Red Cross honors community heroes at Heroes Celebration

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Dozens gathered for breakfast and fellowship Tuesday, May 15, at the annual Heroes Celebration in Rocky Mount, N.C.

During the event, Red Cross honored local heroes who demonstrate the seven fundamental principles of the American Red Cross: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.  This year’s recipients included:

Jean Almand Kitchin, who received The Norma Turnage Award. This award Jean Almand Kitchin Picrecognizes a female leader in the community who demonstrates a long-time commitment to public service.  Jean is well known as a TV personality, business leader, educator, and champion of the people  in North Carolina. Following a successful TV career as a producer and anchor in Wilmington, Jean moved to Rocky Mount in 1986. From the moment she arrived, she felt connected to the community and jumped right in by volunteering to host a regular program, “Tar Heel People,” for an independent TV station just starting in Rocky Mount.  From that moment, Jean stayed involved with several anchor roles and TV series across North Carolina, including with WHIG-TV, where she is still active as a volunteer today.

In addition, Jean has been involved with her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce, Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education, and numerous other organizations and non-profits.

Upon accepting her award, Jean tells the crowd, “I’m not done, I’m just hitting my stride! I encourage you to use your gifts to serve others,” she said. “I love this community, you all, and I love Rocky Mount.”

This year’s Community Hero Award was presented to Nash County Emergency Services Deputy Director Scott Rogers for his on-going commitment to preparedness, safety and emergency response. In 1987, Scott began his fire service career with the Stony Creek Fire-Rescue Department in Nash County.  He began working full-time wScott Rogersith Nash County Emergency Services in January 1991 as a Fire Protection Inspector. Scott was promoted to Deputy Fire Marshal in 1994 and Division Chief in 1996 where he served until 2014, and was appointed to his current position of Deputy Director.

Scott is a respected member of the executive board of the Eastern Carolina Firefighters Association, where he is committed to emergency preparedness education for the public. He frequently trains and consults for communities and organizations seeking to improve their readiness and resiliency in the face of emergencies.

“I’ve had the distinct privilege of serving some great people in our community,” Scott said. “I’m very grateful for this honor, thank you very much.”

Other awards during the event included: Outstanding Blood Drive Sponsors Joyner’s Funeral Home; and Roanoke Rapids Public Blood Drive.

“For over a century, the Red Cross has taken care of their neighbors in need. We could not complete our life-saving mission without the support of the community,” said Cally Edwards, executive director of the American Red Cross serving Northeastern NC.  “We are excited to bring our honorees, supporters, partners, blood drive sponsors, and volunteers together from Nash, Edgecombe, Halifax, Northampton and Wilson counties for the Heroes Celebration.”

This year’s event was generously sponsored by Hardee’s, Rocky Mount Family Medical Center, Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce, Nash UNC Health Care, and Universal Leaf.

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Neighbors Welcome Red Cross Sound the Alarm Teams

More than 300 volunteers gathered in the Southeast Raleigh and Garner areas on Saturday, May 5, 2018, to help keep their neighbors safe from home fires by installing free smoke alarms in local homes.

This Sound the Alarm event was part of a nationwide Red Cross effort to install 100,000 smoke alarms in more than 100 major cities across the country. Volunteers with the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina were proud to be a part of this effort.

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Team captain Bette Turner (right) picks up a ladder, smoke alarms, and educational materials before Team #73 heads out on the road to install smoke alarms in Garner, N.C.

Enthusiastic  Sound the Alarm – Raleigh N.C. Team #73 began their day on May 5, by knocking on the first door on their assigned route in Garner N.C.’s Green Spring Valley mobile home community. With equal enthusiasm and hospitality, the Quevedo family interrupted their breakfast and welcomed the Red Cross volunteers into their home to install alarms and learn about home fire safety tips.

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Red Cross volunteer Charles Bumpus (back, center) shows the smoke alarm he is about to install at the Quevedo home.

Red Cross team members Charles Bumpus and Bill Ford installed two new smoke alarms in the home, while team member Bette Turner spoke with Mrs. Quevedo and her children.  Mrs. Quevedo explained she also had extended family living nearby who needed smoke alarms.

As Team #73 began those installations a few doors down, four firefighters from Garner’s Fire & Rescue Station 3 rolled up to assist. Immediately, neighborhood children appeared in the street, eyeing the firefighters and their red and white fire engine. The children broke out in ear-to-ear smiles as the firefighters chatted with them and offered up shiny, gold firefighter stickers.

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Garner Fire Rescue Station 3 firefighters helped Team #73 members Bill Ford (center, left) and Bette Turner (center, right).

Throughout the morning, and again after a lunch break, Team #73 met residents, explained the importance of Sound the Alarm events, and checked existing smoke alarms or installed new alarms. By the end of the day, teams who participated in Sound the Alarm – Raleigh, NC installed more than 800 alarms in area homes.

The members of Team #73 were certainly tired at the end of the day, but said they felt satisfied with their efforts to #EndHomeFires. They were grateful to have met and assisted the Quevedo family and so many of their neighbors.

Story and Photos by Susan Washburn/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!

Red Cross teams up with WITN for national Red Cross Giving Day

More than 30 volunteers gathered throughout the day at the eighth annual Red Cross telethon in Greenville to garner donations for Red Cross Giving Day on March 28.

Giving Day is a 24-hour fundraising campaign supporting the work of the Red Cross. The proceeds will help people get back on their feet after a disaster, like a home fire.

“I help with home fire responses and it’s really tough,” said Brent Maupin, a disaster volunteer at Northeastern NC Chapter. “We are always in need of donations.”

Volunteers answered phones from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and welcomed donors that stopped by the WITN studio.  

