Red Cross and Team Rubicon Celebrate Veterans Day Serving North Carolinians

The American Red Cross and Team Rubicon have unique missions, but often join forces to support their common goal of helping those affected by disasters. This Veterans Day, both the Red Cross and Team Rubicon celebrate their veteran volunteers who are continuing to serve their country by helping North Carolinians, devastated by Hurricane Matthew just over a month ago.

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Red Cross honors the veterans among them, including a special guest from Team Rubicon, during the morning meeting at the Goldsboro disaster headquarters. Photo by Greta Gustafson/American Red Cross.

“There is no better way to spend Veterans Day than continuing to serve,” said K.C. Baney, Incident Commander for Team Rubicon’s Operation Seymour Action.

Throughout the response to Hurricane Matthew, the Red Cross has provided over 100,000 overnight shelter stays, almost 1.5 million meals and snacks, hundreds of thousands of relief supplies and helped those affected identify resources available to them to take the next step forward in their recovery. Team Rubicon, comprised mostly of veterans and first responders, has helped over 50 families begin the rebuilding process by mucking and gutting flood-ravaged homes and removing downed trees.

“It is particularly rewarding to do something for another veteran,” said Team Rubicon’s Curt Kronberg on the various people they have helped. Though Team Rubicon helps everyone in need, they focus on targeting veterans, the elderly and low-income populations.

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Team Rubicon on-site at a home in Goldsboro, working together to move a large portion of a tree that fell on a homeowner’s property during Hurricane Matthew. Photo by Larry French/American Red Cross.

Just a few days ago, a Team Rubicon strike team was at a home in Goldsboro, N.C. cutting a massive tree that fell across the homeowner’s driveway. Working as a very tight-knit team, the crew used chainsaws to tackle the massive project in a way no one person could do alone. All of the volunteers expressed that the sense of camaraderie and shared purpose Team Rubicon provides is exactly what they are missed after leaving the military.

“Mission, purpose and community,” said Kronberg.

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Team Rubicon showcases their pride by carving their logo into the stump of the tree they are working to remove. Photo by Larry French/American Red Cross.

 

Team Rubicon and the Red Cross collaborate exchange information throughout disasters. For example, Team Rubicon refers people in need of additional resources to the Red Cross, and the Red Cross supplies enabling resources such as cots, blankets and meals to Team Rubicon. Both organizations conduct damage assessments and share their information to target and support the families and communities that are in need.

As Team Rubicon’s Director of Field Operations, David Burke, has said of partnering non-governmental organizations, “There’s greater need out there than any one organization can answer alone. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to strengthen our partnerships and be a small part of scaling the whole community’s ability to provide aid to those affected by disaster.”

Nine-year-old girl dresses as American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, assists with hurricane relief

Over a month after Hurricane Matthew’s landfall, residents of Eastern North Carolina are still recovering from the storm and hundreds of volunteers continue to respond to the hard-hit areas. From working in shelters to delivering meals and hosting donation drives, volunteers are pitching in any way they can.

Cadence is no different. The 9-year-old wanted to help storm victims in her own way. After doing a school project on Clara Barton, the nurse who founded the American Red Cross, and seeing the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, she decided to host a donation drive to help the Red Cross with its disaster response.

Following the drive, Cadence donned her Clara Barton dress and delivered a trailer of cleaning supplies to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Headquarters in Goldsboro on Nov. 5.

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Cadence, her sistern Delia and her friend Graysie stand in front of the trailer of supplies Cadence collected from the donation drive she organized at her school.

“I saw a lot of pictures, I learned about it, I learned about Hurricane Matthew, so I guess from all the pictures and all the damage, I wanted to help that and change people, change the way people’s homes look,” Cadence said on what inspired her to take action.

While all of the Red Crossers at the site were overjoyed with her visit, including the job director who gave her a coveted Red Cross challenge coin for her hard work, her parents were even more proud of their little girl.

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Cadence shows off her Clara Barton outfit and a teddy bear given to her by a Red Cross member.

“I’ve always known she has such a huge heart, so to see her come up with an idea like this, we know how special she is and I think it lets her know that she can make a difference one day,” her mother, Kim Adamson said.

Her father, equally as proud of his generous daughter, said, “Cadence is always humble and caring and this opportunity has given her a chance to combine that with some confidence and taking charge and putting herself out there and we love that. It’s been a really good experience for her and a good thing, too.”

