Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Most Important Practice-Makes-Perfect Scenario in Your Life?

By Jana Mathieson
Everyone knows that if you don’t practice before a big game, chances are that you won’t do as well as if you had practiced. Superstars in sports, world-class musicians, orators, and more all practice their craft well before they perform.

The same holds true for business preparedness. Sure, all the pieces are in place -- from the MOU and MAA to the communications plan and IT backup -- but how do you know it will all work when an emergency or disaster strikes? Have you practiced your plan?

David Greenhouse, Business Continuity Manager at Mercury System and Red Cross Preparedness expert, wants to help you practice to your plan. Greenhouse will present a table top exercise at the Rocky Mountain Business Preparedness Academy on September 30, 2014. He has done this exercise for many communities and companies, including the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Greenhouse has seen incidents where preparedness succeeds in keeping businesses and communities alive and incidents where lack of preparedness has caused the downfall of communities. Greenhouse pointed to Joplin, MO, as an example where planning and preparedness paid off. Only a few years after their community was devastated by a tornado, they are nearly completely recovered. On the other side is New Orleans, Greenhouse said, where leaders waited and didn’t enact their plan; years later, some residents still have not returned and the community has not recovered.

Greenhouse wants people to be able to think about the possible scenarios that could happen and plan appropriately. That might mean planning for loss of site, loss of technology, and unavailability of staff, to name a few. “If we can practice our plans, we can see where there are holes and then the fix them,” said Greenhouse.

If you haven’t practiced --or even mad -- your emergency plans, get hands-on training and advice from Greenhouse and other preparedness experts at the Business Preparedness Academy. The cost is only $25 and you can register here:

Does Your Business Have the Tools Needed for Disaster Recovery?

By Jana Mathieson

 “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.”
 -1980s FRAM Oil Filter Commercial

Sooner or later, there comes a day when we may have to pay. How much a business suffers during an emergency or disaster could depend on what plans are in place before the disaster strikes. What would you do if your employees could not get to work? What happens during a disaster, such as the 2013 floods?

What about a theft or fire? How would your business cope? There are many tools available to help businesses prepare for disasters and emergencies. Jim Krugman, Emergency Training and Exercise Coordinator for the Mayor’s office, City and County of Denver, will be discussing two of these tools at the Red Cross Business Preparedness Academy on Sept. 30, 2014.

The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) and the MAA (Mutual Aid Agreement) can benefit businesses if they are put in place ahead of an emergency. “You can either accept risk, avoid risk, transfer risk or mitigate risk,” Krugman said. “It is important to have your business understand which is the best route to go and have plans in place.”

Some leaders only think of their company, Krugman noted, but supply chains and other parts of businesses can also be affected by disasters. Understanding and getting a little help from friends and neighbors is key for some businesses to survive.

Krugman has worked for years putting together plans and using tools to mitigate the cost of disasters. During his presentation at the Business Preparedness Academy, he will share his experiences, provide training and direction, and have attendees participate so they can have an edge in risk mitigation. To find out more and to register for the Business Preparedness Academy, visit

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wednesday Lunch & Learn: The Logistical Challenges of Refugee Resettlement

From the physical feat of crossing borders to the ongoing work of reconnecting with family members and learning the culture of their new countries, refugee resettlement is a process comprised of thousands of small tasks and many large ones. Thankfully, there are organizations who ensure that the families and individuals fleeing violence and natural disaster don’t face these challenges alone. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees, or the UNHCR, has been a resource for tens of millions of refugees since its inception in 1950. At this Wednesday’s International Services Lunch and Learn event, two speakers, Pilar Robledo and Jeremy Harker, will discuss their work with the UNHCR to safeguard the rights of displaced persons and offer resources to refugees as they begin a new life in a new homeland.
The UNHCR, founded in 1950, offers resources
for refugees as a global agency of the United Nations.

Pilar Robledo came to the UNHCR following her Peace Corps engagement in Kyrgyzstan. After working as a consultant to other organizations under the umbrella of the UN, Robledo interviewed with the UNHCR and was asked to begin work on a survey to identify the educational needs of Afghan refugees staying in Pakistan. Her work was to focus on some of the most insecure areas of the country, and would be conducted in the midst of conflict and natural disasters in the region.

