Employee Q&A: Cory Paul

Cory Paul_Headshot

Q: A little background: How long have you been with the Red Cross; what is your job now and what other jobs have you had over the years?

A: I have been working with the Red Cross for six years. I was hired as a Disaster Response Specialist and was promoted to Disaster Program Manager in Cleveland. Now, I am the Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces. I moved here from Cleveland with my fiancé, Jess, in November 2015.

Q: What drew you to want to work for the Red Cross in the first place?
A: I started volunteering on a Disaster Action Team. After the Haiti earthquake, I was moved to donate my time to ease human suffering. Ultimately, I wanted to deploy to large disasters and help those I saw on the news. I did not realize that disasters happened on a daily basis and help was needed right in my community. I served as a Team Leader for about six months before I applied for a paid staff position.

Q: As the regional SAF officer, what’s your military background? How did you get interested in the military? Did you have GI Joes as a kid?
A: My military career started in 2010, after I graduated Ohio University and before my school loans needed to be paid back. I had trouble finding adequate employment and kept seeing how many benefits were available to service members and veterans–including the student loan repayment program. I signed a contract for six years, paid off my loans, deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I never really had that much interest in the military as a kid, but I did learn to shoot from my grandpa who used to call me “Dead-eye.”

Q: Which is more realistic of military life? The movie “Stripes” with Bill Murray or the TV show “Hogan’s Heroes”?
A: I definitely identify with Bill Murray in Stripes when I think about military life.  Although it is extremely regimented during basic training, the laughs, pranks and camaraderie were the things that kept us all together.

Q: Did you ever have a drill sergeant scream, “Put your toes on the line you slimy worms,” or “Don’t you eyeball me boy” like Louis Gossett Jr. in “An Officer and a Gentleman”? If not, what did they say?
A: My drill sergeants, DS Gay and DS Rhea, yelled SO much. They were fair but also very harsh. Most of the time, it was very hard not to crack up or laugh at some of the things these guys were saying. But, if you laughed, you’d get it worse and worse. But, sometimes it was worth it.

Q: We understand you’re getting married in May. What’s the plan? Are you involved at all or are you just supposed to show up?
A: May 7 to be exact, in Athens, Ohio. I’ve been pretty involved. Jess tells me I have a good eye, so I was helping with some of the decoration planning. I am also her “bulldog.” When she was having trouble with a certain vendor, she would have me call and hoot and holler, make a big stink, to get what she wants. The ceremony is in front of the Ridges, once known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum. I like to joke and say that It’s fitting that we are getting married at an asylum.

Q: Married life can be challenging. Will your military background help in that area?
A: I am really good at taking orders.  Jess is really good at issuing them.

Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I like to sample new beers and new breweries. I make my own beer from time to time. Jess and I go hiking and visit local museums. I love the water and look forward to getting some small boat sailing or water skiing in this summer.

Q: Where was your last vacation?
A: My last vacation was to Yosemite National Forest. Jess and I met her family for some camping and hiking for a couple of days. We hiked Cloud’s Rest, which has one of the best views in the park. I was going to propose to Jess on the top but my nerves were so shot from the hike and the heights that I was afraid I was going to get down on one knee and she’d be so surprised that she would back right off the mountain. I finally proposed a couple days later near her parents house in Lake Tahoe.

Q: What’s the most exhilarating thing you’ve ever done?
A: I love to SCUBA dive. I’ve been skydiving a couple times–which comes close, but I love being under water. In some ways it is exhilarating, in other ways it is the most calming thing I’ve ever done. I do love the deep wreck dives where you feel as if you are flying. One time, I got nitrogen narcosis, looking at all the pretty fish. When I snapped out of it, I checked my air gauge and realized I was in trouble. I immediately got my dive buddy and started to ascend. I ran out of air at our second safety stop at 30 feet and had to breathe off my buddy’s secondary regulator as we surfaced. I definitely learned my lesson.

Q: What’s your most memorable Red Cross moment?
A: Before I deployed for Afghanistan, I was our chapter’s SAF emergency communication follow up point of contact. I made thousands of follow up calls to families in our area. While I was overseas, working overnight TOC (Tactical Operations Center) duty, the phone rang–it was a Red Cross SAF Specialist delivering an emergency communication message to our commander. I immediately went into “Red Cross Mode” and told the specialist that this was my day job and I was happy to help in any way possible. We got the soldier the message and he was on emergency leave in six hours. He was on the first helicopter out of Qalat headed home to be with his family.

