Tag Archives: Bay Area

Looking back on 2021

Please join us as we say goodbye to 2021 with a look back at some of our favorite stories of the year from all of our lines of service.

Service to the Armed Forces

Lisa Ann Rohr was one of nine Red Cross SAF Mobile personnel who left the U.S. for overseas duty from August 2020 to April 2021. Lisa Ann was one of two Red Crossers initially stationed in Iraq, at the diplomatic post Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center (BDSC).

She says: “My entire ‘boots on the ground’ experience providing virtual services in Emergency Communications Messaging Delivery and Service Member follow-up with my peers, to creative ‘no contact’ distribution of incoming holiday donations, gifts and personal care items, to organizing cooking classes, language classes, and cultural history classes for U.S. and Coalition military forces serving their deployment rotation at BDSC, was a dream come true!”

You can read more about Lisa’s experiences here.


Lifesaving Blood

Blood donor Jennifer Sahni credits the Red Cross for saving her life after a challenging childbirth. After delivery, Jennifer’s cesarean incision would not stop bleeding. She received two units of blood, which stabilized her. Two days later, she had to receive a second transfusion with an additional two units of blood. She was able to go home the next day.

“I am so grateful to the people who donated the blood I received,” Jennifer said. “Because of them, I was able to go home and be with my kids. You can read more about Jennifer’s story here.


Training Services

On Tuesday, March 16, two local residents were honored with American Red Cross commendations in a virtual ceremony hosted by the organization’s Central Coast Chapter.

“These two individuals exemplify the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies and are to be commended for their willingness to help others in distress.” – Michele Averill, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Central Coast Chapter. You can read more about Linda and Robert here.


International Services

Red Crossers and the public at large were invited to a speaker series to learn how the American Red Cross International Services team provides relief and hope in communities around the globe by reconnecting families separated by crises, helping rebuild communities devastated by disasters and working alongside health organizations to eliminated global disease. 

Featured panelists included Chris Losavio, Executive Director, Heart of the Valley Chapter American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region; Patrick Hamilton, Head of Delegation for the United States and Canada International Committee of the Red Cross; Koby J. Langley, Senior Vice President, Service to the Armed Forces and International Services American Red Cross; Christine Medeiros, Pacific Division Lead, Restoring Family Links American Red Cross. You can view a recording of the discussion here.


Disaster Services

Navy veteran Michael Ocaranza awoke earlier this year to flames engulfing his apartment. He had just enough time to grab his dog, Sparky, and race out the door as fire licked around his head.

American Red Cross volunteers and case managers, Betsy Witthohn and Cindy Jones, first contacted Mike during his hospitalization and began to put together resources for his welfare following his stay. During the recovery process, Mike says they became “like friends from the past that I never had before – it’s a good feeling all over.”

You can read more about Mike’s story here.


From all of us in Communications, Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year!

If you have a story lead for any one of our writers, please email us at NCCRPublicAffairs@redcross.org.

“I’m here to help, and I care.”

Margot Simpson, Alameda County Volunteer of the Year

By Marcia Antipa

Margot during the Lake County fires of 2015

Margot Simpson has responded to hundreds of house and apartment fires in more than a dozen years as a Red Cross volunteer. One of those Disaster Action Team (DAT) calls happened on a summer day at a 12-unit apartment building in Oakland.

“The residents were all standing outside; they were not all friendly with each other, so it was kind of a tense situation.”

Margot acted quickly, rallying her Red Cross trainees to gather information and hand out comfort kits filled with toiletries.

“It got interesting because two of the residents almost came to blows arguing out in front of the building. I had to step up to them and say ‘Look, we’ll leave and nobody gets help if you two don’t stop.’ So they did.”

Read more

Volunteer lifts morale of all around her

Deborah Torres knew she wanted to volunteer for the Red Cross even before she retired from San Mateo County, where she ended a long career in social services and public mental health in 2013. Not long before her retirement, Torres found herself partnering with the Red Cross after two large fires destroyed two apartment buildings in Redwood City. The Red Cross had opened a shelter at the armory near Red Morton Park for people displaced by the fires and was helping them figure out their paths to recovery. “I got to see [the Red Cross] in action,” Torres said.

“I told myself when I started working with Red Cross, that when I retire that’s what I’m going to do,” she said.

Just three months after her September 2013 retirement, Torres became a Red Cross volunteer.

And this year, Torres was named the Red Cross Volunteer of the Year for San Mateo County.

“I was totally surprised [to receive the award],” Torres said. However, her fellow volunteers were not surprised. Torres’s background in social services and mental health and as a bilingual Latina with decades of experience working in the county make her invaluable.

Read more

Red Cross responds as atmospheric river impacts California

This information was last updated on Monday October 25, at 11 a.m

In response to evacuation orders in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties, and flooding and potential debris flow across the region, regional Red Cross teams mobilized over the weekend to support those in need.

The Red Cross assisted county and local officials to support evacuation centers and overnight emergency shelters in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. All evacuation centers and shelters in both counties have now closed.

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Local Red Crossers receive prestigious national recognition

From left to right: Colleen M. Sasso, Terry Unter, Patty Montmorency, Katie Pierson, Christine Medeiros and Shivum Kapoor

In an unprecedented year of challenges, we have made adjustments in many aspects of our lives. Most of us at some point over this time have faced postponement or cancelation of important events celebrating life milestones, traditions and special occasions. At the American Red Cross, this has included the National Awards and Recognition Ceremony we hold annually to celebrate our outstanding recipients.

In response, the Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region celebrated the national recognition of six local volunteers yesterday in a virtual ceremony, presented by the Regional CEO. The prestigious Red Cross National Awards represent and honor the highest level of achievements in their respective fields. Nominated by their peers, each recipient embodies the true spirit of the Red Cross and has dedicated their time and talent, resulting in noteworthy success.

“Now more than ever, it is important we take time to pause and recognize the accomplishments and sacrifices made by our teammates,” says Jennifer Adrio, CEO of the American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region. “It’s time to celebrate this spectacular group of volunteers and employees who have given the best of themselves to deliver our lifesaving mission!”

Read more

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.”

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