In Memoriam: Dr. John Horch

Dr. John Horch passed away on April 4, 2021 at the age of 83. John is survived by his wife, Candace, and three children, Edward, Stephanie and Tyler.

Over 40 years ago, John began his Red Cross story by donating blood and platelets after his daughter required lifesaving blood. Nearly two decades later, he hosted his first blood drive at his local church, St. John’s Catholic Church of Madison, Alabama. At the time of his death, John had hosted over 135 blood drives and had encouraged other organizations set up blood drives too.

In his 24 years of service, he worked to run successful blood drives, promote blood donation and ensure products were available for patients in need. In 2018, John was honored at the Red Cross Gala as the Blood Services Hero for generously donating nearly 600 gallons of blood and platelets. In addition to his blood services role, John passionately served as a front desk associate three days a week since 2016.

Marianna Fite, business operations coordinator and volunteer supervisor, North Alabama chapter, worked closely with John. She said, “He could walk into a room and connect with anyone. Whether you talked to him for five minutes or five hours, he made an impact. He was an amazing person, volunteer, and friend.” His commitment to the Red Cross was unmatched, he was passionate about helping others and refused to let anything or anyone stand in his way. John was well-known for his warmth, organizational expertise, and cheeky sense of humor.

John has forever left his mark on the world and we are better because of the time we spent with him.  He will be remembered as a beacon of light and esteemed member of our Red Cross family.

Information about funeral services and more about John’s life can be found here: Dr. John Horch.

Our hearts are forever saddened by the loss of such a extraordinary volunteer and friend. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.


Carol Stafford: August Volunteer of the Month

Carol receives her “Volunteer of the Month” certificate at Montgomery chapter office.

Carol Stafford began her Red Cross story after retiring from a 28-year career with the Alabama Department of Corrections. During her career, Carol also drove a school bus for Macon County Schools. Anyone close to Carol would describe her as being dedicated but that would be an understatement. Since 2016, Carol has touched the lives of military members and their families through her role in Service to Armed Forces (SAF), responded countless times to local disasters like home fires and has become an integral part of the Home Fire Campaign due to her certification in American Sign Language (ASL).

Carol uses her communication skills to focus on educating hearing-impaired individuals about the dangers of home fires and how they can stay safe with a bed-shaker alarm system. When asked why she chooses to volunteer, Carol stated, “I love meeting and helping people”. Bed-shaker alarms are given to hearing-impaired or elderly individuals who would otherwise not hear the typical system in case of an emergency. Often, Carol must seek these individuals and/or families out. Carol added “having Megan [intern from Alabama State University] with me has been a big help.”

If Carol isn’t working on a Red Cross mission, you can find her in the company of her daughter, Mishika  and grandson, Terrell (13). Carol is 54 years old and resides in Shorter, Alabama. Thank you for all that you do, Carol!


Our First Post

Welcome to the Red Cross of Alabama

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

We may be a bit biased, but we’re going to say it anyway… the Alabama Region is blessed to have some of the most selfless and dedicated volunteers in the organization. Here in Alabama, our volunteers are different, not in a bad way but just, er, different, let me explain. In Alabama, generally speaking, we like our air conditioning, we love our fried foods washed down with some sweet tea and we can’t simply can’t live without college football (Roll Eagle)! But there’s just something else that makes us unique and that is the way that we encourage and celebrate our own. We take pride in our state and the people in it and the majority of us would give the shirts off of our backs to help a neighbor in need. So it makes perfect sense that when these same people volunteer with an organization that is built upon the same principles and voila, you get a match made in heaven.

For more than 135 years, our mission has been to help individuals and families prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. The Red Cross provides disaster relief assistance to those affected by natural and human-caused disasters. Every day volunteers are working in our communities and helping their neighbors. In Alabama alone, there are over 2,000 active volunteers providing life-changing and often life-saving services. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies
on generous donations of time, money and blood to
provide its services to the community. We are proud that an average of 90 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested into programs meant to better the community.
I’d bet you didn’t know that the Red Cross can be categorized into five unique services? Helping people and communities affected by disasters, supporting the military and its families, teaching life-saving skills, collecting, testing and distributing blood products throughout the nation and partnering with international services to alleviate human suffering worldwide. Ask anyone associated and they will tell you that the Red Cross is a family. No matter if you volunteer for one event each year or you are a staple volunteer that everyone knows, you are a part of this special family of “Red Crossers”.

