Monthly Archives: March 2014


I don’t know if our Red Cross friends have noticed, but this part of the world is damp. Sometimes, it’s too damp. Southeastern Pennsylvania experiences several torrential rainfall events a year, and while this makes our local flora lush and green, we also live with the threat of flooding, especially in low-lying areas.

The Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania is committed to helping people in our area be prepared for disasters all kinds. Recently, we have been developing applications for iPad, iPhone and Android to help people act safely and responsibly in the event of an emergency. Our newest app, provided in both English and Spanish, deals with the most common disaster in the United States: flooding.

Floods are extremely dangerous because they occur quickly and with little warning. A road can become impassible in a matter of seconds. A house can be submerged in the same amount of time. The flood app will have location based NOAA flood and flash flood warnings to let users know when they are in danger and should evacuate. It will offer one touch “I’m safe” messaging to family and friends, as well as inform users of critical steps to take in order to stay safe. The app provides the locations of Red Cross shelters, resources for recovery and opportunities to learn more about helping friends and neighbors when the water get too high. These include interactive quizzes and badges you can earn and share on social networks. It even provides a flashlight, strobe light and alarm to make others aware of your location

Everyone who lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania should download this app. When the unexpected occurs, we are filled with questions. What should we do? Where should we go? What should we remember to bring? What dangers should we worry about and anticipate? The Red Cross is doing a tremendous service by making the answers to these questions as accessible as a smart phone. The flood app will save lives, it will provide essential information in real time and it will assist people to recover when the waters recede.

Here’s wharco_blog_img_FloodAppt the National Office of the Red Cross has to say:

The Flood App is the latest in a series of Red Cross emergency preparedness apps that put lifesaving information right in the hands of people whenever and wherever they need it. These apps allow people to make critical, lifesaving decisions.

All Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to

Apps are not a substitute for training. Go to to take a First Aid and CPR class so you’ll know what to do in case emergency help is delayed.

As a volunteer photographer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Red Cross communications, I have the opportunity to witness dozens of examples of my fellow _ALT4720volunteers on the job. Often, they are not just helping people who have experienced catastrophe, but are on hand at major city events to handle medical emergencies and participate in fund raisers, which are the “life blood” of our local Red Cross.

At the Hurricane Sandy Thank-a-Thon, I took pictures as volunteers manned telephones at Channel 3 and spent the day calling contributors to

Carolyn Smith V Front Desk

express thanks.  I was at Red Cross House during Thanksgiving week to witness over 400 turkeys being handed out to people in the community.  I was also at the delicious cook-out celebrating the Red Cross House’s tenth anniversary. There, I witnessed volunteers working tirelessly from morning to dusk to make the occasion a high point 

for current and past Red Cross House guests. What an amazing event!  Scrumptious food was prepared, cooked, and served by Red Cross House volunteers.

Volunteers are not only ON the scene of disaster but BEHIND the scenes working on-call shifts for 

Bob Brown at the BarbecueCommunications, tweeting key information on breaking and ongoing disasters.   On Independence Day, a Disaster team was on the job, performing first aid and signing up volunteers.  Large city events can sometimes involve crowd related injuries.  Red Cross volunteers were on the scene to assist people until late that night.ouse employees and volunteers.  This summer, I photographed the Annual Veterans’ Stand-down, a huge event to connect homeless veterans to essential services in their communities.

Then there are the people who volunteer to wear the Fred Cross and Buddy Tear Drop mascot costumes to delight the children at the annual Holiday party.  It is HOT inside those outfits, but nobody complains.BloodDropFredBaby

I could go on and on citing example after example, but I think you get the drift.

The selfless dedication to the Red Cross Mission, seen day-in and day-out in the hundreds and hundreds of people who do the work of the Red Cross in the Philadelphia area, is so apparent.  And the thing that stands out the most for me is that Red Cross Volunteers LOVE the work they do.  None would have it any other way.

I’m very proud to be associated with the American Red Cross SEPA Chapter, and will always be grateful that I signed up to be part of the team.

Michelle Alton


Submitted by: Lisa Piraino

TV appearances, winning the lottery and deviled eggs – all part of a day’s work as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Although the real work of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies is done by Disaster Action Team volunteers (those are the folks getting the call in the middle of the night to go help a family who has just lost their home to a fire), there are opportunities to help the local Red Cross in ways that you might not have imagined.

As a fundraiser by profession, I help the Red Cross Financial Development and Communications teams. In order to raise money, people have to know about what the Red Cross is doing! Through partnerships with TV stations and newspapers as well as the SEPA Facebook and Twitter accounts, the Communications team shares updates on preparing for severe weather, fire safety and other Red Cross events. They also work closely with the Red Cross fundraising team to share how donors can (2)

After the devastating series of tornadoes in Oklahoma last summer, the Red Cross partnered with CBS Philly to hold an all-day telethon. Volunteers staffed a phone bank and throughout the day CBS Philly anchors urged viewers to call in and donate. I worked a shift at the phone bank and enjoyed talking to many generous members of our community. I felt very privileged to be able to answer questions about Red Cross efforts

in Oklahoma (and in Philadelphia), many of the donors thanked me for my work, and it felt great to be a part of the Red Cross team. The highlight of the evening was when the woman sitting next to me took the information for a $5,000 donation – it felt like winning the lottery for the Red Cross.

I’ve also worked at Red Cross events designed to raise money and honor our partners, the first responders. At the Bucks County Police vs. Firefighter Football Game I was in charge of twitter coverage and staffing the biggest celebrity there – Fred Cross!photo (3)

 It was a beautiful fall day at Palisades High School. I played the part of a sideline reporter, interviewing the players and special guests, taking pictures and sharing game highlights.

Some Red Cross events focus on donors (like the telethon), or the community (like the football game), but many Red Cross events are for our clients: those who have suffered from fires, floods or other disasters. This past fall, Red Cross House hosted a barbeque for the residents, and asked for volunteers to help prepare and serve the food. So, on a Saturday morning I found myself making hundreds of deviled eggs. There were no TV cameras. There was no twitter feed. We were just a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers helping.


If you’ve wanted to volunteer with the Red Cross but aren’t sure how to begin, don’t let that stop you anymore! The mission of the Red Cross is so big and the work so expansive that there is a place for everyone to help.

Find your perfect volunteering opportunity here!

Lisa Piraino is a former employee turned volunteer with the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania.