CommentaryBy Joan Foley Director, American Red Cross Of Greater New York - Queens
March was a busy time for the American Red Cross in Greater New York. We helped many people affected by fires, building collapses and during the St. Patrick's weekend winter storm. Now that we finally can get the brrrr out of our bones, we can turn our attention to April, spring weather and acknowledging our most vital asset - our volunteers - during National Volunteer Week (April 15-21).
Committed and compassionate trained volunteers are the heart and soul of the American Red Cross. They devote their time to support fellow New Yorkers and they contribute to the Red Cross mission to help residents prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters.
We thought you would like to meet several volunteers who live in Queens and respond at all times of the day and night, and in hot and cold weather, to provide a helping hand.
Maureen Miller has received several Red Cross awards for unselfish service and dedication. She is a member of the Queens Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT), which is comprised of trained volunteers who respond to the various emergencies throughout the borough. She also educates the community about disaster preparedness and trains new Queens DAT members.
"Being a nurse, I've always enjoyed helping people," said Miller, who resides in Astoria. "I've been fortunate to have extra free time to volunteer with the Red Cross. It gives you such a sense of satisfaction (to help your neighbors)." David Gonzalez decided he wanted to help others after the September 11 attack. He joined the Queens Red Cross DAT in 2002, later became a co-captain and has led his own team since 2005.
"Just giving somebody a blanket when it's cold, it's so basic but they are so grateful," said Gonzalez. "A fire can be a person's 9/11, so to speak. Their life is not the same. We come in to help bridge that gap and help them get through the crisis."
Gonzalez and his wife, Linda, who also volunteers for the Queens Red Cross DAT, have lived in Woodhaven for 15 years.
These three volunteers, and many others, truly inspire by example. They serve the people of Queens from our area office in Briarwood. They do great things every day, getting back as much as they give and often much more. They are nurses, teachers, students, retirees and business owners. They receive free training to become volunteer classroom instructors, community outreach leaders and disaster responders.
The Red Cross has many volunteer positions available for individuals and businesses. Please visit www.nyredcross. org or call 1-877-REDCROSS for more information about volunteer opportunities.
Here are some of the upcoming classes offered at the Queens Red Cross in Briarwood (138-02 Queens Boulevard). Dates and times are subject to change.
Thursday, April 12, CPR/ AED (automated external defibrillator) - Adult, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Tuesday, April 17, CPR/ AED - Adult, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday, April 21, CPR/ AED - Adult, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Thursday, April 26, standard first aid, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Thursday, April 26, CPR/AED - Adult, 1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 28, sports injury prevention and first aid, 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
The next Queens Red Cross Here and Now program is Tuesday, April 24, 6-7 p.m.
Learn why Red Cross volunteers and staff are so passionate about their work, and find out more about safety and preparedness classes, community programs and volunteer opportunities.
Please call 718-558-0053 to reserve a seat at Queens classes and programs. For more information about classes and programs, visit www.nyredcross. org
It's Animal Month, Too
Besides honoring our volunteers, April also is the time to give extra special attention to pets. Did you know that April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month? It also is Animal Cruelty Prevention Month and Pets Are Wonderful Month.
You need to learn the signs of animal cruelty, which include wounds, animals that are fearful, or those that appear to have been left alone without food or water for long periods of time. Provide as much information as you can when reporting animal abuse.
You will be a good example to others when you treat your pet with love and care.
Talk to children treating animals with respect and kindness, and let others know about these important animal care tips:
Bang on the hood of your car before starting it. Pets and wild animals sometimes hide under car hoods for warmth or protection.
Never leave your dog or cat alone in a cold or hot car.
Avoid exposing very young and old animals to extreme temperatures.
The American Red Cross in Greater New York offers pet first aid classes. The four-hour session covers the steps to obtain emergency assistance for injured animals, how to identify symptoms of breathing emergencies such as choking, how to control bleeding and how to create a "pet friendly" emergency kit.
The class covers CPR and first aid skills, and it is taught through hands-on practice with our "people-friendly" cat and dog mannequins.
The next class at the Queens Red Cross is Thursday, June 14, 6 -10 p.m.