Red Cross joins with church to help Missouri flood victims


Red Cross volunteer Oscar Peterson of the Greater Kansas City Chapter shakes hands with Deacon Greg Clark of the First Assembly of God Church  in Van Buren, MO.  The Red Cross provided box fans for flood victims in the town. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

By Carl Manning
American Red Cross

With much being done by Red Cross volunteers to help those in need after the massive Missouri flooding, often it’s the little things that make the difference and create lasting friendships among strangers.

Take the case of the Red Cross response in the Van Buren, MO where the Red Cross joined its many partners at the Multi-Agency Resource Center, a one-stop shop for disaster relief.

Scores of homes were damaged in the county-seat town of 900 by floodwaters from the nearby Current River. But like many isolated towns in the Ozarks, residents have learned to depend on themselves and outsiders, including the Red Cross, have to earn their trust.

“What affects one of us affects all of us. We pull together because to us it’s all about neighbor helping neighbor,” explained Deacon Greg Clark of the First Assembly of God Church.

Many flooded residents in Van Buren, MO had to discard their possessions. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

At the church, people can pick up Red Cross supplies such as cleanup kits, rakes, shovels and trash bags along with hundreds of other items donated by partner groups.

A Red Cross volunteer was talking to the deacon and asked if there was anything else he needed. Deacon Greg looked down at the ground and pondered before replying.

“Well, we really could use a few box fans,” he said quietly with a tone that anticipated rejection.

The fans are important because residents use them to help dry the interiors of their homes after water-soaked items had been stacked outside at the curb. The problem is the demand far exceeds the number of available fans in town.

When the request reached the MARC manager, Red Cross volunteer Oscar Peterson of the Greater Kansas City Chapter, his response was simple.

“We have to find the way to ‘yes’ on this for the sake of this community. They have suffered so much already,” the retired firefighter told his MARC colleagues.

Oscar explained the situation to those at the Red Cross disaster relief operations headquarters in St. Louis and was told that a fan-filled van would be sent there.

The next afternoon, the van arrived and the deacon broke into a broad grin as Oscar and other volunteers started toting the cartons of fans inside the church.

Red Cross volunteer Oscar Peterson carries box fans into the First Assembly of God Church in Van Buren, MO (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

“You guys have bent over backwards. You have been over the top helpful,” the deacon said. “Everything we’ve remotely asked for, you have done your best to deliver.”

And with that single effort of bringing fans to the deacon, the Red Cross no longer was seen as an outsider but a neighbor helping a neighbor.

“When people ask, I’m going to tell them, trust me the Red Cross is here to help the community and they are here for as long as we need them,” Deacon Greg said as he and Oscar shook hands.


Red Cross and MARC partners provide circle of assistance



Red Cross volunteer Mary Brod, a caseworker from Richmond, VA, puts her arm around Dennis Schweiger while he was Dennis that the Red Cross would provide financial assistance in his flood recovery. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

 By Carl Manning
American Red Cross

When the water started rising, Dennis Schweiger really wasn’t worried until his wife Markey called from work and told him the area around her was flooding.

He told her he would come pick her up, but when he stepped on the front porch, he saw the swift moving rising water engulfing his front yard. That’s when he started worrying.

“While I was standing on the porch talking to my wife, I saw my garage float by with my Corvette in it,” Dennis recalled. “I held my dog because if I had put him down he would have been a goner.”

He said the water went down almost as quickly as it rose, but the damage had been scores of homes in the West Plains, Mo., area. Now it was a matter of recovering and salvaging what could be saved.

A few days after all that happened, Dennis heard about a Multi-Agency Resource Center, or MARC, being held at the civic center with the American Red Cross and some 20 partner agencies there to help those recovering from the flood. It’s one of some 18 scheduled to operate in the flooded areas of the state.

Dennis Schweiger meets with Red Cross caseworkers Mary Bode and Steve Moore, both of Richmond, VA, at the Multi-Agency Resource Center in West Plains, MO. Dennis’ home had extensive damage and he met with the Red Cross and its partners at the MARC to get recovery assistance. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

Essentially, a MARC is one-stop shopping with various agencies gathered at one location to help people. Dennis wasn’t sure what would be there, but he decided to check it out and liked what he saw.

“It makes it so much simpler for people who have been through all this turmoil. They really can walk out of here with peace of mind,” Dennis said.

Like the others there, Dennis registered and was assigned a Adventist Community Services volunteer who guided him from one location to the next to make sure he didn’t overlook an agency where he might get assistance.