We are proud that our volunteers represent the community, have diverse and unique backgrounds, speak many different languages, are of all different ages and represent various ethnicities. We invite you to join our family and help make the Alabama Red Cross even stronger.

Everyday Heroes Save a Life at Ole Miss

North Mississippi Chapter Executive Director, K.C. Grist, presents Lifesaving award to Shannon Richardson and family during Ole Miss Game on September 11, 2021.

Although Rob Barber doesn’t remember collapsing to the floor while exercising at University of Mississippi’s Rec Center, he is immensely grateful to recreational center staff, Shannon Richardson and Gabby Sokol for using their Red Cross CPR training to save his life after he went into cardiac arrest on December 2.

Within seconds of Rob collapsing, Gabby and Shannon were performing chest compressions, calling emergency services and utilizing the on-site defibrillator in hopes of restarting his heart. Their actions resulted in Rob avoiding any neurological damage and allowed him to quickly receive needed medical attention. Even now, Rob has little recollection of the event but knows that without Gabby and Shannon he might not be alive today. “It is because of their actions that I am alive today” stated Rob about his experience, “needless to say, Shannon and Gabby are now on the top of my Christmas list every year”.  

When emergency personnel arrived and Rob was stabilized, he was quickly transported to a nearby hospital to undergo a stenting procedure to fix blockages. The ER medical director noted that Shannon and Gabby were the difference between life and death, and by taking immediate action they helped Rob defy the odds.

“Within a minute of Mr. Barber losing his pulse, we were able to start his heart beating again,” Gabby said. “I was nervous, but I absolutely knew what to do.” Gabby says that helping someone’s heart start to beat again is not something that wants to do again, she can’t begin to imagine what it must have felt like for Rob.

view from the Jumbotron at University of Mississippi

Honored with Red Cross Lifesaving Award

On September 11, 2021 – the first home game of the season, Shannon Richardson and Gabby Sokol were presented with a Red Cross Lifesaving Award for their heroic response to Rob Barber’s cardiac emergency. Both received the Certificate of Merit, awarded to an individual who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course. *Gabby did not attend the event but received her award earlier in the week.

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

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 LifesavingAwards.org to nominate, recognize, or be inspired.

Never Forget: Red Cross Remembers 9/11, 20 Years Later

In this historic photograph, a Red Cross disaster volunteer puts drops in the burning eyes of a weary rescue worker in New York City. The heavy smoke caused eye and breathing problems for everyone close to the site of the World Trade Center collapse.

Twenty years ago, the United States faced one of the worst days in its history. As our country marks 20 years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the American Red Cross remembers the victims of that horrific day, honors the brave responders and is working to rekindle the spirit of service the country saw then to help those in need today.

The Red Cross is grateful to those across the country who came forward with donations of time, blood and funds to support the victims and survivors of the attacks. Within minutes of Flight 11 crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center, the Red Cross mobilized to provide immediate help. Our work continued for years after.

Details of the Red Cross response included:

  • Nearly $1.1 billion in generous donations were used to fund massive relief and recovery efforts and help more than 59,000 families affected by the terrorist attacks.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in financial assistance were provided to families that lost loved ones, those who were physically injured, first responders, residents of lower Manhattan who couldn’t return home and workers who lost their jobs.
  • More than 57,000 Red Crossers from across the country served more than 14 million meals and snacks, opened dozens of shelters for people who were left stranded, and connected some 374,000 times with people to provide emotional support and health services.
  • Hundreds of thousands of individuals lined up to give blood as people came forward to help in any way they could.
  • We worked with Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in over 65 countries to help families located overseas who lost a loved one in the terrorist attacks. The Red Cross provided support such as financial assistance and mental health.
  • Americans who were unsure where to find or give help turned to the Red Cross, which set up a call center to help people navigate uncertainty in the days and months after the attacks. Callers asked about how to locate missing loved ones, where to find financial assistance, and how to help those impacted by the tragedy.
  • At the Pentagon, the Red Cross set up its mobile disaster command center. We provided mental health services and food support for first responders and survivors.

The 20th anniversary of the attacks is a reminder that the unimaginable can occur — and that Americans need to do everything they can to protect their neighbors and be ready for crises of any size. Emergencies can happen at any time, and everyone can do their part to be prepared.

Part of doing that is ensuring an adequate blood supply is available year-round. Blood can take up to three days to be tested, processed and made available for patients – so it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency. Find out more here.

