National Volunteer Month

This is National Volunteer Week wrapped inside of National Volunteer Month. To celebrate, we are pleased to be able to share another volunteer profile. This time we introduce you to Virginia Ranville, but her friends call her Ginny.
Ginny is part of the American Red Cross Serving Quad Cities and Western Illinois chapter which is one of three chapters that make up the 78 county American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region.

Virginia Ranville, better known as Ginny, lives in Quincy and just retired not long ago. After moving on from her job, she found herself wanting to give back, but not doing just anything to fill time. She yearned for work that was meaningful to others and herself.  “I’ve been given a lot of breaks over the course of my life and I wanted to pay back, so I started looking around.” She says, “I’d been involved with Red Cross in a slight way and investigated further deciding to train and go on deployments. I’ve been on eight deployments in a year and a half.”

Ginny says she’s learned a few things in that time:

1 – Even if your life seems bad, it can always be worse.

2 – People are people – wherever you go.

3 – When you feel like you want to payback, go ahead and do it – because the rewards come back to your pocket.

Ginny says she didn’t expect to get so much personal gratification out of it. “I went in happy to be able to help others and I didn’t expect it to be powerful for me, too.” She says, “I’ve had women in my arms crying wanting to make sure their children and, in one specific case, a little boy had something besides bread and peanut butter for supper. That’s when I was out in the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) and she came out crying saying please just give me something for my little boy. I don’t need anything for me. Of course, we fed the whole family. That was a joyful occasion.”

What would Ginny say to someone who wants to volunteer with Red Cross, but just hasn’t done it yet? “My mom gave me a piece of advice when I was younger,” Ginny says thoughtfully. “She said just jump in with both feet and come out fighting. That’s kind of what I did. I just jumped in the middle of it and I didn’t come out fighting for me, but I do fight for the ones who are in trouble.”

What’s next for Ginny a year-and-a-half into her volunteerism with American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois is more deployments which she won’t hesitate to accept when the time comes. “I keep a bag packed by the back door and any time they call me – I’m ready to go.”

Thank you, Ginny. You are one bright light.


National Volunteer Month

This is National Volunteer Week wrapped inside of National Volunteer Month! We’d like to introduce you to another one of our great long-time volunteers in the American Red Cross Serving Quad Cities and Western Illinois chapter of the American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois region.


There’s a decent chance if you live in western Illinois – at some point you spent time in the water with Joanne Ortwerth – a 40-year volunteer with Red Cross. Joanne swims three times a week and teaches an adapted Red Cross aquatics class. It’s one of her specialties as a Health and Safety instructor-trainer.

She’s spent more time in water than most and reminisces about her first time. She says, “I was a kid and we were riding bikes. The creek was high from a big rain. I was with friends, but we didn’t tell our parents we were going to jump in. It didn’t go as planned.” She struggled to get to the side – grabbing a root to save herself from going under.

Joanne says, “Swimming is the best exercise there is. It promotes flexibility and circulation. It uses all muscles and it’s not hard on the body. You are only a tenth of your weight in water. The key is you just need to be able to handle yourself in water.”

Having grown up in water with a nearby public pool, she decided to share her passion with others. We are fortunate Joanne has spent those years with American Red Cross.

Thank you Joanne. You are the difference!

National Volunteer Month

Say hello to long time friends and Red Cross volunteers, Bob Allensworth and Dorothy Yackley of chapter American Red Cross Serving Quad Cities and Western Illinois – one of the three chapters in our central and southern Illinois region.

BOB ALLENSWORTH – Bob is one of our region’s Damage Assessment volunteers in western Illinois. Bob has been deployed to nine disasters in our American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region since he started. His motivation for getting involved with Red Cross? He says, “My daughter was hit by a car at age 3 1/2 and she’s 44 now. It incapacitated her and she’s been in a wheelchair ever since. After all of the help she received, I wanted to give back.”

He’s been around for 22 years and chuckles as he answers. “The truth of it is when you are around that long, you somehow you find yourself doing everything.”

American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois is the better for it. Thank you, Bob.

DOROTHY YACKLEY – Twenty-five-year Red Cross volunteer Dorothy is a self-described Jill-of-all-trades not to mention walking encyclopedia of Red Cross information. She’s a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member in the Quincy area and has been deployed to disasters 20-25 times. She’s come full circle, because these days she’s locally focused having she started out handling blood as a nurse in Quincy.

When asked why she stuck around, she thinks for a second and laughs saying, “Oh, I don’t know. It makes me wonder!” She continues, “It’s been nice to see and be part of Red Cross growth over the years.” It’s growth that wouldn’t happen without Dorothy and those as engaged as she is in making the Red Cross mission part of their own.

Thank you Dorothy Yackley. You make Red Cross better.

American Red Cross & Illinois Public Servants Join Governor J.B. Pritzker Warning Residents: Be Careful

This week has been breaking records for brittle temperatures and wind chills in the Midwest creating very dangerous conditions for anyone trying to do anything out in the elements. Across the board, expert advice has landed on the side of do not go outside and, if you must, do not linger at all.