March is Red Cross Month


In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt first proclaimed March as Red Cross Month. Since then, every president has made the same declaration, offering the chance to raise awareness for all of the duties that the Red Cross performs, as well as recognize and celebrate all of the volunteers and donors who live the Red Cross mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.

To recognize this distinction and celebrate its message, the Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region of the American Red Cross offers a wide range of events and activities during the month.

Home Fire Campaign position descriptions

_MG_6109-xThe following are the job descriptions available during the “Mega Blitz: A Cause for Alarms” on Saturday, May 7:

Days before the event_MG_5889-x

  • Logistics support. This includes various tasks such as packing bags and buckets with alarms and tools, moving supplies into vehicles, etc.
  • Administrative support. This includes various tasks such as getting documents ready, preparing document kits, and other office-oriented tasks.

To volunteer for these roles during the days leading up to the May 7 event, contact us at info.cincinnatiarc.oh@redcross.org.

Day of the event

  • Install teamsmoke alarm installer
    Smoke alarm installer. As part of an Install Team, this person does the actual installation of the alarms in homes. Must be familiar with a cordless drill. Will work on and carry a stepladder.
    Preparedness planner. As part of an Install Team, this person speaks with the resident about home fire safety, other local hazards and making an escape plan in case of fire. Will help carry supplies throughout the day.
    Documenter. As part of an Install Team, this person records information about the home such as address, number of alarms, and number of people living there._MG_5902-x
  • Logistics support. This includes issuing and receiving tool kits, ladders, and other material to install teams. (Filled)
  • Registration. These people help register install teams and other volunteers as they arrive.
  • Volunteer support. This position ensures that volunteers are coached on the next steps of their day, where they can find answers to questions and in general, help facilitate the event.

To volunteer for any of these positions, sign up at SmokeAlarmsSaveLives.org and click on the “Volunteer” button on the Events page.

Days after the event

  • _MG_6114-xLogistics support. This includes various tasks such as unpacking bags and buckets, restocking shelves, and inventorying what is
  • Administrative support. This includes entering data into the ARC systems for alarms installed, entering volunteer data and other office-oriented tasks.

To volunteer for these roles during the days leading up to the May 7 event, contact us at info.cincinnatiarc.oh@redcross.org.

The Art of War: A look into the Red Cross’s WWI efforts through the art of sheet music

IMG_0344For families in the early portion of the 20th century, nightly entertainment was, for the most part, a self-fulfilled undertaking. Radio was in its infancy and television was still a half-century away. So to pass the hours between supper and sleep, one of the most common solutions was to gather the family around the piano and, well, sing the night away.

In today’s era of channel surfing and Netflix marathons, the concept of family singalongs seems either quaint or downright horrifying, but in the context of the era it was high entertainment. Families would have on their pianos vast collections of sheet music, which, interestingly, were not only musically functional but also served as a form of pop art, much like movie posters and album covers would do in latter parts of the century. Famous artists were even commissioned to create paintings for particular pieces of sheet music.

Theresa Leininger-Miller - Associate Professor, School of Art, DAAP, 2005 QSI winner

Today, these relics of a bygone era are actually proving to be a quite revealing historical goldmine for art historians like Theresa Leininger-Miller. Not only do they offer a fresh look into life at the time, but they open the door to all kinds of historical revelations, including some about the Red Cross.

In 2014, Leininger-Miller was asked to create a display for the Ohio Academy of Medical History, which was creating an event for National Nurses Week. While the associate professor of art history at the University of Cincinnati specializes in 19th and 20th century art—African-American art in particular—nursing art was a little outside of her realm. Still, she agreed to the request and set about doing some research.

rosieAs she began to dig, she found that between 1914-1918—the years encompassing World War I—there were 13,500 individual compositions of sheet music created, and 70 of them were about nurses. Although working conditions for medical personnel in the war were hellish, especially on the battlefield, she says, one of the things that struck her was the way the illustrators and song writers portrayed the nurses: as angels, mothers, caregivers, sweethearts, patriots. Sheet music, she says, also served another function: propaganda for the war effort as well as solace—and sometimes levity—to those on the home front.

be there for youAs she continued her research, another element jumped out at her: All of the nurses were members of the Red Cross. Long before M*A*S*H units, the Red Cross was a primary caretaker of the wounded, and as part of the war effort at the time, the American Red Cross recruited 20,000 nurses to serve the military.

The discovery proved to be exactly what she was looking for.

