Bill Bell: Disaster Action Team Update from the Field

January 7, 2009

Report from Bill Bell American Red Cross – Rock River Chapter Disaster Services:

The American Red Cross – Rock River Chapter Disaster Action Team responded early Tuesday Morning to a fire on Kenmore in Rockford. Red Cross provided assistance to a family of four for food, clothing, and temporary shelter.

Click here to see a story about it on WREX


Red Cross Shelter Work Shows ‘real need’ [from rrstar.com]

January 5, 2009

By Chris Green, Rockford Register Star

During the past four months, Dave Dinges has become quite familiar with the daily operations of the Cedar Street Red Cross Homeless Shelter and the vital role it plays in the community.

The Stenstrom General Contracting employee served as project manager of the agency’s recently completed $330,000 expansion and renovation project. However, Dinges said it was during the construction process when the project took on a special meaning for him. A woman looking to house a mother and her children mistook him as an employee of the shelter and made a request:

“This woman was looking for a place for them to stay,” he said. “That’s when I had my eyes opened to what the real need was here in Rockford – providing shelter to those who have no place to go.”

Dinges oversaw the completion of a 1,550-square-foot addition, which included a new heating and air-conditioning system, a larger dining and activity room, an area to prepare food, and plenty of storage space for donated clothing and supplies. More importantly, the former dining room was remodeled and has been designated to serve entire families, something Red Cross officials say they are encountering more of on a daily basis.

The shelter office also was expanded and equipped with new computers, filing cabinets and a one-on-one case management room.

Going the extra mile
However, Pat Ambrose, the shelter’s service coordinator, said she was most appreciative of the extra work provided by Dinges and his 16-year-old son, Eric.

When Dinges wasn’t on-site, he was in the community gathering thousands of dollars in donations, such as benches from Spider Manufacturing. The metal seats were installed in a newly created and heated waiting room.

He also gathered office furniture from Michaelsen Office Furniture in Machesney Park.

His son spent part of his Christmas break also in the community gathering donations from area businesses collecting 20 Rubbermaid large plastic tubs, most of which were filled with new bed linen, new socks and hats.

“They had this large storage space, and it was empty,” Eric said. “I just decided to go around and see if I could get someone to help fill it.”

‘A lot more room’
Richard Wooten, 42, and his fiancee, Kira Rhodes, and their 11-month-old daughter, Ameliana, have lived at the 48-bed shelter off and on for several months.

They said the expansion couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It’s not congested in here now,” Wooten said.

Rhodes added: “There’s a lot more room and privacy now. The problem I had before was getting (Ameliana) to go to sleep at night with all the noise. That’s been eliminated.”

Since its opening in 1995, the shelter has housed more than 6,600 individuals, and more than 1,500 people have found permanent housing with assistance from the Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Staff writer Chris Green can be reached at cgreen@rrstar.com or 815-987-1241.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM Kira Rhodes and Richard Wooten stand with their 11-month-old daughter, Ameliana Rhodes-Wooten, in a family area where Rhodes and her daughter have been staying Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes a larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms. The shelter policy is for men to sleep in the mens area, even if they are in the shelter with their family.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM Kira Rhodes and Richard Wooten stand with their 11-month-old daughter, Ameliana Rhodes-Wooten, in a family area where Rhodes and her daughter have been staying Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes a larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms. The shelter policy is for men to sleep in the men's area, even if they are in the shelter with their family.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM Eric Dinges (right), 16, and his father, Dave Dinges, stand in a new storage room Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes a larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms. Eric volunteered to solicit donations to the Red Cross by asking local businesses to contribute.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM Eric Dinges (right), 16, and his father, Dave Dinges, stand in a new storage room Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes a larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms. Eric volunteered to solicit donations to the Red Cross by asking local businesses to contribute.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM A new dining area Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes the larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms.

SCOTT MORGAN | RRSTAR.COM A new dining area Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at the Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Rockford. The shelter recently completed a $330,000 addition, which includes the larger dining area. The old dining area has been divided into three family rooms.

Click here to see the article on rrstar.com


Anderson Packaging Doubles Holiday Fundraising Goal – American Red Cross Rock River Chapter Emergency Overnight Shelter received $11,000!

December 23, 2008

Rock River Chapter is one of four agencies to receive funds garnered through employee fundraiser – the American Red Cross Rock River Chapter Emergency Overnight Shelter received $11,000!

The Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross is pleased to announce a generous holiday gift from Anderson Packaging. This donation comes as a result of Anderson’s second annual Project E.L.L.F. charitable giving campaign.