The American Red Cross participated in Illinois Governor J.B. Prtizker’s news conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield in anticipation of unprecedented below 0 wind chills this week.

The Governor was joined by the Acting Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Acting Director of the Illinois State Police, the Acting Secretary of Transportation and representatives from the Illinois National Guard, Department of Public Health, Ameren, and Commonwealth Edison.

The National Weather Service was also represented and shared details to prep Illinois residents for the frigid forecast.

Lyn Hruska, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region stood with other public servant leaders poised and ready to help the State of Illinois cope with the unprecedented weather event.

I look forward to working with you in the future

Rather than give you a long boring job description of what a Duty Officer does, I would like to share why Jim loves being a Duty Officer volunteer with the American Red Cross!!!

“Hello my name is Jim Maloney and I have been a Duty Officer for about 6 months now and love every Minute of it! This is not the easiest position to hold but for me it is the most challenging and exciting position I’ve ever had.

One of the things I like BEST is answering emergency calls. When the phone rings you never know what type of call your going to get. It could be the Police or the Fire Department needing help for someone who just had a house fire or a local Emergency Manager needing help to setup a shelter for a whole community experiencing a flood. I also get calls from local community member calling about a personal crisis needing referrals to other community Resources.

In addition, I enjoy dispatching our volunteer responders out to calls and assisting them with whatever they need. Some forms of assistance I provide to responders include creating new case files, activating client assistance cards and obtaining more manpower to handle incidents.

Another amazing aspect of the position of Duty Officer is that we cover 72 Counties in Illinois 4 counties in Missouri and 2 counties in Iowa.  This has given me the opportunity to serve a large number of citizens that reach out for our help in the most desperate times.

If you enjoy helping people and making a difference in their lives then I encourage you to take the next step and join the Duty Officer Team. We would love to have you!! Thank you for your time and consideration in joining our team.  I look forward to working with you in the future.



If you would like more information about becoming a Duty Officer please reach out to Amber MacGrath, Disaster Workforce Engagement Officer @ 


Generosity At Its Best

We offer a warm heartfelt thank you to the Springfield Capital Area Band!

They took up a spontaneous donation and dropped it off to the Springfield office to help support friends and neighbors recovering after severe storms blew through Illinois Saturday, December 1, 2018.

Clarinetist Alisa Blumhorst shared the donation with Scott Clarke – American Red Cross State Emergency Management Liaison. During a free concert, band members asked for donations for American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

They raised $589.44 to help families recovering from the tornadoes. Alisa says they felt it was important not to round off the amount given to symbolize that every single penny counts.

And…it does. Thank you, friends!

Inside Red Cross Shelter Planning

As storms swept through Illinois, Saturday, December 1, 2018, American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region leadership and volunteers strategized how to best help those affected and yet to be impacted by what turned into more than two dozen tornadoes.

The decision to open a shelter starts long before it’s needed. One obvious decision making factor is need. Are there a significant number of people who need a safe place to stay? That number varies depending on family size, for instance.

The Red Cross has more than 2000 pre-identified shelters in Illinois. But, how do we choose the appropriate location during a disaster?

Let’s say there are five pre-identified potential shelters in a county disaster area. The number of people who need a safe place to stay is definitely a primary consideration.

Beyond that, criteria includes choosing a facility that’s ADA-accessible so it is friendly to all.

Another factor in our decision is where is the facility? We look for place that are close to the disaster yet outside of the perimeter of the disaster area, at the same time. It’s a thoughtful decision-making process to make sure we are helping people in a given area in the best way we can help them at a time they need care and consideration for their basic needs.

A nurse is present or on-call for our shelters 24 hours a day to monitor health needs of clients and staff.

In the case of the December 2018 severe storms in Taylorville, Illinois, this safe center pictured above is in the hardest hit community that sustained most significant damage.

If possible, we ask shelter residents to bring any medications and medical equipment needed by any family members for their overnight stays.

One noteworthy final fact: public schools, community colleges, public universities and civic centers are required by law to work with the Red Cross in providing shelter should the need present itself. Our pre-identified sheltering agreements include those types of facilities, as well as places of worship such as hundreds of churches and temples.

Shelter location in photo: Crossroads Apostolic Christian Church, 212 Jaycee Drive, Taylorville, IL

10 Tips for Safe Trick or Treating

pumpkinsHalloween is one of the most popular holidays in this country and is just days away. With so many little witches, ghosts, pirates and super heroes soon stepping into the streets, we want to offer a list of quick reference tips to keep festivities safe.

“Halloween is fun for so many people and we want to help you stay safe while enjoying it,” said Maria Henneberry, Regional Communication Director, Central and Southern Illinois Region. “At the very least a memory refresher is a good idea, but, hopefully a few new ways to keep kids safe before heading out for Trick or Treat fun is extra helpful.”

* Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen.

o Use face makeup instead of masks. Masks can make it hard to see.

o Give kids a flashlight to light their way.

o Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.

o Have everyone wear light-colored clothing.

* Use flame-resistant costumes.

