COVID-19 a year later: Americans step up to help families in need

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) —It’s been a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and the American Red Cross of Utah says people have stepped up to address the emotional needs of families “reeling from the coronavirus and 2020’s record-breaking disasters”.

Red Cross officials say in Utah and across the country, trained American Red Cross disaster mental health and spiritual care volunteers had more than 53,000 conversations to provide emotional support to people in 2020.

Trained volunteers also offered free crisis counseling through the Red Cross Virtual Family Assistance Center for grieving families during COVID-19.

 “The past year has been overwhelming for many in our community, and yet through it all, people are caring for one another,” said Del Brady, executive director of the American Red Cross Greater Salt Lake Chapter. “When help cannot wait, they provide families with the support they need during emergencies. During Red Cross Month in March, we honor this humanitarian spirit and ask you to join us by donating, giving blood, volunteering or taking a class to learn lifesaving skills.”

For almost 80 years, officials say U.S. presidents have proclaimed March as Red Cross Month to give recognition to those who have given back through its lifesaving mission. The mission is made up of over 90% volunteers.

Volunteers include people like Danel Lipparelli, a licensed social worker who volunteers for the Utah-Nevada Region.

Since March 2020, officials say she has worked in the Red Cross across the nation for the Virtual Family Assistance Center to provide emotional support, psychological first aid, and referrals to community assistance for families dealing with COVID.

“We stay with families who have been affected by COVID,” Lipparelli says. “One sister and brother, both in their early 20s, lost both parents. They had no idea what to do next. I was able to help them set up funeral services and walk through the grief process. We try to hold families close.”

Over 600 volunteers across Southern Nevada reportedly worked to support urgent disasters and essential blood donation needs last year.

Officials added that thousands of COVID-19 survivors “rolled up a sleeve” to give convalescent plasma and help patients battling COVID-19.

Beyond COVID-19, emergencies don’t stop, according to officials.

Every two seconds someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion and officials say Amy Kenney was one of those after she had an emergency cesarian section. Kenney needed multiple units of blood to live. “The last 10 years of my life were made possible by blood donors,” said Kenney.

 Those who want to ensure that families don’t face emergencies alone especially during a pandemic: can do the following:

  • DONATE: Support our Disaster Relief efforts at redcross.org/GivingDay. A gift of any size makes a difference to provide shelter, food, relief items, emotional support, and other assistance. Your donation will be part of our annual Giving Day on March 24 to aid families in need across the country.
  • GIVE BLOOD: If you’re healthy and feeling well, make an appointment at RedCrossBlood.org. Your donation can make a lifesaving difference for a patient in need. As a thank, you, those who come to give blood, platelets, or plasma on March 15-26 will receive a Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
  • VOLUNTEER: Visit redcross.org/VolunteerToday for most-needed positions and local opportunities.
  • LEARN LIFESAVING SKILLS: Take a class in skills like CPR and first aid to help in an emergency at redcross.org/TakeAClass. Online options include our Psychological First Aid for COVID-19 course, which covers how to manage stress and support yourself and others.

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