Tag Archives: Central Coast

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.

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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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing new leadership at the Red Cross

National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to recognize the myriad contributions and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans both in the Red Cross and the broader community. One such impressive Latina, Dr. Hortencia Jiménez (Monterey County), recently joined the Board of Directors for the Central Coast Chapter. A published scholar, Dr. Jiménez brings decades of work in immigrant rights, lived experience as a Latina immigrant from an indigenous background, and community connectivity to the table.

“I was working with the Monterey County Immigrant Services Network of Empowerment (CISNE)—a hub of service providers—when a member of the steering committee suggested I apply for the Red Cross Board of Directors,” says Dr. Jimenez. “I wanted to make sure I joined a board that was committed to racial equity and social justice work. Michele [Averill, CEO for the Central Coast Chapter] was intentional – she told me that she thought I would be a great person to work with and engage the Latinx community.”

While still a self-described “newbie,” Dr. Jimenez is learning her role step-by-step. She has grand yet practical visions on how to use her post. “I want to bring experts from the Red Cross to facilitate training with local Latinxs communities and immigrant groups,” she says. “We need to create and build relationships with various community groups. I’m excited to be a bridge between the Red Cross and the Latinx community in the Central Coast and beyond.

You can follow Dr. Jiminez here on Instagram.

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Local leaders join the Red Cross Board of Directors in multiple chapters

In early 2020, mere weeks before the pandemic hit, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern visited the San Francisco office for a Town Hall meeting, her first in the Bay Area in four years. She often speaks about the importance of leadership and the crucial role Board members fill. Photography by Eric Carmichael | American Red Cross

This June, individuals from all across the Northern California Coastal Region of the Red Cross stepped up to help lead their respective chapters. Each chapter’s Board of Directors elected new members and most installed new officers.

“As we dive into the next fiscal year, we look forward to the potential of our new members combined with the expertise of our officers,” says Jennifer Adrio, CEO of the America Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region. “Their combined diverse experiences are critical to the work our Region does for more than 10 million people throughout 15 counties.”

The new board members bring a wealth of diverse experience to their roles, including decades of experience in IT, communications, technical consulting, social services, mental health expertise, the field of law, education, communications, design, real estate, government, environmental sustainability and more.

“During the past year alone, Red Crossers responded to 1,342 local disasters — many of them home fires — collected 103,240 units of lifesaving blood and trained 56,943 residents in first aid and water safety,” Adrio says. “And those are just a few of the many ways our region made a difference in our local communities.”

The new members began their terms effectively July 1.

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Love thy neighbor, a good approach

Natalie and Merlin

Natalie Allstead first donated blood in high school, almost ten years ago. “Part of it was a chance to get out of history class,” she says. “And they give you cookies afterward!” She donated regularly throughout high school and then returned to donating after graduating college.

“I’m not super religious,” she says. “But I stick to the values of my childhood – and love thy neighbor is a pretty good approach to most things. People have value – they don’t have to prove anything to deserve this care.”

Natalie says that giving blood is only mildly uncomfortable but fulfilling overall. She’s even taken friends with her on occasion to make it a social event. When not giving blood, Natalie works in marketing as a writer. She volunteers where she can, loves to play Animal Crossing and “chilling” with her cat, Merlin.

She keeps it all pretty simple.

“I try and confront myself with the question: ‘What if it was a stranger, would it matter less?” Natalie adds, “Thankfully no one [in my family] has ever needed that kind of care but someone else’s family has.”

Thanks for your lifesaving donations, Natalie!

Carrying Clara Barton’s legacy forward

Dr. Diane Bridgeman is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who has served as a volunteer with the Red Cross for more than 30 years. In April, Diane received the Clara Barton Honor Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership, the Red Cross’ highest honor. A treasured member of the Disaster Mental Health Team in the Santa Cruz chapter, Diane took the time to share about her rich experience with the Red Cross and why this recognition means so much to her. 

Dr. Diane Bridgeman

What drew you to the American Red Cross, and what kept you engaged? 

I suspect my initial interest in the Red Cross, and why I stayed with it for over 30 years, stems from a matching of my core life tenets and the central mission of the Red Cross. This includes service to others and the importance of fairness and social justice – these are key lenses for my view of the world and similarly coincide with the basic principles that guide the Red Cross. It is why I chose psychology, and clinical psychology specifically, as my career choice and why I resonate with the heart of the Red Cross. The more I learned about the history of the Red Cross and its profound and inspired founder, Clara Barton, the more I embraced and wanted to give time to this humanitarian organization.  

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