Monday, December 5, 2016

When Texas Was at the Bottom of the Sea - A new Red Cross volunteers reflections

If volunteering is to be viewed as a sacrifice for one’s community, volunteering with the Red Cross may be spoiling me. I have been volunteering with the Red Cross for just over a month now, and the relationships and opportunities I have found here have made it more of a pleasure to volunteer than a sacrifice.

Growing up in Lubbock, it has always been a little difficult to feel connected with the outside world. As the 2015 Smithsonian Magazine article, “When Texas Was at the Bottom of the Sea” shows, Lubbock used to be an ocean bed of a vast and expansive ocean. Today it is still easy to look out over the grand vistas of farms and prairies and be overtaken by the same feeling of vastness as if looking out over the sea. After all, we are hundreds of miles away from Texas’ large cities (sorry Amarillo!) and thousands of miles away from the countries that are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Growing up on the edge of Lubbock, it has always been easy to feel far away from the rest of the world.

I have only been with the Red Cross for a month now, but the opportunities and the world-wide actions the Red Cross provides has been incredibly inspiring. For example, the International Committee of the Red Cross is currently sheltering 20,000 refugees from Aleppo, Syria ( In Senegal, Senegalese Red Cross volunteers just finished another distribution of food vouchers to communities afflicted by low rainfall rates. ( To be apart of such an organization, even if I am thousands of miles away, is an honor in itself.

            Not only is it an honor to be apart of an organization that is capable of extending such humanitarian aid, but the American Red Cross also provides opportunities to learn and grow as a volunteer. It was to my complete surprise that the Red Cross has an extensive online education program, capable of training me to become more skilled in plenty of different skill sets, including logistics, disaster services, finances and communications. This has been a huge help for me – as a college senior, the only things I feel truly skilled at doing are studying and power-napping, neither of which are particularly useful in the world of disaster response and aid. In these days of expensive higher education, the importance of free training for curious volunteers cannot be overstated. In my time volunteering in Lubbock there have been few opportunities to grow while serving a community, and I am exciting to have the opportunity.

            It is obvious I still have a long way to go before I can help the villages of Senegal or aid refugees in Syria. My foreign language studies have a long way to go, (Je voudrai visiter le Sénégal bientôt, mais les francophones parlent très rapidement. Mais, j’essaie.), my Disaster Response training is just shy of being completed and my graduation in May I will be faced with paying off college debt.

            Yet though I am far away, the Red Cross is allowing me to serve my community while continuing to grow. This is what brings me back each week, and why I considered myself spoiled. Even if the only way I can help currently is making phone calls to ask for donations and cleaning supply closets, I feel much closer to the outside world than before.

Guest Blogger Jerrod Miller

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Red Cross Says Turn and Test: Turn Back Clocks and Test Smoke Alarms

[Lubbock, Tx][Tuesday], [November 11 2016]  — Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, November 6 and the American Red Cross reminds everyone to ‘turn’ their clocks back an hour and ‘test’ the batteries in their smoke alarms. The Red Cross recommends that all South Plains area residents have working smoke alarms on every level of their home, including inside and outside bedrooms.

Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half,” said Laura Hann, Executive Director of the American Red Cross serving the Texas South Plains. “Turn and test is a reminder to set your clocks back and take a few minutes to push the test button to make sure all alarms are working.”

Hand pressing the test button on smoke alarm

It’s also an opportunity to make sure all households are prepared for home fires and other emergencies:
  • Create and practice a fire escape plan. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes. Select a location outside for everyone to meet.
  • Keep disaster supplies in an easy-to-carry bag to use at home or carry in case ordered to evacuate. A variety of emergency preparedness kits and supplies are available at
  • Download the Red Cross Emergency App which includes content on how to prevent home fires and what to do if one occurs. The Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App is a game designed for kids. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN The Red Cross responds to 66,000 disasters across the country every year and most of these are home fires. Tragically, some people lose their lives in these fires and countless others are injured. The Red Cross has launched the Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent over the next five years.
Since October of 2014, the Red Cross and partners have saved more than 110 lives as part of the Home Fire Campaign. The Red Cross is committing to install 2.5 million free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires, and to educate those residents about fire prevention and preparedness during the multi-year campaign.
Since the Home Fire campaign began, more than 530,000 smoke alarms have been installed in all 50 states and four territories, and it has reached more than 597,000 children through campaign youth preparedness education programs, such as The Pillowcase Project.
WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved ones from a fire. They can become a Red Cross volunteer. They can also help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Just Another Saturday Morning

Just Another Saturday Morning

Yesterday morning at 8 a.m. I joined more than fifty Lubbock residents to participate in the Lubbock American Red Cross Smoke Alarm Installation Project.  We met first in the Lubbock High School cafeteria, where we were welcomed with a large buffet of baked goods and coffee donated by a local business, accompanied by sounds of the LHS Band rehearsing in the parking lot next door.

I chose to sit nearer the front at a table with 3 others, one of whom I learned was a new graduate student at TTU.  Following introductions, acknowledgements (LIA was recognized), and the power point orientation, we broke into Teams of 2 to begin our morning of installations.  The Teams with prior experience exited the cafeteria first – and that left all of 2 of us remaining, the TTU student and me!  So after picking up our supplies we joined Richard Alires’ experienced Team for the first appointment, and then we were on our own.  “He” took care of the installations, “She” took care of the paperwork.

Over the next 2+ hours we met four more families, installing 2-3 detectors in each home and providing guidelines on how to prevent fires and how to respond to the alarms.  And we talked.

