Author Archives: Kathryn Hecht

Thank you, once more, to our incredible volunteers!

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Volunteers are the lifeline of the American Red Cross, providing critical services such as educating clients on home fire prevention. (Photo: Samar M. Salma; American Red Cross)
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Every April, the American Red Cross joins organizations around the world to shine a spotlight on the people who make the real difference in our communities: our volunteers. Their selfless time, energy, compassion, and dedication are what get the work of the Red Cross done.

National Volunteer Week takes place this year from April 19th through April 25th. As a ramp-up to this special time, now is the perfect moment to recognize – once more – the incredible volunteers honored throughout our region at our 2019 Volunteer Recognition Events:

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Volunteer LouAnne Williams keeps it simple in order to serve hundreds

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(l to r) Eva Marquez, Keith Hoffman, LouAnne Williams, and Jeff Airth. Photography: Kane Wong | American Red Cross
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LouAnne Williams keeps it simple. On October 31, 2013, she began to look for ways to give back to her community. She tried to register with a local hospital but felt that they had an overwhelming number of rules and regulations.  Craving something simpler and more direct, she sought counsel from friends and family. Her son-in-law suggested she try the Red Cross, so LouAnne walked into the front door of the Red Cross, literally across the street from the hospital. And she has never looked back.

LouAnne began her journey as a preparedness instructor and now leads her peers in multiple capacities. Last year, she received the San Mateo County Volunteer of the Year Award, something that came as no surprise to her colleagues.

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At the end of the day, we do good for people

By Debbi Behrman

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Ed Silva with City of Oakland Battalion Chief Zoraida Diaz. Photo: Ziji Zhou | American Red Cross
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In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit Florida and Louisiana causing catastrophic damage and loss of life. It was the deadliest hurricane in the United States since 1928.  A month later, Ed Silva saw that help was still needed, and he called the Red Cross to volunteer. Ed went in one day for training, and the next, he was on a plane to Florida.

This past year, Ed received the Clara Barton Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership. It turns out that Katrina was just the beginning of an action-filled volunteer career with the Red Cross that spans 15 years.

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JJ Lara, American Red Cross San Francisco 2019 Volunteer of the Year

by Marcia Antipa

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JJ, center front, surrounded by fellow Red Crossers at the 2019 Bay Area Holiday Party. Photo by Eric Carmichael | American Red Cross
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“Bringing people together for a great cause and a great organization.”  That’s how JJ Lara describes his role as a volunteer for the American Red Cross, and it is key to his winning the San Francisco Volunteer of the Year award.

From Fleet Week to the Leadership Council, and a few roles that might surprise you, JJ has spent seven years giving to the organization.

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A Legacy of Compassion

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The logo for Magen David Odom, Israel’s delegate of the International Red Cross.

Yesterday, January 27, 2020, marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Both Helen and Sam Tramiel (Trzmiel) survived the camp and transferred to displaced person camps in Germany. Before they met, Helen and Sam both received aid from the International Red Cross, and then together – after the war – they received Red Cross assistance again in the United States.

Jack died in 2012, and Helen followed in May 2019, but not before they left $500,000 to the Red Cross in their wills.

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Out of the Ashes: The story of a Santa Rosa family that survived the Tubbs Fire — and hopes to help other disaster victims

by Marcia Antipa

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The Dorsey’s first Christmas back home! left to right: Lynn, Brendan, Bill, and Brian

The weekend before the 2017 Tubbs fire swept through Santa Rosa, Bill and Lynne Dorsey were visiting their son in Arizona. As their flight home landed on October 8, they noticed the plane was buffeted by unusually strong winds.

Before they went to bed in their Coffey Park neighborhood, they heard there was a fire in Napa, but were not too concerned. However, just a few hours later, they woke up to hear the wind rushing and howling around their house. Then, they looked out the window. “We could see the embers coming out of the sky and emergency vehicle lights.

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Red Cross welcomes a growing partnership with Corazón Healdsburg

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Corazon Healdsburg bilingual volunteers (left) Norma Gomez and Luisa Fernandez-Palacios staff a desk inside the evacuation shelter at the Sonoma County Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa on Oct. 30. Photo credit: American Red Cross|Barbara Wood

Local nonprofit and Red Cross partner Corazón Healdsburg offered a crucial point of contact for Latinx families during the Kincade Fire. The organization staffed Red Cross shelters in Sonoma and Marin counties with bilingual volunteers. They met with displaced Spanish-speaking families or those who were adversely affected. For some, it was the only point of contact with whom they felt comfortable.

Since 2016, Corazón Healdsburg has worked diligently in the Latinx community to create resources and a safety net for low-income families to thrive. Their programs range from financial literacy to first-generation college counseling. So when disaster struck, many in the community already knew where to go: The Healdsburg Community Center.

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