Thursday, June 3, 2010

To continue their mission of helping others, Washington County Red Cross needs our help
By Sheryl Popp

The Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross always depends on the financial support of businesses and individuals to operate. Since the Stonebridge Apartment Building fire in West Bend last April 2, the need for funding has accelerated. I visited with Kim Maggraf, executive director of the Washington County Chapter, to learn more.

This was not my first visit to the Red Cross in West Bend. In December of 2004, I chatted with the previous director and two local volunteers who had spent time in Florida, helping people recover after a number of hurricanes. As its new director, Kim was pleased to point out that the office has grown to encompass not only West Bend, but all of Washington County. That happened almost two years ago. Obviously, serving the entire county can stretch resources further than before. The mission of the American Red Cross is to prevent, prepare for and respond to, disasters. "We provide disaster services, disaster preparedness classes and emergency response services to the entire county," explained Kim. "That includes CPR training, first aid training, defibrillator training, swimming and lifeguard classes and babysitting training. We offer classes to the general public, businesses, schools and at area recreation departments," she finished. Classes are regularly provided in schools, and to businesses as they need it. "Businesses will generally try to have at least one or two employees per shift who can use a defibrillator and who are trained in CPR and first aid," said Kim. Regularly posted community training classes have fees associated with them to cover Red Cross expenses. Classes are held at various county locations. A brochure of summer offerings is now available, or visit for a listing.

Another vital role of the Red Cross is one I had not known about. "I don't think most people realize that we provide emergency services to members of the armed forces and their families in times of crisis," said Kim. I think, like me, most people believe that soldiers and other armed services personnel are more accessible to their families than during any other period in our wartime history. We see commercials about picture phones, and we're solicited to send all kinds of holiday messages to soldiers. "People also think that the military knows where everyone is at all times," explained Kim. "But these days there are just so many unknowns, especially in highly dangerous areas. So that kind of information is not always readily available. The Red Cross is the only organization that can provide these services. So, say a person serving overseas has an emergency at home. A family member can contact us and we will ask the military to help locate the service member. The US Armed Services trusts that the Red Cross will have investigated the situation quickly. And if the emergency is something like a medical crisis, we have to document it. In a recent case we just handled for a West Bend family, the military went through five units in five cities before they found the person we were looking for." Red Cross personnel are on call 24/7 for this service. Another way they offer assistance to families of active military personnel is emergency financial assistance, for example, travel expenses. "Often this is the form of a loan however," added Kim.

Kim Marggraf is making a daily commute from Sheboygan to perform her duties as director of the Washington County Red Cross. She doesn't mind the commute too much, since the drive down Hwy. 28 is enjoyable. "I was looking for a new position with a non-profit organization whose mission I believed in," she explained. "I happen to know the executive director of the Milwaukee Chapter, who let me know when this position opened." The decision was made last November, and Kim began working part time in January and full time last March. She has a professional background with non profit agencies, event planning and fundraising, so she was well equipped to take on this job. However, if she wanted a challenge, she got one. "I was still part time when Haiti happened, and hadn't been here very long on a full time basis when the West Bend fire occurred on April 2," said Kim. "We really had a lot of donations made to us after the Haiti disaster. We would like to recognize DCI Cheese in Richfield who donated $45,000 - $100 for each employee," she continued. "We're very grateful for all of the donations, and the situation there continues to be serious. But we still need monies directed toward Washington County too."

On April 2, some Red Cross volunteers were on the scene of the Stonebridge Apartment fire almost instantly. Others went to the office to help handle logistics. Area residents, according to Kim, gave generously to the families who lost everything. Donations included money, food and clothing, which was to go directly to fire victims. Other donations were made to the Red Cross, to be used by them for fire assistance. But the Red Cross' expenses still exceeded $10,000. "There were 60 homeless people after the fire," said Kim. "We provided them three nights of shelter if needed. We gave them a cash allowance for food, clothing and medical expenses. Our disaster budget has to be replenished." I asked what would happen if another disaster occurred in Washington County tomorrow. "We would be there," said Kim. "We would find a way because that's our mission and our commitment. We might have to cut down on staffing, or ignore building repairs and maintenance, but we would help." Another component of disaster assistance Kim thinks people might not know about is after care. The Red Cross offers counseling services, continuing into the weeks following the event, and also provides links to other service agencies that can offer more assistance. In addition to volunteering your time, or writing a check, there are two upcoming ways to assist The Washington County Chapter of The American Red Cross. The first is Culver's Walk for the Red Cross, on Sat., June 12. You can sign up for the walk at, or for more info, call 262-334-5687. Check in is at 9am and the walk is at 10am. The fee is $7 for individuals and $15 for a family. Not only do you get a great walk along the Ice Age Trail beginning at Culver's (as little or much of the five mile loop as you would like), you can also have lunch or a treat at Culver's and they'll donate 10% of all orders to the Red Cross. On Sat., June 26, Noodles & Company is donating 25% of all sales to the Red Cross when you mention the Red Cross with your order, between 11am and 7pm. How could helping out be any easier than ordering a bite to eat?

Kim provided the following fun recipe with a healthy sounding twist.

Sunflower Crisp Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups cornflakes
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup salted, roasted sunflower nuts
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg & vanilla. Crush cornflakes; there should be about 3/4 cup. Blend in flour, salt and 1/4 cup of the cornflake crumbs, reserve remaining crumbs. Stir in sunflower nuts. Chill dough thoroughly. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in remaining crumbs to coat evenly. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375ยบ for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

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