No Ordinary Day

September 9, 2019, started out an ordinary day at the Keihin North America location in Tarboro, NC – until an associate team member collapsed in sudden cardiac arrest.

Seeing their colleague in distress, John Foster, Jeremy Judd, and Julia Sheff immediately called 9-1-1 and began intervention with CPR and an AED. They continued their efforts until emergency responders arrived on the scene – approximately 12 minutes later. Fortunately, EMS was able to regain a pulse before the patient was transported to the hospital. Their quick efforts enabled their colleague to survive this cardiac arrest incident and begin their recovery.

Plant Manager Robert Bass nominated John, Jeremy, and Julia for their incredible actions. The American Red Cross is honored we honor them with the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action is awarded to individuals who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life.  These individuals exemplify the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies and we commend you for your willingness to help others in distress.

Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills session) and classroom courses are available at

If you or someone you know has used skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain the life of another individual, visit to nominate, recognize, or be inspired.

Keihin Lifesaving Awards - Jeremy Judd - John Foster - Mace Robinson 6-15-2020
Pictured (L-R):  Jeremy Judd, John Foster, and Mace Robinson, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Northeastern North Carolina.

Ocracoke Island: One Family’s Story on the Road to Recovery

Margarita Gonzalez, her husband, and eleven-year-old daughter have called Ocracoke home for several years.  Ocracoke is an unincorporated town on the southern end of Ocracoke Island, with nearly 950 residents.  After taking the ferry to the island and driving towards the town, you can see beach drifts and smell the ocean in the air.  However, as you get closer to town, you start to see large piles of debris and household items alongside the road.  A reminder that in September 2020, Hurricane Dorian struck this seaside community and it will never be the same.

Once in town, you first notice people walking along the road, riding their bicycles, or driving by.  Whether you are resident or passing by, every person you will greet you with a friendly wave of hello.  A gesture, reminding you that this place is very special.  It is there where the Red Cross met Margarita Gonzalez and her family.

During the first night that the hurricane really started to affect the island, Margarita and her husband invited their 27-year-old daughter and her two children to join them in their home, also shared with their eleven-year-old daughter.  They thought it was the safest place for them to weather the storm.  The following morning, they began to realize the real impact of the storm.  At first, they asked themselves “is that it?” The storm seemed to pass them without major incident.  Sadly, that was not the case.  That morning Margarita’s daughter was in the kitchen feeding her children and her other daughter called their attention from another room.  They could tell that there was a funny smell coming from the bathroom and when they looked closer, they began to see that water was starting to pour in from the vents along the floorboards.

The family immediately tried to save what items they could and bring them up the second level of the home. Everyone was trying to save something, including their pets – seven cockatiel birds, a dog, and a cat.  Margarita’s husband saw the water come up to the level of the windows.  He then went outside to the closest tree where he had tied a kayak earlier.  He first put their young daughter and small dog named Princess into the kayak.  He took her across the flooded street to a another house, which the family used as a rental home.  This home was elevated and had a raised porch.  Then he returned and during the second trip, he took their oldest daughter and her two children to the porch. Lastly, he returned for Margarita and the family cat.  Margarita was concerned for her beloved birds, but knew they were as safe as they could be in the second level of the home.

Her husband had seen every one to safety.  When making the trips across the street, he recognized the water had a strong, river-like current.  The family was shaken, but thankful they were together and safe.  They remained there until the flood levels receded.  Over the course of the weeks that followed, the family and all members of the Ocracoke community did their best to manage without electricity as well as, taking apart their flood-damaged homes, walls, removing carpet, preventing mold, and salvaging whatever they could.  This was happening, home after home, across the island.

Margarita and her husband had spent the last seven years investing in improvements in their home.  It took seven years to make the home of their dreams but was now gone in a matter of moments.  While they were extremely grateful for their lives, it was still heartbreaking.

While her family has some insurance to help with their recovery, it is only a portion of what is needed and has been a complicated process.  Margarita stated that this is an island community that is very tourist-driven.  The hurricane not only took away their homes, but also took away many people’s livelihood as so many businesses were heavily impacted.  With little tourism business, there are very few opportunities to find work.  For many of the men on the island, they have been able to find work helping with trades and rebuilding, but many of the women were working in the service industry supported by tourism. That work has been harder to come by, that is why the timing of financial assistance by the American Red Cross has been so impactful.

