Tag Archives: California Northwest

Thank you, once more, to our incredible volunteers!

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Volunteers are the lifeline of the American Red Cross, providing critical services such as educating clients on home fire prevention. (Photo: Samar M. Salma; American Red Cross)
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Every April, the American Red Cross joins organizations around the world to shine a spotlight on the people who make the real difference in our communities: our volunteers. Their selfless time, energy, compassion, and dedication are what get the work of the Red Cross done.

National Volunteer Week takes place this year from April 19th through April 25th. As a ramp-up to this special time, now is the perfect moment to recognize – once more – the incredible volunteers honored throughout our region at our 2019 Volunteer Recognition Events:

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Our region is helping address the severe blood shortage

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Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. (If you can’t find a blood drive in your area right now, please check back as Red Cross teams are rescheduling them as quickly as possible. Thank you!)
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As the coronavirus pandemic has grown in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have also grown at an alarming rate. As of March 18, nearly 4,500 Red Cross blood drives have been cancelled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses, and schools during the coronavirus outbreak. These cancellations have resulted in some 150,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.

Just in Northern California alone, more than 100 blood drives have been cancelled in recent weeks, resulting in the loss of more than 3,300 units of blood.

“When you consider that each unit can save up to three lives when it is separated into the different life-saving blood components, this shortfall could potentially impact close to 10,000 people,” says Justin Mueller, Donor Services Executive for the Northern California Blood Services Region.

Mueller says the Northern California Coastal Region’s four chapters are each making a special effort to reschedule blood drives. “The overwhelming support and collaboration of people across this region’s counties to help identify and gain commitments from groups to host blood drives has helped tremendously,” he says. “Just in the last 24 hours, we have had 10 locations commit to helping us fill at least 15 of the days we lost blood drives.”

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A blood drive was held recently in the Bay Area Chapter’s San Francisco office.

Mueller says Red Cross teams are also making extra efforts to safeguard the donors, volunteers, and staff at these drives — and the blood that is collected. “This can be seen firsthand by observing the additional safety measures we have put in place, including checking donor temperatures before entering the blood drive, swapping out gloves more frequently, and increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment. While we have spaced chairs and beds further apart to ensure better social distancing practices, I’d also encourage folks to make an appointment to help us avoid donors that would otherwise drop in at the same time causing crowds and even small groups to form.”

At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:

  • Wearing gloves and changing them with each donor.
  • Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.
  • Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
  • Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

There is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide.

Mueller is thankful for the extra effort blood-services volunteers are making during this difficult time. “We would not be able to carry out our mission without the support of our amazing volunteers,” he says. “And because of the extra safety measures that have been put in place, volunteers are needed more than ever to support this emergency effort.”

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KSBW-TV covered a weekend blood drive that was organized in the Central Coast Chapter’s Santa Cruz office. (See the station’s web and video story.)

He is equally appreciative of the people who have shown up to give blood during this challenging time. “Because of the coronavirus crisis, donors are really needed right now,” Mueller says. “If you are healthy, feeling well, and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to give now.”

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Blood donation process:

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Christine Welch (909-859-7570, @RedCrossBloodCA, and RedCrossBlood.org) provided key editorial support for this blog post.

Out of the Ashes: The story of a Santa Rosa family that survived the Tubbs Fire — and hopes to help other disaster victims

by Marcia Antipa

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The Dorsey’s first Christmas back home! left to right: Lynn, Brendan, Bill, and Brian

The weekend before the 2017 Tubbs fire swept through Santa Rosa, Bill and Lynne Dorsey were visiting their son in Arizona. As their flight home landed on October 8, they noticed the plane was buffeted by unusually strong winds.

Before they went to bed in their Coffey Park neighborhood, they heard there was a fire in Napa, but were not too concerned. However, just a few hours later, they woke up to hear the wind rushing and howling around their house. Then, they looked out the window. “We could see the embers coming out of the sky and emergency vehicle lights.

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Meet Gene Beck Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award Recipient Betsy Witthohn

Betsy Witthohn 420x279From the ashes of wildfires rise everyday heroes. Betsy Witthohn is one of them.

After reaching safety, the fire survivor recounts how time stood still two years ago until mandatory evacuation orders were lifted. Her mind was preoccupied with anxiety as she feared for the worst.

Returning to the area, she found the flames spared her residence. Many nearby were not as fortunate. That experience served as a catalyst to becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Her husband joined, as well.

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Red Cross responds to Kincade Fire

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Smoke from the nearby Kincade Fire mars the California blue sky. Photo by Lindsay Peak, American Red Cross

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here or see list of stories, below.
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[Updated November 4, 2019] More than 400 Red Cross workers alongside government and community partners are providing shelters, meals, health services, comfort and other support for affected residents.

  • More than 6,500 people stayed in Red Cross and community shelters in Northern California. With the lifting of evacuations orders, all shelters have been closed.
  • With partners, the Red Cross has served more than 51,000 meals and snacks, provided more than 2,500 relief items, and made more than 2,800 individual care contacts.
  • This week, at the Local Assistance Center, affected families can meet one-on-one with trained Red Cross caseworkers who will assess their disaster-caused needs, offer recovery information, help with medication and eyeglass replacement and other emergency needs, and referrals to other agencies. Financial assistance is also available to those whose home was destroyed or had major damage.

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Red Cross welcomes a growing partnership with Corazón Healdsburg

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Corazon Healdsburg bilingual volunteers (left) Norma Gomez and Luisa Fernandez-Palacios staff a desk inside the evacuation shelter at the Sonoma County Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa on Oct. 30. Photo credit: American Red Cross|Barbara Wood

Local nonprofit and Red Cross partner Corazón Healdsburg offered a crucial point of contact for Latinx families during the Kincade Fire. The organization staffed Red Cross shelters in Sonoma and Marin counties with bilingual volunteers. They met with displaced Spanish-speaking families or those who were adversely affected. For some, it was the only point of contact with whom they felt comfortable.

Since 2016, Corazón Healdsburg has worked diligently in the Latinx community to create resources and a safety net for low-income families to thrive. Their programs range from financial literacy to first-generation college counseling. So when disaster struck, many in the community already knew where to go: The Healdsburg Community Center.

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Local Red Cross volunteers help others while evacuated from their own homes

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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American Red Cross volunteers Vince and Robin Dieter worked on logistics and transportation and staffing for the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire even as they were evacuated from their own home in Windsor by the fire, which came within blocks of their home. Photo credit: American Red Cross

While more than 400 Red Cross workers eventually helped with the response to the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, many local volunteers who were evacuated from their own homes worked tirelessly on an effort that allowed more than 6,500 evacuees to stay in Red Cross and community shelters even while the Red Cross workers were unsure what had happened to their own homes.

Among the many local Red Cross volunteers who had been evacuated were Windsor residents Vince (logistics and transportation) and Robin Dieter (staffing), and Jeff Fleisher (logistics and facilities).

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