Tag Archives: NCCR Region

Red Cross Offers Safety Tips as Students Head Back to School

The school bells are calling students back to the classroom and the American Red Cross wants to make sure your student is safe as they head back to school.

While safety is a top priority for all students, there are special steps for parents of younger kids and those headed to school for the first time. Make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1. Teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.back-to-school-tw


  • If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Teach your student to board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed them to get on.
  • Kids should board their bus only, never an alternate one.
  • Make sure your student always stays in clear view of the bus driver and never walks behind the bus.


  • If children go to school in a car, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
  • If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not text or make calls use their cell phone and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
  • Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right in the same direction as the traffic is going.
  • When children are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.


Drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.

Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.

PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES Know what the emergency plan is at your child’s school in case a disaster or an unforeseen event occurs. Develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know who to contact and where to go if something happens while children are at school and parents are at work. Details are available at redcross.org/prepare.

TAKE A FIRST AID CLASS The Red Cross First Aid App provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies whether it be before, during or after school. Download the app for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

Inspirational IS training underscores importance of International Humanitarian Law

together-for-humanity_420x279In early June, volunteers and staff of the American Red Cross International Services Division gathered in Orlando, Florida for a two-day training in International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The sessions provided much more than that!

The group was comprised of volunteers with a diversity of backgrounds: from lawyers, to International Red Cross delegates, to retired IHL military lawyers, to JAG officers who had been active in war zones. Taking place on June 1–2, the training focused on the “Rules of Engagement in Armed Conflict,” protection of the most vulnerable in times of war, and forced migration. Additionally, the group discussed best practices for outreach on these subjects.

The training was thoroughly inspiring. The IHL trainers — Randy Bagwell, Noah O’Connor, and Molly Kovite — were outstanding in their knowledge of the material and facilitated lively and inclusive discussions. All three were enthusiastic and supportive of the attendees throughout the training.

The first day included a discussion of why the American Red Cross teaches IHL and an introduction to the Humanity in War materials. The second day included a discussion of best practices in teaching that course and a presentation by DeAndrea Fuller, an expert-level instructor from the North Florida Region. She discussed her presentation of the Humanity in War course at the University of North Florida. In addition to learning from everyone’s wealth of knowledge and experience, we were able to gather new tools for teaching IHL and provide input into developing a relevant outreach program.

The momentum from the training catalyzed a number of ideas. Currently in our Northern California Coastal Region, we have planned a number of ways to bring IHL to volunteers, paid staff, and the public at large. Two International Services boot camps — day-long trainings — have already been conducted with several others scheduled for the remainder of 2019-20. The boot camps cover IHL, Restoring Family Links (RFL), and introduce information about Measles Advocacy, Mapping, and an overview of the Youth Action Campaign (YAC).

To acknowledge the diversity of our community, our boot camp students are encouraged to bring a dish that represents their family heritage to share with classmates during a potluck lunch. Additionally, our regional volunteers will be teaching the Born on the Battlefield course at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the fall. Also, volunteers are now members of the local Human Trafficking Coalition, and we continue to represent Red Cross and the international work we do in local Migrant Forums.

Next spring, a symposium on “Forced Migration, Solutions and Challenges” is envisioned in which the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), International Rescue Committee, ARC representatives, and subject experts will be invited to three-day, three-venue program to be presented in local universities to students and the general public. IS is also interested in reaching out to local law schools to engage them in IHL for Lawyers. As part of our outreach efforts, we are also planning short talks for service clubs.

This fall in the Central Coast we are also creating a monthly discussion group that focuses on current international events and the response of the IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross) and the ICRC.

I’m very grateful that I was recommended by our region to take the training and become certified as an expert-level instructor in IHL. Even more importantly, the training exposed me to the endless possibilities that can occur when minds come together to discuss the significance of including humanity as a necessary element in any formula of war and forced migration.

Email Go Funai or Jill Hofmann to participate in our International Services program.


