Terry Bischoff, CEO, American Red Cross in Greater New York (left) and Dr. Lucy Cabrera, President and CEO of the Food Bank For New York

The American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY) and the Food Bank For New York City signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on December 2nd designed to formalize and strengthen their relationship. This agreement provides a framework for cooperation between the two organizations for food, water, personnel, equipment and/or information in support of disaster relief operations.

“The American Red Cross in Greater New York is pleased to expand our mutually beneficial relationship with the Food Bank For New York City. This partnership enhances the ability of both organizations to better service the community relative to disaster preparedness and the coordination of disaster planning and response activities,” said ARC/GNY CEO Terry Bischoff. “The collaboration increases our efficiency to help New Yorkers when they need it most.”

The MOU focuses on three key areas of disaster preparedness and response––planning and operations, training and educational opportunities and public affairs:

Planning and Operations Both organizations have agreed to collaborate in the acquisition and distribution of food and non-food supplies needed for a disaster response operation. Red Cross-trained kitchen staff will be allowed to utilize the kitchen space at the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen and Food Pantry of West Harlem for food preparation during a localized disaster. At the close of an operation, remaining food products will be offered to the Food Bank or the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen and Pantry of West Harlem.

Training and Educational Opportunities The Red Cross and the Food Bank will establish cross-training opportunities for employees and volunteers of both organizations, with ARC/GNY providing disaster-related training and the Food Bank providing training in warehousing and other logistical activities as well as training at its community kitchen.

Public Affairs Both organizations will collaborate to keep the public informed of their cooperative efforts during a disaster relief operation.

In this season of hope and giving the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes, Inc. have joined forces to invite Americans to “send a touch of home” to United States service members and veterans across the country and abroad. In its third year, the Holiday Mail for Heroes program is an opportunity to share joy and thanks with our service members throughout the holiday season by way of a greeting card.

Today over 1.4 million men and women serve in the U.S. armed forces and over 24 million veterans have served in the past. The holiday season is the perfect time to honor and extend a warm holiday greeting to those who’ve served and continue to do so.
How Holiday Mail works

We have established an extensive process to ensure all cards sent to our service members are safe and arrive in time for the holidays. Holiday cards will be collected through a unique P.O. Box address from Monday, November 2 through Monday, December 7*.

First, cards from across the nation must be sent to this address:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Every card received will be screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes and distributed to participating Red Cross chapters nationwide. Once the cards arrive at the Red Cross chapters, they are sorted and reviewed by volunteers who then distribute them to service members, their families and veterans in communities across the country.

Please don’t forget to follow these guidelines while preparing your holiday greetings!


* Sign all cards
* Entitle cards “Dear Service Member, Family or Veteran”
* Limit cards to 15 per person or 50 for school class or business group
* Bundle groups of cards in single, large envelopes


* Send letters
* Include personal information such as home or email addresses
* Use glitter – excessive amounts can aggravate health issues of wounded recipients
* Include inserts of any kind as they must be removed in the screening process

Learn more about the American Red Cross in Greater New York’s Service to the Armed Forces.

More than 50 guests attended “Tsunami Recovery: Five Years Later,” a presentation given on November 4 by Gerald Anderson, Senior Director of the American Red Cross Tsunami Recovery Program (TRP). The Manhattan home of Yvonne Liu, a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Red Cross in Greater New York, served as the setting for Mr. Anderson’s talk. The presentation was augmented by large photographs by Daniel Cima set up as panels around the room to provide further context to the presentation.

Mr. Anderson, who has been with International Red Cross since 1992, was deployed to Indonesia just days after the deadly December 26, 2004 tsunami caused a massive loss of life and devastated areas in more than a dozen countries across Asia and East Africa. He explained how the TRP was created as a response to this enormous disaster, how the American Red Cross and its sister societies around the world provided volunteers and significant funding, and how the Red Cross has used the program as a vehicle to help thousands of people to rebuild their lives.

The TRP, slated to end in 2010, has six key program areas: water and sanitation, psychosocial support, health, shelter, livelihoods and disaster preparedness. As a result of initiatives in each of these areas, tens of thousands of families now have access to clean water, and thousands have moved from temporary shelters into permanent homes. “Five years after the tsunami,” said Mr. Anderson, “survivors are embracing a brighter future.”

