American Red Cross Stories and Art -

includes Preparedness Helps - linkS to Volunteer Opportunities - YES - come help!

NOTE:  This page is NOT officially assocated with ARC, though it Author is lifelong helper, small and great, paid and vounteer.



The Hurricanes of 2004 and Redcrosslady Safety and Fundraising Issues

Since Nineleven, Patriotism and RedCross response have become popular once more...a beautiful thing to see in our town, our country and our world! People have been enthusiastic to help response groups in any way they can ! This, too, is a great thing to see again, and to be praised and encouraged. If you are considering becoming any sort of on-site volunteer, you might enjoy this short 'pros & cons' note:

I would do it again in a minute, but, when I was younger in it, I had one "post-response" friend I would greet with a cheery/inane, "We cudda' bin killed!", after a "moment". He would respond with the typical male "look", and both of us enjoyed several split-second "deprogrammings", in addition the organizational report time. Compassion response involves investment and risk. I mention this because we have been so blessed in the response from orgs and private individuals, and especially since nineleven, the beautiful heartwarming stories can lead one to forget the "practicum".

If you are being helped or thinking to go and help...definitely think. "Three weeks minimum" is currently being asked from volunteers, for that reason. Be sure you are up to it, first. Orgs like Red Cross will also provide medical and security checks, passes, and temporary insurance, in addition to the usual tempjob paperwork. The mode is pleasant, helpful and dynamic but response work is serious business. Bring your smile, but not a party hat. Manners are usually good and appropriate. The project takes care of many, but not all expenses; extras are your expense, so have money with you for them. Meals at Restaurants, incidental expenses that would be considered part of doing the job right, are usually reimbursed later. Fun during breaktimes is encouraged, for good morale, and lifelong friendships are sometimes won; good morals are encouraged, since liberalities can give a bad impression of redcross response and its workers. Response work couples have found popularity for this reason, though the freedom to run to the rescue is often associated with singles and "career-types".  

Newscoverage on Hurricane Ivan, yesterday, reminded me of this aspect of response, and you are invited to check the redcross site for the latest published statistics and honors and preventions and care issues . 

At Ivan response sites, Winds can blow hazards at Redcross workers as easily as at those they are serving. Stepping in a puddle of floodwater to reach a victim, can be the last step on earth for the response worker who fails to note that a live wire has fallen into the puddle. Even the liberal hugging often must be deferred till later, since exposure to communicable diseases can be the issue. Looters do not always respect the famous insignia, invented for that very reason. The military personnel you saw on television, in notes about the looting problems, are also deployed when need be, to escort and protect Red Cross and other response personnel. People in crisis are sometimes distraught or in a health state that threatens the safety of the Response worker, and some have five medals for valor in compassionate response, but five karate belts, as well, "just in case".  

Please don't volunteer to help if you "wannabe Rambo"...such an approach would only endanger your helping partners, the victims, or yourself. Today's Rambo knows that response must be responsible; "the rules" are what saves response from adding to the disaster, no matter how "hangloose" it might look on tv. Before the response is done, nearly every action, every donut, every penny will be accounted for, because non-profit organizations are required, by law, to account for expenditure of the funding gifts of labor, time, and materials of rich and poor, few and many.

These notes come from my own experience and training: I was impressed with the organization / preparation / support afforded me, when I was able to do on site work. "Keys to City" have been the norm from areas receiving ARC Workers, and we were trained to appreciate all sides of this issue.

With all this in mind, we leap to serve... Ask anyone... it is the spirit, humanity, creativity through the crisis, good humor, courage, integrity, warmth, welcome, co-operation and appreciation on all sides, that validates the awesome life experience that is being a Response Worker, and empowers them to be there when it matters.