Cadence’s caring and compassionate act of generosity is proof that anyone can make a difference, no matter your age, size or even sense of style!

For more information about how to donate or volunteer at the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org.

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Red Crossers in Goldsboro enjoy Cadence’s visit and donation of cleaning supplies.

 

By: Emma Kirkpatrick/Photos by Greta Gustafson

Your Condition is Not Your Conclusion: The Wells Family Take their Next Step

Story and Photos by Greta Gustafson/American Red Crossamanda-1

Red Crosser Amanda Murdock stands in front of School Street School shelter where she has been volunteering for the past week.

After staying almost a month in shelters following Hurricane Matthew, Lamont and Denise Wells and their son Tyrese will be moving into a new place this week. The family was so excited about their new home that they came back to the shelter showing everyone photos, and were especially thrilled about their new backyard.

“It was a pretty specific day, I could tell something was going on,” reflected Red Cross volunteer Amanda Murdock. “Denise had her red dress on with polka dots, her hair was looking all pretty, they both just had a very specific look in their eye and they left for a couple hours and upon coming back in their eyes were just glowing their smiles were so big.”

According to Murdock, the Wells have always had a positive attitude in the shelter, despite their challenging situation.

“They didn’t have many options but it didn’t stop them, it didn’t stop them at all,” said Murdock. “They have kept a very great attitude, they have been nothing but wonderful the entire time that I’ve spent talking to them.”

 

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Lamont Wells stands in the hallway at School Street School shelter ready to take his next steps forward to his new home.

Lamont hopes that his family’s success will inspire others to keep their heads up in a difficult situation. “Everything changes, nothing ever stays the same, even with a butterfly,” said Lamont to the rest of the shelter residents. “Your condition is not your conclusion.”

Murdock confirms their excitement has definitely influenced others around them.

“There’s other folks around that have noticed that and saw the change in their pace and have kind of started to apply it to themselves, you know?” said Murdock. “And it just meant a lot to me, it meant a lot to see one person’s changes and it kind of gives the rest of them hope.”

Even as the Wells are taking their next steps, they can’t help look back at the positive experience they had with the Red Cross.

“I’m going to kind of miss the staff,” said Lamont, “but I gotta go on. Everybody leaves places like high school and when it comes to moving right there everybody gets to crying, but it’s a nice kind of cry.”

 

Language Not A Barrier with Red Cross Help

Story and Photo by Greta Gustafson/American Red Cross

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Calvin Lee (r) with Yong Qiang Liang and Cai Juan Deug in front of artwork by their two children, ages 6 and 9.

 

The American Red Cross works hard to touch every family that has been affected by a disaster. When the Red Cross came across a Chinese-American community in Goldsboro, N.C. that needed a little extra help with the recovery process, they called upon Calvin Lee, a bilingual Red Crosser from Kansas.

Lee originally came to North Carolina as tech support for the operation, but as he was leaving the relief effort he was recruited to help these particular families due to his fluency in Mandarin and Cantonese.

“I extended my stay here to help those families,” said Lee. “Translating for them to help them apply to FEMA and help work through other aspects of the disaster.”

Lee is an immigrant from Hong Kong himself, and understands how challenging it can be for people who come to the United States without speaking the language. One of the seven families he has spent time helping just came to the country about four months ago and speak minimal English.

When asked his largest frustration during the floods, Yong Qiang Liang said, “the language barrier.” “We felt helpless,” added his wife, Cai Juan Deug.

“I’m trying to be there all the time,” Lee said on his work with the community. “Be their friend and also be their caseworker so I can help them.”

And, with Lee’s help, this family of four was able to receive financial aid from FEMA to repair their home and move forward following Hurricane Matthew.

“We are very thankful to Calvin and to the Red Cross,” said Cai Juan Deug.

 

Comfort Dogs Bring Joy to Children at Red Cross Shelter

By Kira Froese and Courtney Wilson, Canadian Red Cross Public Affairs

Christina’s “kids”, Nathaniel and Cooper, spent some time providing comfort and bringing joy to flood affected families and children, who have been staying at a Red Cross supported shelter in North Carolina. After everything these families have been through it might seem unlikely, but they aren’t your average kids.

Nathanial and Cooper are gentle and lovable comfort therapy dogs, and they instantly lifted the spirits of the children in the shelter.