One of the first stops for Dennis was the Red Cross, and volunteer Les Orser of Grand Junction, CO, who specializes in disaster counseling. After talking several minutes, Dennis shook hands and was taken to his next stop along the large circle of tables of assistance groups.

Les said recovering from a disaster can be difficult and often it helps to talk to someone who can put things in perspective. He advises people to concentrate on what needs to be done that day rather than focusing on the overall problem.

Dennis also talked to Red Cross caseworkers to get an idea of what they could do help him in his recovery, a long process that will include major interior repairs to the double-wide mobile home.

He next talked to Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri volunteer Dee Maples who explained that her organization among other things has teams to help repair and rebuild damaged homes.

Dennis also talked to those from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, where he found information about avoiding various scams that often follow disasters and the University of Missouri Extension Service, that had information on such things as how to replace lost vital documents and tips on cleaning up after the flood.

Dennis Schweiger talks to Red Cross volunteer Les Orser of Grand Junction, CO, a member of the disaster mental health team, about how his home was damagaed by flooding in West Plains, MO. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

At the Salvation Army table, Dennis was explaining what he had gone through when Red Cross caseworker Mary Brod of Richmond, VA., walked up and told him he was eligible for financial assistance after a Red Cross damage assessment team had checked out his home while he was making the rounds at the MARC.

As he started to thank her, Mary put her arm around him to assure him that thing will be better and reflexively he did the same with her.

His journey around the circle of assistance completed, Dennis stepped outside where he was met by other Red Cross volunteers offering items such as rakes, shovels, storage bins, clean up kits from the Salvation Army and even dog food.

“I got more help than I really expected and I’m sure there will be more to come,” he said with a smile.

Red Cross works with partners to provide shelter after flooding

Red Cross volunteer Codey Bryant talks to Nicole Vincent who is staying at a Red Cross shelter in West Plains, Mo., after flooding forced Nicole from her home. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)


By Carl Manning
American Red Cross

Nicole Vincent was with her two youngsters when the floodwater started creeping into her West Plains, Mo., mobile home. All she could do was wait for help to come.

“It was really scary. I was just thinking about getting my children to safety and worrying about my family,” she said.

Finally, emergency responders got her and her children to the Red Cross shelter at the First Baptist Church which was operating that first night because of everybody pulling together to make it happen.

Red Cross volunteer Codey Bryant, a truck driver who lives near West Plains, was in Illinois when he got a phone call that water was rising and a shelter would be needed. He rushed back to work as the shelter manager only to find the other Red Cross volunteers were unable to get there because of high water.

Flooding in West Plains, Mo., forced many people from their homes. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)


That’s when Pastor John King, members of his congregation plus others from the community jumped in to set up the cots, blankets and other items needed to convert a large room at the church into a shelter for the scores of people arriving after being flooded out.

“It was a real challenge but everybody was real good about helping out, especially the pastor and his team, that we were able to do it. If we didn’t have the partners that we have, we couldn’t have done it,” Codey said.

Recalling that first night, Codey said, “My thought was to help others and just keep moving. We just kept working until we got it done.”

One important task the church took on was handling the distribution of donated clothing and other items that were dropped off to the church.

Like many others at the shelter, Nicole arrived with little more than the clothes on her back. Just about everything else was lost to the rising floodwater and because of the donated goods, she was able to get clothing for herself and children.

“It’s pretty amazing for them to help all of us like this,” she said. “Really, it what neighbor helping neighbor is all about.”

Nicole already is looking ahead working with the Red Cross and its partners as she starts the recovery process. Her first priority is finding a new place to live.

Red Cross volunteers move cots in a shelter in West Plains, Mo. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)

“I want to stay in West Plains because this is where my home always has been and this where my family is,” she said.


After a few days, the Red Cross needed to relocate the shelter because of prior commitments for the space at the church. Again, it was the Red Cross working with its partners to make the smooth transition to the First Methodist Church.

Everything was packed up by Red Cross volunteers and community partners, put into trailers and carried to new location on the other side of the town square. As it was at the Baptist Church, the Methodists took over the task of handling the donated items dropped off.

For the Rev. Jon Thompson, the Methodist pastor, working with the Red Cross is a good way to help the community in a time of need.

“The community is being helped by the Red Cross, the church and all the other groups,” he said. “All the community is being helped by everyone working together.”