The program, “Project E.L.L.F.: Enriching the Lives of the Less Fortunate”, was designed as a grassroots holiday themed voluntary charity donation effort for company workers. Over a three-week period, from December 1st to December 17th, workers submitted donations to nominate teams in a cross-functional competition. Teams raising the most money will greet workers at the plant entrances today in holiday themed costumes at each of the company’s three shifts and multiple facilities. “Going into this year’s campaign we established a goal of $10,000 for employee contributions,” states Tracy Barr, Director of Customer Project Planning at Anderson Packaging. “Despite the very challenging economy, we were astonished to find that we were able to raise $22,000 in employee contributions. It’s truly a testament to our employee’s generosity and sense of community.” With a 100% match from the company, the final tally is $44,000.

David Pattengale, director of the Red Cross Emergency Shelter says, “This donation to our overnight shelter means that our neighbors who may have fallen on hard times will have a place to sleep tonight. It’s important that we keep these people in mind during the holiday season, and the employees of Anderson Packaging have truly stepped up to show they care.”

The Shelter Mission

To meet the temporary shelter needs of a diverse group of individuals who for whatever cause are homeless in the community. We strive to create a safe environment that is free of discrimination and respects human dignity. This will be accomplished by providing positive role models, community education, and support systems which empower and develop guests, volunteers and staff, with a focus on long-term solutions.

About Anderson Packaging

Anderson Packaging, a wholly owned subsidiary of the AmerisourceBergen Corporation, is one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical contract packagers in the United States.

With extensive experience in new-product launches and process startup, Anderson offers specialized services such as package development, including design of child-resistant and patient compliance prompting features, as well as process development, including in-house tooling design and manufacture. Anderson also maintains one of the most progressive process, facilities and validation programs in the contract packaging industry, while maintaining a record of superior quality and service.


Homeless Shelters in Rockford Illinois During the Winter Season – WTVO

December 23, 2008

frank-shelter-story

The recent bitter cold weather is causing many homeless shelters to be filled to capacity. The poor economy was already giving local shelters too much business. But now with this arctic cold weather the last few days, many are scrambling to find enough room for the homeless.

Click here to watch the story.

If you’d like to find out how you can help local homeless shelters by making a donation you can call the American Red Cross at 815-963-8471 or www.rockriver.redcross.org.


Thanks to Everyone Involved at Yesterday’s American Red Cross Viditalk Event for the Troops!

December 17, 2008

Yesterday was a wonderful success! We were at the Chicago Rockford International Airport letting friends and families record video messages to send to the loved ones serving our country overseas and abroad.

You can see one of the videos that was recorded below!


St. Bridget’s School in Rockford, Illinois Donates to the Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation

December 12, 2008

We’d like to thank St. Bridget’s for their generous donation to our Emergency Overnight Shelter!

St. Bridget's School Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation 12.11.2008

St. Bridget's School Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation 12.11.2008


December 16th – Send a Viditalk Holiday Message to the Troops for Friends and Family Members 6am-7pm

December 5, 2008

On Tuesday, December 16th the American Red Cross – Rock River Chapter will be on hand at the Chicago Rockford International Airport’s (RFD) Main Terminal to record VidiTalk web videos to forward to servicemen around the globe. From 6am to 7pm friends and family members can record a two-minute streaming video, which will then be e-mailed to their loved ones in the service overseas.

The Red Cross is a lifeline to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, sending communications all over the world on behalf of family members who are facing emergencies or other important events. “This project gives people the opportunity to send their support to our soldiers who, while valiantly serving our country, may need this boost from back home,” says Dr. Robert Willis, Executive Director of the Rock River Chapter.

In addition to bringing their loved one’s e-mail address to the video taping, friends and family members are also invited to bring an ornament to decorate the “Operation Tree of Honor” located in the Airport’s Main Terminal. This tree was presented to RFD by the Friends of Camp Grant in honor of the 33rd Illinois National Guard Troops who were deployed to Afghanistan on December 1st. The Friends of Camp Grant are also collecting Christmas cards to send to the Guard Division.

VidiTalk is a powerful, cost effective, easily implemented solution to improve communications. It enables users to easily create and send high-quality personal video messages (Vidis) from their computer to recipients on high-speed or dial-up connections. Vidi messages can also be streamed to cell phones and other wireless devices. The user creates a video message on their computer where it is automatically compressed, encoded and sent to the hosting server. The VidiTalk server returns a hyperlink to the creator for placement into email, instant messages or any electronic document. Recipients click on the link and view the streamed video message in a customized playback screen using Microsoft Windows Media Player.