Category Archives: NorCal Fires (2017)

Stan Massie keeps the Red Cross connected

Stan Massie — recipient of the Contra Costa Volunteer of the Year Award — still has the buttons he received from completing swimming lessons with the Red Cross as a young child in San Rafael. So when he retired from the banking world in 2016, he wanted to do something that “added value to the world.” Inspired by the work done by volunteers during the 2017 Tubbs fire, he signed up to volunteer through the Red Cross website. Now he is as busy — if not busier in retirement as in his professional career.

Stan’s intake coordinator at the Red Cross pegged him for External Relations based on his corporate background. Briana Taylor, Regional Disaster Chair for the Northern California Coastal Region, served as the External Relations Lead at the time and met with Stan to discuss the commitment. Over coffee, Briana described the role with a “broad brush.” Stan said yes.

He’s been in action ever since.

“Once I got in, they pulled me into multiple positions,” Stan says. “First it was the External Relations Committee, then the Contra Costa Leadership Council, the Government Relations Committee, and then the Bay Area Board of Directors.”

Stan now sits as chairman of Contra Costa Leadership Council and still works in External Relations with elected officials and County partners.

“Last fall, I deployed for the first time and was assigned to Monterrey County to work in the Office of Emergency Services (OES),” Stan says. “My main job today is to work with partners throughout the county, fire, health, the Board of Supervisors, etc., so that when disaster strikes, we can get services quickly where needed.”

Stan is busy outside of his Red Cross work, looking after two grandchildren from time to time and attending to other family needs. And then there is the occasional game of golf.

“I like to tell people ‘just be realistic and honest about the time commitment,’” Stan says. “If you want to do [this] well, you’ll need to put in the time.

Stan hopes to recruit for the leadership positions he’s filled over the last several years. “All volunteer positions take time to fill and succession is very important to keep the continuity with our partners.

Stan says he sticks close to the Red Cross work for the same reason he signed up. “I thought volunteering would be showing up at an event or shelter. I didn’t want to do something that mimics my corporate world. But now I know I can do both.”

Ready for the Next Wildfire: After Multiple Evacuations, Sonoma County Resident Has a Plan

Hecht’s evacuated chickens and Gertie, the family dog, safely stashed in the car.

After twice evacuating her home for days during major wildfires, and living through several more evacuation warnings, you’d better believe Kathryn Hecht has a plan for the upcoming fire season.

The Sonoma County resident is a Red Cross regional communications manager whose job includes informing the public about the best ways to prepare for disasters.

She practices what she preaches.

Near her front door Hecht has stashed pet carriers and a go bag that includes clothing, important papers, emergency supplies, dog and cat food and toiletries. She has planned two driving routes out of her neighborhood, and a foot route in case those two are blocked. She subscribes to her county’s emergency notification system, Nixle, has the Red Cross emergency app on her phone, and follows local sources of emergency information on Twitter. She and her husband have agreed on two emergency meeting points in case one is unavailable.

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Sonoma County volunteer Andy Witthohn recognized as Gene Beck Memorial Volunteer of the Year

Andy and Betsy Witthohn at a volunteer thank you event in 2018. Photo by Ritch Davidson | American Red Cross

Andy Witthohn has a long history of volunteerism and service work spanning multiple continents, industries, and community needs. Born in Bangor, ME, Andy studied in Nairobi, served in the Peace Corps in Somalia, and taught school – mostly kindergarten – for 20 years in Sonoma County. He finished his professional career advocating for teachers with the California Teachers Association. 

In December 2020, he received the Gene Beck Memorial Volunteer of the Year award for his extensive efforts with the American Red Cross during the devastating Kincade Fire in 2019. 

His peers were quick to gush. 

“Not afraid to try new things or take on new challenges, Andy quickly became one of our most steadfast and reliable volunteers in the Napa-Sonoma Territory,” said Angela Hunt, volunteer for the Northern California Coastal Region and presenter of the award. “With his energetic spirit and constant good humor, he made short work of any project he took on, and he’s taken on quite a few. We’re so appreciative for everything he does.” 

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‘Go-To Guy’ is the Marin Volunteer of the Year

By Marcia Antipa

Red Cross volunteer Kevin Sagar flexing skills

What does a law enforcement officer do in his spare time? Volunteer to help others, of course. Meet Kevin Sagar, the American Red Cross Volunteer of the Year for Marin County.

Kevin is wrapping up his first year as a police officer with the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, known as the SMART Train.

“The majority of my job is looking for people that are on the train tracks, either oblivious to the trains or trying to hurt themselves. Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere at the right time, but it is nice when we do get there and spot someone before something happens.”

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Heeding the call and going all-in

By John Lindner

Regional Volunteer of the Year, Dave Dorman

After speaking with Dave Dorman for 30 minutes, you might wonder if he does anything else outside of the Red Cross. He’s a self-described “semi-full-time volunteer.” This same unwavering dedication earned him the Regional Volunteer of the Year Award.

While he’s officially been a proud Red Cross volunteer since 1984, Dave’s first contact with the Red Cross occurred during water safety instructor and lifeguard training in the 1950s. In the 1970s, he taught first aid and artificial respiration for his employer and discovered his Red Cross calling. He would eventually gravitate to disaster operations, and more specifically, to logistics support: acquiring, organizing, and delivering materials during a disaster. 

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Leading leaders and finding gems

Laura Hovden, San Mateo Volunteer of the Year

Laura Hovden, of Woodside, CA, recently received the San Mateo Volunteer of the Year Award during the Chapter’s annual volunteer recognition event. A born leader, Laura encourages others to expand their skills and expertise and take on leadership roles of their own. Her flexibility and high aptitude for success have led her to fulfill myriad duties across the organization, including regional and divisional appointments.

Laura took a moment last week to fill us in on her experiences.

Congratulations on the recognition as Volunteer of the Year!

Thank you, I feel so honored.

When did you first get involved with the Red Cross?

I joined when my kids were graduating from high school in 2014. I wanted to have something to do that would be meaningful after they were gone. At the Red Cross, I found all kinds of interesting people and just loved doing this kind of work.

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