We talked about dogs and their value as the ‘someone’s in the yard’ alarm.  We talked about families, children, and grandchildren.  We talked about people’s military service.  We talked about health concerns and disabilities.  We talked about our futures.  We learned about a young man’s fond memories of his high school English and history classes, and watched his eyes light up when he considered going back to school.  We talked with a high school student who shared his love of art and wanted us to see his sketchbook.  We learned how a Vietnam veteran lost his hearing when the bullet entered the back of his head and exploded in his eardrum.  And each time we said good-bye it was with warm handshakes and even warmer hugs.

Before we neared the end of the morning it was beautifully clear.  The Smoke Alarms were simply the vehicle.  They were the vehicle for the larger purpose of human beings connecting once again, sharing the everyday and the intimate, with affection and respect, knowing we are part of one human family.  The morning was a privilege and a gift.

And when “He” and “She” parted?  We agreed – we are already signed on for the Smoke Alarm Installation Project in 2017.  But between time?  We promised to email soon and meet at Starbucks next week!

Submitted by a guest writer S.M.

Monday, October 3, 2016

INFORMATION UPDATE: Hurricane Matthew, International and Domestic Readiness October 3, 2016 at 3:00 PM ET

INFORMATION UPDATE: Hurricane Matthew, International and Domestic Readiness
October 3, 2016 at 3:00 PM ET

Hurricane Matthew is less than 24 hours from delivering a potentially catastrophic strike on Haiti, and will also impact parts of Jamaica, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas before making expected landfall in parts of the United States later this week. It is a slow moving storm, making it particularly dangerous as affected areas will be exposed to high winds and rain for extended periods of time. Over a foot of rainfall may trigger life-threatening conditions. Haiti in particular is at risk of catastrophic mudslides and flash flooding due to deforestation.  

Projected Storm Path:
Haiti/Dominican Republic: Late Monday / Tuesday
Jamaica: Late Monday / Tuesday
Eastern Cuba: Tuesday / Tuesday night
Southeast & central Bahamas / Turks & Caicos: Tuesday afternoon into at least Wednesday night

Internationally, National Red Cross Societies across the Caribbean and central America are ramping up preparedness measures as Hurricane Matthew approaches Jamaica and Haiti. 

“Our Red Cross teams in Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Colombia are currently running preparedness activities with the communities. Our volunteers and staff stand ready to respond immediately to the needs”, said Walter Cotte, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) regional director for the Americas.

In Jamaica, the Jamaican Red Cross has prepositioned blankets for over 1,000 families, kitchen kits for over 1,000 families and cleaning kits for 300 families.

The Red Cross of the Dominican Republic has prepositioned stocks for approximately 2,500 people. 

The National Society has 21 water treatment plants at its disposal. Water and sanitation teams as well as psychological support and health teams are on standby.

In Haiti, the Haitian Red Cross has put all its branches on alert and prepositioned stock to respond to the needs of more than 3,000 people.

The American Red Cross is collaborating with local national societies and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) to help build preparedness and response capacity.

The American Red Cross has a delegation in Haiti, comprised of approximately 200 Haitian nationals, which is supporting the Haitian Red Cross with preparedness activities.

Three ongoing programs in Haiti have been working to strengthen communities’ disaster preparedness in anticipate of events like this hurricane.

The American Red Cross also has a strong presence in the Caribbean with programs that focus on disaster risk reduction, including activities to train local disaster response teams, map evacuation routes, and develop early warning systems.

The American Red Cross in the U.S. is in close communication with at-risk and impacted Red Cross societies throughout the Caribbean to provide support.

The American Red Cross is providing Information Management and Geographic Information Systems (IM/GIS) support remotely for Hurricane Matthew. This includes the production of maps of Haiti to illustrate which zones are most susceptible to floods and landslides.

For those concerned about loved ones outside the United States: The best way to locate U.S. citizens living or traveling overseas is to contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 or +1 202-501-4444. Those searching for non-U.S. citizen family members can contact the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links unit at

Domestically, the American Red Cross is closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Matthew and its potential to affect the U.S. later this week.

Disaster teams are assessing supplies, equipment and availability of volunteers in case a response is needed.

Red Cross workers are also coordinating with government officials and partner organizations to finalize potential response plans and share information.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross worked closely with the military leadership at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to help members of the military and their families prepare for the impending storm. In case of an emergency, military families should call 877-272-7337 or go to

Hurricanes are strong storms that can be life-threatening as well as cause serious property-threatening hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes. Preparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane. Know the difference between the threat levels and plan accordingly.

Annual Disaster Giving Program and Disaster Responder
Through the generosity of our American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and Disaster Responder members, the American Red Cross is prepared before disaster strikes. ADGP and Disaster Responder members help secure a reliable funding base for disaster relief services that enables the Red Cross to respond immediately, meeting the needs of individuals and families affected by disaster, regardless of cost.

Right now the Red Cross is on the ground and taking action with the support of our ADGP and Disaster Responder partners.

Current ADGP $1M members are:
American Airlines
Anheuser-Busch Foundation
Anthem Foundation
Boise Paper
Caterpillar Foundation  
Costco Wholesale
Delta Airlines   
Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation
The Home Depot Foundation
Humble Bundle
LDS Charities
Lowe's Companies, Inc.
Mazda North American Operations
Merck Foundation
Nationwide Foundation
State Farm
VSP Vision care for life
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation
The Wawa Foundation