ONE thing and I know I have ALL of our important paperwork gathered. This alone will save you 5 minutes.

2) We store all of our dog supplies in one area, and we have a little bag with an extra leash, bone (to keep her occupied), and water bowl. All of this is stored next to a ziplock bag of extra food. Dog is officially taken care of in 10 seconds or less.

3) We had the conversation on what are the “irreplaceable” family items that we knew we’d be devastated if we lost. While not all of those can be in the same spot, having the items identified ahead of time will easily save you some time.

4) Everything else is in our “go kit” – extra food, emergency blankets, first aid kit, flashlight etc. – it’s all in one of those plastic storage bins ready to go when we need to.

Make a plan. Practice the plan. It will make a world of difference if you hear “you have five minutes to evacuate”

Spotlight on National Nurses Week

Across the United States and even across the world, American Red Cross volunteer nurses are an integral and celebrated component of Red Cross operations. National Nurses Week is a perfect time to recognize some unique nursing roles with the Red Cross.

Landstuhl nurseTake Michelle Livingston, Daphne Blask and Lauren Purtell. They all moved to Germany as military spouses, discovering upon arrival continuing their nursing careers as normal wouldn’t be an option.

“When people suggested that I start volunteering through the Red Cross at the hospital, I thought it would be a great opportunity to help serve and get the experience I needed to be hired,” said Purtell. “Never in my life would I have guessed how challenging and rewarding being a Red Cross volunteer nurse would be.”

Read their inspirational stories on redcross.org (Part 1 and Part 2).


Tina Trotta is a testament to passing the baton. She recognized her calling, recognized a role model and recognized an opportunity to turn gratitude into action. Trotta spent 20 years in sales before making a career switch to nursing. When she first started out, her Red Cross nurse assistant trainer was so inspiring that Trotta continued her education to become an RN. She now teaches a Red Cross Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course of her own in Florida. Her unique blend of career experiences in various fields feeds into her success as an instructor, and she makes sure to tell her story to each group she teaches. Trotta explains that if the nursing piece is within their scope and their desire, she wants to encourage any student that comes through her CNA classes to keep going.

Find out how nurses contribute to the Red Cross, see Red Cross nurses in action and learn more on redcross.org.

From the Archives: Clara Barton’s Office of Missing Soldiers

Just recently, the Red Cross history team toured the restored Clara Barton’s Office of Missing Soldiers at No. 9, 437½ 7th Street. The office is located in a former Washington, D.C., boarding house, where Clara Barton rented rooms during and after the Civil War.IMG_7770

While Clara provided relief to the Civil War wounded, she accumulated a wealth of information about the men and their regiments. In the final days of the war, she was responding to families inquiring about men who had been reported missing. Seeing a pressing need, Barton secured permission from President Abraham Lincoln to start an Office of Missing Soldiers. By 1869, she and her assistants had received and answered over 63,000 letters and identified more than 22,000 missing men.

That same year, in need of rest, Barton traveled to Europe. The boarding house owner stored Clara’s belongings in the attic above her rooms and they remained there, untouched, for over 120 years, until 1996. At the time, the building was slated for demolition, but the presence of Clara’s belongings and remnants of the Missing Soldier’s Office reset the course. After several years, restoration work began, managed by The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, headquartered in Frederick, Md. 

Visitors to the space enter a main floor lobby with an exhibit highlighting life in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. Two flights of steps provide access to rooms carefully restored to the period when Barton lived and worked in the boarding house. Some special features include reproduction wallcoverings based on existing wallpaper found in the rooms. According to one of the tour guides, Clara wallpapered one of the walls herself.IMG_20131118_123953_711

Carpet fragments from the period were found in the attic, and inspired the reproduction runner on the stairs. The lighting resembles period gas lights—complete with the simulated flickering flame.








Although it’s taken nearly two decades and the efforts of many dedicated people, the former Office of Missing Soldiers is complete and open to the public for tours providing  a look back at a mid-19th century Washington and a greater understanding of Clara Barton’s humanitarian journey.


One Red Cross to Reunite Them All

For anyone that has ever traveled, you know each country offers something unique, something that makes it stand out from other places. Which is why people travel. It’s an awesome thing to experience new foods, cultures and customs.  Countries—and even cities–look/taste/smell/feel a little bit different as you move place to place.