Margarita and her family are grateful to have received $2,500 in financial assistance to help aid in their continued recovery.  She was so appreciative when the Red Cross contacted her and made the process of getting assistance clear and easy.  Margarita said it was so helpful to go direct to the people and help.  She has even helped many of her fellow community members understand what this assistance is and how the Red Cross can help.  The Hispanic community on the island are important members of the community and tourism workforce.  For the families that are eligible for this assistance, this helps them hold on a little longer.  It may be enough time for them to be able to get back to work when tourism season begins.

When asked what she would say to Red Cross donors who made this gift possible, she paused for a moment to collect herself as it was clear this help meant so much.  “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Many people don’t know this island and the people who live here, just knowing that people care,” said stated, “I want to say thank you to every single person who has supported this community.”  She knows that Ocracoke will never be the same. It was a close community before and remains so now.  They have together to rebuild and be stronger than ever.

Story by Cally Edwards | American Red Cross

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina commits $1 million to Red Cross Home Fire Campaign in North Carolina

Home Fire Campaign in Fayetteville, North Carolina 2016

This spring, the American Red Cross, as part of its Home Fire Campaign, worked to Sound the Alarm with local volunteers and community partners as it aimed to install 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 major cities across the country, helping to save lives and lessen the number of tragedies attributed to home fires.

The Red Cross is thrilled to announce that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) will serve as its North Carolina state Home Fire Campaign partner. Blue Cross NC generously donated $1 million to support the campaign.

“Blue Cross NC is proud to support the Red Cross in this important effort to save lives,” said Blue Cross NC President and CEO Patrick Conway. “A crucial part of our quality of life is being able to sleep in peace at night. All homes in North Carolina should have reliable, working smoke alarms that can help prevent unnecessary tragedies. The Home Fire Campaign is a big step toward that goal.”

Since the launch of the Home Fire Campaign in 2014, Red Cross volunteers and members of more than 4,400 partner organizations have installed over 1,100,000 smoke alarms in nearly 12,400 cities and towns in all 50 states, serving more than 1,262,000 people.

Sound the Alarm smoke alarm installation events are part of the ongoing campaign, in which Red Cross volunteers and partners canvass high-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans. This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from partners like Blue Cross NC.

“Every day, home fires are responsible for as many as seven deaths and 36 injuries in this country. We want that number reduced. So far, our Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is responsible for saving 381 lives across the U.S.,” said Barry Porter, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Eastern North Carolina. “Because of the generosity of Blue Cross NC, we can continue to reduce the number of home fire deaths in our communities, one smoke alarm at a time.”

“We know that working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival,” said Angela A. Broome Powley, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Western North Carolina. “Together with Blue Cross NC, our other partners, and our volunteers, we can Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives.”

Large Sound the Alarm installation events are scheduled across North Carolina thanks in part to Blue Cross NC. Register for a Sound the Alarm event near you!

Sip, savor, socialize at upcoming Hops & Vines Festival Oct. 27

City Club Raleigh is hosting their second annual Hops + Vines Festival for their annual Charity Classic on Friday, Oct.27, from 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m.Charity-Classic-Poster-2017-FINAL

Dedicated to giving back to the community, City Club Raleigh presents Hops & Vines, a beer and wine festival to benefit the latest research and development supporting Augie’s Quest and the ALS Therapy Development Institute, the ClubCorp Employee Partners Care Foundation and the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina Region – an organization that is currently working to raise funds for disaster relief for those affected by the hurricane season. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the charities.