Putting the "Fun" in "Fun-draising"Few have missed the calls for funds to help repair storm damage, actual and collateral. But who says fundraising needs to be grim? For example: A few years back, some normal citizens, artists, were in a restaurant, chatting, wishing they could help with redcross money needs, during the latest crisis, when one of them smiled: "We're artists, we can get artistic! " They took up the tablecloth in front of them and with the tools at hand made a "very modern" work of art of it, and then stood up right where they were and began the fundraising. The idea clicked and I think it won a million dollars before it was done.They called it a quiltmaking project... :-)....and it became known as" the signature quilt ", pictured at right. The need for "justplaincash" is staggering this time....if you can get creative for redcross, please do! The big online auction companies do, and the idea has filtered with big success to individuals. Run a private auction online one evening! It's fun easy and usually anything, among your own mailing list....there is a five-minute bit of paperwork to be done, first, to protect, legally. Ask Redcross for the forms. You can probably receive it in an email, print it, sign it and fax it back. If you do the project online, phonecalls...just keep a folder with all related emails and documents, and then ,when you are done, you will have a very tidy, complete written record, with mimimum toil to make the required tallies for accountability. Gifts are tax deductable, as are some of the costs to the fundraisers, in time and money. You can get publicity on it, or's up to you. But, again, if you can , "please do!". Helping feels good !...elle


Preparedness Data & Stories from ARC service:

Redcross & Disaster Response ~ Worker Safety Issues 

Redcross Notes / affiliates ~ Iraq / Middle East 

Redcross Story Nineleven 

Redcross Story ODS 

Redcross Story Vietnam 

Partnership ~ Redcross & Military ~ Brief History 


"But I don't wanna get into Preparedness !" 

"Why do they do it?" For those being helped. 

Patron Saints for Aid in Distress

Helping Links:

Elle Fagan Happy to refer, share comment, correct an error, and chat if I can. Attack and spamming go to the law, so do think before you write me.

American Red CrossThey "just do it" when it is most needed!

Hurricane Categories Defined and MoreA loved one lives in Hurricane Alley, so I like to keep this one handy. Start page to National Weather Service and NOAA for Weather-related concerns

Weather.comA little less official, and easier to use for some, and helpful addition

White House Online, 911 and local Civil Defense Contacts, online and off, on radio and television offer helps in many other threatening situations...

more to come...visit again soon!

Comment and Praise in the Special Times: President Salutes the Military, Veterans, and Response Organizations

White House, The East Room
For Immediate Release March 28, 2003..... 2:44 P.M. EST

"...I also appreciate all the veterans are doing for America's military families in time of hardship. I appreciate your compassion. Across our country, local chapters of the American Legion, for example, are stepping forward to help those families in practical ways, from making household repairs to helping with child care. Members of the VFW and Auxiliary are sending care packages with baby supplies to military families. Operation Uplink Program is helping thousands of service members keep in touch with their loved ones. 

Both the American Legion and the VFW are working with the U.S.A. Freedom Corps on a project called On the Home Front. This effort will match Americans who want to volunteer their times and skills with the military families who need help. Because of all this generosity, our men and women serving overseas will know that their loved ones are not facing this time alone.


Praise and Invitation to Visit
My headline says that this is not an offical RedCross site because Redcross must protect its work in all respects to do its job right. Still, this is a good page, and a quick reference to more serious links, and shares insightful thought. I was amazed, myself, exploring the site, and urge all to "stop in"...

Don't wait for a disaster to find Redcross ! It is full of History, great images, stories, links for specific questions, forms, statitistics and, of course, the more familiar American Red Cross Subjects: response, blood services, education, and gifting. Enough to entertain and inform all afternoon!

You can also link to your local Redcross Chapter, or a Chapter near endangered loved ones. Redcross can help if you can't find out if they are ok. Red Cross is there ! And a significant portion of the outright gifts to afflicted families are never repaid. Whatever your feelings about fundraising, give to Red Cross! As one who has been there a little bit with them, did up the helping forms, I must say I was impressed, especially by average "savvy" grownup standards.

A Disaster Shelter Story

with the thousands evacuated to shelters, this memory may be a fine one to share:

After some stateside help with ARCODS, it felt easy to do a little bit in my community, and when a blizzard in my Connecticut hometown on the Harbor threatened to flood homes on the beaches, I helped with a local evacuation shelter. If Florida's shelter people are as kind, and well set up, as we devoted ourselves to being, no one needs to be especially concerned .....once the fears were in line, Fairfield's First Selectman at the time, Jacky Durrell arrived... our popular "Duracell".....she had her own wealth....and gifted us with some of it, "ordered up the pizza" for all occupants of the shelter, staff and those being served....when Domino's Pizza delivered that day, the delivery person needed to stay at the shelter, too , for a bit, to recover from the size of the order! It took some of the edge off the tension, and saved the helpers some "food prep". And gave us a "left-handed blessing" memory to share later.

