Thursday, May 11, 2017

Our Commitment Never Wavers - Red Cross honors those who serve during Military Appreciation Month

May is Military Appreciation Month, a time to honor those who defend our freedom, culminating with Memorial Day, when we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The American Red Cross is proud to serve those who serve, helping members of the military, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to, the challenges of military service.

The Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program dates back to the establishment of the American Red Cross by Clara Barton in May 1881. Not only did the “Angel of the Battlefield” risk her life tending to soldiers wounded in the Civil War, she bolstered their morale by writing letters for them to send to their families. Today, volunteers and staff with the Red Cross proudly carry on this tradition through the SAF program, which serves as a critical line of communication between the U.S Armed Forces and their families.

In South Carolina, the Red Cross serves more than 126,000 active duty members and their families, as well as more than 520,000 veterans, providing 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families at home and around the world. Red Cross services are provided at no charge to families, including:
·         Emergency Communications - The Hero Care Center is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help connect family members with their loved ones who are deployed overseas.

·         Deployment Services - Whether your family is facing its first deployment or the next of many, the Red Cross has developed workshops, information and support services to help you with the practical and emotional challenges.

·         Services for Veterans - Red Cross services for veterans dates back to World War I and remains consistent with the spirit of our congressional charter. Today, the Red Cross is proud to maintain our commitment to the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

·         Financial Assistance - The Red Cross works in partnership with military aid societies to provide quality, reliable financial assistance to eligible applicants 24/7/365. Assistance can include funds for emergency travel, burial of a loved one, emergency food and shelter, etc.

·         Information Referral - Red Cross offers confidential services to all members of the military, veterans, and their families by connecting them with local, state and national resources through our network of chapters in communities across the United States and offices on military installations worldwide.

·         Hero Care App - Access vital emergency and non-emergency resources for military members, veterans and military families.

The Red Cross salutes the Armed Forces of the United States of America and all members serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard as well as all veterans and their families during Military Appreciation Month.

To learn more about how the Red Cross supports those who serve our country, or to become a volunteer and help military families, visit

Thursday, May 4, 2017

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Tips from the Red Cross to keep your family safe this summer

Thunderstorms and lightning can be deadly. The American Red Cross wants you to know what you should do to stay safe “When Thunder Roars”.

Thunderstorms and lightning occur more at this time of the year, but can happen year round. They happen more often in the afternoon and evening, but can strike at any time of the day or night.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), lightning is still one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States, causing about 51 fatalities a year. Most lightning victims survive but can suffer debilitating symptoms.

The Red Cross has important steps you can follow to stay safe during a thunderstorm:

  • ·         Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
  • ·         If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
  • ·         Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts.
  • ·         As the storm approaches, take shelter in a building. If you are driving, pull off the roadway and park. Stay in the car with the windows closed and turn on the emergency flashers. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside of the vehicle.

If you are inside, you should:
  • ·         Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)
  • ·         Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
  • ·         Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job.
  • ·         Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.

If you are caught outside during a thunderstorm and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.

If someone is struck by lightning, check them for burns and other injuries. If the person has stopped breathing, call 9-1-1 and begin CPR. People can learn how to take care of someone in an emergency by taking First Aid and CPR/AED training online or in person. Go to for more information.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kickoff the holidays at the festive RiverTown Reindeer Race in Conway

Kickoff the holiday season with your family at the 8th annual RiverTown Reindeer Race on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016.  Presented by TD Ameritrade with King Construction, ABC 15, iHeart Radio and HTC Digital Cable, the race is a fundraising event of the American Red Cross of Eastern SC and its Red Cross Rescue Racers program.
Both runners and walkers are encouraged to participate in this fun, family-oriented 5k (3.1 mile) race filled with jingle bells and holiday music. Bring the family and your Santa hat, elf ears or reindeer antlers and join the fun. Dogs and strollers welcome on the tree-lined course in downtown Conway.

RiverTown Reindeer Race
Saturday December 3, 2016, 8 a.m.
Conway, S.C.
Register online at

The event is directed by Coastal Timing Management. Racers, which include runners and walkers of all ages, will receive awards presented to the top three overall male and female finishers, as well as the top three finishers in each age category.

