Category Archives: Homepage posts – other

Celebrating our amazing volunteers!

National Volunteer Week is celebrated each April; so we thought we’d give another salute to the (amazing) volunteers honored in our region in 2018

California Wildfires 2018

Volunteers, like the many who cared for and comforted so many people during last fall’s wildfires in Northern California, are an essential part of all lines of service in the American Red Cross. (Photo: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross)

National Volunteer Week this year takes place from April 7 to 13 and serves as an important reminder within the American Red Cross about the critical role that volunteers play in everything we do.

Each spring also means that a new round of Volunteer Recognition Events is getting underway in our region, giving each of the local operations a special opportunity to acknowledge (and celebrate) the tremendous work done by volunteers in each one of the counties we serve.

It’s in that spirit that we thought we’d take a moment to thank — one more time — the many volunteers we honored at our 2018 Volunteer Recognition Events:

Alameda/Contra Costa Counties Event

Central Coast Chapter Event

Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Event

Marin County Event

San Francisco Event

San Mateo County Event

Silicon Valley Chapter Event

Solano County Event

Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino Counties Events

_____

2019 Volunteer Recognition Events: Some of this year’s volunteer recognition events in our region have already taken place; most have not yet. That means there’s still time to go to this page in Volunteer Connection and register to attend an upcoming event that is still accepting registrations.

Become a Red Cross Volunteer: You can make a difference by becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Volunteers constitute about 90 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. Get started by going to this web page.

Silicon Valley Chapter, American Red Cross thank FAST for a job well done

fast_420x279

Red Cross volunteers Liz Dietz, left, and Peg Geringer were among those supporting FAST’s work in 2017 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Go to this album to see photos of FAST members at the San Jose Jazz Festival that same year.

On February 19, almost 50 people attended the last official meeting, dubbed the “FAST Finale,” of the Silicon Valley First Aid Services Team, or FAST. The Silicon Valley FAST was founded in 1959 and was the most active of the few FAST groups remaining in Red Cross regions throughout the country. This dedicated local team of professionals served almost 25,000 hours just from the period of January 2015 through February 2019.

During its tenure, the local FAST had become a welcome sight at many of the area’s major public events such as the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the Obon Festival, Cinco de Mayo events, the San Jose Jazz Festival, and the Nike Women’s Marathon.

The Silicon Valley team provided a variety of services from stations, carts, and even bikes and walking teams. Team members applied their medical skills to perform a wide range of treatments, from first aid for minor injuries such as blisters, scrapes, and strained muscles to major medical or trauma events. The team coordinated responses with Advanced Life Support and transportation with regional EMS units.

In addition to treatment, the team provided a range of complementary services and supplies, including blood pressure checks, stroke awareness education, sunscreen, diapers, and more than a dozen over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Benadryl.

The team’s leadership included a chairperson, Peg Geringer, and a licensed physician, Dr. Ian Brown, M.D., from Stanford University, who served as medical advisor. At the time of its disbanding, the local FAST had 125 members. Reportedly at its peak, FAST had over 400 members. Team members consisted of Emergency Medical Technicians, Emergency Medical Responders, Registered Nurses, and other trained personnel.

Some past highlights included the use of AEDs to save a life at the Bay To Breakers in San Francisco, saving a dog from dehydration at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, supporting the Women’s March in 2016, and providing first aid to pigs, horses, and goats at the Santa Clara County Fair.

The team was a sterling example of a volunteer organization. Team members took responsibility for all operations, whether that be training, logistics, or rendering care. The team was composed of a diverse group of dedicated professionals of all ages and served selflessly for half a century.

The community and the Red Cross owe the local Red Cross FAST a great deal of gratitude for their dedication and service. Each of the team members contributed to the welfare of the community and to accomplishing the team’s mission.

We hope that FAST members will continue to volunteer their valuable time in service to the Red Cross and the community.

_____

About the author: Larry Dietz is a Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army Reserve, as well as a dedicated Red Cross public affairs volunteer in the Silicon Valley Chapter.