“The Red Cross has been there for me so many times in my life,” said Dwight Price, a military veteran and disaster action team volunteer at the Northeastern NC Chapter. “From the death of my father while I was in Beirut, Lebanon to the birth of my child while I was on the field. To me, it is so important to support this organization.”

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A big thank you to all of our volunteers and donors that made this Giving Day successful.

Missed Giving Day? It’s never too late to donate. Visit the Red Cross donation page to make a difference today! You can also check out our Facebook live videos from the day of the telethon.

Red Cross hosts 2018 Eastern North Carolina Disaster Institute at Nash Community College

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Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from across Eastern North Carolina gathered March 2-4 to brush up on their disaster response skills at the 2018 Disaster Institute.

Volunteers at the institute, held at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC, had the opportunity to take courses such as Psychological First Aid, Shelter Operations, Government Operations, and Emergency Response Vehicle training.

“At the Red Cross, we stand ready to respond to our neighbors in need. The Disaster Institute allows us to build our volunteer capacity and train volunteers to be ready for any situation,” said Mary Donny, regional disaster officer of the Red Cross in Eastern NC.

New volunteer Virginia Cox-Daugherty kicked off her weekend at the institute by learning how to be interviewed by media during a disaster.

“I enjoy working in the community and serving others,” Virginia said. “I [joined Red Cross] because I wanted to do something that was worthwhile.”

Morning classmate Barbara Barrow echoed Virginia’s enthusiasm. “There’s so much that [Red Cross does] in the community,” Barbara said. “And there’s so much to do for the community, I’m so excited!”

The more than 280 volunteers also had the opportunity to participate in a surprise shelter simulation drill that required  setting up a shelter for 500 people during a large disaster scenario.

A big thank you to our 2018 Disaster Institute supporters: Nash Community College, Disaster Relief USA, Smithfield, Coca-Cola, and Sanderson Farms. You made our institute possible!

Missed the institute? Check out our Facebook live videos from the weekend, or view the photo gallery.

We hope to see you next year!

Nearly 100 homes made safer in Kinston by Red Cross

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Kinston, Feb. 12, 2018 — Nearly 100 families in the Sand Hill area are safer because of a partnership between the American Red Cross and the Sand Hill Volunteer Fire Department to install smoke alarms in local homes.

Every day in the U.S., seven people lose their lives to a home fire, most often children and senior adults. The Sand Hill community knows this too well as they recently lost a resident to a tragic home fire.  As a result, Sand Hill Fire Chief David Jones, and local resident, Charlie Broadway, a Red Cross volunteer, wanted to make homes in their community safer by joining together to install smoke alarms in homes.

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Sand Hill Fire Chief David Jones (left), and Red Cross volunteer Charlie Broadway.

Jones and Broadway planned to take advantage of the Red Cross nationwide Home Fires Campaign to save lives and help in the local area.  After coordination and planning, the idea became a reality and on Feb. 10, 40 volunteers gathered for a day-long smoke alarm installation in the area.

The group included Red Cross volunteers from Onslow, Craven, Lenoir and Wayne Counties; Marines from Camp Lejeune and the Air Station; and local firefighters from the Sand Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

After being trained day-of, the volunteers divided into 11 small teams equipped with ladders, drills, and smoke alarms, and went into their assigned areas of the community to install alarms.

One resident, Curtis Moore, had smoke alarms, but they were old and did not work. He was most appreciative of the new installs and said, “I can’t believe there is no cost to me for this service. I am so thankful.”

By early afternoon, the teams installed 200 smoke alarms in 98 homes. Follow up information was left on the doors of residents who were not home.

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out.  Every household should create a fire escape plan and practice it until everyone can escape in less than two minutes.

For additional information or steps on how to protect your family, contact your local Red Cross or go to www.RedCross.org.

NEED A SMOKE ALARM?

The Red Cross provides free smoke alarm installations. To request a free alarm, call your local Red Cross office, or visit http://www.soundthealarm.org/enc and fill out a request form.

Story and photos by Char Rodriguez / American Red Cross

 

A candle changes the lives of a Durham family

pexels-photo-373988.jpegCottis Dickens, of Durham, spent her Tuesday afternoon just as any other – stopping by the grocery store, then to the bus stop to pick up her granddaughter.

But on this particular Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, the 78-year-old didn’t realize she’d forgotten to take her granddaughter to a scheduled appointment until they pulled into the driveway of their home.

“When she got out of the car she told me I forgot to take her to the dentist,” Cottis said. “I sure did. She was just going to be fitted for retainers because she had just lost them.”

The two brushed it off and planned to reschedule. Cottis unloaded groceries from the car, and her granddaughter went inside to drop off her things and visit with her grandpa.

Moments later, Cottis said her granddaughter bolted out of the house and said, “the house is on fire!”

The second-floor bedroom filled with smoke and flames, Cottis said. The fire started from a lit candle in a glass jar. She points out, the bedroom was directly above the living room where her husband happened to be sitting at the time.

“If I wouldn’t have forgotten to take her to the dentist, you see what could’ve happened…” Cottis trailed off.

But Cottis and her family weren’t alone during this disaster.

“I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had to use the Red Cross,” she said. “But when I turned around, there they were. They were standing there [at my home]. They were very kind and polite and they told me they were there to help our family in any way they could.”

Cottis said Red Cross provided her family with direct financial assistance to help purchase a hotel room, food and other emergency needs, and gave her family comfort kits filled with hygiene necessities. In the days following the fire, they also checked in with the family to make sure they were doing ok.

“They were there when I needed them and I really do appreciate it,” Cottis said.

Cottis and her family will be out of their home for an estimated three months while repairs are made.

To others who may find themselves in a similar situation, Cottis offers this advice: “Be calm. You will get help. And you will get help from Red Cross.”

For information about home fire safety, visit www.redcross.org/homefires.