Tuesday, August 23, 2016

update on our response to the devastating floods in Louisiana

I want to provide a quick update on our response to the devastating floods in Louisiana, where local officials estimate that at least 110,000 homes were damaged. Although floodwaters have receded in parts of hard-hit Baton Rouge, many residents are still coping with ongoing flooding—and downpours are forecasted to aggravate conditions this week.

Thousands of people sought refuge in Red Cross shelters Monday night—more than one week after swiftly rising waters began ravaging communities. For Louisiana residents like Sandra, who escaped and lost nearly everything, these shelters are not only a place to sleep, but also a safe haven where compassionate volunteers provide meals, relief supplies, emergency information, health services and emotional support.

If you havloved ones or colleagues in impacted areas, please share our safety and cleanup tips, which include what to do when returning to flood-damaged homes.

Over 1,900 Red Cross workers from every state are involved in a massive response, including delivering meals and cleanup supplies where it’s safe to do so. The need is dire, especially for residents who are beginning the daunting process of mucking out their homes. They’re spending hours hauling saturated furniture, clothes and personal mementos to curbs outside—all while an intense stench of rotting fish permeates the air in many of these affected communities.

The Red Cross is committed to helping people in Louisiana recover from the floods—the worst natural disaster to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy. We estimate this relief effort could cost at least $30 million, but as of Aug. 22, we’ve only received about $7.8 million in designated donations and pledges to support Louisiana.

Our work wouldn't be possible without dedicated our communities support. Please share this information with your networks to help us ensure Red Cross safety and response information is accessible to everyone who needs it. 

If you would like to become a trained Red Cross volunteer you can start that process today: http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer#step1 

If you and your family are able to make a financial gift to support this response you can do that right at your computer: http://www.redcross.org/local/louisiana/ways-to-donate 

All our thanks,

Laura S Hann

Monday, August 15, 2016

Louisiana and Southeast Floods

Click here for video update

Louisiana and Southeast Floods
The flooding in Louisiana is likely the worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The historic flooding began to take shape Friday and continued through the weekend as rain came down on the southern Louisiana region. The situation in Louisiana is extremely chaotic and gaining access to many areas is difficult due to flooding and numerous road closures. In addition, power and phone outages are complicating relief efforts. Local officials have reported 20,000 water rescues and are estimating that 10,000 homes have been impacted. With the ongoing floods, many areas remain inaccessible. The threat of ongoing floods continue as weather experts predict more rain is possible.

More than 1,700 National Guard troops have been mobilized with more on the way. On Sunday evening the President declared a major disaster in Louisiana including the most heavily parishes of Tangipahoa, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge and Livingston. This list is expected to grow. Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for the town of Lake Arthur in the Jefferson Davis Parish.

On Sunday night, more than 10,600 people sought refuge in nearly 50 Red Cross and community shelters across Louisiana. In addition to opening and supporting shelters, Red Cross disaster volunteers are providing shelter, food and comfort now with more help on the way. An additional 500 Red Cross disaster volunteers from all over the country are on their way to help in Louisiana. The Red Cross has also mobilized 60 disaster response vehicles, 40,000 ready-to-eat meals, and more than two dozen trailer loads of shelter and kitchen supplies.

Preliminary estimates indicate the Red Cross response efforts could cost more than $10 million and it is likely to change as more information becomes available.

Large disasters like the floods in Louisiana create more needs than any one organization can meet and the Red Cross is working closely with the entire response community – federal, state, county and local agencies, and other non-profit organizations, churches, area businesses and others- to coordinate relief efforts and deliver help quickly and efficiently, keeping in mind the diverse needs of the community. Some of these organizations include the Southern Baptists Disaster Relief, Save the Children and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps.

Because the flooding isn’t over, it will take some time to fully uncover the extent of the devastation once the water recedes and the Red Cross will work closely with its partners to ensure people receive the help they need as quickly as possible.