New York Chapter Goes the Distance with New York Road Runners (NYRR) Partnership and Team Red Cross

Left to Right: Rajeev Bhavasar, Terry Bischoff, Patrick Durkin, Veronica Roca, Michael Curtin, Matthew Baron, Victor Martinez, Neal Gorman (Photo: Maryellen Novak)

Proudly sporting the Red Cross logo across their backs, 11 Team Red Cross runners from the American Red Cross in Greater New York––for the first time ever—crossed the finish line with the 42,000 runners who ran in Sunday’s 40th ING New York City Marathon. Each of the Team Red Cross runners pledged to raise or donate at least $2,500 to support the Chapter’s vital work––helping New Yorkers prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Team Red Cross made great strides in far surpassing their goal, raising $112,000 to date, and the number is still rising!

Team Red Cross was led by CEO and first-time marathon runner Terry Bischoff. “This is such a special day,” said Terry after crossing the finish line. “It is a day to celebrate many ‘firsts’ for the Red Cross in Greater New York––our first time supporting the New York Road Runners in this world-class event with almost 300 Red Crossers, a combination of volunteers and employees, assisting NYRR’s medical team, the first time we assembled a team of runners who ran to raise much-needed funds in support of our Red Cross and my first marathon.” Other first-time runners on Team Red Cross included Ernesto Duran, a native of Columbia who is a member of ARC/GNY’s Young Professionals Committee and Mike Curtin, whose first contact with the Red Cross came when the organization’s Services to the Armed Forces unit arranged for his return from Somalia to attend his father’s funeral. Red Cross board member Patrick Durkin and Mary Pang from the Chapter’s Tiffany Circle also crossed the finish line as part of Team Red Cross. Other Team Red Crossers included Matthew Baron, David Eastman, Neal Gorman, Victor Martinez, Rajeev Bhavsar and Veronica Roca.

Team Red Cross enjoyed a pre-race team dinner on Friday night generously hosted by the owners of the scenic Water Club located on the East River of Manhattan. There, the team celebrated meeting their training and fundraising goals, exchanged thoughts on race day strategies and heard words of thanks and encouragement from CEO Terry Bischoff. On race day the Team was supported by many Red Cross fans and colleagues along the 26.2 mile route who cheered them on from start to finish. They were able to ward off the early morning chill before the “cannon” sounded in black windbreakers, which along with their white t-shirts, were donated by Paragon Sports in Manhattan.

While Team Red Cross covered the 26.2 mile course through all five New York City boroughs, almost 300 other Red Cross volunteers and employees assisted NYRR’s medical professionals. Approximately 250 of these first-aid trained workers, donning Red Cross caps and NYRR vests, worked the post-finish line spotter program, assisting runners with information, direction, and medical assistance. Additionally, 35 of our licensed medical professionals, under the authority of ING New York City Marathon Medical Director Stuart B. Weiss, responded to calls where there was a need for more advanced medical evaluation, and assisted with the transport of such runners in acute distress to medical tents for further evaluation and treatment by NYRR.

In addition to having a presence in all three medical tents where Red Cross volunteer physicians and nurses were available to support NYRR’s medical team, the NY Chapter also had a seat in the Joint Operation Center, the central medical command post for the race overseen by Dr.Weiss. Chris Mercado, American Red Cross in Greater New York Director of Disaster Health Services, said, “It was gratifying to see that our trained volunteers, including our team of licensed medical professionals, were there to support the world-class medical services of NYRR in this amazing event.”

“We are very proud of our ING New York City marathon firsts, and thank all who contributed in making this a world-class ‘first’ for our chapter––NYRR for inviting us to participate, our dedicated volunteers and employees, Team Red Cross, the Water Club and Paragon Sports. Thank you all for your continued support of our Red Cross,” said Terry Bischoff. “See you all next year for ING NYC Marathon #41!”
The marathon is over, but you you can still support the Red Cross team by making a donation here.

Six Red Cross responders who arrived on the scene of a fire at a senior apartment complex at 66 N. Debaun Avenue in Airmont, New York at 1:45 a.m., arranged for temporary overnight housing at a local hotel for 19 residents displaced by the fire. They also provided 9 people with emergency assistance for food. The fire, which was confined to the first floor apartment where it began, was said to be started by a cat that knocked over some candles.