To heighten the NC community presence, City Club Raleigh’s executive Chef Troy Stauffer and his culinary team have teamed up with local vendors and farmers (Cheney Brothers, Fresh Point Produce, Heritage Farms, Joyce Farms and more) and local brew. Guests will expect a grand culinary adventure of craft beer, fine wine and fabulous appetizers. In addition to the event, there will be live DJ music and exciting experience packages for auction.
“The past few months, our neighbors have needed us more than ever. Fires have robbed families of their homes. Floodwaters have submerged communities. And major hurricanes have driven people away from their neighborhoods. And through it all, the Red Cross is there,” said Barry Porter, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Eastern NC. “We are so honored to have the City Club support the Red Cross this year and help us prevent and alleviate suffering in the midst of these disasters.”
The City Club Raleigh event is open to the public. Event cost is $45 per ticket; $80 for a two pack and $150 for a four pack. To RSVP, please visit

For more information or to make reservations, contact City Club Raleigh at 919.834.8829.

Red Cross participates in Circle K golf tournament at Pinehurst

Dozens of golfers gathered last Wednesday under the ancient pines of course No. 5 at Pinehurst Resort for Circle K’s first annual Eastern North Carolina golf tournament.rev circle k

Circle K, an international chain of convenience stores, hosted the tournament to unite their area vendors and to introduce their charity partner of choice, the American Red Cross. Vendor participants at the tournament included Pepsi-Co, Coca-Cola, and Snyder’s-Lance, among others.

Ted Creed, from Circle K, said “I’ve been with Circle K for six years now and I really believe this [partnership with Red Cross] will be good for everyone involved. I think this sponsorship will have a major impact on the coasts of Carolina, an area that has needed help for a while.”

At the tournament, Creed teamed up to play with Ronnie Jones, from Snyder’s-Lance. Jones was excited to be a part of such a good collaboration and see the overwhelming amount of participation from vendors, such as Snyder’s-Lance.

Classic rock cover band to host benefit for Hurricane Matthew victims


By Brent Kappler

Making Unbelievable Sounds Involving Charities.  That’s what the band, Wildflower and The Weeds enjoys doing. Wildflower and The Weeds is a classic rock cover band, covering music from the Beatles to Pink,  Jackson Brown and the Foo Fighters.  The band was formed five years ago comprising of seven people, all of whom are friends, that absolutely love to play music and love to give back.

The band members are: Meg Dietrich-lead vocalist, Gary Black-Lead Guitarist and backup vocals, Bob Irving-Lead Guitarist and vocals, Chuck Haas-Rhythm guitar, Mark Madar-Bass guitar, Gregg Cockroft-piano and keyboards and Brent Kappler-Drummer and backup vocals. Although none of us make our living in the music industry, we’ve all been musicians since a very young age and we love to play.

Our charitable giving started three years ago, when we were asked if we would volunteer our band to play at the North Carolina Military Expo at the NC State Fair grounds.  We accepted the invitation and had a blast performing.  Last year we performed for a large neighborhood block party and raised money for a local charity organization.  We dubbed it ‘M.U.S.I.C’ (Making Unbelievable Sounds Involving Charity).  We ended up raising several hundred dollars for the U.S. Veterans Corps, a non-profit organization located right here in our own community, where much of that money was put toward purchasing food and supplies for needy families throughout the state.


This year we are continuing with the M.U.S.I.C theme and are playing to benefit the Eastern North Carolina chapter of the Red Cross, to raise money for families who have been and are still being affected by the damage sustained in Hurricane Matthew.  The need for assistance is still very real to many families in the southeastern portion of our state that were hit by Hurricane Matthew.  Many families are still without a home and are being housed in small hotel rooms until their homes can either be renovated back to a habitable state, or are needing their home rebuilt altogether.  We consider ourselves very blessed in the central part of the state, but we want to help those who are still in need of assistance.  Even though Hurricane Matthew hit us last October, we want these families to know we haven’t forgotten them.

…We want these families to know we haven’t forgotten them,” — Brent Kappler

We are extremely passionate about this cause and we are asking you to please join us on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a night of music, fun and dancing.  This event will be fun for the whole family.  Raffle prizes will be given away AND contest prizes, as well.  The event is being held at Christ The King Lutheran Church at 600 Walnut St. in Cary, NC, located directly across the street from the Dairy Queen and adjacent to Cary High School.


Although this event is being held at Christ The King Lutheran Church, it’s not an official church event.  It’s a community event open to the public.  Please attend and help us do more good in our community!

