Tag Archives: Donors

A surprise phone call: one woman’s American Red Cross story

By Marcia Antipa

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Abby and son, Carl, in 1967.
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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.”

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Paying it forward

arc 420x279On 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.

A Legacy of Compassion

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The logo for Magen David Odom, Israel’s delegate of the International Red Cross.

Yesterday, January 27, 2020, marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Both Helen and Sam Tramiel (Trzmiel) survived the camp and transferred to displaced person camps in Germany. Before they met, Helen and Sam both received aid from the International Red Cross, and then together – after the war – they received Red Cross assistance again in the United States.

Jack died in 2012, and Helen followed in May 2019, but not before they left $500,000 to the Red Cross in their wills.

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Salesforce employee shares collaborative talents with Red Cross

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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Chris Reese, shown at the Red Cross shelter in Petaluma last week, was also interviewed for this video about the partnership between the Red Cross and Salesforce. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)
See more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire.
See photos from this response.

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Two years ago, Chris Reese decided to shift gears, leaving the technology company that had employed him so he could pursue a better work-life balance. “I embarked on a year of service,” he said, smiling.

It was also a year that introduced Chris to the American Red Cross. Read more

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

This Red Cross shelter is just what this trio — and hundreds of others here — have so desperately needed

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

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Jim Armstrong (left), Luke Armstrong, and Cynthia Jackson are grateful for the “open-armed” reception they and others have received at a Red Cross shelter in Petaluma. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here.
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It’s fair to say that Jim and Luke Armstrong, a father-son pair who both live in the North Bay community of Sebastopol, have a well-honed habit of looking out for each other. So when mandatory evacuation orders came to their respective neighborhoods in the dark of Sunday morning, they quite naturally left town together in search of alternative housing.

With upwards of 200,000 other people getting similar orders related to the Kincade Fire, the Armstrongs couldn’t find any. Read more

Red Cross shelters in North Bay are people AND pet friendly

This is the first of a series of stories we will be posting related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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The Red Cross and community shelters have been people- and pet-friendly, as Debbie Chiurco and “Shorty” happily discovered. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)

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

Debbie Chiurco, a resident of the Sonoma County city of Sebastopol, had never been through an evacuation before. But her status suddenly changed when she received a leave-now order on her cell phone at 4 a.m. on Sunday. The emergency notification was soon followed up by police sirens and the knocking of caring neighbors, all reaching out to convey the same thing: The high winds that were forecast in Northern California would put Debbie at risk from the Kincade Fire; she should leave now!

With her dog and cat accompanying her, Debbie made it to a shelter the Red Cross is helping operate at the fairgrounds in Petaluma. “I just followed the cars here,” she said. Read more

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