Leadership Development Camp posts record numbers and attendance

LDC-420x279The American Red Cross Youth Leadership Development Camp for the Northern Californa Coastal Region was held at Camp Butano Creek in Pescadaro on August 5th through 8th. The multi-day camp involves youth throughout the Bay Area in Red Cross activities and provides leadership and learning activities to develop our future leaders.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • 123 campers attended this year representing all four regional chapters – a first for the region!
  • An additional 23 youth staff attended, including seven advisory board youth staff, all of whom worked to plan the camp since December 2018.
  • 146 youth were certified in CPR/First Aid.
  • All participants experienced Community Disaster Education and learned how to install smoke alarms/check their homes for fire safety preparedness.
  • Campers studied the following components of Raid Cross, a role-playing simulation activity that helps students understand the basic rules of International Humanitarian Law:
    • Prisoners of War
    • Militia members making artillery decisions
    • Army Generals making a decision far away from the battles themselves

Always a highlight, Raid Cross introduces many students to unique parts of armed conflict and Red Cross’ involvement in each one.

  • Each student took part in the Diversity program designed to guide youth in understanding privilege. Students took part in a diversity circle to encourage recognition and appreciation of each other’s similarities and differences.

Thank you to all who attended. We hope to see you next year!

Please visit this link to view pictures from the event.

Smoke Alarm Lead Wins Top Award

Marcie Wright-Powell-420x279by Marcia Antipa

Marcie Wright-Powell considers herself an unlikely hero. As with many Red Cross volunteers, Marcie shuns the spotlight. She says, “I really don’t do anything special and certainly a lot less than other volunteers.”

But Marcie could not avoid the accolades this spring, as she was named the 2018 Volunteer of the Year for the American Red Cross of Contra Costa County.

Those who nominated Marcie for this award noted that she is one of those volunteers who does it all: “…being deployed to local disasters, working in shelters, volunteering at the Red Cross Galas, delivering food to our Red Cross shelters, working on our volunteer events committee, and along with everything else she has done, with a can-do attitude, excellent leadership skills, and a true volunteer spirit.”

Now, Marcie is the lead for scheduling all volunteers in the “Sound the Alarm” smoke detector campaign. Marcie’s journey to that role started five years ago. After working as an office manager for 30 years, she joined her husband, Don, in volunteering for the Red Cross. “It’s a challenge, another thing we can do together.”

Their first assignment as a team was with Volunteer and Youth Services, working with high school Red Cross Clubs. “They were very impressive and had all their fundraising plans together.”

Marcie’s next big step was into Disaster Deployment. She worked 12-hour shifts at shelters during several fires in Contra Costa County. She checked fire survivors into the shelter, served food, and found a way to deliver food to another shelter that was cut off by the fire.

During a fire in Clayton, Marcie worked at a shelter at the local library. “One guy came in filthy dirty from work and asked ‘do you guys just have a clean t-shirt I can wear?’” The volunteers found him one. “His son was just thrilled to have pizza and soda and asked if he could read a book from the library.” Marcie said this work gave her a new perspective, that “just having a toothbrush, food, and water” can make a huge difference to a fire survivor.

Marcie also heaps praise on other volunteers, and even the survivors themselves. She noted that the Red Cross partners with Animal Services to help care for pets affected by the fire. “I was really impressed. They bring crates, food, water, leashes, collars. One lady evacuated without her cat. Her neighbor just ran into her house, grabbed her cat, threw it into his car, and brought it to the shelter.”

But Marcie felt she could put her office management skills to better use for the Red Cross. Now she marshals her own army of volunteers, contributing hundreds of hours to the “Sound the Alarm” campaign. She schedules volunteers to install smoke alarms free of charge in clients’ homes and to provide education on fire safety and preparedness.

Marcie has recruited teams of Sound the Alarm volunteers, often husbands and wives, or groups of friends. “My only request is – come up with someone you can work with. Four guys who are in Kiwanis set up their own team and give me four hours a month. They can get five homes done in a day.”

Marcie says people are grateful for the help. She remembers a single mother who had been scared about a fire breaking out in the middle of the night. The team took the time to go over fire safety with her children. “I get emails from people saying, ‘Thank you. Your crew was so professional.’”

And there is a lighter side to her work. Marcie once called an 85-year-old woman to schedule an appointment for the smoke alarm team. “She was pretty much homebound, and very talkative. She said, ‘Now I just have one question for you. I need a man, but he has to drive and he can’t wear a diaper!’”