Codington Students Raise Money for the Philippines

Fourth grade students from Codington Elementary in Wilmington raise $1,372 for disaster relief in the Philippines.  The students presented the money to representatives from the Red Cross on December 20, 2013.  The students raised money through their “Read for Change” program.  During the program students got sponsors to donate $.01 or more for every minute that they read.rco_blog_img_codington

Fourth grader, Alma Carter raised the most money.   She was able to collect $185 from friends and family that supported her in the Read for Change program.

“I went to my neighbors and got them to help, got them to write down their names,” said Alma.

Two months after Typhoon Haiyan’s landfall in the Philippines, the global Red Cross network continues to distribute food, water, and life-saving services to people in need. Red Cross volunteers began helping within the first few hours of Typhoon Haiyan’s landfall, assembling relief kits for people affected by the storm.

Give Something that Means Something and Double Your Holiday Donation

Alabama Tornadoes 2011This holiday season the American Red Cross is urging people to give something that means something by making a financial donation through the 2013 Holiday Donor Challenge campaign. You can give hope to local families in need and DOUBLE the impact of your contribution through a matching gift incentive.

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the first $20,000 in financial contributions to the Cape Fear Chapter of the American Red Cross will be matched this holiday season. Every donation will be matched dollar for dollar in  support of the vital programs and services provided to area residents by the Red Cross. Your donation can help save the day when fire destroys a neighbor’s house, when a patient needs blood, or when a member of the military has a family emergency back home.

rco_blog_img_tornado“We ask people to be generous in their support of the Red Cross this holiday season, and help us to provide assistance and relief to local neighbors in need,” said Vicki LaBelle, Executive Director for the Cape Fear Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We know these are difficult times for families and businesses across our nation.  That’s why we’re grateful for the ability to offer supporters this opportunity to double the impact of their holiday donation through this incredible matching gift incentive.”

Your tax-deductible contribution can be made by:

  • Mail or In Person: American Red Cross, Cape Fear Chapter 1102 South 16th St., Wilmington NC 28401
    Office Hours: M-F 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Phone: 910.343-5833
  • Online:

Two thousand and thirteen has been a busy year for the American Red Cross. Red Cross chapters responded to more nearly 70,000 disasters across the country, including major relief operations for wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres; tornadoes that destroyed entire towns; and flooding that left communities under water.

Over the past year, our local Cape Fear Chapter has provided the following vital programs and services in fulfillment of the Red Cross mission:

  • Responded to 146 local disasters (primarily home fires) and provided more than $94,000 in direct assistance and relief to 161 families (508 individuals) including 194 children (age 17 and under).
  • Disseminated Community Disaster Education information and materials to 17,185 area residents at 70 community events throughout our five-county jurisdiction.
  • Made 1,325 client referrals to other community agencies and resources.
  • Supported 495 area blood drives through which 16,368 units of blood were collected and distributed to area hospitals to meet the needs of local patients; each unit of blood has to the potential to help up to 3 patients.
  • Facilitated emergency communications and other assistance for 536 military members and their families.
  • Provided “Get To Know Us” information to 246 military members and their families and delivered more than 2,500 holiday cards and cookies to active duty and veteran service members and their families across our five counties.
  • Trained 2,878 area residents in first aid, CPR, babysitter’s training, water safety and other lifesaving skills through certification courses taught by local Red Cross instructors.
  • Reached 301,099 community members through electronic and interactive health and safety
    course materials and other preparedness information accessed through, Red Cross
    social media sites, and via free Red Cross apps that can be downloaded for Android and Apple
  • Assisted with 3 international tracing cases and one international information and referral request.
  • And, mobilized volunteer resources and financial support from our community to aid in relief efforts across the country in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy, The Oklahoma Tornadoes, and the Western wildfires and floods to name a few.

All of this was made possible through the dedicated service of nearly 450 volunteers, a handful of paid staff members, and the generous support of nearly 2,000 local financial donors, and thousands of area blood donors.

The work of the American Red Cross impacts lives every day, and it is only through the continued generosity of our donors, partners, and volunteers that this is possible.

