About Town: Block Party Supports American Red Cross

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 at 6:00 AM
About Town: Block Party Supports American Red Cross by Rebecca Styn

The American Red Cross is the country’s largest private relief organization and an iconic image on the national scene. It does not rely on government funding—something many local and national charitable organizations can’t yet say —and it trusts the generosity of the local community, both in funds and volunteers. In Erie County alone, members of the Red Cross touch over 50,000 lives annually not only in relief and emergency services, but by delivering preparedness education, offering military messaging, and helping to provide lifesaving blood.

According to Pam Masi, executive director for the local chapter, “Annually, we provide disaster relief services to upwards of 500 individuals in the county. Whether someone is homeless through a manmade or natural disaster such as floods or power outages we immediately step in and help out.” Education is a vital component of their life saving techniques. “We go into the schools and different organizations all the time to help people prepare. We inform them, that while the most important thing to do in an emergency situation is to save themselves and their families and loved ones, what they don’t realize is they’re still leaving their livelihood behind. Their everyday life - from prescription medications, credit cards, drivers licenses, car keys and even school uniforms and books – are gone and those are the details that many don’t think about or don’t have time to think about. Our caseworkers are great intermediaries for this. They are there in your first hours, first days, first weeks and see you throughout the first month so those affected can get back to being self-sufficient.” In addition, the group provides emergency military messaging abroad or on the homefront. “If someone at home needs to get in contact with someone serving, the Red Cross is mandated to put through that message.”

And they are always looking for volunteers. Masi tells me, “97 percent of our group is volunteer-run. We have a record of 65 volunteers that do everything from casework to clerical to fundraising, to being on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies. There’s such a wide array of opportunities for any level of skill – as little or as much as you like.”

One of the partners of U Pick 6 Tap House, Thomas Brasco, has been volunteering for the group since 2005. “My mother and I got involved during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. At the time it was the only avenue in Erie that I was aware of that could get us there.” In addition, Brasco’s raised money himself through training and running the Chicago marathon.

And he wants to keep up the efforts.

So, like all things “About Town,” this wouldn’t be complete without a charitable event attached to a great cause. And this event is a regular Thursday night occurrence: the Erie Downtown Block Parties—a summer staple provided by the Erie Downtown Partnership. U Pick 6 is hosting one and the group has personally chosen the Erie chapter of the Red Cross as the official recipient of all funds they receive through their donation
drive efforts that night.

“The most important thing to our team – is making the Block Party all about charity again. Actually, that is something that is very important to Russ Stachewicz, another owner in the group. The big thing we want pushed is that we’re trying to make the block party all about charity again – Russ and myself – I’ll give Russ more credit than that. Because that’s what they are supposed to be about.”

So, without further adieu, the details:

U Pick 6 Tap House Block party: Thursday, June 21 6 p.m.

The event will feature opening act Romantic Era, followed by headliner, M80s. There will be several other things on hand, including, but not limited to, chainsaw carving exhibitions by Brian Spraque; Golf Etc… will be bringing a traveling golf range to hold a closest-to-the-pin contest. There will be flair and other items for sale including Red Cross buttons that have been “Scaliszed” by local designer Todd Scalise (who also happens to be the Erie Reader art director) as well as a limited number of T-shirts, water donated by Tops Markets, and hot dogs donated by Curtze. As always, the event is free and open to the public.

U Pick 6’s goal is to raise the most funds any block party has made to date. Let’s help them meet that.

Also, if anyone’s interested in helping out the local chapter, they are always looking for volunteers. If you are interested in helping out, please call 833-0942, Ext. 230.

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