What will Marcie take on next with the Red Cross? She has an idea she’d like to promote to help volunteers stay engaged. Along with the more formal meetings at Red Cross offices, she asks, “Can we just meet somewhere in a non-business way, and have a cup of coffee with a few people? That’s where ideas come from; not by meeting, but by actually talking.”

With her “true volunteer spirit,” Marcie just might make that happen!

Marcia Antipa is a volunteer writer with the Northern California Coastal Region.

Celebrating our amazing 2018-2019 AmeriCorps team members!


Pictured are the regional AmeriCorps workers who were in San Jose on July 25 for a celebration of their capstone projects. (Photo: Cynthia Shaw)

Each fall, a new class of AmeriCorps workers becomes a critical part of the American Red Cross, supporting offices and staffing teams in regions throughout the country. It’s a union that benefits both the workers and the Red Cross: The AmeriCorps employees gain valuable on-the-job experience, while the Red Cross is the recipient of the workers’ key support, ideas, and energy.

The value of the AmeriCorps/Red Cross partnership was especially evident at a recent end-of-year celebration, honoring the tremendous work done in 2018–19 by the AmeriCorps employees of the Northern California Coastal Region (NCCR). The celebration, during which each of the workers described his or her “capstone project” for the past year, took place on July 25 at the Silicon Valley Chapter in San Jose.

Delaram “Deli” Mehrkish was just one of the dozen AmeriCorps workers who were — very deservedly — saluted that day.

Working out of the region’s San Jose office, Mehrkish described how she, Gurpreet Lally, and Timothy Fader designed a “Prepare Your Club” capstone project that trained leaders of area youth clubs in the principles of the Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign — and in the process, encouraged the club members to inspect their own homes for emergency preparedness.

“Because of our project, the Red Cross was able to reach an additional 44 homes in Santa Clara County, ensuring that the residents of those homes had working smoke alarms and were educated in emergency preparedness,” Mehrkish says. “It was so successful that, with the efforts and momentum of our youth volunteers, we hope to make this a permanent youth-led project here in Santa Clara County.”

Mehrkish, shown in the accompanying photo (front row, second from left), is quick to say that AmeriCorps workers like her get as much from the Red Cross experience as they give. “Working for a nonprofit such as the Red Cross has given me so much fulfillment,” she says. “Not only have I gained professional skills and wisdom to help me in my future career, but I have also met the most incredible volunteers and employees, and I feel like I belong to a whole new community.”

Mehrkish, whose AmeriCorps term ends on August 23, adds that she will always cherish her year with the Red Cross. “I feel indebted to the people who showed me so much compassion from day one,” she says, giving an extra nod of appreciation to staff members she interacted with regularly in the Silicon Valley Chapter office: Jonathan Bernier, Nikki Rowe, and Romina Cervantes. “I am now a better person because of the experience.”

Allie Parker, who along with Bernier are the NCCR Volunteer & Youth Services employees who coordinate the region’s AmeriCorps program, says the members of this year’s AmeriCorps workforce provided key support — on a daily basis — in almost every line of service. “And, with their capstone projects, they imagined, created, and implemented initiatives that really augmented our operation,” Parker says. “We are so grateful for their effort and impact.”

Here is a list of all of our region’s amazing AmeriCorps 2018-19 team members, as well as a brief description of the capstone projects they undertook during the past year:

Cameron Soon, Regional Preparedness Coordinator
Project: GIS Mapping for Home Fire Campaign activities — Cameron created a GIS training for volunteers and staff to be able to utilize mapping while planning for “Sound the Alarm” events. By using GIS to plan their Sound the Alarm home visits, teams can factor in high fire-risk areas, previous Disaster Action Team calls, and more.

Danielle Halprin, International Services & Service to the Armed Forces Coordinator
Project: Consulate Engagement — Danielle worked to reach out to 40+ international consulates in our region in an effort to build partnerships with the current national delegates who are stationed in our region representing their nations. These partnerships also help the consulates stay up to date on Red Cross offering. Halprin even taught a few disaster preparedness classes to consulate employees.