The American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY) will be participating in the 40th ING New York City Marathon for the first time with a team comprised of 15 runners led by the Chapter’s CEO and first-time marathon runner Theresa Bischoff.  Team Red Cross has pledged to raise at least $50,000 to support the vital work of the American Red Cross in Greater New York––helping New Yorkers prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Mike Curtin, 36, of Brewster, NY joined Team Red Cross for several reasons––to thank the Red Cross for supporting him in his time of need and to fulfill one of his personal goals.  In 1995 when Mike, a then 23 year-old soldier serving in the US Army at Fort Bragg, NC, was about to be deployed to Somalia, his father died suddenly at the age of 52 from a heart attack.   As her son was not granted leave nor could he afford the trip home to be with his loved ones, his mother called the local Red Cross Chapter to get help.  The Services to the Armed Forces unit of the Red Cross was immediately there––Mike was escorted to the airport, put on a plane back to New York for his father’s funeral in a matter of hours and picked up on the other end to ensure that he was properly reunited with his family.

Mike decided that it was time to give back when he heard about Team Red Cross’ November 1st foray into the ING New York City Marathon 2009.  He became a runner about 2 years ago to drop some weight, felt this was his year to go the distance, and knew he wanted to run his first marathon as a “Red Crosser.” “Red Cross and running saved my life,” said Mike Curtin.  “When I needed help the most, the Red Cross was there. This is my way of giving back.”

Mike runs 8 – 10 miles a day, 5 days a week and another 18 – 20 miles a day on the weekends training for the marathon. In order to run on Sunday, November 1, Mike has pledged to raise at least $2,500 for the American Red Cross in Greater New York.  He has raised $2,150 so far, and is committed to meeting or surpassing his financial goal before he crosses the finish line in this year’s marathon.

To support Mike, or for more information about the Red Cross marathon team visit www.nyredcross.org.

During a disaster, children may feel ill at ease in a shelter. Their daily routine is disrupted. The Red Cross has special help for children during this traumatic time, such as special areas for families to sleep, and space in the shelter for family interaction and child care.

During the ongoing relief effort in American Samoa, the Red Cross and Save the Children worked together to set up a play area in the convention center where families lined up to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance. Special supplies were sent in, including diapers, baby formula, dolls and school supplies. Red Cross mental health and spiritual care specialists helped children deal with the loss of family members and classmates.

“Our Buddha is the symbol who cares for the world, regardless of religion, sex or age,” said Yuru Chou, an American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY) volunteer and an employee at the non-profit, volunteer-based Tzu Chi Foundation, located in Flushing, New York.

Yuru was explaining the philosophy and mission of the Foundation, which was created in the wake of a devastating typhoon that struck Taiwan in July 1966. Today, Tzu Chi is an international organization with more than five million supporters worldwide. Its Queens-area volunteers number approximately 300.

Community-based Response

While many Buddhist societies are devoted to personal enlightenment and meditation, Tzu Chi focuses on community service and outreach; specifically, case management, medical, educational and disaster relief.

Its mission is closely aligned with that of the Red Cross. That’s why Yuru, secretary to George Chang, Executive Director of the Tzu Chi Foundation USA, was drawn to ARC/GNY in 2006, after meeting a Red Cross volunteer at an interfaith disaster gathering. She and the volunteer discussed how the Greater New York Chapter and Tzu Chi might work together to benefit the community.

That summer, 25 Tzu Chi members became disaster-trained as part of ARC/GNY’s Ready When the Time Comes program, which instructs volunteer teams from local companies and community groups in Red Cross disaster relief. Yuru and Tzu Chi volunteer Ray Chen went on to become members of ARC/GNY–Queens’ Monday night Disaster Action Team.

An Ongoing Partnership

Since 2006, the Foundation has worked closely with ARC/GNY on numerous community relief efforts:

  • After the August 2007 tornado that devastated parts of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, five Tzu Chi volunteers helped ARC/GNY personnel communicate with affected residents, the majority of whom were Mandarin and Cantonese speakers.
  • In March 2008, more than 20 Tzu Chi volunteers assisted with the Chapter’s crane collapse relief effort.
  • In February 2009, when more than 100 people—many of them non-English speakers—were displaced from 22 James Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown by a 5-alarm fire, 10 Tzu Chi volunteers translated for ARC/GNY caseworkers and provided 200 lunch boxes at the Red Cross service center.
  • Three months later, in August 2009, three Tzu Chi volunteers came to Greater New York Chapter headquarters to translate for Mandarin-speaking residents displaced by a vacate order for 128 Hester Street, a run-down Chinatown tenement. Three volunteers were also at the scene to help with translation. “We helped people get information from the Red Cross about community resources,” said Tzu Chi volunteer William Liu of his work with ARC/GNY in August. “We like the Red Cross because it’s on the front lines of disaster relief.”

