Tag Archives: Clients

For almost a half century, Peg Geringer has had a love affair with her Red Cross work

peg-geringer_420x279Peg Geringer’s impact on the American Red Cross can be described in many ways: the different lines of service she has supported as a volunteer, her tenure as chair of the Silicon Valley Chapter’s First Aid Services Team (FAST), or just by some very impressive numbers.

  • Peg became an active Red Cross volunteer almost 48 years ago.
  • She began donating blood after becoming a Red Crosser, and to date has given 28 gallons.
  • She was a member of the South Bay’s FAST team for 25 years and served as chair for the last 10.

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After years of direct service to clients, Lorraine Jacobs now trains other volunteers

lorraine-jacobs_420x279Earlier this year, American Red Cross volunteer Lorraine Jacobs received the 2019 Clara Barton Award given by the Central Coast Chapter. Named after the organization’s founder, the award honors a volunteer for service in Red Cross leadership positions over many years. In Lorraine’s case, one look at her Red Cross resume makes it clear why she received the prestigious award.

Beginning with a deployment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Lorraine has exemplified outstanding service through her work with the Central Coast Chapter, our region, and beyond. She has devoted her time and care through long-distance deployment in shelters, training, information and planning, fundraising, and Volunteer Management. Lorraine, who has supported Red Cross staff and clients as both a full-fledged volunteer and employee, is currently volunteering as part of the regional Workforce Team.

Before beginning her Red Cross service in response to Katrina, Lorraine first came in contact with the organization following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. When the destructive quake caused significant damage to her and her family’s Soquel area home, Lorraine remembers the Red Cross sharing resources to help them with short-term rental expenses. The memory of that support has stayed with Lorraine in the years since, motivating her to continue to help people facing similar devastation and displacement.

In the following Q&A, Lorraine discusses those and other Red Cross experiences, what inspires her to respond to those in need, and what motivates her now to encourage other volunteers to do the same.

What inspired you to start volunteering with the Red Cross?

I began my work with Red Cross as a volunteer in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. The images of the devastation, scope of the disaster, and the need for volunteers coincided with my ability to deploy at that time in my life. From a young age, I had volunteered for humanitarian causes. So the Red Cross work felt like a good fit.

What lines of service have you participated in?

In the Hurricane Katrina disaster response, I began working in a shelter and continued on to what is now called Recovery. During subsequent deployments, I worked in Information & Planning, Logistics, Staffing, Training, ERV driving, and continued with Recovery. My concentration now is on Training, and I really enjoy it.

What are some of the more challenging and uplifting moments you’ve experienced in your various roles with the Red Cross?

My experience has helped me hone my listening skills. After 14 years of Red Cross work, I am not done developing this skill. But I see it more as an opportunity for growth rather than a challenge.

My work with our clients, with people who have been affected by disasters, has also been both challenging and rewarding. The losses our clients sustain are sometimes life-changing. The challenge has been trying to figure out how I can best work with a client and help him or her move through the maze of other agencies set up to help. The reward is less simple to articulate. In fact, it is somewhat indescribable for me. When I listen to a client’s story, or help a person through difficulty, it translates to a feeling of hope. I really believe that connecting with and understanding others builds a network of common ground for shaping our future.

These days my work is more in the area of preparing other volunteers. After working in many other areas of Red Cross, I feel my skills now are best utilized in the facilitation of disaster training at Red Cross. I treasure the Principles, Values, and Mission Statement of Red Cross. Our learning platforms support these well. The opportunity exists to help volunteers find their way in our large organization by facilitating an understanding of how the Red Cross mission translates into care for others.

It is so uplifting to see volunteers progress through training and their disaster-response experiences, learn how to do the best job possible helping meet clients’ needs, and — in the process — learn a lot more about themselves.

