Tag Archives: Partners

Volunteer’s heartfelt note inspires us this holiday season

During this time of year, when we remember the special people in our lives, it’s impossible to overlook the amazing work of the many volunteers who are at the heart of everything we do in the American Red Cross.

Dwayne Taaffe is one such volunteer, supporting our Central Coast Chapter’s Disaster Action Team. Following an early-morning response this week in which Dwayne and other members of our team provided “canteening” services to firefighters responding to an industrial fire in Salinas, Dwayne sent me the following email in response to a quick thank-you note.

He gave me permission to share his note with you all. I hope you find it to be as inspirational as I did this holiday season.



The Central Coast Chapter’s DAT team provided “canteening” support for the emergency responders at a fire in the industrial area of Salinas early Monday morning. In addition to Dwayne Taaffe, team members Dan Kemper, Tom Wiley, Jamshid Kiani, and Christine Brown responded to the 2 a.m. call to the Red Cross for hydration and feeding support. (Photo: Dan Kemper)

As many know, I am older, and one of the things I really enjoy is watching Hallmark Christmas stories (movies, if you will). Today I watched one that really caused me to think: Where can I serve during Christmas to give something back? Soup kitchen (Dorothy’s, the Rescue Mission, etc.) or someplace else that would fit into my schedule with my traveling and all to visit family. I realized I am already helping with that in volunteering with the Red Cross! It is not much, but I have found that every little bit we do helps.

The greatest joy of last night was the gratitude and thanks from each of the firefighters that had responded to the fire. They all, every one of them, came up to us and thanked us for what we do. That was nice. It wasn’t just the words, but the real feeling of thanks that they really meant it. From the two Battalion chiefs present to the newest firefighter. It truly was a pleasure to serve these folks that had already been there for hours.

On a side note, one of the firefighters present was retiring. Last night was his last night on the job.

I don’t know if it is said, and probably not often enough, but a huge thank you goes out to Patsy [Gasca, Disaster Program Manager for the Central Coast Chapter] and also to you for all of your generous support, assistance and general kindness. I have never felt so much like “family” (excepting when I am with my adult children and their families) as I have when I am with my Red Cross family. Everyone has always made me feel welcome, useful and a real part of an amazing group of people.


The kindness and caring shown by volunteers like Dwayne Taaffe, pictured here at this month’s Central Coast Chapter holiday party for volunteers, would make Santa proud. (Photo: Virginia and Albert Becker)

Thank you, and thank you all again.

I also want to take the time to wish you, your family and all of my friends and co-servers at the Red Cross a wonderful and Merry Christmas (or whichever Holiday you celebrate), and may peace and great joy be yours throughout the new year. 2020 will be great!

With great gratitude,

Dwayne G. Taaffe,

For 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.

Read more

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:


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.


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

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:


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.

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:


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

Over half of homes in Silver Creek Mobile Estates made safer by ‘Sound the Alarm’ event

On October 19, 2019, a team of over 100 American Red Cross and Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers supported by Council Member for District 7, Maya Esparza, San Jose Fire Department worked in teams to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

STA SVC 420x280

The Silver Creek Mobile Estates is a community of 240 homes located in San Jose, California. Captain Bien Doan of the San Jose Fire Department working with Terry Unter, Disaster Services Volunteer at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Red Cross, directed a coordinated campaign to canvass the community and pre-book Saturday morning appointments for the installations. Following the installation, everyone regrouped for lunch: subs from Lee’s Sandwiches.

Volunteers were greeted with welcoming remarks from Council Member Esparza and San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien, Jr. Chief Sapien stressed how important this work was to the safety of citizens of San Jose and recalled an incident in August where a mobile home resident was awakened by a smoke detector and was able to safely evacuate the home along with the other resident living there; that smoke detector had been installed in February 2019 during an earlier Sound the Alarm event.

STA SVC Blog 420x280 2Initial training was provided by Terry Unter, Liz Dietz, and Doug Moses-Batson. After instruction on how to install smoke alarms and provide training to residents, teams of four were deployed to visit the homes in the community. Each team was composed of an Educator, an Installer, an Assistant Installer, and a Documenter.

Read more

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