Narrated to Lawrence D. Dietz, Public Affairs Officer, Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region
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).
Lisa Ann’s core U.S. roles and responsibilities for SAF in the Northern California Coastal Region of the Red Cross are Follow-up Casework, Military Treatment Facility (MTF) programs, including Licensed Medical Volunteer placement, and Military Entrance Processing Station Briefing program management.
As for deployments, Red Cross SAF Mobile Staff are assembled into rotating deployment teams from Continental US and Outside Continental U.S. Red Cross regions for a six-month mission. Lisa Ann, with her eight colleagues, were known as Team 44.
“I see my job as being in customer service,” says Melissa Kaplan.
That is putting it mildly. Since Melissa joined the Red Cross in 2006, she has become one of the most dedicated and essential volunteers in the Northern California Coastal Region. She volunteers more than 1,200 hours a year and has performed multiple jobs in her 15 years with the Red Cross.
Fellow volunteer Angela Thompson Hunt nominated Melissa for the Gene Beck Award, named for the long-time volunteer and board member.
“She has worked tirelessly for Red Cross for such a long time and all those behind-the-scenes tasks that let other people make progress. I would not have been able to do the kind of work I’ve done if she wasn’t there with me, backing me up.“
Penny Mount likes to have her hands full of projects and people for whom she cares. During a recent phone chat to talk about compassion calls she made on behalf of the American Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program, she was also looking after her 11-month-old great-granddaughter, Jolene. “She’s headstrong, just like her mother,” Penny says. By the end of that same call, Jolene had “creatively decorated herself” and Penny’s counter with her lunch. “Her mother’s not going to be too happy with me,” Penny chuckled.
And that’s just how it is with Penny: breezy, light and full of gratitude.
The compassion calls were part of SAF’s month of service this past February. Volunteers from across the Northern California Coastal Region placed calls to the nearly 3,000 families served by SAF in the last 18 months. They checked on the families’ health and welfare and extended a hand of assistance should any be needed. The purpose was to deliver the Red Cross mission of providing care and comfort to service members, veterans and military families.
And this Clara Barton Award recipient wouldn’t have it any other way
San Jose resident Liz Dietz has been a dedicated Red Crosser for 40 years, supporting community members and colleagues alike with a tireless commitment to our mission. (Photo by Larry Dietz) _____
Liz Dietz’s work for the American Red Cross — in health services, supporting people affected by disasters large and small; advocating for the needs of military members, veterans, and their families; staffing a regional first-aid team that for years supported major events; and so much more — speaks for itself.
It almost has to, given the challenge of getting Liz to lend her own words to a description of her decades of impactful volunteer work for the Red Cross. Read more
SAF Director Go Funai, Kathleen Lenihan, Marilyn Byington, Leeann Woodward, and Julianna Jaynes deliver comfort kits to the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Photo: Nanette Shamieh | American Red Cross _____
The Covid-19 pandemic has hampered more than a few activities, but it has also spawned a number of opportunities. For example, shelter in place orders forced the canceling of several stand downs. A stand down is an event hosted for veterans where they can avail themselves of a variety of resources in one place. Resources include medical and dental treatment as well as haircuts in a safe and secure temporary environment.
Each veteran attending receives a comfort kit. These kits typically include a toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, shaving cream, razor, shampoo, etc. According to Kathleen Lenihan, a retired Army Officer and Service to Armed Forces volunteer, “Walmart and other generous partners donate money, goods or make the kits.”
And with the cancellation of stand downs, a number of kits that were going unused.
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.”