To help prepare your household, the Red Cross suggests planning ahead on how to deal with the types of disasters that are likely in your neighborhood, what to do if separated and how to stay informed. Next, build an emergency kit. Your kit should contain food, water and other basic supplies to last at least three days for each family member.

Also, don’t forget to include essential medications, copies of important documents and special items for children and pets. Including your pets in your emergency plans is essential. Remember, if you and your family need to evacuate, so does your pet. It’s important to plan in advance to know which pet-friendly hotels are in your area, and where your pets can stay in an emergency situation.

The final step to preparing your household is to be informed. Consider taking a First Aid for Severe Trauma™ or first aid and CPR course so you’ll know what to do until help arrives in the event of an emergency.

Remembering Hurricane Katrina: Preparing for Future Storms 

By: Shane Dorrill and Deanne Winslett

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, about 60 miles southeast of New Orleans as a strong Category 3 hurricane with sustained wind speeds of more than 125 miles per hour. Thousands of homes and businesses along the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast were destroyed by high winds and a storm surge of more than 26 feet in some areas. 

Within hours, several levees surrounding New Orleans were breeched due to the amount of rain. By the afternoon, more than 20 percent of the city was underwater. Thousands of people became trapped in attics or on roofs as floodwaters poured into the city’s Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. Within two days, 80 percent of the city was underwater. 

More than 1,800 deaths were attributed either directly or indirectly to the storm, and it remains one of the costliest hurricanes on record in the U.S. 

The response to Hurricane Katrina remains the largest single disaster relief effort ever undertaken by the American Red Cross. The Red Cross opened nearly 1,400 shelters in 27 states and the District of Columbia and served more than 68 million meals. More than 230,000 Red Cross volunteers responded to help more than four million people who received emergency assistance. 

Hurricane Katrina should serve as a reminder to Be Red Cross Ready for hurricanes this season. 

To protect life and property during a hurricane:

· Download the free Red Cross app, which offers step-by-step directions for making a family emergency plan, as well as other preloaded preparedness and critical emergency content 

· Have a NOAA Weather Radio to receive information from the National Weather Service

· Prepare an emergency preparedness kit 

· Bring in items, such as lawn furniture, that can be picked up by the wind 

· Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood. 

· Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out 

· Fill your car’s gas tank 

· Talk with family members and create an evacuation plan, including a plan for where you will meet up and how you will communicate if you are in multiple vehicles and get separated. Include your pets in your plan and keep a list of pet-friendly hotels, motels and shelters along your evacuation route. 

· Evacuate if advised to do so by authorities 

For more tips, visit the Red Cross Hurricane Safety website.

World Humanitarian Day 2021

August 12, 2021

American Red Cross staff member, Shahriar Morshed Saad high-fives Sofi-Alam, age 8, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Red Cross photo by Brad Zerevitz

“Being a humanitarian means putting my talents towards the people who are affected by crisis, especially women and children who are the most vulnerable group,” American Red Cross staff member Shahriar Morshed Saad said.

Saad is one of many Red Crossers working around the globe being honored on August 19 — World Humanitarian Day.

Saad first started working with the Red Cross as a youth volunteer when he was 12 years old. After more than 15 years with the organization, he currently serves as an assistant officer working in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

While working in Bangladesh, Saad meets with refugees who tell of dangerous journeys — walking days on end to reach the border and losing touch with family members along the way. Since August 2017, more than one million people have fled Rakhine State, Myanmar to seek safety in Cox’s Bazar. Many arrived injured, malnourished and devastated.

Once in Bangladesh, these refugees crowd into camps on muddy hillsides and live in structures made of bamboo, plastic, cardboard and sometimes corrugated metal sheeting. Monsoon rains and dangerous cyclone seasons put migrants at risk of landslides, floods and destructive wind.

Saad works with fellow humanitarians to help refugees prepare for disasters which includes training them on first aid skills.

“This work is very important for Cox’s Bazar as the area is prone to cyclones, monsoons, floods and landslides. Red Cross is saving lives, which is the most important,” he said.

One refugee who makes Saad smile is Sofi Alam, pictured above at age 8 in this 2019 photograph. Migrants like Sofi don’t have access to formal education, but that hasn’t stopped him. Every day, Sofi attends English class at a nearby learning center.

In a place where hope can feel hard to come by, Saad says that Sofi is an inspiration. His wide smile, love of soccer and enthusiasm are all contagious. When he grows up, Sofi says that he wants to be a teacher.