In Mississippi, rainfall is continuing causing additional flooding. The governor of Mississippi issued a state of emergency for Adams, Amite, Pike, Wilkinson and other counties affected by the rain and floods over the last several days. Mandatory evacuations are still in place for Crosby and Osyka. The Red Cross is coordinating with local emergency management to provide assistance as necessary. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Transforming Ideas into Giving: A Conversation with Jennifer Trengove, Major Gifts Officer

I’ve always believed that a person’s office is a reflection of its occupant’s values, a glimpse into their world from an outsider’s perspective. Walking into Jennifer Trengove’s office, you wouldn’t get the
Jennifer Trengove, Major Gifts Officer
feel that you’ve walked into a typical Major Gift Officer’s work area; there’s no extravagant grandeur, no heavy set mahogany furniture and fake corner plants collecting dust. There’s also no pictures of Jennifer with high-powered people casually shaking hands or cutting a ribbon with dangerously over-sized scissors; the room is, for the most part, simple, perhaps the only vestige of splendor being a picture of a Red Cross nurse draped in the American flag that hanging on the wall unassumingly behind her desk. For other development officers, this may be too simple, but I think it fits well with Jennifer and, for an agency like the Red Cross that assists families after they have lost everything to disaster, less is definitely more.  

Jennifer is one of a handful of paid staff in the South Plains Red Cross office, a rarity in an organization that is overwhelmingly a volunteer workforce. As the Major Gifts Officer, Jennifer is tasked with soliciting and developing large donations and is an Ambassador to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. It’s not an especially easy job given that she covers thirty-five counties in the panhandle region. A day in her heels translates to long hours and driving. Tons of driving. Speaking with Jennifer, though, I feel that she wouldn’t have it any other way. Previously, the Scottsdalian-turned-Lubbockite worked in sales, an experience much like her current work. In fact, it's what led her to the Red Cross. “I was working for an advertising company and one of my co workers went to work for the Red Cross.’ I remember thinking, ‘The Red Cross? How do you go from advertising sales to the Red Cross?’” Fate answered Jennifer's question soon after. “In the meantime, a lady I know bought a table at the Volunteer Symposium that was hosted by the Volunteer Center of Lubbock… the center sent me a survey beforehand about our values. They made these lanyards with three organizations here in Lubbock and three causes that matched our interests. One of mine was disaster relief. I thought, how can I volunteer and go to work full time and raise my daughter, and this position popped up! It was a sign, the best of all worlds.”

Motivating people to give is never easy, though. Jennifer battles misconceptions among donors that seem to share a common theme. One is a common belief that the American Red Cross is a federal agency and doesn’t need donations. Jennifer explains: “We hold a government charter. All that means is that the government has written a specific law that makes us responsible for certain duties; service to the armed forces and disaster relief. We’re a nonprofit, we’re not part of the government.” It's not the only problem that people bring up. “Another issue is transparency; how much is what a person is giving actually going to the mission? The Red Cross, our latest statistics, show that 90% of donations go directly to the mission. That’s ninety cents for every dollar, which is amazing.”

For Jennifer, these problems detract from the positives of donating to the Red Cross. That includes huge steps on the national level. “Our new CEO, when she came into the job a few years ago, we were $600 million in debt, with a $200 million operating deficit. Today we’re debt free, we’re in budget. I think it speaks a lot about or mission and that we care about being good stewards of the donor’s money and being cognizant of how we spend money.” Most of all, she credits the weight of the mission for why people give, a spark that donor feel when they understand where their money is going to a trustworthy cause. “People are empathetic to suffering, to families whose home burns down to the ground or not having a place to live because of a tornado. They hear about our work after the earthquakes in Nepal or Haiti. They feel that connection to our mission.”

That’s Jennifer Trengove: dog aficionado, mom, Major Gifts Officer for the American Red Cross. While that seems like a full plate, it doesn’t look like Jennifer’s slowing down anytime soon; “I love working here – it’s great. It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about the people.”

Interested in giving to the Red Cross? Good idea, so take the next step. Contact Jennifer at Jennifer.trengove@redcross.org.

Steven Lara
Volunteer - American Red Cross