Story: Cape Cod Volunteer Lifting Spirits in Boston

April 25, 2013

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Story and Photo by Jay Bonafede

Cape Cod resident Marilyn Bucheri has volunteering with the Red Cross since 9/11, but not everyone is familiar with the type of work she does for the organization.

“It’s like we’re this little hidden thing that nobody’s talking about, they’re afraid to talk about,” the board certified Chaplain says of the Disaster Spiritual Care team. “We really are interfaith. We just offer support, spiritual support. We are a presence, we listen to people. We don’t say a lot sometimes, we are just there.”

This week, Bucheri has been there for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. She’s worked at the FamilyAssistanceCenter, and was with the victims and their families the night they were allowed to return to the crime scene on Boylston. “That was very powerful,” Bucheri says. “I was able to connect with people that had really been hurt. People say to me, ‘How can you do this?’ It’s a privilege to be with people at a sacred time like that. And that’s why I do it.”

Bucheri also got a little taste of home while working at one of the staging areas for police officers arriving for a memorial service for slain MIT Officer Sean Collier. “They told us you can ride on one of the buses with the police,” she said. “So I get on the third bus, the police come on and they’re all from Cape Cod. I said, ‘I’m from Cape Cod, too!’ I even high-fived one of them!”

Events such as the Marathon bombing and the Newtown, CT school shooting, which Bucheri also responded to, are difficult for entire communities. “There’s so many people affected by a disaster like this that we really just branch out and go into the crowd,” Bucheri says. “At Newtown, when the President came, we just sat in the bleachers with people. You don’t have to say anything. They see the badge, the Red Cross, and then you just talk to people. It’s just so wonderful.”

Many people are not even aware that the Red Cross provides interfaith Disaster Spiritual Care, but Bucheri says little things add up to assure her it’s a valuable piece of the relief efforts. “There was an author speaking at the hotel last night, and he said we could go in and listen,” she said. “We did, and when he announced the Red Cross people are here, they all clapped for us.”


Pacific Islands Tsunami: One Month Anniversary, Update

October 29, 2009

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Pacific Islands Tsunami: 10.6.09

On September 29, 2009 a tsunami swept across the island of American Samoa after a powerful earthquake hit the South Pacific. Soon after, the American Red Cross conducted relief efforts on the island. Red Cross workers and volunteers began aid immediately. Food and supplies were sent to the island. Hotshot teams were in the field disbursing food, water, pillows, linen, rakes, shovels, baby formula, and diapers. Red Cross partnered with the local government and helped set up yurts to shelter families. Health Services worked with families to assist with funeral expenses; and Disaster Mental Health and Spiritual Care teams were there to lend emotional support. Client casework teams are currently working with victims to help plan the recovery process. Training of local staff continues so the island will be prepared for future disasters.

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Updated Stats:
• Supplies distributed (like Clean up kits): 84,714
Snacks served: 39,783
Mental Health Consultations: 3,637
Health Services Consultations: 1,593
Red Cross workers involved: 381


Red Cross Volunteers In American Samoa Focus on Children: Video

October 19, 2009

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The American Red Cross has teamed with partner organizations to specifically address the needs of children after disasters, whether those needs are for physical safety, specialized food and clothing, or attention to mental health and spiritual care. On American Samoa, the Red Cross and Save the Children—a partner organization for more than two years—stocked and staffed a “Safe Space” play area in the convention center where families lined up to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Catholic Charities, a long-time partner of the Red Cross, is sorting and distributing clothing donations. Red Cross workers are working to repackage specialty supplies that arrived Saturday evening, including diapers, baby formula, school supplies and Mickey Mouse dolls.

And with members of the faith-based community on American Samoa, Red Cross specialists in mental health and spiritual care are working with children—from preschool to high school—to deal with the losses of family members and classmates who were among the reported 34 killed in the tsunami.

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Pacific Islands Tsunami: Eyewitness Report

October 14, 2009

 Spiritual Care Volunteer

Tim Serban offers a hug and emotional support to tsunami victim Taitasi Fitao. Serban is the volunteer spiritual care adviser among the 88 American Red Cross workers who flew to American Samoa to help with recovery from the tsunami. While his fellow Red Cross workers assist with residents’ physical recovery from the tsunami, Serban and his partners in Red Cross mental health are addressing the psychological and spiritual needs of the residents. Their work as part of Red Cross Disaster Services is supported by donations to the Disaster Relief Fund of the American Red Cross.

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