Marshmallows and whipped cream included

Addison Patane 6, is not your average barista. After seeing a commercial urging help for California’s wildfire victims, she was inspired to serve others. Addison had prior success with a neighborhood lemonade stand. Like any savvy business entrepreneur, she changed her menu for the season. With just an art table, a few supplies, and a little help, this young miss set up a hot chocolate stand in her front yard. But, the profits made in the fall of 2018 didn’t go towards buying a new pair of dance shoes. She donated all of the proceeds to the American Red Cross.

Addison’s story began to percolate after a trip to a craft store. There, her mother purchased materials to make blankets for CHP employees that lost their homes in the Camp Fire. Addison wanted a project of her own but didn’t know how someone her age could make a difference.

The following day, Addison saw a commercial about a little girl who collected turkeys for fire victims. The story turned on a light bulb. Addison could launch a hot chocolate stand.

Kayla Patane, 26, was thrilled to learn that her daughter wanted to serve up cups of kindness for a cause. Right away, the two purchased all of the necessary supplies.

Classmate Charlotte Reineck, 7, of Cali Calmecac Language Academy joined in the fundraising efforts. Addison and Charlotte crafted a sign that read, “Hot Cocoa 50 Cents for Fire Victims.” In two hours, the first-graders made a total of $42.

There were “a lot of customers,” recounts Addison. “One person even paid five dollars for a single cup!” Customers had the option of whipped cream and marshmallows at no additional cost.

So, why does Addison help strangers? In her own words, “I think it’s nice doing nice things because it’s good to share and to be nice to other people.”

Addison’s connection to fire victims is also personal. Her maternal grandparents, Gina and Casey Meints, lost their home in the Tubbs Fire. Kayla explains that her parents lived in her family’s home after the fire. That’s how Addison first learned of the Red Cross. “They went to the Red Cross right after the fires where they were treated with so much empathy and given help,” Kayla reflects. “The resources available for whom to call for different things and their overall support were extremely helpful. We were very appreciative of everything they did.”

“GiGi and Papa had a hard time, but things are getting better,” Addison pledges. Their new house should be rebuilt this month.

When Addison is not a local beverage artisan or spending time with family, she enjoys reading, math, and dance. After school, she takes ballet lessons. When she grows up, she would like to pursue dance professionally or become a veterinarian. A career in nursing or teaching are also top contenders.

Kayla adds, “Addison has had a nurturing and empathetic nature since she was little. It will be amazing seeing all she does as she grows up.”

Addison hopes students at her school, as well as adults, read about her day managing a hot chocolate stand. She hopes her story will create more pop-up kindness projects that benefit people in need.

‘Sound the Alarm’ teams make an impact in February; gearing up for spring push

sta-2019-02_arcba_420x279

With the help of the Red Cross’s Katareina Vincent, Christian (left) and Carlos Chavez create an escape plan during a February “Sound the Alarm” visit to their home in Oakland. (Photo: Cate Calson)

On average, home fires kill 7 people and injure another 36 — every single day in the United States. That’s why the American Red Cross launched its nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014 with the goal of reducing the number of home fire deaths and injuries.

A key component of the campaign is a series of Sound the Alarm – Save a Life events in which Red Cross volunteers, working with local fire departments and other partners, visit high-risk neighborhoods to offer to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, and help families create escape plans. It is believed that the Sound the Alarm neighborhood visits, in which more than 1.5 million alarms have been installed, have already saved more than 500 lives throughout the United States since the Home Fire Campaign began.

During the month of February, four more Sound the Alarm events were held in the American Red Cross’s Northern California Coastal Region alone. Here is a brief summary of each of these local activities:

• In Novato on Saturday, February 9, seven teams of Marin County Red Cross volunteers made 53 homes at a mobile home park safer. In all, the teams — joined by partners from Solano and the local Salvation Army — installed nearly 80 smoke alarms.