These pups are part of a non-profit called Helping Paws International, which is an organization that cultivates “FURst aid for the heart.” Nathaniel and Cooper, and their dog-mom partnered with the Red Cross and the outcome was truly incredible.

Twelve Years-Old and Already Making a Difference

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Red Cross delivers donated food to Make A Difference Food Pantry, founded by Mackenzie Hinson.

Story and photos by Greta Gustafson/American Red Cross

Mackenzie “Kenzie” Hinson is doing more for her community at 12 years-old than most people do in a lifetime. One week before her 11th birthday, Hinson founded Make a Difference Food Pantry in Goldsboro, N.C. after making a speech at 4H on the hunger problem in her community.

“I wanted to give people choice,” said Hinson

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Hinson in front of her office door at Make a Difference Food Pantry

on how her pantry is different than others. The Make a Difference Food Pantry is set up like a grocery store, allowing people the freedom to select what they need and want.

 

The American Red Cross is partnering with Hinson’s Make a Difference Food Pantry to help distribute the food donations, that were given to the Red Cross, out into the community to those in need. Hinson visited the Red Cross warehouse to select the items she thought her thousands of recipients could utilize most.

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Kinzie scans the Red Cross warehouse determining which donated items to have delivered to her pantry.

“I’m like a kid in a candy store!” she exclaimed, skipping through the warehouse, picking out pallets of cereal, nuts and fruit snacks. Hinson may have business savvy beyond her years, but she still has the energy of a child.

 

Hinson’s mom, Paige Dixon Hinson, believes one of the reasons her daughter’s nonprofit does so well is because of her child-like optimism and firm belief everything will work out. Hinson’s personality shows through in her pantry, with its bright colors and hand-painted signs

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Make a Difference Food Pantry is set up like a grocery store.

The thousands of snacks the Red Cross is working with Hinson to distribute will go directly back to Wayne County community members in need through her weekly distributions, home cooked meals, the Back Pack Buddy Kids and the Senior Mobile Pantry programs.

Both Mackenzie and her mom agreed that disasters may be terrible, but they really bring communities together, provide the opportunity to forge new partnerships, and showcase the generosity of the American people.

 

 

 

Helping Kids Cope with Disaster

Story and photos by Greta Gustafson/American Red Cross

Annamarie Gallagher has always wanted to serve with the American Red Cross, and when a disaster hit her home state of North Carolina, she decided to make it happen. For the past week, Gallagher has been in a shelter in Goldsboro to provide Disaster Mental Health support.

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Gallagher talks with Najada,6, about her day at school. Najada is staying with her family at the shelter in Goldsboro, NC

“I feel like I’m really starting to get to know people, which is the good and the hard part because you have to know their stories so you know what kind of resources they need, but then you really get invested,” said Gallagher. “You really want things to turnaround for them.”

For many of the residents, they have been in shelters following Hurricane Matthew for nearly a month. Gallagher focuses on providing a safe space for people to let out their frustrations before sitting down to discuss what’s next.

Gallagher, mother to a one and three-year-old, is especially moved by the children in the shelter. She reflects on the 18-month year old who runs around the shelter like it is her house because she doesn’t know any different, and the 6 year-old who tells her about the snake that came into her living room because of the water.

While in the shelter, the county has made sure the children are still able to attend school and have that normal routine to ground them. Gallagher, and the rest of the Red Cross shelter staff, try to have activities, such as coloring and sidewalk chalk, every evening when they return to provide a personal space that is usually hard to come by both at school and in a shelter.

“The only thing a child really wants is to see somebody’s eye light up when they’re in the room,” said Gallagher on how she connects with the kids. “I want to know about them, and having an adult who’s interested in those parts of their world is just amazing for them.”

However, Gallagher truly finds her inspiration in these children. “We as adults can learn a lot from them, we really can,” said Gallagher. “About resilience, about joy, about having a good attitude in really not so great circumstances.”

Gallagher is also there for the Red Cross volunteers, who have been working tirelessly

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Gallagher gets a hug from one of the children living at the shelter in Golsdboro, NC.

since the hurricane hit. She gives them the same advice she gives the residents: try to find a space for yourself, even if it’s just for a moment or two. She encourages volunteers to not get discouraged by what is directly in front of them, but to see the larger picture and know they are making a difference.

“I just hope anybody who loves to serve, and anybody who loves to take care of people can go out with the Red Cross sometime,” said Gallagher, “because it’s an amazing experience.”