Darren Adams, Disaster Services Coordinator (Alameda County)
Project: Shelter Management Decision-Making Tool
Darren built an Excel tool that allows teams to input all shelter data from the National Shelter System (NSS) and filter by immediate need when opening a shelter. His tool considers variables such as shelter location, population size, accessibility, etc. The tool will allow teams to better utilize our shelter partnership database while considering the immediate needs for a shelter.

Deli Mehrkish, Gurpreet Lally, and Timothy Fader, Youth Services Coordinators (San Jose)
Project: Prepare Your Club Initiative — This trio worked to ensure that not only are our youth volunteers educated in fire safety, but that their own homes are actually prepared as well. By leveraging youth executive boards, the group was able to encourage youth volunteers to do a fire-education safety check, including checking for working smoke alarms. If the youth found that they did not have working smoke detectors, they filled out a form, and a local “Sound the Alarm” team scheduled a home visit. Through this program, we were able to have youth better prepare dozens of their own households.

Hannah Christen, Disaster Services Coordinator (Humboldt)
Project: Disaster Action Team Resources Guide, including pocket resource guides, local services, and lodging information — Hannah created a local resources binder for Disaster Action Team volunteers in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. This includes updated maps, partner agency contacts, and tips and tricks for new volunteers on the DAT team.

Gwynn Domecq, Youth Services Coordinator (Oakland), and Steven Rolon, Youth Services Coordinator (San Francisco)
Project: Volunteer Relations Training for Lead Volunteers and Staff — Gwynn and Steven created two trainings for volunteer relations. The first is an onboarding training for new volunteers on the Volunteer Relations Team; this training gives a detailed overview of the Volunteer Relations process, the various roles and responsibilities, and includes a table-top exercise. The second training is designed to help volunteer supervisors better understand the Volunteer Relations process as well as provide tips and tricks on how to engage in helpful conversations that prevent challenging interactions from escalating into difficult cases.

Hannah Tarling, Disaster Services Coordinator (Santa Clara County)
Project: Starting-a-DR Job Tools for Santa Clara County — Hannah created various job tools designed to help volunteers and staff launch a Disaster Relief Operation out of the Silicon Valley Chapter. These tools include information on how to access the building after hours, vehicle maintenance, and how to create an initial staffing pattern.

Jessica Gregory, Volunteer & Youth Services Coordinator (Sonoma County)
Project: Academic Service-Learning Framework for Youth Volunteer Service — Jessica built a framework for establishing an Academic Service Learning Program with high schools or universities. This included a template MOU, onboarding tools for supervisors, and initial projects with which the volunteers could help.

Kat Vincent, Youth Services Coordinator (Oakland)
Project: Internship Program — Kat created an internship request, recruitment, and placement process to ensure that our region is aligned with national Red Cross policies. She was able to recruit and place over 10 summer interns in four different offices and four different departments.

Katie Glockner, Regional Workforce Engagement Coordinator
Project: Disaster Health Services Shelter Handbook — Katie worked alongside the Divisional Health Services lead to gain input for local DHS volunteers on the new shelter protocols. This also included updating all of our regional sheltering kits with the new information as well as equipping our region’s DHS volunteers with this knowledge as they deploy out of region.



Discovering an Unlikely Passion

Pamela Ingram 420x279

Pamela Ingram accepts her award from Debbie Yee, Senior Disaster Program Manager.

Like many empty nesters, Pamela Ingram, 58, was at a crossroads a few years ago when her son left home to attend college.

A former stay-at-home mom and mortgage underwriter, Pamela wanted to re-enter the workforce. So she joined a job skills training program and was assigned to a front desk position at the Red Cross in Fairfield, Calif.

“I really didn’t know much about the Red Cross when I started,” recalls Pamela, whose responsibilities included answering the phones and providing basic office support. “I just thought the Red Cross responded to national emergencies.”

But the more time Pamela spent volunteering, the more interested she became in local humanitarian work. “I would hear what the volunteers were doing and how they were helping people, and it really fascinated me,” says Pamela. Little by little, she decided to get more involved.

With encouragement from a co-worker, Pamela completed training to become a Red Cross caseworker and joined the Disaster Action Team (DAT). 