What advice would you give people interested in volunteering with the Red Cross

There are several things I would recommend prospective volunteers do. I would recommend they start by educating themselves by utilizing Red Cross classes to choose a starting place. I think it can be very helpful to find a mentor in their chosen field. Listening to experienced volunteers and staff members is also an important step. I also always tell prospective volunteers to be flexible, as Red Cross disaster work often happens in real-time under pressure. And last but not least, I advise people to regularly re-evaluate how the work is going for them. The Red Cross is a big organization with a lot of different opportunities for service.

What does being a recipient of the Clara Barton Award mean to you?

As this award is in recognition of Red Cross work I have done for many years, receiving it from my local chapter is a particularly great honor. I am more appreciative of it than I can say.

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Become a Red Cross Volunteer: You can make a difference in Monterey, San Benito, or Santa Cruz County by becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Volunteers constitute about 94 percent of the total Red Cross workforce to carry out our humanitarian work. Red Cross volunteers are trained to meet the needs of those affected by disasters, providing food, shelter, and comfort for families affected by major disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes as well as helping local residents prepare for and recover from emergencies of all kinds. We’ll find the position that appeals to you and allows you to use your skills and talents. Email VolunteerCCC@redcross.org to get started.

About the Author: Fleur Williams is a volunteer writer for the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross. A resident of Aptos, Fleur is a freelance writer with a focus on the arts, culture, and humanity.

Red Cross was there when she needed it says woman whose home burned in fire

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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KerryAnn Laufer, who lost her home on Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg during the Kincade Fire, says she doesn’t know what she would have done without the help of the Red Cross after the fire. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross/Barbara Wood)
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KerryAnn Laufer lost her home in the Kincade Fire, but she says her experience with the American Red Cross at the Local Assistance Center in Healdsburg on Nov. 5 helped her when she needed it the most.

“I’m so grateful for the Red Cross. You guys bailed me out when I wasn’t in a good place there,” she said of her visit to the assistance center. She arrived shaken after having seen the long line of people seeking help in the parking lot of the Healdsburg Community Center.

“What has been a big emotional piece of this for me has been the scale of it,” she said. That the fire had left many people in need “was very apparent in the parking lot,” she said. “It rattles me, even more than my personal loss.”

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Former volunteer applies Red Cross lessons to loss of her home to wildfire

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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Former Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteer Jeanne Sternbergh (l) and her husband Jim (r), who lost their home in the Kincade Fire reconnect with old Red Cross friend Cindy Jones at the Local Assistance Center in the Healdsburg Community Center on Nov. 4. See more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire. See photos from this response.

Jeanne Sternbergh spent many years as a Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, responding countless times to help Sonoma County residents displaced by home fires. Now she’s helping herself.

Sternbergh and her husband Jim lost their home off Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg, California to the Kincade Fire.

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Amid wildfire worries, comfort and kindness in a Red Cross Shelter

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:

By Barbara Wood, American Red Cross

Lynne Fredericks recounted to American Red Cross volunteer Larry Dietz how she ended up in an evacuation shelter in the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa, California during the Kincade Fire.

Fredericks, her sister, plus dog Jack and two cats, were part of a mandatory Kincade Fire evacuation from nearby Windsor that began on Saturday, Oct. 26. They were able to return home a few days later, after the evacuation was lifted on Thursday, Oct. 30.

“Their kindness and generosity make it easier for me and other people who are there,” Fredericks said of the American Red Cross and other volunteers staffing the shelter. “I am in awe, and I mean that seriously, of how you have been able to put all this together and make it work,” she said. The American Red Cross, along with community and government partners, had set up in just hours as the fire spread on Saturday, Oct. 26.
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Community in a shelter full of strangers

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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Red Cross cots and blankets await evacuees earlier this week at the Marin County Fairgrounds shelter.

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here.

By Taylor Poisall,
American Red Cross

In a room filled to capacity, a sense of community was present.

“It’s actually been really nice. There’s a sense of bonding that makes us all feel like close neighbors” said Cathy, who moved to Northern California a few years ago from the East Coast. This was her first time ever staying in a shelter.My daughter has had a great time; it’s like she has been at camp. She played games with other children, read books from the mobile library, and visited with many elderly residents.” Read more

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