Preparedness Efforts

Tzu Chi also holds Red Cross CPR classes at its Flushing office. “Two of our RNs are Red Cross-certified instructors; they teach CPR in Mandarin,” said Yuru. “People need to prepare for emergencies beforehand,” she added. “We try to publicize the need to be prepared. By working together with the Red Cross, we hope to increase the level of preparedness and serve more of the community. Taking time to care for the community is not a burden for daily life—it’s good karma for you and your family.”


Although they rarely make front-page news, home fires, which displace thousands of people, and can cause serious injury and/or death, represent the vast majority of disasters that affect the residents of Greater New York each year. Between January and September 2009, the American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY) responded to 1,327 home fires in the five boroughs of New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley, and helped more than 7,300 adults and children affected by those fires with financial assistance, emergency housing and emotional support.

The good news about home fires––while they represent the greatest number of the Chapter’s responses, they are one of the most preventable. ARC/GNY urges families to prepare and take action to prevent home fires during National Fire Prevention Week, October 5–9. This preparation doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or training, and Fire Prevention Week is a great time to get started. In addition to having working smoke alarms on each level of your home, one of the easiest ways to prevent a tragedy is to develop and practice a home fire escape plan so that every family member knows how to escape quickly and safely.

For more information on how you can get prepared, please read our Fire Safety Guide. You can also follow us on Twitter to learn about the many fires the Chapter responds to daily.

The Asia Pacific region has been hit by a series of calamitous natural disasters over the past seven days leaving tremendous destruction across four areas. The global Red Cross network has been among the first responders to provide relief and emotional support to traumatized families as well as first aid to the sick and injured.

In Indonesia, two devastating earthquakes 24 hours apart have left nearly 1,000 dead and many others trapped. The Indonesian Red Cross has dispatched hundreds of volunteers, including 45 doctors, to the quake zone to offer first aid services, shelter and other assistance for those in need, and is moving thousands of relief supplies to Padang.

On September 29, an 8.3-magnitude earthquake, followed by a tsunami, affected the Pacific islands of Samoa, Tonga and America Samoa, a United States territory. The American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, water and other needed supplies in American Samoa, as well as helping with debris removal. A leadership team of about 70 volunteers is also on its way to the island to supplement the local Red Cross workforce. In the sovereign nations of Samoa and Tonga, their respective Red Cross societies are running relief efforts to provide assistance to affected residents, including operating five camps for now homeless families.

Last week’s Typhoon Ketsana wreaked havoc across the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, causing record-level floods, destroying houses and taking lives. In addition to the thousands of local Red Cross volunteers and employees who are providing emergency relief in their countries, the American Red Cross is contributing an initial $100,000 worth of supplies — including mosquito nets, jerry cans and blankets — to the Philippines from the Red Cross warehouse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. An additional $50,000 cash is going to Vietnam to support their relief efforts.

Chronology of disasters striking Asia Pacific region:

  • Oct. 1: A second major earthquake shook Jambi province in Indonesia, 180 miles from the epicenter of the September 30 quake
  • Sept. 30: A 7.6-magintude earthquake was recorded off the West coast of Indonesia, about 30 miles from Padang, the capital of West Sumatra
  • Sept 29: A tsunami follows in the wake of the earthquake which affected the Pacific Islands of Samoa, Tonga and America Samoa
  • Sept. 29: An 8.3-magnitude earthquake affects the Pacific islands of Samoa, Tonga and America Samoa
  • Sept. 26: Typhoon Ketsana made its first landfall and dumped torrential rains in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

The Red Cross urges those who have been able to contact loved ones on American Samoa to register them with Safe and Well, the best way to share information about their status. You can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site at www.redcross.org/safeandwell. If you do not have internet access, call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-866-438-4636 to register your loved ones. The information you post will let other loved ones know about the well-being of those on the island. For any questions about Safe and Well email safe@usa.redcross.org.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Donations to the International Response Fund can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at http://www.redcross.org.