Thursday, May 20, 2010


Barton Creek Elementary presented the American Red Cross with a check for $1,994.11 for Haiti Relief Efforts and the International Relief Fund.  The 4th grade class coordinated a Wax Museum event where kids "voted" on their favorite wax figure by donating money to the Red Cross.

We want to thank Ms. Alkire for coordinating this effort and thank all the kids at Barton Creek Elementary for turning their compassion into action!

Picture above are Chief Development Officer Debbie Immel, and Barton Creek Elementary students Ethan McWhirter, Emily Padilla, Jessica White and Nicolas Chevrie.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


In the early morning hours yesterday, our Director of Disaster Services was called because our services were needed in Spicewood, Texas. An off duty Department of Public Safety trooper had gone missing on Lake Travis and the search was underway to find him. Volunteers were deployed within hours of getting the call.

I still marvel at how quickly we notify our volunteers, pack up our Emergency Response Vehicle and get on our way. By 7:30 yesterday morning hot breakfasts and coffee were being served to the rescue teams. Our volunteers stayed the whole day and provided lunch and dinner. They were deployed again this morning and will stay through lunch.

A big thank you to Opie's Barbecue for providing the first responders with lunch AND dinner! 

Monday, May 17, 2010


Your American Red Cross of Central Texas responded to two fires this weekend. A fire destroyed a family home in the early morning hours on Saturday, May 15th. The Red Cross provided shelter and other essentials for the couple who had lost their home.

On Sunday, May 16, your Red Cross responded to a massive hotel fire that left 5 people displaced. Smoke from the destroyed building could be seen for miles in both directions on I-35. Twelve volunteers and our Emergency Response Vehicle (the ERV) were deployed shortly after the fire started. They provided food and drink to the eighty or so firefighters who responded to the fire. In addition, the Red Cross had Mental Health volunteers in case anyone needed to talk to someone about the day’s events.  

A great thank you and kudos to our wonderful Disaster Action Team volunteers!!!  

Friday, May 14, 2010


We recently received an email from one of the countless people we have trained in First Aid. It reminded all of us of the great work we do here at the American Red Cross of Central Texas. In 2009 we trained over 20,000 people in First Aid, CPR and a host of other life saving skills:

Yesterday for Easter our whole family went to Austin Park & Pizza for a day of fun. While we were sitting around eating, my little brother noticed that one of our brother-in-laws was turning blue in the face and fixing to fall out of his wheelchair. About 15 years ago he got hit by a drunk driver and now spends most of his time in a wheelchair. He has trouble eating and drinking. Sometimes he will start to choke, but it has never been as bad as yesterday as far as I know. When I noticed what was happening, my training kicked in and I went over and started the Heimlich maneuver on him. About three thrusts later I was able to get the pizza to come out.

I may or may not have saved his life, but I feel as if I did, all because I have training. We were not trained on what to do if someone was in a wheelchair, but at that point it really did not matter. I did have the training and was able to work around it.


Thursday, May 13, 2010


From Bill Dorman, Volunteer:

Spring is often a busy time of year for the American Red Cross in Disaster Relief, and this year has been no exception.  Many volunteers assist in operations in other parts of the country in addition to their work in their own chapter.  I went to New Jersey in March when it flooded there and have just returned from Mississippi, which suffered from the same storms that recently hit Nashville and Memphis.  

During large disasters, such as the ones that are currently affecting the Southern Gulf Coast states as well as parts of the Midwest, the local chapter initiates the response and then volunteers from other parts of the country come and help.  In Mississippi, I worked with Red Crossers from all over the country, from Vermont to California and Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast to Corinth in the far northeastern part of the state which is where I was.  

We concentrate on sheltering, feeding, and damage assessment to start with, and then provide family services through caseworkers, health and mental health professionals.  In addition to those who work directly with the people affected, there are support jobs ranging from driving a truck to acting as Public Information Officer to setting up and maintaining computer systems, managing staffing and data entry.

I have been deployed to other chapters a number of times since I became a volunteer during Hurricane Katrina.  In Mississippi, I was the Shelter Manager in a large arena that is usually the setting for 4H shows and country music concerts.  I worked closely with the on-site Chapter CEO and Emergency Services Director and assisted them as a liaison to local community officials, charities and the media. 

This week I opened the newspaper and found to my surprise that an interview I had given at the shelter was the lead story on the front page.  I’ve been a Shelter Manager before, but it was an interesting experience to sit in a room with the Mayor, Police Chief, Emergency Management Director and most of the local charity leads and represent the American Red Cross.  This was in addition to the equally important job of helping some of our younger clients color between the lines in the coloring books we had gotten for them.  

Disaster Relief, whether for a single family fire or a Category 5 hurricane, is stressful, confusing and often chaotic work.  Many of us, however, find it to be one of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done.  The hours are long, but there is often a great sense of camaraderie.  You might work all day trying to figure out where dinner is coming from, or have a few hours off to drive across the state line into Tennessee and visit the civil war battlefield at Shiloh.  And who knew that one of the great culinary delights of the world was a slugburger at the lunch counter of the 150-year -old pharmacy in Corinth, Mississippi?

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please contact Thad Rosenfeld, Community Resources Director at 512.929.1277. The efforts of our volunteers and staff and the generous donations of the American public are what make this work possible.

Friday, May 7, 2010



05/15/2010 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Contact Melissa Payne at (512) 929-1294 or to sign up!

This is a great class for anyone working in Client Casework, Shelter Operations or DAT teams, or who just wants some great Red Cross training to add to their skill set. It is a skills-based training course that provides the tools for creating inclusive relationships with colleagues and clients. It focuses on the conversational skills participants will need to be effective in working and serving in diverse communities.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


A fire ripped through an apartment complex in northwest Austin early Tuesday morning. The fire destroyed sixteen units at the Cottages Wells Branch Apartment Complex and displaced approximately 20 people including a number of children. As of 8 this morning the fire was out, however fire crews still have the immediate area cordoned off for further investigation.  

As in any fire, the American Red Cross of Central Texas quickly responded to the fire. Our volunteers met with each of the affected residents and provided the necessary resources to get them through the next couple of days. Air mattresses, blankets and other essentials were provided to the victims.

“In the past couple of months we have seen a great outpouring of support for our international efforts in Haiti and Chile but what many people forget is that every day, we’re helping countless military families and people who have lost everything in a fire,” said CEO Marty McKellips. “The Red Cross depends on local donors to help Central Texans when they need it most.”

The Red Cross of Central Texas responds, on average, to a house or apartment fire every other day. It is through the generosity of the people of Central Texas that we are able to provide our services to every family affected.