“After two years of planning, one month before our fieldwork and data collection began, Pakistan faced a devastating flood, and 1 million homes were destroyed and 20 million people were displaced or affected” She said. “We had to reroute many of the target districts, and still maintain the representativeness of the survey.”

Jeremy Harker, whose work with the UNHCR began with an internship in Ecuador and focused on refugee populations in Latin and South America, says that in some ways, managing programs for refugees is similar to program management in the for-profit world, but there are also significant differences in what considerations need to be made.

“In [a refugee resettlement] environment, you mostly run a program as you would otherwise, but working with refugees, especially in a country like Ecuador which borders Colombia, where most of the people have fled from, you do have to have some sensitivity to their culture and specific challenges,” he said. “Refugees are affected in all sorts of ways. If someone has PTSD, for example, you need to make sure their resettlement program doesn’t cause them harm, whether through thing’s they’re exposed to or the people within they’re working with.” Through his talk at the Lunch and Learn, Harkey hopes to help others better understand the plight of refugees abroad.

“I hope that those who attend will come away with a better grasp on what those fleeing their countries of origin have gone through,” he said. “Both in terms of the drivers of having to leave a home country but also the programs and different international organizations, like the UNHRC and the Red Cross who help them along the way. Robledo hopes that Lunch & Learn attendees will better understand that the United States is in a privileged position to help international refugees find safety and settlement after escaping from affected areas.

“When people want to come to the United States and live here because they can prosper, we should be proud that we are a country that can offer that to the most vulnerable populations on earth,” she said.

“When people want to come to the United States and live here because they can prosper, we should be proud that we are a country that can offer that to the most vulnerable populations on earth,” she said.

The Lunch & Learn lecture will be presented Wednesday, Sept. 17, from noon to 1 p.m. at the American Red Cross, 444 Sherman St. RSVPs are requested by 12 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15, to Tim Bothe at Webinar options are also available for remote audiences. For more information, contact Tim Bothe.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My Red Cross Story: Four Generations of Red Cross Volunteering

Brinley Broomfield (L) and her mom, Sally Broomfield
at the Pikes Peak Chapter. Photo by Bill Fortune
By Sally Broomfield

See that beautiful girl on the left? That’s my daughter. (Yes, I am biased). Her name is Brinley, she is 16 years old, and she just earned Volunteer of the Month at the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross.

I’m over there on the right, Sally Broomfield, Disaster Program Manager for that same chapter.

The one you don’t see is my son, Nick. He is 19 years old, an FSI and Volunteer Services Volunteer with us, but he’s camera shy.
You know what else you can’t see in this picture? The four generations of my family who have volunteered with the Red Cross.

As World War II raged, American men and women rallied to the cause of freedom, left their homes and traveled overseas to fight or volunteer for their country. On the home front, nearly everyone played some sort of role to support the war effort. With so many of our young men and women deployed, gaps were left in factories, civic duties and hospitals. With two young children at home, Dorothy Mae Whitmarsh Bean, Brinley’s great-grandmother, could not go overseas, so she did what she could from American shores. She joined the American Red Cross and volunteered her time as a nurse’s aide in a local hospital. Her eight year old daughter, Elizabeth, contributed to the war effort by fixing the meals for the household, and taking care of the housework.
Fast forward to 1955. Brinley’s grandmother, Elizabeth, is now a Navy wife stationed in Hawaii with a young son. With time on her hands, a tradition of volunteerism behind her and a teacher by training, she naturally gravitates to helping and instructing others. She becomes a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor!

Brinley’s history of volunteerism comes from both sides of the family tree. In 1974, her other grandmother, Hilda Fountain, retired from a career as a social worker and began to volunteer with the American Red Cross at High Point Regional Hospital in North Carolina. At the time, she was 66 years old. Thirty-seven years later, when she retired from volunteering at the age of 102, the hospital created an award for volunteer service and named it after her.

Brinley’s mother, that would be me, came next. I started volunteering as a Government Liaison with the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross in 2012, one week before the worst wildfire in Colorado history hit our town. The next year, we got hit again by another wildfire, which surpassed the previous year’s fire, and while we were still reeling from that fire, we were hit by flood after flood after flood. I became the Disaster Program Manager in 2013, and when Brinley and her brother Nick came home from college this past summer, they became the fourth generation of our family to volunteer for the Red Cross.

Am I proud? Darn right! Red Cross is like family to me, and to have my own family a part of such a great and noble tradition means the world to me.