* Plan the trick-or-treat route in advance – make sure adults know where their children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door in neighborhoods.

* It’s not only vampires and monsters people have to look out for. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.

* Walk, don’t run.

* Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.

* Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street.

o If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.

o Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.

o Don’t cut across yards or use alleys.

o Don’t cross between parked cars.

o Use extra caution if driving. The youngsters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing.

* Make sure a grown-up checks the goodies before eating.

o Make sure to remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards.

o Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.

And finally, for those planning to welcome trick-or-treaters to their homes, follow these safety steps:

* Light the area well so young visitors can see.

* Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.

Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert advice in case your ghost, goblin or super hero has a mishap. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.


American Red Cross AmeriCorps Service

Disaster Cycle Services focuses on three core processes: Prepare, Respond, and Recover!! We can all argue what one is more important but preparedness has such a huge impact on the other two.  One of the great opportunities that the American Red Cross has available is to serve as an AmeriCorps member to build on the preparedness core.

The Safe Families AmeriCorps members serve to organize communities across Illinois in making their cities, schools, organizations and households more resilient to emergencies. The primary responsibilities is to teach, coordinate and lead emergency preparedness, planning and recovery activities in assigned territories in support of the American Red Cross. Sasha Welch just completed her third term as an AmeriCorps member and had this to say about her experience-

“I wasn’t to familiar with the AmeriCorps Safe Families position at the Red Cross. I honesty needed employment and the position matched my qualifications. I was leery about what I was getting myself into but I applied and I received a call stating I nailed an interview.  Later I found out I got the JOB!

Going into this situation, I didn’t know it was going to change MY life while I was working to change the lives of so many others. Having a heart for the community, wanting to see positive change, being a people person and having the DESIRE all made me the perfect candidate for this position. As a very busy single mother being a Safe Families AmeriCorps member provided me with the flexibility I needed to still play an active role in my son’s life. Having the support you need allows you to work effectively and I definitely had the support of my AmeriCorps/Red Cross Family. I had the opportunity of meeting so many awesome people. People in the community and individuals I worked side by side with.  All of these people helped to build a greater me. Being able to be apart of this organization that helps save lives, gave me such joy and fulfillment. Loving what I did so much, after the first year I applied for a second term, not having enough ySasha Welchet a year later here I am at the end of my third term.  These 3 years have been amazing, I’ve learned and gained so much. What I’ve learned I will be able to take with me into my next position as I continue to work with the Red Cross as a Recruitment Specialist! Talk about growth and opportunity. Everything I’ve learned will be something I can stand on for life. I am very thankful to have been given the chance to be apart of such a rewarding program.”

Currently the American Red Cross has AmeriCorps positions across the state of Illinois that are open spots.  Service locations for the Central and Southern Illinois Region include Springfield, Peoria, Quincy, Moline, and Bloomington . Anyone looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the community while gaining new skills and experiences is encouraged to apply.

Please apply at

Where did A, B & O go? Red Cross needs YOU to fill the Missing Types

Where did A, B & O go? Red Cross needs YOU to fill the Missing Types

N_tice _nything missing? A few missing letters may not seem like a big deal, but for a hospital patient who needs type A, B or O blood, these letters mean life.

As part of an international movement, the American Red Cross is launching the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new blood donors – and those who haven’t given in a while – to donate and help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients in need. You may notice A’s, B’s and O’s – representing the main blood groups – missing from signage, websites, social media and other public-facing platforms to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays.

The sad fact is that blood shortages are not uncommon in the U.S. and other parts of the world. But they can be prevented when more people roll up a sleeve to give.

When blood types go missing Dotsom

“Can you imagine your child or loved one actually needing lifesaving blood and to be told there may be no blood at the blood bank? That happened to us two times with blood and platelets,” said Susie Dotson, whose daughter Lily needed more than a dozen blood and platelet transfusions during treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Hearing that the hospital didn’t have the blood or platelets Lily needed – and that she would have to wait for transfusions – was incredibly frustrating and eye-opening for the Dotson family.

“People automatically think blood is there. They don’t realize we’re relying on their blood donation,” said Susie. “Lily needed blood products just as much as the chemo or the treatment.”

Today, Lily has been cancer-free for four years and will be celebrating her 12th birthday this summer.

Join the movement

  1. Give blood – Schedule your appointment at org/MissingTypes or with the Blood Donor App.
  1. Recruit new donorsEncourage a friend or family member to roll up a sleeve too.
  2. Spread the word
  • Take a photo with one of these selfie signs and post it to your social media along with the message “I am the #MissingType.”
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss)
  • Visit to a Missing Types message on your social media.

What to expect at your donation

Giving blood is simple. Commit about an hour of your day to help save a life.

  • Registration – Sign in, show your ID and read the required information.
  • Health check – Answer questions and receive a mini-physical.
  • Donation – Giving a pint of blood takes about 8-10 minutes.
  • Refreshments – Enjoy some snacks and relax before resuming your day.



Y_u _re the #MissingType p_tients need. Don’t wait until the letters A, B and O go missing from the hospital shelves. Schedule your appointment to give now.