Home Fire Campaign position descriptions

_MG_6109-xA Red Cross Home Fire Campaign smoke alarm install event has multiple options for those seeking to volunteer, both the day of the event and the days before and after the event.

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.

Day of the event_MG_6088-x

  • Install team: 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.
  • Install team: 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.
  • Home Fires Campaign, Iowa 2014Install team: 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.
  • 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.


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.

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



Employee Q&A: Jill Toennis

2016-01-19 12.11.38

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 started to work for Red Cross as a volunteer helping with aquatic classes in the 1990s. I worked for the YMCA at the time. I came to work full time as an employee in July 2001 to the Health and Safety Department as the Northern Kentucky, Clermont and Brown County School Safety Partners Rep. In 2004, I moved over to the Water Safety/Aquatic Rep for Greater Cincinnati and then in 2011 transitioned into the new national structure as Aquatic Specialist for Central and Southern Ohio. Over the last five years, my job has changed several times, but always working with aquatic customers in an every growing territory.

Q: What drew you to want to work for the Red Cross in the first place?
A: I loved working with people and helping them keep up with their training. Water safety is my passion, and I  like to get the word out on the importance of teaching your kids to swim.

Q: What’s your swimming background? Did you swim competitively? Were you a lifeguard? Do you still swim? Can you beat Michael Phelps in a 100-yard freestyle sprint?
A: My background for swimming began as child when I took Red Cross swim lessons at my local YMCA. I swam on a swim team until high school. At age 15, I took my first Red Cross lifeguarding class, and that was the start of my aquatics career. I still teach swim lessons today, and I swim laps, but I definitely cannot beat Michael Phelps.

Q: Did you know the word “swims” looks the same upside down?
A: I had no idea!

Q: Did you know the Titanic was the first ocean liner with a swimming pool? If not, do you feel more enlightened?
A: I did not know that he Titanic was the first ocean liner to have a pool, but I do feel like I now have a great trivia question.

Q: A little about you personally: What was your New Year’s resolution. Have you broken it yet?
A: I do not make New Year’s resolutions any more because I am terrible at keeping them.

Q: Are you a dog person or cat person?
A: Dog all the way! I have rescue yellow lab named Izzie

Q: Do you know any good lifeguard jokes?
A: No jokes. Sorry!

Q: Do you watch Baywatch? Do you critique their resuscitation skills? Are they good?
A: I have watched Baywatch, a long time ago, and their technique is not as up to date as what we teach now.

Q: Where was your last vacation?
A: I went to Ft. Meyers Beach in October. I love to sit on the beach!

Q: What do you do for fun?
A: Going to the beach, shopping and hanging out with friends are my relaxing fun things I like to do.

Q: What’s the most exhilarating thing you’ve ever done?
A: Many years ago I went whitewater rafting on a family vacation.

Q: What’s your most memorable Red Cross moment?
A: There have been to many moments and memories but I am thankful for all the opportunities and friends that have come into my life through my Red Cross career.

2015-12-15 14.05.43

Dannyn Peterson is a tough-talking, motorcycle-riding Air Force brat with a heart of gold. She swears easily and laughs often. She carries a knife and a CPR mask. She is a mass of contradictions molded together into a complex, intense, fun-loving human being.

Ask her to attend a meeting and she will answer with a snarl. Tell her there’s a disaster client who needs assistance and she will drop everything and go to whatever lengths are necessary to help.

But what might arguably be the biggest paradox to Peterson is that the 47-year-old Northern Kentucky resident prefers to go by the nickname “Dash.” Sitting in her compact cubicle in the Cincinnati office—tucked into the corner where she is hidden from the common view yet commands a gunfighter’s perspective of the entire disaster operation—the first thing you notice about Peterson is her right leg. Or lack thereof.

Where there was once a calf, ankle and foot, there is now a manmade combination of carbon fiber, plastic and stainless steel. A motorcycle accident in 1992 began a 17-year journey of pain and agony that ended with her leg being amputated just below the knee, bringing great relief from her suffering but also bring with it the irony that the person who calls herself “Dash” now doesn’t go anywhere fast.