Red Cross honors volunteers during National Volunteer Week

Whenever disaster strikes a community, American Red Cross volunteers are there to help those in need. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)

The American Red Cross is honoring its volunteers during National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) for giving their time, energy and compassion to help those in need and is urging people interested in helping others in times of disaster to become Red Cross volunteers.

Red Cross volunteers respond to some 64,000 disasters each year, the vast majority of those being home fires where volunteers help those displaced with both short-term and long-term needs.

The American Red Cross helps military families. (Photo by American Red Cross)

Nationally, there are nearly 314,000 volunteers in nearly 270 Red Cross chapters in the U.S. There are many ways people can get involved and the Red Cross always is looking for diverse volunteers of all ages and skill levels.

People can go to to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.

With another severe weather and flood season in the Western Missouri Region, the Red Cross is prepared to respond where needed. Last month, Red Cross volunteers provided assistance after tornadoes struck Oak Grove and Smithville.

Part of that preparation includes recruitment and training new volunteers, preparing communities to deal with emergencies and maintaining equipment and supplies so the Red Cross is ready to respond immediately.

American Red Cross was in Oak Grove, MO after a tornado struck. (Photo by Sherri Odell/American Red Cross)

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign offers volunteers the opportunity to help reduce the number of home fire injuries and deaths by 25 percent over the next several years. Red Cross volunteers go door-to-door with local partners such as fire departments to install smoke alarms and teach people about home fire safety.

Since 2014, volunteers have installed more than 790,000 smoke alarms in nearly 10,000 cities and towns throughout the U.S. The Home Fire Campaign has been credited with saving at least 215 lives.

The Red Cross also provides humanitarian support to military members, veterans and their families around the clock and around the world with 52 Service to the Armed Forces stations. Through the Hero Care Network, the Red Cross serves and supports the military community by providing emergency communications, comfort and assistance every day.

The Hero Care Network is available at 1-800-REDCROSS or by submitting an online request at People also can contact their local Red Cross office and they can download the free Hero Care App to provide instant access to vital Red Cross services anywhere in the world.

The American Red Cross helps those who have lost everything in a disaster. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)

Another way to volunteer is to donate blood. Every day, the Red Cross needs to collect nearly 14,000 units of blood to meet the needs of patients at some 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. The Red Cross collects, processes and distributes about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.

To schedule an appointment to donate blood, go to or call 1-800-REDCROSS. People also can download the Red Cross Blood Donor App to schedule and manage appointments.

The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. On average, 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in its humanitarian services and programs.

CPR used to save man’s life

Janie Hall, left, and Becca Bartholomew, a server at the Cheesecake Factory in Kansas City, MO worked together to save a man’s life with their CPR training. (Photo courtesy of Janie Hall)

(This story appeared in the April 12 edition of the Joplin Globe and shows how knowing CPR can save a life. The American Red Cross offers CPR classes at various times throughout the year. Check with your local Red Cross chapter for the CPR class schedule in your area.)

By Ariel Cooley
Joplin Globe
 The Friday lunch was supposed to be a first date for Janie Hall of Joplin. And for a while, it seemed to be going well.

That is, until the man she was meeting in person for the first time fell to the floor at the Cheesecake Factory in Kansas City, Mo.

The Joplin woman, along with the server, Becca Bartholomew, who wasn’t even planning on being at work that day, rushed into action and are being credited with saving the man’s life.

“We were just sitting there talking,” said Hall, 45, of her date, a man in his 50s. “The food had been picked up for at least 45 minutes. We were having a great conversation.”

Then the man coughed three times, she said, and stood up to excuse himself and fell face-first to the floor.


“It was like a light switch,” Hall said. “He was talking and then he was on the floor dead.”

Hall said he had no pulse.

A former respiratory therapist with experience in a trauma unit, Hall moved quickly and with the help of a restaurant patron rolled her date on his back. Then she began CPR and was joined by Bartholomew.

“This waitress appeared out of nowhere,” Hall said. “She took control of the whole situation.”

Bartholomew wasn’t originally scheduled to work that day, but she had taken an extra shift.

Hall and Bartholomew took turns performing CPR on the man, and Bartholomew directed other workers at the Cheesecake Factory to call 911. Another worker counted seconds for them while they worked to bring the man back to life.

After about four minutes of CPR, a faint pulse returned. He took a breath, and the ambulance arrived.

Because the man was still in the hospital at the time of the Globe’s interview, his name is not being used in this story. Hall, who had visited him on Monday, said he is recovering.

Hall said Jackie Cockrill, the general manager of the restaurant, has called her several times to check on her and the health status of her date.