Entry fee is $25 before Dec. 2 and $30 on race day with registration held from 7-7:50 a.m. at Conway Riverfront Park area off 2nd Avenue. Pre-registered participants will receive a specially designed Reindeer Race T-shirt and a collectible Reindeer Race bib. Register online at or contact Race Director Jim Troxell at

The Red Cross Rescue Racer Program is the official charity-training program for the Myrtle Beach Marathon. Through this program, participants with varying levels of fitness, can train successfully to run, run/walk or walk the half (13.1 miles) or full (26.2 miles) marathon. Team members vary from beginning to intermediate to advanced runners.
The program is a fundraising partnership of the Board of Directors of the Myrtle Beach Marathon and the Red Cross of Eastern SC. The team also partners with the Grand Strand Running Club for coaching assistance and mentorship. The team program has raised more than $550,000 for Red Cross disaster services. For sponsorship information or to join the Rescue Racers, contact Red Cross Rescue Racer Program Manager Angela Nicholas at or (843) 655-9788.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

One Community

By Michelle Hankes

The word "community" can mean many things to many people. It may be a neighborhood, a city, a congregation. According to Merriam-Webster, a community is a unified body of individuals or people with a common interest, characteristic or history.

In a disaster, communities of all types come together as families support each other in their grief of loss and persistence in recovery. No matter how large a disaster, whether it is a hurricane that strikes multiple states or a fire that rages through vast acres of land, the disaster starts and ends locally with the people affected by it.

Yet there is also a broader community.

The American Red Cross stretches from Alaska to Puerto Rico; from Maine to Hawaii. Every state and city is part of the Red Cross community. This community is made of volunteers and paid staff. It may or may not have a building that can be seen to be present in a city or county, but it is made up of people who are passionate about the mission of alleviating the suffering caused by disaster.

These are the people who leave their homes on Christmas day to help a stranger whose house is burning. These are the people who spend Thanksgiving at a shelter filled with people who can't go home because of a flooded river. These are the people who don't ask Why they should help but rather HOW they can help.

This is the community of the Red Cross. It is one community in that no matter where the disaster occurs, when the call for help arrives, volunteers raise their hands and offer to leave families and jobs to assist where the need is greatest. There are no borders in the Red Cross; Resources of time and money and goods are made available based on need rather than politics.

This spirit of community was seen first hand by Sandra Klein, a volunteer and Tiffany Circle leader of the Palmetto South Carolina Region of the American Red Cross. "Everyone in the country needs to understand the power that comes from uniting around a common goal," stated Ms. Klein. "There are ERVs (Emergency Response Vehicles) in the parking lot here in Charleston preparing to deliver supplies, and if you look at the doors, you'll see that they are from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New Mexico. This is the Red Cross.

"This is one community."

(Caption for Photo: Emergency Response Vehicles from around the country prepare to serve the residents of South Carolina affected by Hurricane Matthew.)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Small Businesses and Ready Rating

By Michelle Hankes

Colonial-Floral Fascinations is a lovely little shop on a lovely little street in Georgetown, South Carolina. Front Street is picturesque with boutiques and restaurants within view of Winyah Bay, where several rivers come together. When you walk into the narrow flower store, the walls are decorated with beautiful creations: wreathes, bouquets, and vases. You are greeted by the proprietor, Jeanette Ard, with a smile and an offer to look around at your leisure.

After Hurricane Matthew, water flooded through Front Street, reaching as high as a foot in the store. Jeanette proudly pointed to where the water came to on a wall. "I was the first store to reopen after the storm. Most of us around here just moved in last year. I wanted to get back to work as fast as I could."

(Georgetown Flood photo caption: Front Street in Georgetown, SC, saw repeated flooding after Hurricane Matthew.)

Jeanette has experience in reopening her small business after a disaster. On September 25, 2013, a fire tore through the 700 block of Georgetown where many businesses, including Jeanette's resided. Jeanette experienced a double loss because she lived above the shop.

"I had to rebuild from scratch," said Jeanette. "I had some insurance to help, but I needed to open my doors fast because this flower shop is my livelyhood." She credits her ability to do that to being organized and having a plan. "Some people didn't. They aren't here now."

According to statistics from FEMA, over 40% of small businesses that experience a disaster are able to recover, and another 25% close within a year of the disaster. With the loss of these businesses comes a loss of jobs and revenue for the city. The Red Cross, while focused on individuals and families in disaster response, recognized that companies also needed preparedness tools to build community resiliency.

(700 Georgetown Fire Caption: In 2013, several small businesses were destroyed in Georgetown in a large fire.)