“Don’t ever tick me off,” she says. “You can out run me, but if I ever catch you I will take my leg off and beat you with it.”

She laughs hysterically.

While the issue of a disability is no laughing matter, Peterson shrugs off all attempts at taking her loss and limitation too seriously. Life’s jagged edges have left her philosophical to the point where everything is relative and not much can get her down. “A lot of people choose to sit around and let pain overtake them and let disability overtake them,” she says. “Before I had my operation, that’s when I was disabled. I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. Now, I just have a fake leg. That’s how I see it.”

Dash3While she may have lost her deftness afoot, her mind still operates at a hypersonic speed and her desire and ability to work have kept pace. A day without Dash in the office is rare, and one look at her long list of Red Cross qualifications reveals one of the region’s most skilled volunteers.

By title, she’s a disaster workforce engagement specialist in charge of onboarding and educating new disaster volunteers, as well as deploying others at a moment’s notice to some national or international disaster. She’s also a regional dispatcher, a caseworker, an ERV driver, a DAT member, a naturalization volunteer, and a certified health and safety instructor, which includes, of all things, swimming.

“I have a leg I use for swimming,” she says. “If you don’t have it, you just go in circles. Well, you don’t, but you kind of do. Anyway, before the accident I was a competitive swimmer. Even with one leg, I’m a stronger swimmer than most people. I did open water long distance swimming, so yeah, you actually do want me around when you are drowning.”

Dash4What she spends most of her time on, though, is teaching new volunteers the complexities of disaster work, blending Red Cross requirements with insights culled from her years on the frontlines. She ran a shelter in Indianapolis during Hurricane Katrina, a shelter in Waco, Texas, during Hurricane Ike, and did casework in Tupelo, Miss., when tornadoes ripped through the city. When typhoons tore apart Saipan this summer, she spent 45 days managing the disaster’s case work—from half a world away. Thanks to technology, she managed six caseworkers and handled 100-150 cases a day while sitting in her Northern Kentucky home.

“One of the things that I really work on is teaching new volunteers that instead of waiting for the disaster to happen, talk to their employer or teachers or families now. Let them know that there is a possibility that you might be gone for two or three weeks, and it might happen at a moment’s notice. When the phone call comes in, you have to be packed and ready to go. This means that you have to take care of kids, take care of the dog and make sure the bills are paid for the next few weeks.”

It’s the kind of invaluable perspective and knowledge that can only come from someone who has been through the circumstances and learned the hard way, and it’s the kind of information that can make or break a successful disaster volunteer. Someone who has a smooth first experience is likely to continue.

Dash2Interestingly, Peterson has a similar approach when dealing with clients. She’s been on their side of a disaster several times and, when those experiences are combined with an education in sociology and social work, it creates a different paradigm.

“I think I see things through a different lens than most of our volunteers,” she says. “I don’t just see that your house burned down and we need to put you in a hotel. It’s a process, a long process. I used to work the help desk for 2-1-1, too, and that changed how I see my clients and what their other needs are. I look at the bigger picture. In many cases, I know what they’ve been through because I’ve been through it as well.”

When she was 5 years old, her family’s home in Southern California burned. The Red Cross was there. She dealt with wildfires in the area and the flooding that happened as a result of the trees being destroyed. The Red Cross was there. When she was 19 and living in Columbus, Ohio, her family home was struck by lightning. “It was a rickety, old Victorian-era home, and it went up like a pile of matches.” The Red Cross was there.

“Because of those experiences, I knew I wanted to give something back,” she says, “but I was too stupid in my young adulthood. I was too busy doing careless, crazy stuff and living life. I figured that I would do something when I was older. Then, when I was 22, my whole life changed.”


*  *  *

“Have I ever shown you my tattoo?” she says.

She stands up, pulls off her artificial leg and reveals a tattoo that’s wrapped all the way around the middle of her lower leg, just below her stump.

“- – – – Cut below the dotted line. – – – -”

She laughs hysterically.

“I got it the week before I got my leg cut off. The surgeon still remembers me.”

