Red Cross works with many partners during disasters

Red Cross volunteers work with many partner agencies at the multi-agency resource center in Doniphan, Missouri after flooding  destroyed and damaged hundreds of homes in the area earlier this year. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

By Julia Lugon
American Red Cross
It was a dark, stormy night when Deborah Abner arrived in Chapman, Kansas.  She was there with the Salvation Army to assist the survivors of an EF-3 tornado that left a path of destruction across the town, destroyed over 60 homes and left hundreds of families homeless. The violent storm took the lives of two people and damaged churches, business and schools.

She was there to help – but she was also scared. What can you do in a situation like this? How can you help families rebuild? As she walked around thinking about her next steps, a sigh of relief: the friendly face of an American Red Cross volunteer.

The Salvation Army and the Red Cross have worked together for years to help people in disasters.  In the 2008 Chapman tornado, the organizations worked side by side to feed survivors, volunteers and response teams.

“We were so glad to see each other because then we knew everything was going to be OK,” said Deborah, the Salvation Army’s assistant divisional director for disaster services.

Deborah and her Red Cross friend decided they would work together serving lunch and dinner at a tennis court nearby. Parking their emergency response vehicles in the shape of an L, they created an environment of hospitality, where people could hang out and have a nice meal. Many restaurants donated food, and there was a lot of barbecuing.

“This just became like a community center, a place for people to come and see normal for just a few hours every day. It was a happy, wonderful place and it started with two friends: one from the Salvation Army and one from the Red Cross,” Deborah said.

After a disaster, there’s a lot to do: sheltering, feeding, assistance with insurance, case work, mental health, cleaning debris, cutting trees, figuring out how to get back to a normal life. And in each one of these steps, there’s a different organization that can help.

“There’s so much to do that no organization can do it all on their own, and no one should have to,” said Joann Woody, Red Cross mass care program manager for Missouri.

Red Cross volunteers work with many partner agencies to provide assistance to those recovering from a disaster. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

By working together and coordinating efforts, disaster organizations can assist communities effectively, fulfill their mission and avoid duplicating services.

“We all know each other: it’s like working with family. If someone raises the red flag, we are all going to be there together and help out,” Joann said.

Among the many Red Cross partners is United Way 211 of Greater Kansas City, which connects survivors, donors, volunteers and emergency managers with their call center system. By feeding information in a huge database, United Way volunteers are able to identify the needs and resources available, connecting people to the most appropriate source.

“There’s a constant flow or information coming in after a disaster and things can change quickly,” said Gary Thurman, United Way 211 director in Kansas City. “There’s a lot of people out there doing a whole lot of good. If you just had your life turned upside down by a disaster and you need some help, we can connect you to those different organizations, help you navigate through all these different resources with the least amount of frustration.”

Immediately after a disaster, it’s common for organizations to gather in multi-agency resources centers to help survivors.

It is a one stop shop where families can talk with nonprofits, insurance companies, state agencies and mental health groups and figure out their next steps to recovery. These  centers wouldn’t be possible without the help of another Red Cross partner: Catholic Charities of Kansas City – St. Joseph.

“We all have the same goal of working with the survivors so they can become self-sufficient. And the more support they have, the better off they will be.  We understand that other nonprofits are great in what they do, so we utilize their talents in their areas of expertise so we can shine in our area of expertise,” said Kisha Thomas, Welcome Center director for Catholic Charities of Kansas City – St. Joseph.

In order to coordinate efforts and ensure organizations are in sync in a disaster response, there needs to be constant communication.

One of the ways to do this is through the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD),  a national movement founded in the 1970s. With over 100 member organizations, including the Red Cross, and representation at the state and local level, this movement is guided by the principles of cooperation, communication, coordination and collaboration.

The Missouri VOAD is well-known for its excellent work and collaboration. The secret to success? According to Jody Dickhaut, Missouri VOAD chairman, it’s all about “rock star”organizations working together.

Aside from chairing the state VOAD, Jody also is a member of the Adventist Community Services, a longtime partner with Red Cross in disaster response.

Most recently, members of the Adventist group worked with the Red Cross to help Missouri flood survivors maneuver through the various agencies at the multi-agency resource centers set up in various towns where there had been flooding.