“I want to give education to kids and communities who don’t have it.”

For Saad, this is one of many reasons he enjoys working as a humanitarian. “Out of many things, I learn resilience from the children in the camp like Sofi. Their life in the camp is full of struggle and hardships, still they are surviving with courage and positive attitude, they are always hopeful of a better future,” he concluded.

For more information about World Humanitarian Day, visit the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross

Heat Wave Preparedness

As summer goes on, here in the south, we face relentless heat. While the sun pours down, we need to stay safe. Extreme heat is the most dangerous type of severe weather in the United States, but there are actions we can take in preparation to protect our loved ones and communities from extreme heat events and related power outages. Learn what actions to take before, during, and after to stay safe and healthy.


The first step you can take towards heatwave preparedness is to ensure that you know the types of notifications you will receive during a heatwave, and what to do when you receive them. You should pay attention when the National Weather Service issues heat advisories and excessive heat warnings, as well as local weather forecasters. You may hear the following terms when a heatwave is predicted: Excessive Heat Outlook, Excessive Heat Watch, and Excessive Heat Warning/Advisory.

Excessive Heat Outlook: Be Aware! An Excessive Heat Outlook means that there is potential for an excessive heat event within the next 3-7 days. This statement is issued to provide information to individuals who may need considerable time to prepare for the heat event.

Excessive Heat Watch: Be Prepared! An Excessive Heat Watch means that conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event within the near future, 24-72 hours or 2-3 days. This statement is issued when the risk of an extreme heat event increases, but its exact occurrence and timing are not certain.

Excessive Heat Warning/Advisory: Time to Take Action! An excessive heat warning or an excessive heat advisory is issued within 12 hours (or half a day) before an extremely dangerous heat condition. At this point, it is important to take immediate precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses for yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

Before the Heat Wave:

Being prepared minimizes risks, injuries, and other unfortunate incidents that can happen because of certain conditions. There are plenty of actions you can take before a heatwave occurs to stay safe! These include the following main areas: Hydration, Supplies, Home, and Place.

Hydration: We all know keeping hydrated is vital to not only our health and survival but even more important during a heatwave. Drinking enough water is the main action you can take to prevent heat-related illness. An average person needs about three-quarters of a gallon of fluid every day! Here are some hydration tips:

– Drink lots of water!

– Stay away from sugary, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks, which can dehydrate you. Water is your best friend!

– In general, eating meals and snacks throughout the day with adequate water intake is enough to maintain electrolytes and replace salt lost when you sweat.

– Certain medical conditions and medications may indicate that you need to drink more water. In this case, you should be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.

Supplies: It’s important to gather food, water, medicine, and other necessities in advance because stores and pharmacies might be closed during an extreme heat event. Organize your supplies into a Go-Kit and a Stay-at-Home Kit.

– Go-Kit: contains 3 days supplies that are easy to carry with you.

– Stay-at-Home Kit: contains 2 weeks of supplies if you need to stay at home.

– Have a 1-month supply of medications in a child-proof container.

– Make sure to keep personal, financial, and medical records safe.

Home: You can take action to keep your home cool during an extreme heat event.

– Cover windows with drapes or shades.

– Weather-strip doors and windows.

– Use window reflectors, like aluminum-foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat outside.

– Add insulation. This keeps the heat out!

– Use a powered attic ventilator or attic fan to regulate the heat levels of your attic by clearing the hot air.

– Install window air conditioners and insulate them.

Place: Don’t have air conditioning at home? Identify a place where you can spend the warmest part of the day in an extreme heat event. Spending a few hours each day in air conditions can prevent or reduce the chances of heat-related illnesses, so finding a place with adequate air conditioning is important! Here are some steps you can take:

– Contact a nearby neighbor, friend, or relative who has air conditioning.

– Check to see if shopping malls or public libraries are open.

– Find out if your community plans to open public cooling centers.

During the Heat Wave:

Stay Connected: Stay Connected: NEVER leave infants, children, older adults, individuals with disabilities, or pets in a vehicle unattended. Cars can heat up very quickly, up to extremely dangerous temperatures, even if you have a window cracked open.

– Check-in on older adults and individuals with chronic health conditions at least twice every day. Make sure they are OK and try to help them out. You can do this by asking these questions:

– Are they hydrated and drinking enough water?

