Category Archives: Homepage posts – featured

Children donate money in support of those affected by California Wildfires

CarmelCopier-20181221170126It’s not surprising that a group of fourth graders from an elementary school in the picturesque coastal community of Pacific Grove have already developed a keen interest in their natural surroundings. But a recent gift to the American Red Cross shows that the young students also are developing a similar interest in helping their fellow humans.

In a handwritten letter dropped off at a Central Coast Chapter Office in nearby Carmel, Forest Grove Elementary students Emily Zhang, Melissa Wang, and Christina Lee said they and other members of the school’s Natural System Protection Program felt they had to act after seeing images of the devastation caused by this past fall’s wildfires in their state. So they decided to raise money to help the many individuals and families impacted by the fires.

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Christina Lee, center, and Emily Zhang were among the students whose efforts led to a donation in support of the Red Cross’s continued response to this fall’s California wildfires. At the Carmel office, the fourth graders were joined by Christina’s younger brother, Jayden. Melissa Wang, who also spearheaded the fundraiser, is not pictured.

Along with their friends, the trio raised a total of $136.41, which they gave to the Red Cross along with their letter. They indicated that they hope the support can help the “families that lost everything be able to rebuild.” Being able to rebuild, the students added, could also help “the families get close to nature again.”

 

 

Emergency underscores value of Red Cross health, safety classes

We all have been reminded of the value of periodically taking the first-aid, CPR, and other health and safety classes that are a staple of the American Red Cross. Like many of us, Nisha Baxi, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley, did not fully appreciate the classes’ value — until a recent day in San Jose. In a “thank you” note she shared with her Red Cross colleagues, Nisha tells a story that should motivate all of us to stay current on our training. She gave us permission to post her note (and story) on this regional blog site.

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Nisha Baxi, right, a member of the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross’s Silicon Valley Chapter, is pictured with Ann Herosy, the Disaster Officer Volunteer Partner for this Red Cross region.

Hi Red Cross Family,

I want to share a story with you that illustrates why I am so proud to be part of this organization.

On a recent Saturday, my best friend since junior high, my boyfriend, and I decided to burn off some holiday calories by attending the SoulCycle class at Santana Row in San Jose. Little did I know that morning that I’d spent most of the day in the ER.

The class played a great mix of Arianna Grande and Beyonce — just the right amount to keep you moving and inspired. We were happily dancing on our bikes to the beat of the music, and once the class ended, the three of us cooled down to some chill, mellow beats. My longtime friend let me know he was feeling a little rundown, needed to sit down, and told me that he’d meet me outside. I knew instantly something was wrong, so I jumped off my bike and followed him.

He slowly lowered his body down in front of the door, grabbing onto the handle as though to open it — but instead of opening it he held it shut to stop himself from falling. I put his arm around me so I could support his body weight while we found a safe place to sit.

We didn’t make it to sit.

My friend immediately fell unconscious, eyes falling lifeless as he collapsed in my arms. But because of the way I was taught in Red Cross classes (and reminded of in Girl Scouts training before that), I was able to lower him safely to the ground while shouting as loud as I could for somebody to call 911.

It was only about 5 seconds or so before my friend opened his eyes again; but it felt like an eternity. I immediately asked him to state his name and location, and I kept asking him questions in hopes of helping him remain conscious. I told him repeatedly that he was going to be okay, but I knew that I was really comforting myself. So many things were flashing through my head all at once:

  • Would he start seizing? (That worry was a signal to myself: I need to make sure there were towels all around his head.)
  • Was he experiencing heart failure?
  • Should I start administering CPR? (Another signal to myself: How far is the defibrillator from me, and can someone grab it for me if I need it?)

Since my friend was now awake, I asked him as many questions as I could about his symptoms so when the EMT came they would have as much information as possible in case he passed out again; I also just thought it would help keep him awake. I figured the most likely scenario was that he was exhausted and dehydrated so I called for some juice and something to prop up his feet to elevate his legs over his heart.

These were all things I had learned from the American Red Cross over the years in first aid and CPR classes.

I tried to take my friend’s heart rate but was so overwhelmed I couldn’t find his pulse and knew I would confuse mine with his. I decided it was the EMT’s job to take vitals. Since my friend was conscious, I reminded myself that it seemed like my priority was to try to talk to him and keep him awake.

Within 5 minutes, an EMT team arrived. Shortly after they completed an initial assessment of my friend, he passed out again. I held him in my arms, fearful that he’d bang his head if he fell.

Taking over, the EMT team put him on a stretcher, and I followed the ambulance to the ER. In the hospital, my friend was diagnosed with severe dehydration — he didn’t eat much before class (other than a few bites of a protein bar), he hadn’t consumed much water since the night before, and he had likely had too much coffee before our workout.

I felt guilty — I was the reason we were at SoulCycle instead of sitting on his parents’ couch gossiping the way we always do when we’re together. Instead, I found myself crying on the way to the ER, insisting to my boyfriend that I made a mistake by suggesting such a strenuous class for the three of us. When we got to the hospital and learned that my friend was going to be okay, he thanked me for being there for him and said “I am so thankful that you are a Red Cross lady and you knew what to do.” He said that to me enough times that it stuck in my brain, and the guilt started manifesting itself into gratitude. Gratitude for the health and safety skills I have because of the American Red Cross.