Jody said he realized years ago that it’s about organizations working together with the common goal of helping others while watching a TV interview with Joe Walsh, one of the members of the Eagles rock group.

When asked about the group’s success, Joe said that while most  rock bands have a single lead singer, whose ego can grow and hinder the collaborative nature of the band, the Eagles didn’t have one lead singer, they had four.

As much as they were all rock stars, they could never create on their own as individual artists what they could create together as a team. It was a matter of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

“When you transfer that to the disaster world – The Red Cross, Adventist Community Services, Catholic Charities… every one of them is a rock star organization, they have so much capacity,” Jody said.  “But when we work together we can create something even better.  We’re not just adding our own capacity we’re exponentially growing.”

To view a video about Red Cross partners go to:


Red Cross blood shortage continues

Summer 2017 Emergency Need_July 5_Blood EmergencyThousands of people have responded to the American Red Cross emergency call for blood and platelet donations in early July, but there continues to be a critical summer blood shortage.

After issuing the emergency call, the Red Cross experienced a 30 percent increase in blood donation appointments through mid-July. About half of the appointments were scheduled by donors using the free Blood Donor App or at

As a special thank you, those who donate blood or platelets with the Red Cross from July 26 through Aug. 31 will be emailed a $5 Target eGiftCard™.*

 Despite this improvement, blood products are still being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, so more donations are needed to meet patient needs and replenish the blood supply.JULY BLood 3

“The blood supply is like a cell phone battery, it constantly needs recharging,” said Joe Zydlo, external communications manager of the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region. “We sincerely appreciate those who have responded to the call to help save lives and encourage those who haven’t to consider rolling up a sleeve and give the gift of life. It only takes about an hour but can mean a lifetime for patients.”

Nearly 61,000 fewer blood donations than needed were given through the Red Cross in May and June, prompting the emergency call in early July. The shortfall was the equivalent of the Red Cross not receiving any blood donations for more than four days.

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities through August 15 in the Greater Kansas City Chapter service area:

 JULY 26
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Kansas City Fire Department, 6750 Eastwood Trafficway, Kansas City.
7 a.m. – Noon, Missouri Department of Transportation, 600 NE Colbern Rd., Lees Summit.

10 a.m. – 2 p.m., City Center Square, 1100 Main Street, Kansas City.

9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Red Cross Chapter, 211 W. Armour Blvd, Kansas City.

10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Apostolic Church of God, 1911 Hardesty Ave., Kansas City.
1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Spartan Athletics, 725 NW Commerce Dr., Lees Summit

2:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Victory Christian Fellowship, 903 W Walnut St., Waverly.

AUG. 3
9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Kansas City Courthouse, 415 E. 12th St., Kansas City.
2 p.m. – 6 p.m., Presbyterian Disciples Church, 914 Franklin Ave, Lexington.

1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Hy Vee-Liberty, 109 N. Blue Jay Dr., Liberty.

AUG. 7
Noon – 4 p.m., North Kansas City YMCA, 1999 Iron, North Kansas City

9 a.m. – Noon, Adesa Kansas City, 15511 Adesa Dr., Belton.
11 a.m. – 4 p.m., zTrip, 1316 E. 14th St., Kansas City.

AUG. 10
10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Heritage Biologics Inc., 255 NW Victoria Dr., Lees Summit.

Red Cross to host “Military & Veterans Family Day” July 15 in Kansas City


The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces is there to help members of the military, veterans and their families with various issues. (American Red  Cross photo)

The American Red Cross will host a “Military and Veterans Family Day” on Saturday, July 15. The free workshops will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the chapter’s offices at 211 W. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

Sessions for both adults and children will focus on reconnecting military members and veterans with their families. Those interested in attending may register at

 “Often those who have served in the military need tools to help them deal with the stress of reuniting with their families,” says Jason Ramlow, regional director of the Service to the Armed Forces of the Red Cross.

“We will offer a workshop for adults on how to better communicate with spouses and family members, and another session for children will help them learn to reconnect with parents who have been deployed or away from home.”

In hosting this event, the Red Cross is partnering with the Missouri Humanities Council, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Veterans Community Project and the Mid-Continent Public Library.

The Veterans Community Project will be showcasing one of their tiny homes at this event. Stop by and write a note for veteran, welcoming them to their new home.