– Do they have access to air conditioning? If not, is there somewhere you can take them?

– Do they know how to keep cool?

– Do they show any signs of heat stress?

– Be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illness. Act right away if you notice someone with any symptoms.

– If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek emergency medical care immediately.

Stay Hydrated: Staying hydrated is an absolute must during heat events and hot weather in general. The following tips are important:

– Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, not only when you’re thirsty. Avoid sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic drinks (these dehydrate you!). As tempting as it may seem, avoid icy beverages because these can cause stomach cramps.

– Replace your body’s salt and minerals. Heavy sweating due to the heat removes salt and minerals from your body that need to be replaced. A sports drink or a snack can replace the salt and minerals that are lost when you sweat.

– Don’t forget your pets! Keep them hydrated! Provide plenty of freshwater for your pets and leave the water in a shaded area.

– Warning! If your doctor limits the amount of water you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot. If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.

Stay Cool: Keep your body cool as it faces the extreme heat by following these tips:

– Stay cool indoors by staging in air-conditioned places as much as possible.

– Wear the appropriate clothing! Choose lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing. Remember, dark materials attract heat!

– Don’t use an electric fan when the indoor air temperature is over 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a fan can be harmful in this situation when indoor air temperatures are hotter than your body’s temperature. This is because fans cause your body to gain heat rather than losing it. Focus on staying hydrated, taking a cool shower or bath, shutting out the sun and heat with curtains, and moving to an air-conditioned place to stay cool.

– Use your stove and oven less.

– Schedule outdoor work and other outdoor activities carefully. Try to limit your outdoor activity to times of the day that are the coolest, like the morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has time to recover.

– Cut down on exercise during the heat.

– When outdoors, protect yourself from the sun! You can do this by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Make sure to wear sunscreen that says, “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection”.

How to Treat Heat-Related Illness: Sometimes, life does not go how we plan, and we may find ourselves dealing with an unfortunate situation with a heat-related illness. It’s important to know how to recognize and respond to the 3 main heat-related illnesses to help yourself, your loved ones, and your community. These illnesses are Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, and Heat Stroke.

Heat Cramps: These are muscle spasms, in the abdomen, arms or calves, caused by a large loss of salt and water in the body.


– Heavy sweating during intense exercise

– Muscle pain or spasms


– Stop all of the physical activity and move the person experiencing the cramps to a cool place

– Have the person drink water or a sports drink

– Instruct the person to wait for cramps to go away before resuming physical activity

– Get medical help right away if cramps last longer than 1 hour.

Heat Exhaustion: This is a severe heat-related illness that requires emergency medical treatment.


– Heavy sweating

– Cold, pale, and clammy skin

– Fast, weak pulse

– Nausea or vomiting

– Muscle cramps

– Tiredness or weakness

– Dizziness

– Headache

– Brief fainting (passing out)


– Move the person to a cool place

– Loosen their clothes

– Put cool, wet cloths on their body, use misting and fanning, or help them take a cool bath

– Have the person sip water

Get medical help right away if:

– Vomiting occurs

– Symptoms get worse

– Symptoms last longer than 1 hour

– Confusion develops

Heat Stroke: This is the most serious medical condition caused by extreme heat. It requires immediate emergency treatment. It can result in death without immediate medical attention, so you must be aware of how to recognize and respond to such a situation.


– High body temperature (104°F or higher)

– Hot, red, dry, or damp skin

– Fast, strong pulse

– Headache

– Dizziness

– Nausea

– Confusion

– Losing consciousness (passing out)


– Call 911 right away — heat stroke is a medical emergency, then:

– Move the person to a cooler place

– Help lower the person’s temperature with a cool or cold bath, misting, fanning, or applying cool cloths, if a bath is not available.

– Do not give the person anything to drink.

After the Heat Wave: There are still actions you can take to deal with the after-effects of a heatwave. These can be categorized as Safety, Healthy, and Self-Care.

Safety: Here are some basics to check after a heatwave.

– Is the power out? Make sure to use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns instead of candles to reduce the risk of fires.

– Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning! Do not use gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, basement, garage, tent, or camper, or even outside near an open window. Carbon monoxide is sneaky: it can’t be seen or smelled, but it can kill you fast. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak, get outside to fresh air right away without delay.

Healthy: Here are some basic tips to stay healthy after a heatwave:

– When in doubt, throw it out! If food got wet or warm, throw it out!

– Ask your healthcare provider or doctor about using refrigerated medicines that got warm. This is important to check!

Self-Care: You are important! Make sure that while you are looking out for your loved ones and community, you are also taking sufficient time to care for yourself! Mental health is just as important as physical health.

– It’s normal to have a lot of varying feelings. You are not alone.

– Eat healthy food and get enough sleep if you are feeling stress. This will help you feel better and can reduce your stress levels.

– Remember, you can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline for free if you need to talk to someone at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

International Day of Friendship is July 30

Submitted by Meenakshi Prabhakar

Created by the UN (United Nations) to inspire peace between people all over the world. The Red Cross, through its network of volunteers, strongly stands by its mission to provide assistance to those in need all over the world. In honor of the International Day of Friendship, the Red Cross recognizes its Global Red Cross Network. This network is composed of three parts: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The Global Red Cross Network is the largest humanitarian network, with volunteers from every nation working together to help those who suffer, without discrimination, in response to disasters, health emergencies, chronic poverty, and even social programs. These volunteers help those in need, when they need it most, even outside of their own native countries, painting the true image of universal humanity and friendship. The key to friendship is compassion, and to be there for one another. Each part of the Global Red Cross Network works harmoniously to help those in need, demonstrating friendship across boundaries.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has one main purpose: to protect the lives of war victims and provide them assistance while respecting international humanitarian law. The ICRC is neutral and independent, therefore they take impartial action in times of conflict to care for the wounded and sick, civilians and prisoners. Some of their operations include organizing relief operations, reuniting separated families through communication, providing medical assistance and other humanitarian activities during armed conflicts.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is composed of over 100 million volunteers who help people in over 150 countries. The IFRC contains 191 national Red Cross or Red Crescent societies. They also work to alleviate suffering during times of peace all around the world. Such humanitarian efforts undertaken by volunteers of the IFRC include coordinating disaster relief efforts, assisting refugees, promoting disaster preparedness programs, health emergencies, and helping improve services to vulnerable communities.The IFRC network aids people of all social backgrounds and nationalities without discrimination, assisting during, after, and before disasters (including health emergencies). They work hard to meet the needs of vulnerable people and operate to prevent disasters. The IFRC is like a friend that stays true to help meet one’s needs at all times.

The National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies all work together and dedicate themselves to the fundamental principles of Humanity, Neutrality, Voluntary Service and Unity. The network between these independent National societies forms the foundation for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Volunteers of each national society are crucial in their own countries as their local expertise allows them to allocate aid wherever needed.

These three branches of the Global Red Cross Network demonstrate the give-and-take, caring, and compassionate elements of friendship while impacting their communities, and the world as a whole. We celebrate their friendships, the friendships of volunteers within communities and those transgressing the globe, and the friendships made through volunteering.

Volunteer Spotlight: Nicole Pepper

Getting to know Red Cross volunteer, Central West Alabama Chapter board member and Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chairperson, Nicole Pepper

We love our volunteers! They are the backbone of the Red Cross, serving in countless ways to alleviate human suffering – from serving with the communications team, supporting our military and veterans, teaching classes to prepare our communities for disasters and responding to disasters no matter what time of day. We are thankful for their selfless service because without volunteers we wouldn’t be able to provide lifesaving services to our communities or make a difference everyday.

Red Crosser, Nicole Pepper, treasures the relationships she has made since she started volunteering. “I’ve met mentors, made dear friends and had the opportunity to meet people who are changing the world, one community at a time. It’s hard to walk away from Red Cross moments without feeling inspired.”

We wanted to get to know the Nicole behind the red vest, so we reached out to ask her a few questions and to find out what makes her so spectacular. Here’s what she had to say…

🔹 Three things on your bucket list:

Go fly fishing in Montana, host a make-your-own-pizza party, and to make all homemade Christmas gifts one year.

🔹 If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sweet potatoes – the closest one food can get to having all the nutrition you need. More importantly, it goes great with buffalo chicken dip, brown sugar, and just about everything else. 

🔹 What has been your favorite vacation?

Every local road trip I’ve ever taken. But if I had to pick a favorite it would be our spontaneous trip to Brooksville, Mississippi. It was a gorgeous, cool Saturday morning and I refused to stay inside, so I convinced my husband we should go to this Mennonite bakery in the middle of nowhere. To say it was worth it would be the understatement of the century, it was all so good we took several hundred pounds to-go and ate leftovers for weeks.

