“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
On a hot, windy Thursday in late August, the Corbin family of Morgan Hill got a cellphone alert: an evacuation warning, telling them to get ready to leave their home. Firefighters said the SCU Lightning Complex Fire threatened their community.
Bill Corbin realized the threat was serious.
“The wind was blowing southeast,” says Bill. “If it was to pick up, we would definitely be in danger.” Read more
Preparing to assemble re-entry kits for fire evacuees returning home, Casey Affleck is briefed by Michele Averill, CEO for the Central Coast Chapter (right), and Kerrin Welsh, Regional Preparedness Manager, in a warehouse in the community of Aromas. (Photo by Brian Nichols) _____
As a long-time Red Cross volunteer and disaster responder, I have seen first-hand the impact disasters have on individuals, families, first responders, and entire communities. Although the resulting devastation and loss are unbearable, natural disasters can also bring out the very best in people who step forward to help in any way possible.
Academy Award-winning actor Casey Affleck and his friend Brian Nichols were two such people, wanting to provide assistance during the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Read more
American Red Cross Volunteer, Anne Johnson, calls Fairbanks, Alaska home, but this year, she has found herself all around California – virtually that is. Anne is a recovery casework volunteer and spends her days calling people impacted by wildfires to offer Red Cross support services. In addition to resources, Anne also spends long hours on the phone, offering one invaluable service: connection.
“I was nervous about virtual deployment,” Anne says. “How do you offer something long distance from Alaska?” Yet, she quickly figured it out. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people apart, Anne realized that people desired a personal connection and to be heard. Something struck her during a recent conversation with a Red Cross client. “This one really hit me,” Anne said, and she knew she had to do something more.
Dennis Patterson’s first love is playing music, but his second is helping others, so he was “blown away” by the American Red Cross’ response to the California Wildfires.
A Santa Cruz local since 1952, 72-year old Dennis, and many in his small community of Ben Lomond, didn’t realize the size of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, which to-date has consumed more than 86,000 acres. Dennis was already overwhelmed and in shock from a horizontal tornado that days earlier, had swept through his neck of the woods, knocking a 100-foot Sycamore tree onto his tiny house. “I can’t describe it. I couldn’t even breathe when I got out the door,” Dennis told friends who came to help at daylight.
Rebecca Taylor-Ford and husband, Joe, at the Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade in 2016. _____
Rebecca Taylor-Ford recently began her second year in service as Board Chair for the North Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross. She stepped into the role in 2019 after several years of volunteering for the Red Cross in various capacities. According to her peers, she leads with a light touch and a self-assuredness that are well-earned from personal and professional experience.
It turns out that Rebecca was also once a Red Cross client.
In 2014, Rebecca and her family survived a house fire that destroyed their home. When the Red Cross showed up, a team member helped walk the family through immediate and long-term recovery, one step at a time.