The Red Cross’ commitment to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families continues to grow and develop more than a century after founder Clara Barton first recruited nurses to support the Army.

Today, the Red Cross is meeting the needs of a changing military and expanding services to veterans. Red Cross support of military members and their families enhances morale and contributes to increased operational capability in several ways.

Whether delivering comfort items to ill or injured service members at a military hospital, providing mental health skill-building workshops to military families, or assisting families during an emergency, Red Cross volunteers are there for our military 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Red Cross issues emergency call for blood donations

BLOOD GRAPHIC JULYThe American Red Cross is facing a critical blood shortage and is issuing an emergency call for eligible blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now and help save lives.

Blood donations have fallen short of expectations nationally for the past two months, resulting in about 61,000 fewer donations than needed and causing a significant draw down of the Red Cross blood supply. The shortfall is the equivalent of the Red Cross not collecting any blood donations for more than four days.

Blood shortages often worsen around Independence Day due to many fewer volunteer-hosted blood drives at places of work, worship or community gathering, and this year is no exception. Nearly 700 fewer blood drives are scheduled during the Independence Day week than the weeks before and after the holiday.blood graphic 2

Overall, the summer months are among the most challenging for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they vacation and participate in summer activities. In a recent survey of Red Cross blood donors, more than 73 percent indicated vacation plans this summer, many of them occurring the weeks before and after Independence Day.

Every two seconds in the United States blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant procedures, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross has added more than 25,000 appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors.

Here is the list of donation sites in the Kansas City Metro Area for the month of July:

Blue Springs
July 21: Noon-4 p.m., Outlaw Harley Davidison, 3100 Northwest Jefferson.

July 7: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Pizza Ranch, 4660 Bass Pro Drive.
July 17: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., US Bank Noland Road Branch, 3640 South Noland Road.
July 21: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Bass Pro Shop Independence, 18001 Bass Pro Drive.
July 25, 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Genesis Health Clubs, 3850 South Crackerneck Road.

Kansas City
July 9: 9:30 a.m-1:30 p.m., Highlands Community of Christ Church, 7615 North Platte Purchase Drive. (In memory of Marta Smith)
July 10: 2 p.m.-6 p.m., KCI Crossfit, 10601 Northwest Ambassador Drive, Suite G.
July 15: 10 a.m.-7 p.m, Swope Parkway Church of Christ, 5620 Swope Parkway.
July 18: 3 p.m-7 p.m., Genesis Health Clubs, 8600 Ward Parkway, Suite 7.
July 20: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Kansas City City Hall , 414 East 12th Street.
July  21: 8 a.m.-Noon, Boilermakers Local 83, 5910 East 86th Street.
July 24: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium- Shark Week Extravaganza, 2475 Grand Blvd.
July 25: 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Greek Orthodox Church-Annunciation, 12001 Wornall Road.

July 20: 1 p.m.-5 p.m., KCB Bank, 950 West 92 Highway.

July 10: 2:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Trinity Lutheran Church, 603 North 8th Street.

July 17: 2 p.m.-6 p.m., Basehor Community Library, 1400 158th Street.

Kansas City
July 6: Noon-4 p.m., AT&T Mobility, 10620 Parallel Parkway.

July 6: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Creative One, 11460 Tomahawk Creek Parkway.
July 22: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 4501 West 119th Street.

July 13: 8 a.m.-Noon, Vin Solutions, 5700 Broadmoor, 9th Floor.

July 6: 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Aberdeen Village, 17500 West 119th Street.
July 11: 4 p.m.-8 p.m., 151st Street Church of Christ, 13875 West 151st Street.
July 12: 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Bass Pro Shop Olathe, 12051 Bass Pro Drive.
July 22: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 14500 151st Street.

Overland Park
July 7: 11:30 p.m.-6 p.m., Overland Park Regional Medical Center, 10500 Quivira Road.
July 14: 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Security Bank of Kansas City, 7500 West 95th Street.
July 15: 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 12251 Antioch Road.
July 20: 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Menorah Medical Center, 5721 West 119th Street.
July 25: 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Lifetime Fitness OP, 6800 West 138th Street.

Prairie Village
July 11: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., US Bank Mission Road Branch, 6940 Mission Road.

July 24: 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Genesis Health Clubs, 11311 West Shawnee Mission Parkway.