Survivor stories – Red Cross helps disaster areas and single individuals

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Most of us know the Red Cross does good things. But few of us have a good idea of just how this organization really helps people. Since this year for Single Working Women’s Week we are doing a benefit fundraiser for the Red Cross, it seems like a good idea to share a couple of stories about the good they do–both in times of natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis and in the lives of individuals like you and me. Here’s a recap of a story about a Hurricane Katrina survivor who eventually moved to Chicago:

Taneshia Dunn was working at a hotel in New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina started pounding towards the Gulf. Having survived Hurricane Ivan a year earlier, she and her fiancé William decided to wait and see.

On the Saturday before the storm hit, they went to Wal-mart. The lines to get gasoline trailed down the block. It was miserably hot, and Taneshia’s car didn’t have air conditioning. She was still skeptical about taking a long trip for nothing. All night, she and William watched the news. At one point, she heard a stern warning from the city’s mayor that changed her mind. At 4 a.m. on Sunday, they packed up a few bags and headed to Houston. It took them more than 8 hours to make the 4-hour trip.

Taneshia and William spent the first month after the hurricane living with family in the countryside. They had no power for that entire time, so they grilled their meals in the yard and relied on generators. When the city of New Orleans reopened, Taneshia went home to see what she could salvage. Almost everything in her house was destroyed. Her neighbor had stated behind and taken photos during the storm. “The whole street looked like a lake,” Taneshia said.

They headed to Baton Rouge and found a motel with an open room. “I remember thinking, ‘We’re here, now how are we going to eat?’” Before she could worry for very long, the American Red Cross arrived at the motel offering warm meals, cold water and snacks. “They came by every day, three times a day,” Taneshia said. “It made me think, ‘Wow, this Red Cross is really something special.”

Months later when she relocated to Chicago—her first time living anywhere but Louisiana—she took a position at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and still works there today. “After an experience like Katrina, your outlook on everything changes,” Taneshia said. “It taught me to appreciate things on a whole new level.” Working at the Red Cross has also helped Taneshia heal. “I made a vow that when I got back on my feet, I wanted to give back,” Taneshia said. “Now I get to be part of the organization I care so much about.” Read the full blog post.

To learn more about preparing for disasters, visit

And then there’s a story of how the work of the Red Cross saved the life of a healthy woman out for a jog. Training police and others in first aid/CPR training is another way ARC helps—even when the disaster that strikes is a personal one.

Lisa Karder Perez was taking a brief jog in her neat Cleveland suburban neighborhood one afternoon. Lisa remembers saying hello to a neighbor, then nothing. She’d lost consciousness, and it turned out to be a sudden cardiac arrest. A neighbor Robert Glorioso was driving by as he took his son home from school when the nine-year-old Virgil saw a woman lying by the roadside.

Being a caring neighbor and a brave man, Robert stopped beside the woman and, on checking, found he couldn’t hear her breathing and could hardly feel her pulse.

Robert knew he couldn’t waste time, so he called 911. Knowing that every second counted, he “began to administer rescue breaths and CPR compressions to the stricken woman.”

When a nearby police office arrived, he immediately unpacked an AED from his car and applied the electrical shock to Lisa’s heart—and gradually her pulse grew stronger.

Within minutes, a Medevac helicopter airlifted Lisa to a nearby Cleveland medical center. Lisa is now fully recovered—and very grateful to the two men. The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties honored both men at a Real Heroes Breakfast.

CPR training

Image via Wikipedia

“I never thought this could happen to me. But I was lucky,” confides Lisa. “People who knew what to do were only seconds away. I’m here today because they took action and got involved. Others aren’t so fortunate. I’m involved with the Red Cross not only to encourage everyone to get CPR and basic first aid training, but also because cardiac arrest or a heart attack can happen to anybody – the last person you saw, sat next to or hugged could be that person. You don’t have to be an expert in CPR/AED to save someone’s life, but to do something gives the person a chance to survive. Together, we can turn heartbreak to hope.”  Read the whole story.

If you live in the Chicago area, we hope you’ll join us on Thursday, August 4, for the fun party/benefit Karat Cake 5-5-5. Every piece of cake you guy donates to the cause and wins you a wonderful prize – details here. All proceeds go to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. If you can’t join us, you can still purchase raffle tickets to benefit the cause—and maybe win one of our really cool prizes. Or you can just give—click to Donate Only.

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