This kind of "save the day" act is very human, and I'll bet that I could already make another page, here, just full of such stories. In fact the Red Cross site and this one do post such stories...they invite and welcome them...such stories merit sharing, and do a lot of good. So please feel encouraged to submit them !




Since military action began, the AFES(Armed Forces Emergency Services) staff have endured up to a dozen scud and chemical/biological alerts. Although the armed conflict in Iraq began just days ago, the first American Red Cross staff on the contingency team supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom arrived in Kuwait on January 25, 2003, when they joined three AFES workers already on the ground. Since their arrival, they have handled 3,390 cases involving 9,555 emergency communication messages. Sixty-seven percent of the cases have dealt with illness and death of family members; 12 percent are birth announcements. We are seeing an average 20 percent weekly rise in cases, and expect that to increase." 
redcrossnewsletter march 21,2003







My First American Red Cross Story
- Fort Knox, Kentucky 1967

I am at present an American Red Cross volunteer, among other things...temporarily inactive, while my priorities level out. I am still mending from a thing myself right now and so have time to palaver and reminisce. I have always held a "side suit" in helping work, just always, and enjoy it. And after my experiences, I believe more strongly than ever that everyone should get CPR and First Aid Certifications.The classes are easy, fun and not expensive. Even if one is "not inclined to heroism", exposure to the skills could save the life of one we love, and upon calling 911 in a crisis, as we all do, we could say: "I had my CPR...but am not any good at such things,... if you talk me through it, I will do what I can." The first seven minutes in the case of loss of heartbeat or breathing make the life and death difference. My loved ones are worth it, and I am sure yours are, too! 

The Story: 

It was 1966, and my brand-new lieutenant husband and myself were new at Fort Knox Army Base, South of Louisville, KY, USA. He was getting his first officer's experience at "Home of Armor", and soon to be sent for his time in Vietnam. The Officers' Wives stayed busy at the crowded base, contributing in community services of one sort or another but all of it was new to me. I opted for Red Cross work. 

Fresh from convent schools, at nineteen, I had seen little outside the social in the Northeast. I served a single ward made up of Vietnam casualties, some of them new to the hospital, and there due to the new-at-the-time MEDIVAC projects: getting wounded safely and quickly to hospitals in America , after battlefield stabilizing actions. The ward I served was all male, and some of them had been there for a few years, receiving laborious skin and bone grafts (the hospital specialized in orthopedics). 

Each week I became more impressed with the situation, and the people involved. Everybody has fun with the color purple, but in those days, it was the lavender blue of sheets permanently stained with tincture violet, used to dress burns at the time. I became bemused sometimes, because the men echoed corny John Wayne movies with the ward spirit of rough and ready affability and camaraderie, and good nature, in spite of pain and suffering without letup... sometimes for years in some of their cases. 

Visiting the patients on the Ward to make myself useful involved calls to families, errands for this and that for the bedridden, sometimes just conversation, and other times, staying clear and giving them plenty of 'space.' 

One of the men signaled to me one morning, and I moved fast, since, with purple sheets, limbs in slings, and teeth wired shut from jaw injury, if he called, as difficult as it was for him, it was important. When I reached his bedside, he signaled more than spoke that he needed help with some paperwork, always paperwork, no matter what! I reviewed it, then I dropped everything ? the papers were college application forms!!!!! 

If anyone can define "winner" better than that, I would be happy to hear about it. Anybody can do it when it's easy!!! 

The word "COURAGE" makes people bashful, even when it's the right word. 

At Ireland Army Hospital,easy to feel anti-war, anti-guns, just from the little I saw of their work? I referred to my Red Cross work as "peace without the pot," in days when the movement for peace was crowded with people smoking marijuana. My husband won his sharpshooter medal in service and I used to love being a fine shot with darts and "b-b-guns" as a child. I am lucky in family and friends, and some of them are NRA, and I support their belief, and their rights to their beliefs. But for me.... after that,"No."...not a squirt gun on my premises. No big noise about it, just "No". 