• In San Jose on Saturday, February 16, more than 50 volunteers made 53 homes and 243 residents safer in the Sunshadow Mobile Home Park. In all, 216 free smoke alarms were installed in the residents’ homes. The Silicon Valley Chapter’s regular partner in local smoke-alarm installations, the San Jose Fire Department, was also on hand to help that Saturday. Fire Chief Robert Sapien and department PIO Mitch Matlow were there, as were 2 fire engines and 1 ladder unit. In addition to Red Cross volunteers taking part in the activity, the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation provided six volunteers who supported the home visits. Breakfast was donated by Chick-fil-A, and coffee was provided by Lee’s Sandwiches, which also supplied lunch at reduced prices. (See the photo album for this activity.)

• In Alameda County on Saturday, February 16, Red Cross volunteers conducted home visits in Oakland (Fruitvale community) and in Spanish-speaking communities in various areas of Alameda County, installing free smoke alarms and educating residents about home fires. They visited 40 homes, installed 117 alarms, and made 188 residents safer. (See the photo album for this activity.)

In the town of Gonzales on Saturday, February 23, 8 teams of volunteers visited 51 homes, installing 136 smoke alarms. Supported by the Gonzales Fire Department and Seaside High School National Honors Club students, the volunteers also replaced batteries in existing alarms and helped develop safety plans for each home’s occupant(s). In all, the effort made a total of 187 residents safer in this Monterey County community. (See the team photo for this activity.)

In the community of McKinleyville on Saturday, February 23, Red Cross volunteers and partners visited 14 homes and installed a total of 34 smoke alarms. That day, 7 Red Cross volunteers were assisted by 8 members of the California Conservation Corps from Fortuna. In all, the installations made 35 residents safer in this Humboldt County community. (See the photo album for this activity.)

From April 27 through May 12 this spring, volunteers and partners in communities throughout the country will be making an extra push to make in-home Sound the Alarm visits. The goal of this national effort will be to install 100,000 smoke alarms during that three-weekend period.

A number of these spring events are scheduled to take place in our region, and organizers are still in need of volunteer support. For information about how you can volunteer at these events, please see this press release.

For more information about the overall impact of the Home Fire Campaign in our region, please go to this web page.

Thank you to all who are making our region’s contributions to this national Red Cross campaign so successful!

Community togetherness in times of need

By Lindsay R. Peak

rc420 x 279Having survived the Valley Fire that decimated so much of Lake County in 2015, the mother/daughter duo of Kathleen Connors, 66, and Kelly Grimsley, 33, moved to Santa Rosa in August 2016 to make a “fresh start.” They had barely settled there when they heard the astonishing news in October 2017 of the threatening Tubbs Fire near their new home.

The two quickly fled, traveling toward Healdsburg in search of safety. A wrong turn landed them in Guerneville. Realizing their mistake, they looped back toward the freeway, eventually arriving at the emergency Red Cross shelter at Windsor High School in the early morning hours.

Remembering the feeling of being displaced with her daughter and a just a few important papers, fire survivor Connors pensively jests, “This was as ‘fresh’ as it gets.”

Night one, the pair slept on wrestling mats on the shelter’s floor. Night two, there were cots. “That was a really welcome thing. We could really rest a little bit,” says Connors.

In the days to come, community donations began to pour in. Connors and her daughter recounted the large mountain of available items piling up in the center of the gymnasium, including bedding. Padding their cots with layers of sheets, blankets, and warm comforters made their unthinkable situation feel a little more like home.

“All of our immediate needs were met,” says Connors.

Connors had limited experience with the American Red Cross prior to staying in the shelter. She recalls participating in basic training decades before while volunteering as a candy striper, but not much more.

No strangers to giving, Grimsley and Connors had regularly volunteered with local charities and non-profit organizations. Grimsley, diagnosed with autism and with other medical challenges, enjoys donating her time to help benefit others. Most of the projects Grimsley and her mother had choosen to work on are geared toward fundraising for or increasing awareness of a particular cause.

