Survivor stories – Red Cross helps disaster areas and single individuals

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Image by pennstatelive via Flickr

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

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“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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SWWAN winner announced at last!


Beth accepts her SWWAN Week prize at Radiance Fine Jewelry where the event was held this August. Beth is on the left, and Rebecca, owner of the store and one of the original SWWAN vendors (25% off jewelry repair services for all SWWAN members!).

We’re excited to say that we were finally able to award Beth Bradfish, winner of the drawing at this year’s Single Working Women’s Week celebration, with the beautiful, bountiful basket of beauty products and other goodies from Nails by Michelle in Villa Park, Illinois (call for an apointment at 630.834.0004).

We’re also glad to say Beth plans to join our SWWAN vendor program for her unique coaching programs. Welcome, Beth. And tremendous thanks to Nails by Michelle for their generous and imaginative gift.

Fun at Single Working Women's Week holiday kickoff event in Chicago


Perfect time to remind single working women that the Single Working Women’s Week holiday is an official annual occasion for you to buy yourself that piece of special jewelry you’ve been dreaming about all year!

During the holiday kickoff celebration in Chicago this year (the holiday is on ALL THIS WEEK, ladies–you’ve still got plenty of time!), Rebecca Gutermuth, owner of Radiance Fine Jewelry and designer of the beautiful solid silver SWWAN pendant, talked with single working woman Tara about buying jewelry that compliments your style.

  • Stop by and visit Rebecca soon. Her store offers 25% off fine jewelry repairs all year long to SWWAN members.
  • Want to use a mechanic you can trust? Go and see Luis Avila at SWWAN vendor Andre’s Automotive Service. He offers SWWAN members a FREE 30-point inspection to help you keep your car in good shape.
  • Hate taking time to get to the cleaners? Use SWWAN vendor Drive Cleaning‘s free home pickup and delivery service. SWWAN members get 20% off their first order.

We’re looking for nominations of your favorite vendors. Places that treat women customers well–even when they come in alone! Send us your favorite restaurants, mechanics, hair salons, coffee shops, whatever. We’ll talk with them and negotiate a discount or other offer exclusively for SWWAN members.

Happy Single Working Women’s Week! Do something wonderful for a single friend.

Single women: reach out and give without asking back


Give with your whole heart. Don’t ask for a return. Connect with each other–for business, for all the things we need in life.

That’s what celebrants at last night’s opening event heard from keynote speaker Sharan Tash, owner of The ProNetworker, Inc., NAWBO Chicago director, NSA speaker, and creator of the “pay-it-forward, boomerang networking” concept. Sharan told of how giving from the heart without thought of return always comes back to you tenfold.

As a shining example of practice-what-you-preach, Sharan, SWWAN thanks you for inspiring attendees at this celebration of the first annual Single Working Women’s Week holiday.

Hostess Monica Davis praised single women and single mothers for all they contribute. Thanks to all those who shared in this delightful evening, including sponsors Lynfred Winery and National City Bank. Special thanks to Rebecca Gutermuth, designer of the beautiful SWWAN jewelry line, who hosted the party at her lovely store, Radiance Fine Jewelry.

And special thanks to columnist and authoress Jacquee Thomas whose contributions made the event extra special. Passionate speaking, wine, food, violins, and sharing. It was a beautiful event. For a copy of the event’s program, click here. Photos will be posted as soon as we can get them up!

If you live in Cleveland, please join us for our Cleveland SWWAN party TOMORROW!