The American Red Cross Ready Rating program is a free, self-guided program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Members complete a ReadyGo or ReadyAdvance assessment and have access to tools, tips and best practices to help improve their level of preparedness.

The process is simple: A business can go to and follow the steps to sign up for free. There is a check list of over 100 questions that pinpoint weaknesses and strengths in a company's operations and planning, then a template is provided for an OSHA-approved Emergency Action Plan is created for the business. Tips and suggestions on trainings and other resources are provided to better prepare a business for emergencies. ReadyRating can be used by schools and churches as well as for-profit companies.

(Jeanette Ard Photo Caption: Jeanette Ard shares her story of rebuilding with Red Cross staff member Michelle Hankes.)

However, according to Jeanette, the most important thing you must do when disaster strikes is to remain positive, not only for yourself but everyone around you. In the aftermath of the hurricane, she can be found passing out single roses to her shop neighbors. "I'm the one who keeps everyone's spirits up. We'll all get through this together. And we'll all get through the next hurricane."

Friday, November 4, 2016

Red Cross and Our Partners

Partnerships are vital in not only the response, but recovery of communities impacted by disaster.  South Carolina is no exception as communities continue to work toward moving themselves forward after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.  A great example of partnerships comes within the shelter in the town of Mullins.  Along with the Red Cross, FEMA and the Marion County Department of Social Services, are reviewing the needs of the remaining residents together.

Shelter residents are assigned one of four groups who will review and tailor a plan that will help to transition them back into their community.  Each resident is unique and has a variety of needs.  Sue, a Red Cross volunteer leading the recovery effort at the shelter said, “We are trying to meet the specific needs of each of the residents”.  With an upbeat attitude she exclaims that they always look at how to make it happen.

This unique group of caseworkers follows up and keeps families on track and motivated each day.  Shelters are never meant to be a permanent solution.  Red Cross looks at integrating each resident back into the community as quickly as possible.  However, the Red Cross takes on the responsibility at making sure every resident at the shelter has a plan as to what their next steps will be and that is where these agency groups come into play.

A wide range of needs include scheduling of inspections, medical assistance, transportation, relocation assistance, and rent stipends.  So far they have issued tents, sleeping bags, MREs, and other goods that have been needed.  They have identified the availability of mobile home, funds from FEMA and worked at coordinating with other agencies such as the Veterans Administration. 

With each day, the teams are successful helping residents find alternative accommodations and as families move on, the shelter continues to dwindle in size.  However, every resident holds a special place in the hearts of each of these caseworkers as they know their situation and story intimately.  As the team transitions another family out, the room explodes in applause.  The team exudes happiness for the residents and knowing that the hard work to find that family what they need has paid off.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Grateful to Give Back

By: Diana Coulter, American Red Cross, Bucksport, South Carolina

Ruth Bronoske is a new Red Cross recruit. She volunteered to help just days after Hurricane Matthew hit South Carolina because she knows what it’s like to struggle.

Twelve years ago, Ruth was diagnosed with Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that she continues to battle. But she has made miraculous progress since moving to South Carolina. And now, she is determined to give back to her new community.

“We lost power for three and a half days after the storm, but so many other people were in such bad shape that I checked with Red Cross to see how we could help.”

Since then, Ruth has assisted at two Red Cross shelters, one in Mullins and the other at Bucksport,
Ruth Bronoske
while her husband, Ray, has worked at a distribution centre in Myrtle Beach loading relief items such food, water and cleanup supplies.

“I know what it’s like to face hard times,” explained Ruth. That’s because, in 2009, doctors were convinced Ruth would die soon. “They were writing things like “end-stage” on all my medical paperwork.”

Determined to have a final family holiday, the couple and two sons drove from their Ohio home to Myrtle Beach. Ruth remembers being so weak at first that she needed help walking through the sand, but after a week, she was playing football in the ocean.“Suddenly, I was just feeling so well again. It really seemed like a miracle.”

Days before the family planned to drive home, Ruth recalls telling her husband that she might be better able to fight her illness if they moved permanently to the beach. “He just said, okay.  Let’s give this to God...And within a few months, we had moved, found a new place to live, and a job here.”
Since then, her health has improved dramatically, although she continues to have regular chemotherapy injections.

“A lot of people with health challenges just stop living, but I've figured out that it’s best to keep giving back in any way I can, and volunteering with Red Cross is another great way to do that.”

To date, about 1,200 Red Cross workers have assisted in South Carolina since the hurricane.