But this experience was different, as the first-time shelter clients were receivers instead of givers of volunteer services.

“What an extraordinary compassion [it is] to receive,” says Connors. “I never gave it a second thought when on the other side. It’s just what you did. Being on the receiving side, you see that these people are really extraordinary. The compassion was extraordinary. To receive that was just amazing.”

Connors further explains, “All the resources were organized. We saw everyone working with law enforcement. We had food. Medical care was available. A hug was there if we needed a hug.”

Commencing the long process of rebuilding, Grimsley took to the Internet. Online, she discovered that a beloved local chapel was among the structural fire victims. Once praised for its exquisite mosaic wall, only the tiles survived. A handful of individuals sought volunteers for an art project aimed at making trinkets from these recovered tiles.

Mother and daughter had frequently taken art classes, so the project seemed like a perfect fit.

With their spirits down, the creative process was a welcome distraction. It was a way to occupy their minds, bring them together with the community, and use their talents in a positive way while going through the many stages of grief.

Over a period of three months, this mother and daughter worked roughly 200 hours on the project. After the tiles were cleaned, tumbled, and polished, they were crafted into crosses, ornaments, garden accents, and tie tacks, among other things. In all, the pair and others involved created over 1,000 unique keepsakes.

The tile creations were given away at a variety of events aimed at community togetherness. They served as a sign of strength, symbolic rebuilding, and comfort in times of need. Some mementos were sent to the Camp Fire this past fall. Others were distributed to local churches.

By word of mouth, more and more volunteers participated in the project. And, it is not over.

“There are still projects to do. There are still tiles,” says Connors.

Connors and Grimsley presented each Red Cross volunteer with one of their masterpieces as a token of appreciation at the California Northwest Chapter’s September BBQ celebration.

Connors has many human-interest stories and positive experiences to share, including a misunderstanding about the comfort level of a standard-issue cot.

After leaving the shelter, she and her daughter were briefly displaced again. Connors marched into the local Red Cross office to seek assistance one more time. Connors asked a Red Cross representative if she could borrow one of the cots she got so familiar with over the course of a few weeks in the shelter. The Red Cross representative looked at Connors with a confused look and said, “You want to borrow… a cot?” Connors confidently replied, “Yes. We were in a shelter. We slept really good on the cots. I will bring it back. I want to borrow it just for a few days.” The woman left momentarily and returned, visibly concerned. Without saying yes or no to the request, the representative compassionately stated, “Ma’am, I think you need a pysch evaluation.”

Connors, taken aback, then explained how the community donations and experience with the Red Cross made the standard-issue cot more than a cot to her and her daughter in their time of need.

Understanding her experience more completely, the two shared a good laugh.

“It was a fun moment,” says Connors.

Rising from the ashes, this mother-daughter twosome remain positive as they continue to search for permanent housing. They have slept in numerous places including an office and at Red Cross volunteer Peggy Goebel’s home.

Uprooted twice by natural disaster, Connors has learned and shares a mantra about one’s home:

“Home and sacred ground is where you are whatever moment in time it is.

“The fire was the fire,” she says. “We have to choose to appreciate things that came out of the fire that were amazing. There were a lot of people we wouldn’t have met or known had it not been for the fire. It has its moments. There is a little silver lining.”

_____

About the author: Lindsay Peak is a volunteer writer for the California Northwest Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Doing what you can, when you can

By Andrea Mendoza

bob-elaine_420x279With Red Cross experience that spans more than 26 years, volunteers Robert and Elaine Florkowski are no strangers to disaster response. While their endless contributions to the Red Cross, dating to the early 1990s, have always been appreciated, the spotlight on the Benicia couple was especially bright at the most recent recognition dinner for Solano County volunteers. At the 2018 annual event, they were awarded the Clara Barton Award, recognizing their many years of volunteer leadership.

For Robert, it was an earthquake in South California that led him to a nearby Red Cross office to learn more about what to do in a future disaster. He decided then and there to volunteer and help others be better prepared in case another earthquake hit. “I liked putting together and teaching classes, as well as preparing the monthly meetings,” says Robert.

