Monday, August 30, 2010


The 2010 Swim-A-Cross season was a huge success.  More than $7,000 was raised to support the mission of the American Red Cross of Central Texas and raise money for the local swim teams who participated.  

Thank you 2010 Swimmers!

Anderson Mill Barracudas
Balcones Woods Blue Wave
Canyon Creek Cyclones
City of Austin Neighborhood Swim Team Program
Forest North Stingrays
Travis Country Sharks
Lakeway Lakers

Special thanks to the following in-kind donors who supported Swim-A-Cross this year:


In the early morning hours of Sunday, August 29, residents of the Bainbridge Villas in South Austin fled from their homes as fire engulfed the apartment building.  The American Red Cross of Central Texas was at the scene and helped the approximately 40 residents who had been displaced find shelter, food and clothing.  The apartment complex management and the Red Cross worked together to ensure that everyone affected had a place to stay, either with family members or in vacant units at the complex.  Our fantastic Disaster Team volunteers also talked with each victim and provided money for food and clothing.

The best way to help victims of disasters such as these is to donate your time as a volunteer or donate financially.  Information about volunteering and ways to donate can be found on our website

Friday, August 27, 2010


We recently recieved the following email from one of our American Red Cross of Central Texas instructors:

I have had a wonderful summer teaching swimming to students, scouts and children with varying degrees of disablilites. Teaching students with challenges is very rewarding for me, them, and for their families. I had five children with Down's Syndrome this summer who were exceptional. They start lessons inhibited, disruptive, loud and uncomfortable. As the week progresses they are so proud of each and every skill they learn. They are loving as they learn to trust me, willing to try new things, and, most of all, demanding to swim again and again. Most of the time I mainstream these children with other students or siblings who encourage each other. At the end of lessons, they get a button (frog, turtle, duck) to sew on their bathing suit or towel and a sucker as a reward.  I get the satisfaction from knowing that these special children learned something new and their families are amazed with their progress. I learned many many years ago when I began as a Red Cross volunteer, we always help those in need with love and care.  All people, especially children, need to learn to swim and be safe in and around water.  Please see that your children get instructions for water safety.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


At 4:00 pm, the American Red Cross of Central Texas was notified by the Bastrop County Sheriffs department to provide canteen services for a brush fire off of FM 2336 and Oak Hill Cemetery Road. Over 200 acres were affected and 65 emergency responders were on the scene. The American Red Cross of Central Texas Mass Care Action Team was activated and responded within an hour. Billy's Pit BBQ donated meals for all the responders


One World Theatre along with Lifesize and the Red Cross of Central Texas held a week long camp for 50 military service children ranging in ages from 4 to 15 years old from across Texas. The week was filled with fun activities and rehearsals for the grand finale show: a rendition of the Wizard of Oz. Deployed service members in Iraq and Afghanistan were able to watch their children perform via network connections. After the play , service members in Iraq and Afghanistan were able to watch their families one on one providing an emotional, yet uplifting, end to fun filled week. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Back from their month-long deployment, Fred and Marcia Marks, the American Red Cross of Central Texas Volunteers of the Year, finally received their award.  Following their tireless efforts to assist flooding victims in South Texas, the Marks were presented with their award by Chief Executive Officer Marty McKellips upon their return.  Everyone at the chapter is grateful for the determination and hard work the Marks put into their relief efforts, and we all welcome them back home.

 Fred and Marcia Marks holding their award alongside chapter executive Marty McKellips

This past week the chapter also recognized outstanding volunteers and staff.  Rhonda Usener of accounting was recognized for reaching her thirty-fifth year of service to the American Red Cross.  Emergency Services Director Jose Dominguez and volunteer client caseworker Betty Hendrix were recognized for their outstanding commitment to mission fulfillment and will serve as the chapter's nominees for the National Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence.

Presidential Award for Excellence nominee Betty Hendrix and Marty McKellips

Emergency Services Director & Presidential Award for Excellence nominee Jose Dominguez and Marty McKellips


Grace Speaks, along with her classmates in the 5th grade leadership program at Riverplace Elementary in Austin worked together to create toiletry packages for homeless veterans.  Distributed through the American Red Cross of Central Texas Totes of Hope program, the packages will help former soldiers by providing nonperishable food, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and other daily necessities.  The students conducted a toiletry drive as part of a community service and leadership exercise designed to improve their local community.

Chief Development Officer Debbie Immel with Grace Speaks of Riverplace Elementary


Last weekend more than 70 students gathered for the American Red Cross of Central Texas Youth Leadership Development Retreat.  This two-day leadership conference focused on social development, community involvement, team building, and many other topics designed to produce strong youth leaders in the greater Austin area.  Featuring keynote speaker Senator John Cornyn, the students learned through seminars and workshops from local business executives, nonprofit leaders, and citizens who have devoted their lives to public service.  Thanks to a generous military grant, participants of the conference from military families attended free of charge.