Dash1She grabs some loose pieces of padding that fell out when she removed the leg and tosses them back in the socket that wraps around her stump. “I’m actually going this afternoon to get a new leg because this one is too big, by a lot. I have a whole bunch of stuff just jammed in there to keep my leg from knocking around. When I first got my leg amputated, the lower part of my leg was bigger around than my head. Now it’s about the size of my forearm. So they have to keep making me smaller and smaller ones.”

This will be leg number 19. The others are lined up in a closet at home.

Whatever inconveniences and adjustments she’s had to make to life with an artificial leg, though, were nothing compared to the agony she was living with during in the 17 years between the time of the accident and the amputation surgery.

“I had a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It was really hard to bathe because water going over my leg really hurt. A sheet lying over my leg was just excruciating. The pain was absolutely insane. It kept getting worse, and it kept going higher and higher up my leg. I was taking morphine or synthetic morphine for most of the 17 years to try and tamp it down. I was on so many drugs I was just a zombie. And it was very depressing because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.”

The whole ordeal began innocently. She went into work to take care of some paperwork and was riding her Yamaha Maxim 650 motorcycle around a curve when she hit a muffler that fell off someone’s car. The bike went down and her leg was trapped underneath.

dash“I had a brand new helmet on, and it didn’t have a scratch. But that didn’t do my leg any good. I tried to get up and couldn’t. My leg was just dangling there. This was before cell phones, so I wrapped my belt around my leg and waited for someone to come by.”

Today, she talks about it in a nonchalant, matter-of-fact manner, but knows that it was not simply one of those mundane events that fill most of our lives. It was life altering in every way possible—physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. She nods in agreement.

“Yeah, I had to completely readjust everything in my life. It made me look around and re-evaluate what I’m seeing and what I’m doing. It brought about a lot of change. But it also brought me to the Red Cross.”

Employee Q&A: Debbie Smith

Q10410363_10152941687019086_6675860777413969870_n: 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: My current position with the Red Cross is Major Gift Officer, I was previously the Chapter Executive for the Ohio River Valley territory which is Scioto, Pike, Jackson, Lawrence, Adams and Brown Counties.

Q: What drew you to want to work for the Red Cross in the first place?
A: I have a passion for helping others and giving back to our communities, I had previously served on the Board for Habitat for Humanity and our local School board. I also currently serve on PALS- Portsmouth Area Ladies Society, Portsmouth Educational Forum and the Pike County Community Fund.

Q: Your big event is Dancing With Our Stars. So, can you dance? Sing? Whistle? Any talent at all?
A: I leave the talent to our wonderful Dancing With Our Stars performers. The only talent I would have is playing the piano. You don’t want to hear me sing or see me dance.

Q: A little about you personally: Ham or turkey for Christmas?
A: Honey Ham for Christmas of course.

Q: Do you shop on Black Friday? Or Thanksgiving night? Are you out at 4:00 a.m. when the stores open their doors?
A: I shop both, but 4:00 a.m.is a little too early for me. We go shopping after Thanksgiving dinner is done around 5:00 p.m., and again the next day.

Q: What’s your favorite Christmas song?
A: Carol of the Bells

Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I vacation and travel with my family

Q: Where was your last vacation?
A: Gatlinburg, Tenn. We went to Gatlinburg this past summer and stayed in a chalet on the mountain. We like to do the Mountain Coaster, hike and ride the tram up the mountain. It is beautiful in the mountains.

Q: What’s the most exhilarating thing you’ve ever done?
A: Scuba diving. I began scuba diving when I was in college at Shawnee State University. I did my open water certification in Key West, Fla. I’ve dived in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. I have done deep dives, night dives and coral reefs. Never done a wreck dive, but I would love to.

Q: What’s your most memorable Red Cross moment?
A: When someone shares how the Red Cross made a difference by helping them. I have had past disaster clients and donors share wonderful stories of how we have made a difference in their lives or their family’s life. Just last week, one of my donors shared how the Red Cross helped her family after losing everything, and how we were there while the fire department was there. It makes me proud to be part of this great team.