The global Red Cross is like that too. Each national society has slightly different roles within their country. We are still one Red Cross; all adhering to the same seven guiding principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality if you’re counting). But, for example, the Japanese Red Cross Society has a booming medical capacity. After the 2011 tsunami, they rebuilt hospitals and ran ambulance services.  We don’t do that here in the U.S. We are known for our first aid and blood services (although we do LOTS more too).  Some national societies are focused on health programming; some on disaster preparedness. It’s a little different place to place.

There is one thing that every single national society does do—reconnect families.  Each and every 189 of them.

Bulgarian Red Cross Reconnection

Bulgarian Red Cross Reconnection


Conflict and disasters leave more than physical wounds: in the turmoil, panic and terror, loved ones can be separated in minutes, sometimes leading to long years of anguish and uncertainty about the fate of children, spouses or parents. The Red Cross, as part of its Restoring Family Links program, works to locate people and put them back into contact with their loved ones. Annually, the American Red Cross alone assists more than 5,000 families in this effort.

In the spirit of one Red Cross, I’d like to give one more glimpse into our work internationally reconnecting families. This time from the words of the national societies themselves.

Irish Red Cross 

Restoring Family Links: It’s all in a day’s Work!

Bulgarian Red Cross

The Story of Hivro and His Wife: Refugees from Syria

South Africa Red Cross

Two Siblings Reconnect after 20 Years of Separation

To learn more about Restoring Family Links, visit redcross.org.

I’m a Military Mom!

By Dorry Gundy,  Mother of Navy Lt. Shannon Rice

I didn’t expect I would be the mother of a U.S. Navy officer. I’ve always had a deep respect for those who serve in the military. My father was a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in the Pacific Islands during World War II. He carried the values of the US Marine Corps with him every day and instilled them in all of his ten children. Two of my brothers joined the Marine Corps and my nephew is set to become an officer in the Corps upon his college graduation. Yes, the military is an important calling for the males in my family.

When I grew up, I married and had two daughters, Lea and Shannon who are now adults. They are best of friends and wonderful people. Shannon, the youngest, got her undergraduate degree in Biology from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, then pursued a Master of Science in Health Sciences Physician Assistant Studies at PCOM in Philadelphia. At the PCOM graduation ceremony in 2011, her classmate and friend, Amy was inducted into the U.S. Navy, and as a college graduate, she was on track to become an officer. It was a beautiful and touching ceremony. Shannon moved home to find a job as a Physician Assistant in the Washington, D.C., area.

Three weeks later she announced that she decided to join the U.S. Navy to carry out her work as a Physician Assistant. I cried, and they weren’t tears of joy. I didn’t want my daughter to become part of a wider family that serves our country?that’s for other people; that’s for guys. But she was resolute. She explained to me that the Navy offered things that were important to her: the opportunity to travel and to experience other parts of the world; a leadership role as an officer; the drive to take on new challenges and to leave her comfort zone; and the opportunity to do what’s important to her?to help the people who serve our country.

She was inducted and, weeks later, headed off to Officer Development School in Newport, Rhode Island. It wasn’t easy for her?we weren’t the kind of parents who shouted at our daughters to get out of bed in the morning?but she not only survived, she thrived. When she graduated six weeks later, I thought my heart would burst with pride. LTJG Shannon Rice. I cried again, though this time it was tears of joy. She was where she wanted to be?helping the large family that serves our great country as a Physician Assistant in the U.S. Navy.

My daughter Navy LTJG Shannon Rice

My daughter Navy LTJG Shannon Rice

Her first assignment was working as a PA at the Marine Corps Air Station clinic in Iwakuni, Japan and at that time, I was doing freelance work for the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. It was then that we both learned of an important program offered by the American Red Cross for service members. The Service to the Armed Forces is a global communication link between service members and their families in the U.S. We both were impressed that the SAF offers help to families in getting their service member home in the event of a family emergency. As someone who administers to patients that serve our country, Shannon knows the peace of mind the SAF program gives to them.

Now, Lt. Shannon Rice and her friend from PCOM, Amy, also a Lieutenant are both in San Diego administering to patients of the military and their families at naval clinics there. I still can’t believe I’m the mother of a Navy officer, but I know my daughter made the right decision.