My husband and I were expecting our first child soon, and in those days, especially with a first baby, that meant off duty from hospital work with the ARC for a while. When I told the patients in my ward that the day would be my last with them, and told them why?... pandemonium!!!!! Cheers for the baby, and for me, and a wheelchair instantly tucked under me, till I blushed! 

What a rich day! 
Maybe that first, fine experience is why I still love to serve as I can. E.S.F.



ARCODS'90 - Group Five

All my peer were doing "Swan Songs"...those of us who'd helped in other areas, after Viet Nam, under the redcross flag, or otherwise, found it not so hard, if we were fit for it, to heed the call when Carly Simon advertised on TV for ARC volunteers.
Our group was in training at Fort Sam Houston , Texas, when the truce was declared, happy at the peace, knowing that it would not be the end of the problems in the Middle East, and feeling oddly "all dressed up, and no place to go." 

The image below was done on a scrap, on my Grandmother's front porch, waiting for paperwork to go through on my departure from my hometown, Fairfield, Connecticut.

I was goggled at the company ...the fellowship of this particular ring was pretty impressive...the real-life Indiana Jones, one of the active WWII Radio Free Europe-type war communications specialists...lifelong Red Cross Administrators, among others...most of them had hero stars plain and fancy. It was the first time I realized, fully, that the response work I'd done all the years, was , indeed, often more than the "Arts/Mommy" stuff that I called it. Things had been so intense for me, there was not time to ponder.

It was also my first opportunity to really learn more than Clara Barton about the Red Cross...I was boggled at the money spent to help, quite a bit of it with no special hope of repayment.

I learned a lot about correct counselling and service to individuals in the private sector and the military.

I also took training in stress management again, and coping with stress-related intake problems that I might confront.

I learned a great deal about the Corporate Structure of the group, and specifically those branches with involvement in the Middle East. I learned some new Middle East Cultural information, especially protocols and customs relating to women, and the extra precautions that should be taken, to assure effective helpingwork on the trip with no incidents. 

...and even a little Arabic!
"Asalamu!" ...the "aloha" and "kawa"..."coffee!" are all that I remember now... but the experience and the energy and rightminded ness in demanding situations later, I will never forget...or the fellowship! 

Old Den Mothers 9-11-2001

"Old den mothers never die, they just always know when Flag Day is!" - elle fagan

Benched from all volunteer or athletic work due to injury, I was putting it together again and enjoying a healing time.
I had continued with local response work, and did a little at the local office of my new home town. 
But when the office had to upgrade preparedness for Y2K, I was not up to it, yet, so had my tears, and got out of the way. 
I bought a television, a cute one , the first I'd been interested in owning in years. My college and prime work is in arts related, and so I was spending time with the local arts group, developing the art to support me, as planned all my life for midlife and after.

I owned the tv/vcr for less than a week on the morning of September 11, so got happy about the convenience of being able to click into the morning news.
my smile disappeard, and I became confused, thinking that I was seeing the latest in Japanese certainly could not be real.....but it was.

A few miles from me, thousands of people just died! My daughter and her fella could see ash from acroos the sound.
OK...what to do?....I was relieved to find that my feelings were sound...I was "invalid-ed out" and would stay out of the way. I would use my training to observe, as I strolled the neighborhood on my daily walk....just in case. 

The dominant mode was one of respect, and heeding the Presidet's advice to keep as normal as possible, but... 
Friends and neighbors ran to comfort those they knew had family at Ground Zero.
A few blocks away, my church passed the basket ...$11 thousand dollars, in one pass...which, at once, went to relief for the WTC people.
Redcross friends from my town loaded truckloads of supplies packed by our schools and other groups, and flags and candle vigils in the streets, with prayers and wishes in all belief systems filled the air, to purify it from the stunning horror.
There were not too many tears...our part of the world sunk suddenly and profoundly for a moment, like a great ship in a sudden and violent storm....the feeling of the will being overruled, inarguably.  

I like to serve, but did not know I could love like I loved my country and its people at that moment.  

The flags went up and the interest in helping, from those who just don't, under normal circumstances.

