Volunteer Deployment Stories

joan-2Joan Klimpl
Joan Klimpl of Somerset was recognized at the event for the most deployments of the year from the region. Her unflappable energy and enthusiasm serves her well as a Shelter Supervisor on her deployments.

She faces 12 hour days with a smile, always wanting to help others in need. On her recent deployment to Gatlinburg, Tennessee she worked to help find homes for 150 people and pets who were displaced from wildfires.

“By the end, we closed the shelter and everyone had a place to go,” she said. It’s happy endings like that which keep her signing up for deployments.

Klimpl started her journey of deployments when she retired from teaching.

“I never had the next step ready but all of sudden it was there,” she said. Now she waits for the call of her next deployment, always bringing flexibility and a smile with her. When she is called for deployments she said, “I check the weather channel, pack for two weeks and go.”

“When you have time, you give back,” she said simply of her efforts.

carol-leeCarol Lee Tieman
Within a five month span last year, Carol Lee Tieman of Oceanport traveled across the United States to help others in need. Her deployments took her from California to Louisiana to North Carolina, with little time in between. Tieman’s steadiness and adaptability allows her to fill many roles in her deployments from Shelter Supervisor, to running the shelter kitchens, to crunching numbers on the computer. Tieman brings with her a unique skill set she gathered in her previous work as the owner of a bed and breakfast. She credits her “good common sense” with allowing her to help fill the needs of the communities affected by disaster.

After returning home from a trip with her church and witnessing firsthand the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, Tieman became involved with the Red Cross. When she retired and sold her business, she became more involved in her work supporting families displaced by local home fires and deploying where the need is.

She loves helping and working with people of all ages. She said in many deployments she works with a range from infants to people in hospital beds.

“There is a need. If I can fill it, I serve,” she said.

claire-2Clare Rybczynski
After a family member suffered a house fire, Clare Rybczynski of Branchburg was so impressed with the Red Cross’ aid and response she vowed to become a volunteer. When her son left for college she seized her moment, took a class and has never looked back. With the support of her husband, she now happily volunteers full-time and deploys a few times a year.

“I love being able to give back. It’s a fulfillment in life you don’t get in any other way,” she said.

Although she has done casework and been a shelter supervisor on deployment, her favorite and most frequent job is emergency response vehicle driver. She loves being out on the road and often being the first eyes on the scene. And her favorite part is “the hugs and smiles as payment.”

She brings her past work experiences to the job of driver and said it’s been amazing to see her life experiences all coming together in her work with the Red Cross.

“Helping people in disasters is where my heart is,” she said.

Rybczynski also loves the camaraderie and friendships she has developed through her volunteer work with the Red Cross. She said she often runs into people from deployments in the airport and loves to reconnect with those she has deployed with previously.

10 Driving Tips to Keep you Safe this Winter

winter storm

Old man winter could hit our state with some wicked winter weather. While we encourage you to stay off the roads if possible, if you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm or what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:

  1. Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.
  2. Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  3. Find out what disasters may occur where you are traveling and pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  4. If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  5. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  6. Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  7. Don’t pass snow plows.
  8. Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
  9. If you get stuck, don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
  10. If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.

Drive safe!

Fire Safety Tips for Holiday Decorating

The American Red Cross New Jersey Regions wishes all a happy and safe holiday season. As you celebrate with your loved ones, keep these holiday fire safety tips in mind:

1. Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits. Water real trees daily.

Trees and Decor

2. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.


3. If hanging stockings on the fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.


4. Keep items that can catch fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.

Heater and stoves

5. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and the total number of bulbs to 50.


6. Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.


7. Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove is on.


For more fire safety tips, visit redcross.org/FireSafety.

5 Simple Ways to #GiveWithMeaning this Holiday Season

Looking to spread some holiday cheer? We have five ways you can give something that means something this holiday season. See how many of these items you can check off before ringing in the new year:

1. Give the Gift of Life.  Donate Blood and bring a friend.  During the holidays, blood donations fall very low and yet the need for blood is high.  With each blood donation saving up to three lives, think of the impact you could have this holiday season.  Visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive near you.

2. Give the gift of preparedness. Take steps to show your loved ones that you care by helping them prepare for emergencies. Take 30 minutes to talk through your family disaster plan with household members to ensure that everyone has the same understanding of what to do if there is a disaster.


3. Give a Symbolic Gift from the Red Cross Holiday Giving Catalog for someone on your list, and your tax-deductible donation will support a Red Cross program. For example, you can:

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4. Give the Gift of our Free Lifesaving Mobile Apps. While sitting around the table enjoying a cup of eggnog, pull out your smart phone and show loved ones that the ability to save lives rests in the palm of their hand.  The teenagers can bond with Grandma as they help her download the free First Aid and Emergency apps, which will remind her how to respond in emergency situations.  And check out the app that helps kids stay safe while having fun: Monster Guard!  Visit redcross.org/apps for more information.


