Tag Archives: Bay Area

Red Cross supports Fleet Week Humanitarian Village

By Larry Dietz


The Red Cross set up a station in “Humanitarian Assistance Village” at Fleet Week. Fleet Week is an important event for the Red Cross as it helps to fulfill our mission for community readiness and preparedness for disasters, to connect and support our armed forces, and increase access to lifesaving blood and blood products. (Photo by: Albert Becker, American Red Cross)

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San Francisco has always had a special relationship with the US Navy. One example of that is San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW), which began in 1981. The annual celebration of America’s sea services takes place over Italian Heritage Weekend in October on the Marina Green.

Through its core mission of Support to Armed Forces (SAF), the American Red Cross has been a consistent and strong supporter of Fleet Week. Read more

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

In retirement with no signs of slowing down

george-on-deployment_391x260When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, George Dresnek explored ways to help and found himself in an American Red Cross call center in Oakland. He now regularly deploys for the Red Cross as a facilities expert to 6 to 7 disaster responses a year, volunteer work that can take him away for up to 28 days at a time. Acknowledging the incredible sacrifices he makes on behalf of those in need, George readily credits his wife for this generosity. “I retired in 2012,” he smirks, describing his ongoing availability for service. “But she was the one who told me to ‘get a hobby.’” Read more

Successful weekends for ‘Sound the Alarm’ spring push

sound-the-alarm_350x211This spring, Red Cross teams across the country are making a special effort to reach even more people in even more homes as part of our lifesaving Home Fire Campaign. During a period that spans three weekends between April 28 and May 13, the Red Cross has been making plans to Sound the Alarm, Save a Life with more than 25,000 volunteers to install an additional 100,000 smoke alarms and educate residents about home fire safety in communities throughout the United States.

Here are the totals for the campaign in the Northern California Coastal Region: 752 volunteers made 783 homes safer by installing 2,208 smoke alarms and educating 2,530 residents.

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My three weeks in Puerto Rico: Linda Haddad

In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit with two strong hurricanes that devastated the island. One hundred percent of the population was without power, and many were without water or a safe consistent food source. The American Red Cross put out a call for disaster worker volunteers who have experience working in third world environments; they specifically sought returned Peace Corps volunteers, of which I am one.

I work full-time but was able to use vacation time to travel to San Juan. I spent three weeks in country (December 12 – January 03) as a Red Cross Volunteer to PR. I was assigned to work with the Targeted Relief Recovery team, and our primary responsibility was to distribute and educate on how to use gas and solar power generators to people who had medical conditions that required power for care. I also distributed water filtration devices and solar lamps. All of this or course was done in Spanish.

It was a powerful experience, and I wish I would have been able to stay. There is still so much need in Puerto Rico.


  • Linda Haddad is a volunteer for the American’s Red Cross’ Bay Area Chapter.

Why I help: Bay Area volunteer Daren Olson

By Sharon J. Alfred


Red Cross HFC Volunteer Daren Olson poses with “Sparky,” who is the fire prevention mascot for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

Daren Olson is a firefighter with 30 years’ experience, so when he retired it was natural for him to become a volunteer with the American Red Cross’ Home Fire Campaign (HFC). During his many years as a firefighter, he saw smoke alarms in all sorts of conditions. Olson recalled, “Once, I saw a melted smoke alarm sitting on the counter!” He never wants to see that again.

Preventing home fire is a subject near and dear to his heart. That’s one of the main reasons he volunteers on the HFC campaign with the Red Cross. He is the Contra Costa County HFP administrator/coordinator. Read more

Helping clients is all the motivation this volunteer needs

Photo of Colleen Sasso, assisting a clientFor retired nurse Colleen Sasso, becoming a volunteer for the American Red Cross in 2009 was a perfect opportunity to do something other than nursing. It was a good plan, or so it seemed at the time.

“I had had a long and wonderful career at the San Francisco VA Medical Center,” Colleen says. “I worked in intensive care and was in charge of nursing in the Radiology Department. And I loved working with veterans.” Read more

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