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