🔹 What is one of your biggest pet peeves?

When phones are more important than the people around you. Can’t say I haven’t done it, I think it’s completely unintentional, but that’s also kind of the worst part?

🔹 What do you love about your role in the Red Cross?

So hard to pick! Probably the relationships. I’ve met mentors, made dear friends, and gotten a chance to meet people who are changing the world one community at a time. It’s hard to walk away from Red Cross moments without feeling inspired, and it’s because of the people.

🔹 What is your favorite 90s song?

I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain. I don’t have HitClips anymore, but I do have a Spotify playlist called “Shania Twain Dance Party Vibes.”

🔹It’s the zombie apocalypse and you can only take one possession with you. What do you take? 

My hammock – it can double as a bed, blanket, tent, or even weapon (if you use the hooks). Plus, zombies or not, there’s nothing like a nap in the sunshine.

Our volunteers are simply AMAZING! Thank you for all that you do. So if you are reading this and you haven’t joined the team, what are you waiting for?? Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday and find your fit!

Celebrate the Fourth of July Safely

By Deanne Winslett

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, and many Americans will celebrate Independence Day with barbecues, fireworks, and other holiday fun. Preserve the fun by celebrating the holiday safely and being mindful of firework, grill, and water safety best practices.

Fireworks Safety

Confirm that fireworks are legal in your area before using your own. Keep them away from children and never throw or point them toward people, animals, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials. Keep water available nearby in case you need it. The person lighting the fireworks should wear eye protection and only light one firework at a time, Don’t attempt to relight “dud” fireworks. Store fireworks away from children and pets in a cool, dry place.

Grilling Safety

Grilling fires are responsible for an average of over 10,000 home fires yearly in the U.S., but they can be prevented! Reduce your risk for a home fire by always supervising a barbecue grill when using it and don’t add charcoal starter fluid after the coals have been ignited. Never grill indoors in the house, a camper, a tent, or any enclosed area. Keep people, including children and pets, away from the grill, and keep the grill away from the house and anything flammable. Use long-handled cooking tools designed for use with a grill.

Water Safety

The weather is warming up and many people may plan to celebrate the holiday on the water. Supervise children closely and constantly when in or near water. Children, inexperienced swimmers, and boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Learn swimming and water survival skills and stick to swimming in lifeguarded areas. Pools and spas should be fenced with adequate barriers.

For more tips on water safety visit: RedCross.org/watersafety

June 19 is World Sickle Cell Awareness Day

By Shane Dorrill

It’s estimated that more than 100,000 people in the U.S have sickle cell disease, making it the most common genetic blood disease. The disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes red blood cells, which are normally round, to become sickle or crescent shaped. The abnormally shaped cells have trouble passing through small blood vessels, which can cause severe pain and lead to tissue and organ damage, anemia and even strokes. Most individuals who have sickle cell disease are of African or Latino descent with 8-10% of African Americans having the sickle cell trait.

Blood transfusions provide a lifesaving treatment for sickle cell patients by increasing the number of normal red blood cells in the body. A single sickle cell patient may require multiple blood transfusions per year throughout their lifetime to treat complications from the disease.

To help supply the needed blood for these patients, the American Red Cross has launched the “Closing the Sickle Cell Gap” initiative, which is meant to empower the Black community to help provide compatible blood products for patients with sickle cell disease.

Currently, Black donors make up less than 4% of all Red Cross blood donors. This makes it difficult to ensure the right blood product is available at the right time for patients, especially those with sickle cell disease.

Earlier this year, the Red Cross expanded its testing of blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors to include the sickle cell trait. This allows the Red Cross to identify compatible blood donations faster for those who need them, while providing our Black donors with the insight of whether they carry the trait. Donors receive results to their blood screenings within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal.

To bring the “Closing the Sickle Cell Gap” initiative to life and make a meaningful difference for patients across the country, the Red Cross critically needs new and existing Black donors to give blood. Businesses and organizations within the Black community are also urged to host blood drives to help provide convenient locations for individuals to donate.

How Can You Help?

Schedule an appointment to give blood by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or by enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo Device.

Recruit organizations that have diverse employees or members to host blood drives and support blood donation.

Set up a virtual blood drive on sleevesup.redcrossblood.org and encourage others to donate.

Educate and engage the people you know about the importance of blood donations.

Learn more at: RedCrossBlood.org/SickleCell