Cincinnati, as it also turns out, was a mecca for printing in the early 20th century, and much of the sheet music from that era was actually printed in the city—a fact not lost to the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, which collected a wide range of the printed material, including an archive of 30,000 pieces of sheet music.

Angle of the battlefieldWith a theme in mind and art in hand, she created a three-paneled poster: “The Angel of No Man’s Land: Red Cross Nurses in World War I Illustrated Sheet Music.” The red, 3×4-foot  display includes art from such songs as “My Red Cross Girlie,” “I’ve Got a Red Cross Rosie Going Across With Me,” “The Rose of No Man’s Land,” “I’ll Gladly Be a Wounded Soldier If You’ll Be My Red Cross Nurse” and “I Don’t Want to Get Well.”

Interestingly, she says, the art not only emphasizes the dedication, competence, kindness and American identity of the nurses, but it also shows them in somewhat risque positions for the time—holding a soldier’s hand, giving them a hug, gazing into their eyes20098590. But it also show them in positions of strength if not authority—marching alongside the soldiers, on the frontlines, even in “No Man’s Land,” a place where no soldier wanted to go.

Although these images of strength might have been simply designed to bolster the war effort, they also became visual evidence to back what became the burgeoning feminism movement that took root after the war. There was even a song, “Why Shouldn’t They Be Good Enough Now?” that cited their war efforts as evidence for the equal rights argument.

no man's landUnfortunately, the end of the war also served as the beginning of the end of sheet music as cultural art. As radio and phonographs began to take hold, illustrations began to be replaced by photographs as people demanded to see pictures of the celebrities who were making the songs so popular. By WWII, Red Cross Rosie gave way in popularity to Rosie the Riveter, family singalongs were virtually a thing of the past and the once-illustrious art of sheet music was on its way to becoming a subject for historians.

The wacky and the wonderful: Red Cross in the news

There’s no telling what kind of disaster the Red Cross might be called to respond to—or when or where we might pop up in a media story. As evidence, here is a collection of some recent non-traditional Red Cross responses and recognitions:

+ In January, a snow whiteout caused a 40-car pileup on Interstate 74 just west of Cincinnati. Although it wasn’t what could be described as a traditional disaster, the Red Cross was called to the scene to provide hot chocolate, blankets, hand warmers and other items to the first responders at the scene, and to help with a temporary shelter that was set up for the stranded motorists.


+ Logan Pickett, a fourth grader from Hamilton, Ohio, was recently recognized for being such an outstanding volunteer, including efforts to help the Red Cross.


lottery+ Linda Windey, a suburban Cincinnati resident who won $1 million in the Powerball Lottery (picking all the right numbers except the Powerball), wanted to give back in an act of kindness and gratitude after picking up her seven-digit check. So she walked out of the Lottery office and across the street to a Red Cross bloodmobile and gave a pint of blood.


+ Home fires often render a home unlivable, and the Red Cross is then house crashcalled to help the homeowners find a place to stay until the home can be repaired. In December, the Red Cross had to help a homeowner in Dayton find shelter after his home was damaged by...a car that crashed into his house.


+ Media recognition comes in many different forms these days, including this posting by Cincinnati TV station WCPO on its Twitter page:
Walton Fire 122615 (11)

Red Cross Leadership Development Camp


Each year more than 100 teenagers from around the region rock their summer by spending four days and three nights on a college campus (in a dorm, away from their parents and annoying siblings), learning the subtle and not-so-subtle traits of being a leader.

Campers participate in workshops and sessions on various “teen-related” topics, like public speaking (OMG NO!), volunteerism (OK, that’s cool) and ethics (I don’t know, what would you do?). There are also games, guest speakers and activities, all of which are structured to help youth recognize their leadership potential and encourage them to act upon it.


In short, it’s a camp for youth and by youth that empowers youth to become leaders. And it makes a huge difference.


LDC quotes


So here’s what you need to know:

WHO: Youth from throughout the Cincinnati/Dayton region, ages 13–17 and entering grades 8–11

WHEN: Thursday, July 14, through Sunday, July 17, 2016

WHERE: On the campus of Xavier University; campers will stay in dorms on campus

COST: $225 includes lodging, meals, camp materials and the AWESOME LDC 2K16 T-shirt

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: Available on a limited, need-based basis

APPLY: Fill out the application form starting Feb. 1 Priority Deadline: April 15; Final Deadline:  May 15

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Diana Wood 513-579-3095 LDC.CincinnatiARC.OH@redcross.org