A few weeks after beginning training, BreAnna Sanabria packed up to board a flight for the first time in seven years. For the first time, she deployed on August 22 to support the American Red Cross response to fires in Northern California. No stranger to service, BreAnna was more nervous about the flight than the work itself.
“I like being social and like to give back,” says BreAnna. “Our parents always said we were very blessed and that we should always give back. I thought the Red Cross was a way I could do that.”
American Red Cross Volunteer, Anne Johnson, calls Fairbanks, Alaska home, but this year, she has found herself all around California – virtually that is. Anne is a recovery casework volunteer and spends her days calling people impacted by wildfires to offer Red Cross support services. In addition to resources, Anne also spends long hours on the phone, offering one invaluable service: connection.
“I was nervous about virtual deployment,” Anne says. “How do you offer something long distance from Alaska?” Yet, she quickly figured it out. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people apart, Anne realized that people desired a personal connection and to be heard. Something struck her during a recent conversation with a Red Cross client. “This one really hit me,” Anne said, and she knew she had to do something more.
Dennis Patterson’s first love is playing music, but his second is helping others, so he was “blown away” by the American Red Cross’ response to the California Wildfires.
A Santa Cruz local since 1952, 72-year old Dennis, and many in his small community of Ben Lomond, didn’t realize the size of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, which to-date has consumed more than 86,000 acres. Dennis was already overwhelmed and in shock from a horizontal tornado that days earlier, had swept through his neck of the woods, knocking a 100-foot Sycamore tree onto his tiny house. “I can’t describe it. I couldn’t even breathe when I got out the door,” Dennis told friends who came to help at daylight.
This is the story of Lillian Phan, a bright and accomplished young woman, who also happens to be a stellar volunteer with the American Red Cross. Like so many American stories, Lillian’s begins with immigration, determination, and hard work.
Lillian’s parents immigrated from Vietnam, sponsored by a Christian organization that gave them a head start with food and shelter. Eventually, the Phans moved to Santa Clara County. Both had to overcome the language barrier and reinvent themselves.
“My Dad gave up architecture and became a nuclear engineer. My mom gave up her law degree.”
Rebecca Taylor-Ford and husband, Joe, at the Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade in 2016. _____
Rebecca Taylor-Ford recently began her second year in service as Board Chair for the North Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross. She stepped into the role in 2019 after several years of volunteering for the Red Cross in various capacities. According to her peers, she leads with a light touch and a self-assuredness that are well-earned from personal and professional experience.
It turns out that Rebecca was also once a Red Cross client.
In 2014, Rebecca and her family survived a house fire that destroyed their home. When the Red Cross showed up, a team member helped walk the family through immediate and long-term recovery, one step at a time.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19, we made the difficult decision to cancel our annual American Red Cross San Francisco Gala event this year to protect the members of our community and guests. Under usual circumstances, the Gala is a moment when we honor both an outstanding corporation and a dedicated individual who have furthered the Red Cross mission in the Bay Area. Our 2020 Red Cross Philanthropic Company of the Year, The Clorox Company, and 2020 Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year, Chief Eric Reinbold of the Paradise Police Department, will be honored at our 2021 event. But we want to take a moment to recognize them now. Read more