“My hope is that maybe somebody will hear this story and become CPR-certified or be quicker to respond because this happened so suddenly,” Hall said.

red-cross-trainingIn fact, she is encouraging people to sign up for a American Red Cross first aid and CPR course.

“I’m proof that you never know when you may need to know it,” Hall said.

Hall, who teaches business and health care online, also met her date online. But will there be a second date?

“He has asked me out again. The waitress wants to come along as well as his two daughters and his granddaughter,” Hall said, laughing. “I definitely think we will have a group with us on our next date.”

Red Cross appeals for support to #help1family during Giving Day

When disaster strikes, the American Red Cross is there to help those in need. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)

The American Red Cross is asking people to remember those families impacted by disaster and to #help1family during Giving Day on April 26. Donations can provide hope and urgent relief such as food, blankets and other essentials for those who need it most.

Nearly every eight minutes throughout the nation, the Red Cross responds to a family that may have lost everything because of a home fire or other disaster such as the recent tornadoes that struck Oak Grove and Smithville.

Giving Day is a one-day nationwide event that will help raise funds to ensure the Red Cross is able to meet the critical mission of helping those affected by emergencies. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in its humanitarian services and programs.

download1A donation of $88.50 covers the cost of support for a family of three with a day’s worth of meals and snacks, plus blankets and other essentials. A donation of $60 will help provide six hearty meals and $30 can ensure that children and families stay warm and get a good night’s sleep with six comforting blankets.

Last year, the Red Cross responded to 180 significant disasters in 45 states and two U.S. territories including wildfires, storms, flooding, Hurricane Matthew and other major emergencies. More than 32,000 Red Crossers opened nearly 800 emergency shelters providing 206,000 overnight stays, served more than 4.1 million meals and snacks and distributed more than 2.1 million relief items.

On average, every year the Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters across the country, the vast majority being home fires. In the Greater Kansas City Chapter service area alone, the Red Cross has helped 740 people during the first three months of this year.

American Red Cross volunteers provide assistance in an Oak Grove, MO neighborhood hit by an EF3 tornado last month. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)

Also last year, the Red Cross collected more than 4.8 million units of blood from 2.8 million volunteer donors. These donations were processed into about 6.8 million blood products to meet the needs of patients in about 2,600 hospitals across the U.S.

Donations can be made now by visiting day. A $10 donation to the Red Cross can be made by texting REDCROSS to 90999. All donations will be processed on April 26.

Anyone who would like to become a Red Cross volunteer and help those in need can get more information by going to or calling 1-800-REDCROSS.


Give blood and help save lives this spring

Blood Donation4
American Red Cross Blood Services technician works with a volunteer donor. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)

Donors of all blood types are encouraged to give through the American Red Cross this spring to help ensure a sufficient supply for hospital patients.

Donated blood is perishable and must constantly be replenished to keep up with hospital patient needs. Red blood cells are the blood component most frequently transfused by hospitals and must be used within 42 days of donation.

Eligible donors can give red blood cells through either a regular whole blood donation or a Power Red donation, where available.

Power Red donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single donation, allowing them to maximize their impact. During this type of donation, red blood cells are separated from other blood components, and the plasma and platelets are safely and comfortably returned to the donor.

BLOOD DONATION 6Whole blood can be donated every 56 days, up to six times a year, and Power Red donations may be made every 112 days, up to three times per year.

Make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Blood donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online. To get started and learn more, visit

Here are upcoming blood donation opportunities:


Kansas City: April 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., KC Fire Department, 6750 Eastwood Tfkway.
April 21, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Courthouse Annex, 415 E. 12th St.
April 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St.


Atchison: April 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Benedictine College, Murphy Recreation Center, 1020 N. 2nd St.

Basehor: April 28, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Basehor-Linwood High School, 2108 155th St.

Lenexa: April 20, 3 p.m. -7 p.m., Lifetime Fitness, 16851 W. 90th St.

Kansas City: April 29, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Joe E. Amayo Argentine Community Center, 2810 Metropolitan Ave.

Olathe: April 18, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Bass Pro Shop Olathe, 12051 Bass Pro Dr.
April 19, 2:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Genesis Health Clubs, 13370 Blackfoot Dr.

Overland Park: April 21, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies, 7501 W. 149th Terr.
April 28, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Corbin Greens Apartments, 14000 Russell St.
April 30, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 12251 Antioch Rd.

Shawnee: April 23, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Midwest Sikh Gurdwara, 6834 Pflumm Rd.