Did I do everything perfectly during this emergency? Probably not. But is my friend safe and well now? Yes! We’ve spoken multiple times since his hospital trip that day, and we’re back to laughing and even had a chance to gossip a little bit during my lunch break on a recent day.

I will always be indebted to the American Red Cross for giving me the tools to handle this crisis. All of the hours I have put into the American Red Cross during my life is all worth it if it helped my friend through this one trying occasion.

I write this note sitting in the Salesforce Tower where I work. Sitting here, the incident already feels like a dream. But I am heartened by the fact that — because I was empowered to act — maybe my effort helped prevent this dream from becoming a nightmare.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Red Cross.

Nisha Baxi

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You never know when you might face your own “Nisha” moment. An easy first step is to learn more about the classes the Red Cross offers in your area; just go to this web page.

Organization is key for this Red Cross volunteer

Donna Logan 420x279By Andrea Mendoza

For Donna Logan, the call to help came after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. The devastation that this natural disaster left in the state of Louisiana and nearby states — and the effect that it had on the country as a whole — was enough inspiration for Logan to get involved with the Red Cross. She had been retired for about a year, and Logan was looking for causes in San Francisco with which she could get involved. With a master’s degree in organizational development and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, Logan hoped to find a position in which she could use her experience and skills.

As a volunteer with the American Red Cross, Donna Logan has more than done that. And this year, she was honored for her many contributions and compassionate work when she received a Clara Barton Award at the annual Volunteer Recognition Event for San Francisco volunteers. Named after the organization’s founder, the award recognizes a Red Cross volunteer for service in a series of leadership positions held over a number of years.

“I got heavily involved when the Red Cross lost a lot of its primary staff because of budget cuts,” said Logan. “I realized that we had basic organization building to do so I ended up becoming a  full-time volunteer at the office in client casework.” This opportunity would lead Logan to other areas within the Red Cross until she eventually became the Disaster Chair. To her, seeing a lot of things accomplished and overcoming barriers within the organization is very rewarding.

According to Logan, what she likes best about her work is “the opportunity to take some initiative to make some improvements in different places,” as well as the opportunity to “be with individual families and being able to give a little boost to a situation in a time of crisis.” This is done by providing the basics that people need such as shelter, food, and comfort.

Logan believes that the Red Cross can provide a certain amount of support, but the more prepared people are, the easier it will be to recover from devastating disasters such as Katrina. This is what her unit strives to do, to better prepare people for a fast recovery.

Logan’s problem-solving skills continue to be in demand. “It’s always a challenge because our volunteer base fluctuates as does the leadership in our partner organizations.” Logan’s team takes on a great deal of the partnership building in San Francisco, and she believes that it “has become increasingly more important to try to get more and more people to support recovery efforts.”

Despite facing these challenges, it is the human interactions that Logan has appreciated the most during the years that she has been with the Red Cross. One particular memory she values is that of Mrs. Cooper, a woman who, despite losing everything to a fire, still found it within herself to give back and do something positive by fostering disabled children. For Logan, Mrs. Cooper symbolized finding strength through adversity, and she was very proud to have helped Mrs. Cooper recover after the fire had disrupted her life. “Probably the most important thing that you can do is sit down and try to bring some sense of order so the people can begin to think positively on how to move forward,” says Logan.

When asked what it meant to be a recipient of the Clara Barton Award, Logan said she only hopes that this helps to highlight what people can do for others. She believes the work to be gratifying and purposeful, not only for her but the community as a whole.  “[I hope] it brings attention to the kind of work we can do, [so that] somebody else might take notice and look at the work beyond the person,” says Logan. “I’m just one person in a really large community.”

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About the author: Andrea Mendoza is interning with the American Red Cross in the Santa Rosa office.

Become a Red Cross Volunteer: You can make a difference in San Francisco by becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Volunteers constitute about 94 percent of the total Red Cross workforce to carry out our humanitarian work. Red Cross volunteers are trained to meet the needs of those affected by disasters, providing food, shelter, and comfort for families affected by major disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes as well as helping local residents prepare for and recover from emergencies of all kinds. We’ll find the position that appeals to you and allows you to use your skills and talents. Email arcbav@redcross.org to get started.

A story of exodus, separation, and reunion

Two sisters reconnect through Red Cross program

Wars, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and poverty — having plagued humanity for centuries — sadly continue to be part of our heritage today. The terms are synonymous with death, destruction, and the displacement of millions. But in spite of everything, there is still HOPE, manifest in the work of a humanitarian organization that lights the way amid the darkness.

By Samar M. Salma

Photo of Tamara holding a photo of her as a child with her parents.

Tamara is holding a cherished photo of herself, her late husband Oleg, and their daughter, Natalie. (Photo: Samar M. Salma)

From 1941 to 1944, the Germans subjected Leningrad, the former capital of Russia known today as “Saint Petersburg,” to one of the longest and most destructive chapters of World War II. Historians believe that the Siege of Leningrad — occurring over a nearly 900-day period — resulted in the deaths of up to 1.5 million soldiers and civilians and the evacuation of another 1.4 million people, mostly women and children. Read more