Category Archives: NorCal Fires (2017)

Benjamin volunteered and found a ‘home’

By Kathryn Hecht

bg_2Benjamin Greenberg looked for a way to give back for a long time. A resident of Santa Rosa since 1999, Ben grappled with frustrating circumstances and a host of medical issues that left him on disability with a light work schedule. However, when the fires hit in October 2017, the Coddington resident thought, “I should do something.”

So he just showed up. Read more

Trial by fire: When the good work of the Red Cross hits home

By Macy McClung, AmeriCorps member

My experience during the Northern California wildfires in October 2017, specifically within my new role at the Red Cross, changed my life. I woke up one morning in Houston, where I had been assigned to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in my AmeriCorps role as a Red Cross worker. I learned on social media that my home town in California was burning. I called my parents and woke them up, prepared them for what could come next, and arranged to leave Houston immediately. Read more

Medical volunteers go above and beyond during Santa Rosa firestorm

By Kathryn Hecht

A photo of Peggy Goebel, shown with Rene Steinhauer, center, and State Senator Mike McGuire.

Peggy Goebel 
is shown with Rene Steinhauer, center, and State Senator Mike McGuire.

American Red Cross volunteer and Windsor resident Peggy Goebel had barely unpacked from her deployment to Hurricane Harvey when she was evacuated to the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building in the early hours of October 9. She was one of hundreds of area residents, fleeing wildfires, who were streaming into the facility. Read more

Volunteer and his employer, Comcast, provide critical support

By Lori Wilson

Corporate responsibility is the new buzz phrase for a corporation’s community support, however that support is manifest. Some give financial donations, some in-kind donations, some volunteer hours, and some a combination of all of the above. In the Northern California wildfires, we saw no shortage of corporate responsibility, an example of which is the gift of a volunteer named Gregg Weismann.

Gregg had volunteered with the Red Cross for many years, supporting the Silicon Valley Chapter as a Disaster Team Captain. But he became inactive about five years ago as life took over and his ties to the organization became less than they were. However, when the 2017 fires started and it became apparent that we were going to see a fire response like never before in California, he reached out to offer his services and expertise once again. Gregg was quickly asked to help on our shelter support team, the team that is responsible for making sure Red Cross shelters have what they need. For the Shelter Support Manager Alex Rose, Gregg was a welcome addition because he brought “professional capabilities to the job that we did not currently have with existing volunteers” and because “it is always an honor to serve next to someone that brings such a rich history of service with the organization.”

When Gregg arrived at the Disaster Headquarters he only had one week to give; that was all he had saved of PTO to use. As his time to return home to San Jose approached, he felt that he had work left undone and had more to contribute. So he and Alex crafted a request to Gregg’s Manager requesting more time off if possible. The repose came back quickly with not only the additional time off granted for PTO, but with the decision that Gregg would not have to use any PTO, that Comcast would simply loan him to the Red Cross and his wages would be paid in full.

This is only one way that Comcast has supported this response; they were also critical to many of our IT issues, helping to set up our networks at shelters so that those evacuated by the fires could connect with loved ones and let them know they were OK. Comcast has been an invaluable partner, and we are very thankful for the support. We are excited for what the future may hold with the possibility of building on that partnership. As Alex said, “Maybe it will result in even more Comcasters helping us in our operations of a disaster and a deeper volunteer pool, for a stronger response.”


Jim Burns provided editorial support for this story.



Two 17-year-olds perform beyond their years during NorCal fires

By Lori Wilson (10-2017)

volunteer story_Patrick and Jackson Oct17Sunday, October 8, 2017 started out like any other Sunday in the beautiful Northern California wine country. Some may have attended church service, some worked, some did homework, some did housework, and others may have visited with friends and family. But for many, this day would become one of the most frightening days of their lives. As the day went on, the wildfires flaring up in the hills of this beautiful part of the country began to spread, and with the winds approaching 70 mph, the fires took on a life of their own. Read more

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