Tag Archives: Central Coast

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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In Her Father’s Footsteps

Central Coast Chapter Volunteer of the Year Megan Erk says love of community led her to the American Red Cross 

By Marcia Antipa 

Megan during her 2020 deployment during Hurricane Cristobal in Texas

“Showing kindness and getting help to people that need it without regard to anything else – that is how I was brought up.” 

Megan Erk – the Volunteer of the Year for the Central Coast Chapter – credits her father for inspiring her dedication to the community. He was a military man who brought his daughter along on volunteer projects.  

“I kind of grew up in that environment where people just volunteered in the community to help out.”  

Now Megan is taking on multiple roles with the American Red Cross. From hurricanes to wildfires, from blood drives to blog articles, Central Coast Chapter CEO Michele Averill says Megan has more than earned her award. 

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