Conference Participants with Senator John Cornyn

On Saturday the students welcomed the Senator, Councilwoman Laura Morrison, Red Cross executive Marty McKellips and Divisional Vice President Derrick Chubbs, Taryn Davis of the American Widow Project, Dr. Thea Hurts, Adrienne Longenecker and David Davenport of the Capital Area Food Bank, Dana Weis, motivational speaker Los Ellis, former nonprofit CEO Karen Langley, and Pamela Westover of St. Mary's University.  As a special treat on Saturday, Senator Cornyn presented a Certificate of Merit, the highest honor a lay responder can receive, to  Jenny Thomas, an area teen who helped save her friend's life using response skills she learned from the American Red Cross.

On Sunday the students welcomed James Young of Spredfast who presented positive ways to utilize social media, Diane Ventresca, Sinclair Fleetwood and Bob Bridge from the American Red Cross and Caroline Boudreaux of the Miracle Foundation.  Following a lunch generously donated by Chuy's, the participants learned from Mary Gordon Spence, Dawn Perkins of Front Steps, and Rachel Muir of GirlSTART.  Serving as a great end to the conference, Judy Maggio of keye-tv spoke of her career in broadcasting.

Many of the students in attendance at the conference have already achieved success within their communities.  Local girl scouts at the conference assembled more than 800 emergency kits so their neighborhoods would be prepared in a disaster.  "I enjoyed a lot of the speakers and was able to learn how to use social media," said conference attendee Matthew Evans, who has already started his own environmental nonprofit organization.  Officers from area Red Cross clubs were also at the conference, ready to learn new leadership skills to help support their clubs in the fall.

Want to learn more about next year's youth leadership conference or how to start your own American Red Cross Club?  Click HERE or contact Amber Cooney at

Monday, August 2, 2010


Watch out Central Texas...Club Red is on its way!

Club Red is a new young professionals group that has committed to supporting the American Red Cross of Central Texas through fundraising, volunteering, mentoring, building awareness and connecting within the community.

Their kickoff event was held last Thursday, July 29th, at the Gibson Bar on South Lamar.  Delicious drink specials and appetizers fueled the party that lasted well after Happy Hour!  Michael Barnes of the Austin American Statesman covered the event in his "Out and About" column and noted that "These are young leaders to watch".  A HUGE thanks and kudos go out the Club Red Board who organized the event...we are so grateful to have you supporting us!

To learn more about Club Red, please visit


Many people know the Red Cross for its disaster relief work and blood services, but helping people be prepared for emergencies is another important part of our work.

The Red Cross is practicing what we preach on preparedness, as we are working to be ready to respond to disasters of all sizes—down the street in Central Texas, across the country and around the world.

With a severe hurricane season predicted, the Red Cross is making a fundraising push now; we are asking for contributions that support our readiness for the 70,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to every year, whether they are hurricanes that affect millions of people here or abroad, floods that affect thousands, or a house fire that drives one family from its home.

Here in Central Texas, the Red Cross has responded to 85 fires so far this year, and across Texas, the Red Cross has already responded to two significant floods.

While the news media has focused its attention on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and on Haiti, it’s important to know that the American Red Cross has responded to 29 significant disasters in the U.S. so far in 2010. These have included floods in Tennessee, North Dakota, the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, tornadoes in the South and Midwest, and major fires in communities across the country including those currently taking place in California.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts between three to seven major hurricanes this year. Major hurricanes are those Category 3, 4, and 5 storms that do the most damage such as Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Rita and Wilma, with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. More than 35 million people live in regions vulnerable to Atlantic hurricanes, and many in the Gulf Coast region are already experiencing hardship as a result of the oil spill.

The Red Cross is very worried about predictions of a severe hurricane season and the possibility that people will need to evacuate their homes for longer periods of time given the oil in the Gulf.

While media and public attention comes when a hurricane makes landfall, what’s often missed are the preparations made by the Red Cross to be ready to respond well before the hurricane hits. For example, the Red Cross already has pre-positioned equipment and materials near areas that could be hit by hurricanes. In addition, the Red Cross frequently moves supplies and people closer to an area threatened by a hurricane so they can be ready to respond quickly.

These preparations are costly. For example, as Hurricane Alex gathered strength in late June and threatened the Gulf coast, the Red Cross deployed 133 people, 17 emergency response vehicles and kitchen equipment to south Texas and put other vehicles and crews on stand-by.

And these disaster preparations are on top of the other floods, tornadoes and fires that the Red Cross is already responding to on a nearly daily basis.

The Red Cross spends about $450 million a year responding to nearly 70,000 disasters across the country – floods, wildfires, tornados and home fires.

No other non-governmental organization can respond to disasters on the size and scale of the Red Cross—but the Red Cross depends on donations from the American public to be ready. And we work hard to be excellent stewards of those donor dollars.

That’s why the Central Texas Chapter and other Red Cross chapters across the country are asking for help for disaster relief, and we hope that people will respond. They can click, text or call to donate to the Red Cross to help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires and earthquakes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world.

People who want to make a contribution can visit, call 1-800-RedCross to support American Red Cross Disaster Response, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Every single donation brings hope to those in need.