Throughout his many years as a shelter manager for the Red Cross, Robert has also deployed to other states to assist in emergency situations. Over the years, he figures he has volunteered at more than a dozen disasters, including a deployment to help with the September 11 attacks in New York. Noting how simple yet personally rewarding Red Cross service can be, Robert remembers a particular deployment in which he served as a shelter manager in Mississippi during a bad flood. “I got to go to all of the flooded areas and directly helped the people affected,” he recalls.

During her own years of Red Cross work, Elaine has put her nursing background to good use, serving as a Health Service Lead in Solano County. She was inspired by what the Red Cross could do and by the number of people she could help through the organization. “I did enjoy it when I was a Registered Nurse,” says Elaine. “I was one who took care of a lot of clients, too, and those have been memorable experiences to me.”

In addition to her assistance in the medical field, Elaine has also worked with client services — which she describes as a lot of fun — and supported the Service to the Armed Forces program at the Travis Air Force Base.

“It’s nice getting to receive an award that acknowledges the time and effort you put in to help patients and clients,” says Elaine, speaking modestly of the Clara Barton Award. Robert adds that he was completely surprised to learn about the recognition. “I didn’t think what I did was a big deal,” he says. “You just do what you can and when you can.”

_____

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 the San Francisco Bay Area 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.

Volunteer teams continue ‘Sound the Alarm’ activities in San Jose, Alameda County

sta-2019-02_arcba_420x279

With the help of the Red Cross’s Katareina Vincent, Christian (left) and Carlos Chavez create an escape plan during a “Sound the Alarm” visit to their home in Oakland. (Photo: Cate Calson)

On average, home fires kill 7 people and injure another 36 — every single day in the United States. That’s why the American Red Cross launched its nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014 with the goal of reducing the number of home fire deaths and injuries.

A key component of the campaign is a series of “Sound the Alarm – Save a Life” events in which Red Cross volunteers, working with local fire departments and other partners, visit high-risk neighborhoods to offer to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, and help families create escape plans. It is believed that the “Sound the Alarm” neighborhood visits, in which more than 1.5 million alarms have been installed, have already saved more than 500 lives throughout the United States since the Home Fire Campaign began.

On Saturday, February 16, two more “Sound the Alarm” events were held in the American Red Cross’s Northern California Coastal Region. One of the organized events took place in the city of San Jose; another was held in various locations in Alameda County.

sta-2019-02_sv_420x279

San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien and the Silicon Valley Chapter’s Terry Unter brief volunteers prior to the installation activities. (Photo: Oleksii Nazaruk)

•  In San Jose, more than 50 volunteers made 53 homes and 243 residents safer in the Sunshadow Mobile Home Park. In all, 216 free smoke alarms were installed in the residents’ homes. The Silicon Valley Chapter’s regular partner in local smoke-alarm installations, the San Jose Fire Department, was also on hand to help on Saturday. Fire Chief Robert Sapien and department PIO Mitch Matlow there, as were 2 fire engines and 1 ladder unit. In addition to Red Cross volunteers taking part in the activity, the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation provided six volunteers who supported the home visits. Breakfast was donated by Chick-fil-A, and coffee was provided by Lee’s Sandwiches, which also supplied lunch at reduced prices. (See the photo album for this activity.)

•  In Alameda County, Red Cross volunteers were out in Oakland (Fruitvale community) and in Spanish-speaking communities throughout Alameda County, installing free smoke alarms and educating residents about home fires. They visited 40 homes, installed 117 alarms, and made 188 residents safer. (See the photo album for this activity.)

From April 27 through May 12 this spring, volunteers and partners will be making an extra push to make in-home visits in communities throughout the country. The goal of this national effort will be to install 100,000 smoke alarms during that three-weekend period.

For more information about the Home Fire Campaign in our region, please go to this web page.

« Older Entries