Posted by Heather Tomlinson on Jun 05, 2024
Red Cross Volunteer Charlie Sharp is a lifetime Sycamore resident and talked passionately about his experience on the scene of the tragic St. Albans fire that left 120 people displaced in 2019. As soon as he heard about the fire, he rushed to the scene and saw the firefighters battling the blaze and residents standing in the parking lot at Southeast Elementary School across the street. He immediately called his regional office in Chicago and the Sycamore School District Superintendent at the time, Kathy Countryman, and they got to work helping the firefighters and families. Members of the Red Cross provided the firefighters with drinks and essentials while Superintendent Countryman opened the school and allowed the Red Cross to set up emergency shelter. He says many people think of the Red Cross as emergency disaster relief for natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. However, he wants us all to know that local emergencies such as apartment fires get the same degree of relief. The Red Cross also helped residents of the recent apartment fire in DeKalb on Kimberly Drive along with Family Service Agency. Charlie says one of the FSA workers recognized him on the scene because she was displaced from St. Albans and she is happy to be able to give back.
 
James Stuart joined the presentation as well, telling his story as a Service Armed Forces Regional Program Specialist. He has served military troops around the world as a volunteer of the Red Cross. At one time he was responsible for 450 service members. The Red Cross has a permanent office staffed with employees at every military base. In WWII, they provided coffee and donuts to military members as a treat in PoznaƄ, Poland. The Red Cross also provides emergency communications to commanding officers when a family member falls ill or passes away back in the States. 
 
Charlie also wanted to bring attention to the fact that they install free fire detectors for anyone who asks for them. There are no pre-qualifications or income requirements. (I can vouch for the fire detectors, which Charlie installed in my house in 2017. They are still going strong, thanks to their 10-year batteries.)
 
Red Cross services include:
 
1. Disaster response, (clean water, safe shelter, hot meals
2. Training (CPR, first aid, life support, babysitting and more)
3. Military and veterans support (reintegration, veterans services and more)
4. International support (120 million people outside of U.S. benefit each year)
5. Blood services (40% of the blood supply is provided by Red Cross and its 2.3 million volunteers)
 
The Red Cross also provides financial assistance to qualifying families after crisis and has the funding to put qualified families in a hotel for up to a week after crisis. They also aid in prescription assistance, medical assistance and counseling services. They only aid in crisis help, not long term. However, they work closely with the Family Service Agency of DeKalb County for emergencies as that agency has resources to go beyond what Red Cross can offer. 
 
The American Red Cross has 230 chapters in the U.S. The Rockford chapter is nearest to Sycamore.