To see more regional stories and other content related to the Red Cross response to the coronavirus pandemic, please see this blog post.
Like many other American Red Cross activities, the classes and discussion groups that have been hosted in our region by our International Services program are a service that has been re-engineered because of COVID-19 social-distancing requirements.
“When it became clear that this pandemic would be with us for a while, we started to rethink the way we were making our classes and other educational opportunities available,” says Go Funai, Director of the Service to the Armed Forces and International Services programs for the Northern California Coastal Region (NCCR).
So, beginning late last month, with an introductory course that is part of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) series, Funai’s International Services (IS) team has begun to deliver its educational offerings virtually. Read more
Updated May 29, 2020 — This post was created to provide an index of Northern California Coastal Region stories, local messages, and other resources that shed light on how the American Red Cross is responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The content includes information on important work that is continuing, engagement opportunities, and (most importantly) tips on staying safe. Read more
By Marcia Antipa
Abby and son, Carl, in 1967.
In October of 1966, Abby Chapman and Carl Borders had been married just a year and a half, when Carl shipped off to Vietnam. Abby had just learned that she was pregnant with their first child. The war and the pregnancy would bring the American Red Cross into her life for the first time.
As a recent medical school graduate, Carl was in high demand in wartime. He was assigned to a new Army MUST field hospital in Tay Ninh. MUST stands for Medical Unit, Self-contained, Transportable.
“I felt as though he was fairly safe there, and he wasn’t. Mortars were attacking his company and the hospital. It was very disheartening for me to think this was where he was going.”
Red Cross nurse leaders Liz Dietz, Anna Likens, Karen Isabelle, and Mary Ann Reilly chat with Larry Dietz, Public Affairs Officer of the Red Cross communications team. | Screenshot: Larry Dietz.
The Red Cross nurse is part of a tradition that dates back to the founding of the organization and core to the Red Cross Mission of alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has proclaimed the theme for Nurses Day 2020 as “Nursing the World to Health”.
Nursing the suffering is the stock and trade of the Red Cross Nurse. I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing nurse leaders of the Silicon Valley Chapter to learn more about what is special about being a Red Cross Nurse and to have them share some moments in their Red Cross Service that have stood out in their minds.
Red Cross nurses are indeed special.
On January 24, 2018, Alan Freberg and Laura Bellizzi were running errands only to return to their apartment and find that their home of twenty-five years had burned down. “There were ten fire engines…there had been an electrical surge,” remembers Laura.
Laura and Alan had no prior experience with the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross was there immediately,” explains Laura. “They gave us blankets and kept offering us food…It was kind of drizzling out, and I was shaking. I finally told them I don’t need another blanket, I’m not cold. I’m shaking because my house just burned down,” Laura recalls.
The Red Cross placed Laura and Alan in a hotel for a few nights, but the most significant impact the organization made was to provide a roadmap when the structure of their life had evaporated. “They gave us guidance when we were unable to put things together for the first forty-eight hours,” reflects Laura. “They were very calming and very efficient.”
Beyond blankets and a place to stay, what stood out most to Alan and Laura was that the Red Cross could help navigate this unknown and overwhelming situation. From minute details – like advising them to write everything down because people often forget specifics when they experience shock – to a broader look ahead, Laura says the Red Cross “gave us a lot of good advice…we did everything they told us to do…and we vowed we would try to repay them.”
Inspired by their interaction, Alan and Laura sold a family heirloom: a vintage accordion. They donated the proceeds to the Red Cross. “We’re beyond grateful,” says Laura.
In their attempt to repay the Red Cross for their support, they paid it forward. Because of their donation, the Red Cross can continue to serve as a pillar for someone else when their life is unexpectedly reduced to ash.
Sarah Ward is a volunteer writer with the Northern California Coastal Region.
Jillian Balceta, an AmeriCorps worker in the Silicon Valley Chapter, also serves on the chapter’s DAT and Casework teams. She supported the DAT team on two recent calls using her computer at home.
While the Covid-19 crisis has shuttered businesses, postponed community events, and required widespread sheltering-in-place, the pandemic hasn’t changed at least one thing: Individuals and families are still confronted with home fires and other emergencies that require critical assistance from the American Red Cross. Read more
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!)
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. Read more