Her first deployment was to Guerneville, Calif. where she spent three days interviewing flood victims. “It was cold, it was rainy, and we didn’t have a building to work out of, but it was gratifying to be able to help people who had lost everything,” she says.

During the recent California wildfires, she provided administrative support and logistical assistance from the Fairfield office to volunteers deployed to the fires.

“It gave me such a different outlook on our volunteers,” she says. “They didn’t get paid, and they didn’t complain. It was just amazing to see how hard they worked.”

Participants in the job skills training program receive new assignments every six months, but Pamela has chosen to stay at the Red Cross. She loves her position and feels invigorated by the work. “I always wanted to directly help people, and I never knew how I could do it,” she says. “Now, I feel like I can.”

In April, Pamela was recognized for her commitment to the Red Cross by being named Solano County’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year. The award was presented at the Bay Area Chapter’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner in Vallejo.

“It was such an honor,” says Pamela, who attended the event with her 22-year-old son, a student at San Francisco State. “I can truly say that since becoming a Red Cross volunteer, I am more compassionate and empathetic – a better person.”

Arianne Aryanpur is a volunteer writer with the Northern California Coastal Region.


Even though spring has passed, it’s still ‘Sound the Alarm’ season


New Regional CEO Jennifer Adrio joined Silicon Valley Chapter CEO Ken Toren, more than 100 chapter volunteers, and partner teams at a very successful Sound the Alarm event earlier this month in San Jose. (Photo: Camilla Boolootian)

On average, home fires kill 7 people and injure another 36 — every single day in the United States. That’s why the American Red Cross launched its nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014 with the goal of reducing the number of home fire deaths and injuries.

A key component of the campaign is a series of Sound the Alarm – Save a Life smoke alarm installation events in which Red Cross volunteers, working with local fire departments and other partners, visit high-risk neighborhoods to offer to install free 10-year smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, and help families create escape plans. It is believed that the Sound the Alarm neighborhood visits, in which more than 1.5 million alarms have been installed, have already saved more than 600 lives throughout the United States since the Home Fire Campaign began.

Teams throughout the American Red Cross’s Northern California Coastal Region were especially busy in April and May, organizing and holding a large number of Sound the Alarm “signature events.” These events were part of a special spring push that American Red Cross volunteers and our partners were making nationally from April 27 through May 12. The goal of this national effort was to install 100,000 smoke alarms during that three-weekend period.

But, while the spring push was successfully completed, Sound the Alarm teams in our region have continued their home visits in June and July. Here’s a brief rundown of those recent STA activities:

  • On June 20, 12 team members from the Central Coast Chapter installed 49 smoke alarms in 22 homes in Cachagua, a community located in a remote area of Carmel Valley. The work, which focused on two mobile-home communities, made 61 people safer. See photo of this event.
  • On July 20, more than 115 volunteers from the Silicon Valley Chapter and volunteer teams from our corporate and community partners installed 269 smoke alarms in 76 homes in the Eastridge Estates Community in San Jose. The effort made 309 residents safer. See story and photos of this event.
  • On July 27, 14 volunteers from the California Northwest Chapter installed 48 smoke alarms in 37 homes in the Napa Valley Mobile Home Park in Napa.
  • On July 27, teams in the Central Coast Chapter installed 184 smoke alarms in 65 homes in the city of Salinas, making 264 residents safer. See advance press release and photo from the event.

In addition to these larger Sound the Alarm events, Red Cross teams have also continued work throughout our region, installing free smoke alarms and conducting educational visits to individual homes on an appointment basis.



•  Supporting our ‘Sound the Alarm’ home visits: This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from our national partners: Airbnb, Delta, and Nissan; and our regional partners: Pacific Gas and Electric Company, CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer, Dignity Health, Linden Root Dickinson Foundation, Camille McCormack, State Farm, John and Marcia Goldman Foundation, Karen Turner Sanford, and Veritas.

•  Thanks also to our amazing volunteers and partners, who are making our region’s contributions to this national Red Cross campaign so successful!

•  Related stories:

•  Support our region’s STA efforts: You can still participate in and support our Home Fire Campaign efforts by going to this web page.

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