Free concert raises Red Cross funds and hurricane awareness

VERO BEACH — June marks the start of hurricane season, and that dreaded “H” word was the focus of an entertaining Hurricane Hangar Party Friday night to raise awareness and funds for the North Treasure Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Sun Aviation donated the use of their expansive hangar for the party, which provided an opportunity for various vendors to display an array of preparatory products from water and hurricane shutters to internet security and generators; all while visitors were entertained by the amazing band, OPM (Other People’s Music). Some visitors had brought their own chairs and were content to just sit and enjoy the music, while others perused an assortment of silent suction items, purchased chances to win a Lottery Tree or nibbled on goodies from Hurricane Wings, which was donating 50% of their food sales to the chapter.  Little ones also were enjoying themselves, getting balloon hats, climbing into the Sheriff’s Department helicopter and looking at the Fire Department’s new Airport Fire Rescue truck, set up for water, foam and dry powder to fight aircraft fires.

“We’re always looking for ways to keep our volunteers engaged and busy during times when we don’t have disasters, and this is a fun thing to do,” said Sarah Ruwe, American Red Cross North Treasure Coast Chapter CEO.

“We have about 60 volunteers at the event.  Most are disaster volunteers, who help out when needed in shelters, doing damage assessments, feeding people, doing individual case work and instructing.”

Ron Ellingsworth said he has been associated with the chapter for 16 years, as a volunteer and as a paid instructor of CPR and First Aid.

“It’s a very good organization that I strongly support. After Erin in 1986 I was bored sitting in a house with no electricity.  I ran into Molly Hench, the director at the time, and decided to get out and volunteer.”

Volunteers Mike Lue and Cathy Mayer co-chaired the Hangar Party.  Mayer is also a Logistics Manager on a national level, keeping track of inventory and providing material support, kits, cots, and other supplies to shelters during disasters.

“I moved here and experienced the 2004 storms.  Then when Katrina happened I felt compelled to help and went to Montgomery, Alabama for three weeks,” explained Mayer of her first involvement with the Red Cross.

Lue, a structural engineer with ML Engineering, volunteers as a Disaster Assessment Supervisor, assessing damages from fires floods, tornados and hurricanes, and determining what supplies are needed.

“I first volunteered to work at the shelter during the 2004 storms and have volunteered ever since,” said Lue.  I assess the damages and coordinate with emergency services to get supplies in immediately, within 24 hours.”

Lue and Mayer stressed the need for financial contributions and fundraising, noting that the local chapters run on donations only.  The North Treasure Coast Chapter deals with disasters in Indian River and St. Lucie Counties, and the Hurricane Hangar party was supporting those efforts. {igallery 198}

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