How Eastern NC Supported the Superstorm Sandy Response

Chris Nienow of Wilmington, NC (right) and Kerry Karusse (Emergency Communication Coordinator with ARES) worked to set up satelitte communications in Elizabeth City, NC during Superstorm Sandy.
Chris Nienow of Wilmington, NC (right) and Kerry Karusse (Emergency Communication Coordinator with ARES) worked to set up satellite communications in Elizabeth City, NC during Superstorm Sandy.

Click Here for the National One-year Superstorm Sandy report.

The Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross supported Superstorm Sandy preparation and response here at home and throughout the northeast.  Before the storm hit, the Red Cross set up command centers staffed with local Red Cross workers in New Bern and Elizabeth City.

Four emergency shelters were opened which housed 82 residents whose homes were threatened by storm surge flooding.   In eastern NC, 71 local Red Cross workers sheltered, fed and distributed supplies to communities along our coast affected by Sandy.  A total of 1,900 meals and snacks were served to local residents in the storms wake along with 45 comfort kits containing hygiene items and 561 clean up kits.

After our communities’ needs were met, the local Red Cross shifted volunteers and resources to areas hit the hardest by Sandy including Virginia, New York and New Jersey. A total of 112 individuals from the American Red Cross Eastern NC Region deployed to assist with the Superstorm Sandy response.

Volunteer Charlotte Rodriguez of Jacksonville, NC (right) helps a group of young men get food and information about Red Cross assistance as they work to clean up storm ravaged homes in Breezy Point, NY.
Volunteer Charlotte Rodriguez of Jacksonville, NC (right) helps a group of young men get food and information about Red Cross assistance as they work to clean up storm ravaged homes in Breezy Point, NY.

Some of those workers took on multiple assignments going back for weeks at a time to help out in the northeast. These volunteers were involved with essential activities including shelter operations, feeding, client casework, distribution of supplies, damage assessment, and health and mental health services.

Five emergency vehicles from Red Cross chapters in Elizabeth City, Goldsboro, New Bern, Rocky Mount and Wilmington were driven to the northeast by teams of Red Cross volunteers to help with mobile feeding and bulk distribution of relief supplies.  These local chapter vehicles were utilized by the response operation for approximately 5 months.

The local community was an essential part of the Sandy recovery and response.  Approximately $750,000 in donations came from people here in eastern NC.  Those donations were put to good use in the communities most impacted by the storm.

Eight year old Rileigh Pedersen of Wilmington, NC sold cookies in her neighborhood to help victims of Superstorm Sandy and brought in a $208 check to the local Red Cross.
Eight year old Rileigh Pedersen of Wilmington, NC sold cookies in her neighborhood to help victims of Superstorm Sandy and brought in a $208 check to the local Red Cross.

As Sandy was making its way across the east coast, the Red Cross received a call to assist the survivors of the HMS Bounty. On Monday, October 29th, 2012, amidst treacherous waves and storm surge caused by Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued 14 people from the HMS Bounty, a 180 ft. sailing ship that sank off the coast of Hatteras, NC. Representatives from the Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard, met with the 14 survivors to offer comfort and support after the rescue. Red Cross disaster workers provided the individuals with food, clothing, and shelter, and assisted with additional immediate needs to aid them in their recovery.

On April 11, 2013 at Elizabeth City State University, the American Red Cross honored the heroism, courage and selflessness of the HMS Bounty rescue mission by paying tribute to the men and women of the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City.  At the event, the Red Cross presented awards to 22 members of the Coast Guard who risked their safety to save 14 people during a hurricane.

Members of the Coast Guard in Elizabeth City, NC receive awards from the Red Cross for the HMS Bounty Rescue during Superstorm Sandy.
Members of the Coast Guard in Elizabeth City, NC receive awards from the Red Cross for the HMS Bounty Rescue during Superstorm Sandy.

In the midst of responding to Sandy, your Red Cross of Eastern NC was also preparing for and responding to disasters at home—we provide food and shelter, distribute supplies and provide other types of support to the victims of nearly 800 local disasters a year.

We are grateful for contributions from everyone in our community who saw the devastation caused by Sandy and were determined to ease the suffering.