5. Give the Gift of the Red Cross Mission.  The holidays are a great time to gather with friends and family.  You are each a vital part of our lifesaving mission and we want you to share this with those you love.  Wear your Red Cross pin and tell your Red Cross story this holiday season.


Thanks to the dedication of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors, last year, the Red Cross New Jersey Region served the community by responding to 767 local home fires providing food, shelter, clothing and other assistance to 1,803 displaced families. It has allowed 116,154 people to be trained with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics; provided 3,516 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and collected 89,160 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers.

New Jersey Red Cross Disaster Workers Lend a Helping Hand Following Hurricane Matthew

Thousands of people in the Southeast continue to deal with the effects of Hurricane Matthew weeks after the storm made landfall. Since the day the storm hit the United States coast, the American Red Cross has been working to help those who were devastated by Hurricane Matthew.

Red Cross disaster workers are providing shelter, food, and disaster relief items and help with recovery. Not only have Red Cross disaster workers in the South stepped forward to help, but disaster workers from New Jersey are rushing to assist those affected. More than 30 New Jersey Red Cross disaster workers have traveled south to lend a helping hand in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

See New Jersey Red Cross disaster workers in action!


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Red Cross volunteers are always thinking about others in need. Even if they have to cross hundreds of miles, they are always willing to lend a hand and help those affected by disaster ensuring no one is ever alone in their time of need.

You can help too!
The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. Learn more about the Red Cross response to Hurricane Matthew here.

The American Red Cross New Jersey Region is offering training for new volunteers who wish to deploy to the Southeast to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Volunteers are needed to fill a variety of roles including working at shelters, assisting with feeding operations, distributing relief supplies, working in a warehouse, loading/unloading supplies from trucks and recovery casework. Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, in good general health and commit to a minimum of two weeks working in the Southeast. Training and travel-related expenses are covered by the Red Cross. Volunteer opportunities for virtual work, which allows volunteers to assist with the relief operation from here in New Jersey, are also available and include recovery casework. Visit redcross.org/NJ for more information and to register for training.

By Arrshia Kumar, American Red Cross Youth Volunteer

Ten Steps to Prepare for Tropical Storm Hermine

Preparedness A Spot_763x260

Heavy rains and flooding could threaten communities in New Jersey as Tropical Storm Hermine is forecast to move north along the eastern seaboard this weekend. The Red Cross is preparing to respond and is asking people in New Jersey to get ready too.

People who live in communities threatened by heavy rains or in the potential path of Hermine should keep informed about weather conditions and get prepared now.

You can download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of hurricanes and flooding, as well as locations of shelters. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. Parents can also download the Red Cross Monster Guard App  for a fun way to teach children what to do in case of a flood or a hurricane.


  1. Listen to local weather advisories and stay informed about the storm.
  2. Build an emergency kit or update an existing one. Information about what to include is available here.
  3. Plan now for what members of the household will do in an emergency. Include ways to contact one another and two places to meet – one near the home and one outside the neighborhood. Full details here.
  4. Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and get some extra cash.
  5. If the neighborhood is prone to flooding, prepare to evacuate quickly if necessary.
  6. If ordered to evacuate, obey the order, avoiding flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  7. If flooding threatens, head for higher ground and stay there.
  8. Turn around, don’t drown. If someone comes upon water above their ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. If a roadway is flooded, turn the vehicle around and go another way.
  9. If caught on a flooded road and the waters are rising rapidly, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  10. Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to see flood danger.

For more information about hurricane and flood safety, visit redcross.org/prepare.

The Red Cross is preparing – calling volunteers and getting supplies, vehicles and relief equipment ready. Please take this time to get ready too.

Evacuation Preparedness: What to Bring

As Tropical Storm Hermine moves north along the eastern seaboard bringing the potential for severe weather, take steps to be ready should you need to evacuate. If local authorities ask you to evacuate, do so immediately. Anyone evacuating to a Red Cross shelter should bring essential items for each member of the family:

  • Prescriptions and emergency medications.
  • Foods that meet unusual dietary requirements.
  • Identification to show residence is in affected area and important personal documents.
  • Extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies and other comfort items.
  • Supplies needed for children and infants, such as diapers, formula and toys.
  • Special items for family members who are elderly or disabled.
  • Chargers for any electronic devices you bring with you.
  • Books, games and other ways to entertain your family and yourself.
  • Note – Public health regulations do not permit pets in shelters; service

Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do before, during and after disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The App also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The Emergency App is available in English and Spanish in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.