I passed Amerbelle each day on my walk, and noticed that their flag was placed so that it became soiled and having done some art with them before, stopped in to leave a note about it to a friend there. We met, and chatted, suddenly remembering the plant processed fabric, and had once woven the fabric for war uniforms as far back as the Civil's waterfall was lovely, still, though no longer the source of hydroelectric power that it once was. Who could make a truer flag!
Corporations take months to change a door lock....but the flag, pictured below was there in 72 might have been less, with spotlights for evening show, yet placed discretely enough to be acceptable for permanent display.
Industrial art is popular here in the Northeast US, where American Industry began. Although many major corps expanded out to othere areas with pleanty of space for growth, the old buildings are history and remodeled for offices, condos or specialty manufacture.
I do some fancy private stuff with my art, and always did, but that flag project will always be my proudest project. 


Preparedness: It is part of our responsibility more than ever, today!  
There is no reason to be lacking for a thing in the event of disaster, whether it be information, training or merchandise.

Visit The American Red Cross Online, or
Government websites, from the White House Online to Homeland Security, to your State and Local Government websites.
They are very well organized and full of neat, easy to follow links to help you.
But these things are advised, to start:
Keep and check on good contact information with your family or immediate associates, or care support persons/orgs.  
There is nothing unusual about the wisdom of making certain that special medical or care needs of any sort are seen to.

Plan and prepare in co-operation with your local guidelines ...
but DO discuss it with your people, and PLAN your needs .  


If you have no inclination to get into preparedness and need to make yourself comply with homeland security and civil defense directives, do not be unhappy with yourself.
The bio-medical research people will soon help with this, with a report on which hormones and DNA attributes incline a person to Red Cross work, and other interactive and response things, including parenthood and marriage.

Nurture as well as nature has a lot to do with it. My parents and now, my children tend to the altruistic as, at least, a volunteer activity. Mother did, I did, and my children do and have done. My parents were the most idealistic in community involvements and helping work, and even a touch of the self-seeking in such activities was considered a flaw..."If it were given a man to see virtue's reward in the next world, he would occupy his intellect, memory and will in nothing but good works, careless of danger or fatigue." -St. Catherine of Genoa
such was expected of them, and of me, as I helped while growing up in their home.

With such beautiful example, I was permitted to do some fancy things in such foci, but often fell ill till I learned the Compassion & Intellect balance. 
If response work is done correctly, there is a rewarding feeling and some good done, and a general celebration of the best of the human experience. If a person suffers in the acts of helping, the instinct is to leave it or become jaded and self-seeking in it, the pendulum having been swung by misfortune to the other side of the case.
Like most, my part of it has involved the need and ability to resolve such conflicts regularly, and my marriage to a man who made medicine for a firm whose money was set up "non-profit" for the healing, was perfect for me. His death did damage to my balance where this concept is concerned.
Neverltheless, Our daughter brings it to par, with no problem being hired and fairly paid for her work as nanny, with autistic children,and now with The American Cancer Society.
It is my function and destiny to be the one to wrestle with it and negotiate, the generation between my beautiful Mothers's "high-flying-bird-ness" in it, and my daughter's clear pro, effective, healthy path in it, without abandonment of the compassionate message that motivated her to begin with.
I has been my unavoidable politicking on it that has been my delight and downfall...but my daugher's achievement give me a smile in it, even when I am at an impasse of pure frustration and futility in it....more later..:-)





Patron Saints for Red Cross Ladies, and those they serve:

The ARC site tells about Saint Filomena portrayed valiantly in one on its famous Tiffany Stained Glass Windows, as its special patron, and the Patron Saints indes shares a complete profile of Filomena, the miracle-worker and aid in time of civil distress. 

This Patroness protects against natural disasters: 
Saint Agatha ~ after her martyrdom, her veil was used as an icon to prevent volcanic eruptions. 

Details about the following List of Saints who protect against storms:

  • * Agrippina
  • * Barbara
  • * Catald
  • * Christopher
  • * Erasmus
  • * Florian
  • * Gratus of Aosta
  • * Jodocus
  • * Our Lady of Zapopan
  • * Scholastica
  • * Thomas Aquinas
  • * Urban of Langres
  • * Vitus
  • * Walburga