Central Coast Chapter Volunteer of the Year Megan Erk says love of community led her to the American Red Cross
By Marcia Antipa
“Showing kindness and getting help to people that need it without regard to anything else – that is how I was brought up.”
Megan Erk – the Volunteer of the Year for the Central Coast Chapter – credits her father for inspiring her dedication to the community. He was a military man who brought his daughter along on volunteer projects.
“I kind of grew up in that environment where people just volunteered in the community to help out.”
Now Megan is taking on multiple roles with the American Red Cross. From hurricanes to wildfires, from blood drives to blog articles, Central Coast Chapter CEO Michele Averill says Megan has more than earned her award.
American Red Cross Sound the Alarm Day of Action on May 8 was a success!
Most of us don’t realize we have just two minutes to escape a home fire. That’s why the American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region prepared families to act quickly through the Home Fire Campaign.
Joining a national effort to educate 100,000 people about home fire safety this spring, local Red Cross volunteers met virtually with families to review fire safety steps for their household.
On May 8, local first responders, Concord Police Department , CERT Ready volunteers and the Red Cross met with residents of the Clayton Villa Apartments in Concord to go over home fire prevention and safety training. Then everyone gathered in the courtyard for a hands-on demonstration of how to safely use a fire extinguisher. Twenty four apartment homes were made safer thanks to the Sound the Alarm training!
“On average, home fires kill seven people every single day in the U.S.,” said Kerrin Welsh, Regional Preparedness Manager for the American Red Cross. “That is why it is so important for families to have critical preparedness conversations like those offered through Sound the Alarm.”
Also on May 8, a signature event took place in District 4 of San Jose, featuring special remarks by Silicon Valley Chapter Executive Director Ken Toren, San Jose Fire Department Fire Captain Bien Doan and San Jose District 4 Councilmember David Cohen.
“Every second counts when there’s a home fire,” said Ken Toren, Executive Director for the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. “As families spend more time at home during the pandemic, it’s critical that we help our neighbors protect themselves from these everyday disasters.”
913 Homes in the Northern California Coastal Region have been made safer by the Red Cross this year; 324 of these homes were made safer in April and May.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE Every second counts when there’s a home fire. Help protect your family against home fires by taking two simple steps: Practice your two-minute escape drill and test your smoke alarms monthly.
Create an escape plan with at least two ways to exit every room in your home. Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows to meet.
Practice your escape plan until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes.
Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Change the batteries at least once a year if your model requires it.
Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they likely need to be replaced. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.
This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from regional partners: Pacific Gas and Electric Company, E. & J. Gallo Winery and CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer. Visit SoundtheAlarm.org for more information.
The author surveys damage from the Glass Fire during her two-week deployment. (Photo courtesy of Mariana Vimbela) _____
As is seemingly the case with every disaster deployment, there was plenty for me and other Red Crossers to learn while taking part in the organization’s humanitarian response to the Glass Fire in Northern California this past October. During this particular deployment, I was regularly reminded of the importance of making connections in the affected communities in order to maximize our relief and recovery efforts. Read more
Since mid-August, when many of the wildfires described below started in our region, we have been updating this post on a regular basis. Now that most of our efforts are focused on helping residents as part of the recovery phase of these Red Cross responses, we will only update this post if future circumstances warrant.
Please see the information below that summarizes all of the great work our volunteers, employees, and partners have done to support our communities. We are also so appreciative of the donors whose generosity makes our work possible.
Background: The lightning storms that swept through our Northern California Coastal Region in mid-August caused a number of large and destructive fires in our chapter areas, prompting quick responses by our region’s Red Cross teams. Other fires subsequently started in our region in September, including the Glass Fire in Napa and Sonoma Counties.
Working alongside our government and community partners, Red Cross teams — comprising responders from inside and outside our region — have provided shelter, food, and comfort to the many residents impacted by these wildfires. Read more
Having returned home after their Glass Fire evacuation, a Santa Rosa couple shares their Red Cross story
By Dave Skutnik
Red Cross disaster worker Leigh Elliott is shown with Ila and Mike Ervin at the Ervin’s Santa Rosa area home following the Glass Fire. _____
As flames from the dangerous Glass Fire roared toward them, Mike and Ila Ervin — like so many on the night of September 27 — were forced to flee their rural home near the Northern California city of Santa Rosa.
“The sheriff came around and said we had to get out,” recalls Mike. “There was barely any time to even pack anything. We had to go — now.” Read more
“The level of coordination and care was outstanding,” Esalen Institute’s Terry Gilbey said of the Red Cross response to the Dolan Fire. (Photo by Jens Wazel) _____
Founded in the 1960s in picturesque Big Sur, the Esalen Institute has a well-earned reputation for exploring human consciousness and developing human potential. The center attracts visitors from around the world whose interests in subjects such as personal growth, meditation, massage, yoga, and spirituality are explored less seriously by traditional universities and religions.
Terry Gilbey, the General Manager/CEO, has been with the institute since 2016. Just a year into his tenure, he helped the center stay afloat after landslides and a bridge failure made the facility inaccessible for many months. So the institute — and Terry — has had some practice with disasters. Read more