Tag Archives: Regional

For almost 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.

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Red Cross welcomes a growing partnership with Corazón Healdsburg

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:

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Corazon Healdsburg bilingual volunteers (left) Norma Gomez and Luisa Fernandez-Palacios staff a desk inside the evacuation shelter at the Sonoma County Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa on Oct. 30. Photo credit: American Red Cross|Barbara Wood

Local nonprofit and Red Cross partner Corazón Healdsburg offered a crucial point of contact for Latinx families during the Kincade Fire. The organization staffed Red Cross shelters in Sonoma and Marin counties with bilingual volunteers. They met with displaced Spanish-speaking families or those who were adversely affected. For some, it was the only point of contact with whom they felt comfortable.

Since 2016, Corazón Healdsburg has worked diligently in the Latinx community to create resources and a safety net for low-income families to thrive. Their programs range from financial literacy to first-generation college counseling. So when disaster struck, many in the community already knew where to go: The Healdsburg Community Center.

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After years of direct service to clients, Lorraine Jacobs now trains other volunteers

lorraine-jacobs_420x279Earlier this year, American Red Cross volunteer Lorraine Jacobs received the 2019 Clara Barton Award given by the Central Coast Chapter. Named after the organization’s founder, the award honors a volunteer for service in Red Cross leadership positions over many years. In Lorraine’s case, one look at her Red Cross resume makes it clear why she received the prestigious award.

Beginning with a deployment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Lorraine has exemplified outstanding service through her work with the Central Coast Chapter, our region, and beyond. She has devoted her time and care through long-distance deployment in shelters, training, information and planning, fundraising, and Volunteer Management. Lorraine, who has supported Red Cross staff and clients as both a full-fledged volunteer and employee, is currently volunteering as part of the regional Workforce Team.

Before beginning her Red Cross service in response to Katrina, Lorraine first came in contact with the organization following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. When the destructive quake caused significant damage to her and her family’s Soquel area home, Lorraine remembers the Red Cross sharing resources to help them with short-term rental expenses. The memory of that support has stayed with Lorraine in the years since, motivating her to continue to help people facing similar devastation and displacement.

In the following Q&A, Lorraine discusses those and other Red Cross experiences, what inspires her to respond to those in need, and what motivates her now to encourage other volunteers to do the same.

What inspired you to start volunteering with the Red Cross?

I began my work with Red Cross as a volunteer in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. The images of the devastation, scope of the disaster, and the need for volunteers coincided with my ability to deploy at that time in my life. From a young age, I had volunteered for humanitarian causes. So the Red Cross work felt like a good fit.

What lines of service have you participated in?

In the Hurricane Katrina disaster response, I began working in a shelter and continued on to what is now called Recovery. During subsequent deployments, I worked in Information & Planning, Logistics, Staffing, Training, ERV driving, and continued with Recovery. My concentration now is on Training, and I really enjoy it.

What are some of the more challenging and uplifting moments you’ve experienced in your various roles with the Red Cross?

My experience has helped me hone my listening skills. After 14 years of Red Cross work, I am not done developing this skill. But I see it more as an opportunity for growth rather than a challenge.

My work with our clients, with people who have been affected by disasters, has also been both challenging and rewarding. The losses our clients sustain are sometimes life-changing. The challenge has been trying to figure out how I can best work with a client and help him or her move through the maze of other agencies set up to help. The reward is less simple to articulate. In fact, it is somewhat indescribable for me. When I listen to a client’s story, or help a person through difficulty, it translates to a feeling of hope. I really believe that connecting with and understanding others builds a network of common ground for shaping our future.

These days my work is more in the area of preparing other volunteers. After working in many other areas of Red Cross, I feel my skills now are best utilized in the facilitation of disaster training at Red Cross. I treasure the Principles, Values, and Mission Statement of Red Cross. Our learning platforms support these well. The opportunity exists to help volunteers find their way in our large organization by facilitating an understanding of how the Red Cross mission translates into care for others.

It is so uplifting to see volunteers progress through training and their disaster-response experiences, learn how to do the best job possible helping meet clients’ needs, and — in the process — learn a lot more about themselves.

What advice would you give people interested in volunteering with the Red Cross

There are several things I would recommend prospective volunteers do. I would recommend they start by educating themselves by utilizing Red Cross classes to choose a starting place. I think it can be very helpful to find a mentor in their chosen field. Listening to experienced volunteers and staff members is also an important step. I also always tell prospective volunteers to be flexible, as Red Cross disaster work often happens in real-time under pressure. And last but not least, I advise people to regularly re-evaluate how the work is going for them. The Red Cross is a big organization with a lot of different opportunities for service.

What does being a recipient of the Clara Barton Award mean to you?

As this award is in recognition of Red Cross work I have done for many years, receiving it from my local chapter is a particularly great honor. I am more appreciative of it than I can say.

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Become a Red Cross Volunteer: You can make a difference in Monterey, San Benito, or Santa Cruz County by becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Volunteers constitute about 94 percent of the total Red Cross workforce to carry out our humanitarian work. Red Cross volunteers are trained to meet the needs of those affected by disasters, providing food, shelter, and comfort for families affected by major disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes as well as helping local residents prepare for and recover from emergencies of all kinds. We’ll find the position that appeals to you and allows you to use your skills and talents. Email VolunteerCCC@redcross.org to get started.

About the Author: Fleur Williams is a volunteer writer for the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross. A resident of Aptos, Fleur is a freelance writer with a focus on the arts, culture, and humanity.

10 Thanksgiving Cooking Safety Tips

12247789_10153860603581062_7286985740738901151_o.jpgDid you know that more home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year?

In fact, this year, an American Red Cross survey showed that about 70 percent of people have left the kitchen while cooking on the stove.

Because of this, the Red Cross is urging everyone to brush up on these home fire prevention steps prior to the holiday, so they can enjoy their Thanksgiving feast safely.

  1. Clean and clear the area around the stove before turning on the heat.
  2. Move items that can burn away from the stove. These include towels, bags, boxes, paper, and curtains.
  3. Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  4. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
  5. Turn pot handles to the back of the stove, so no one bumps them or pulls them over.
  6. Fires can start when the heat is too high. When frying food, turn the burner off if you see smoke or if the grease starts to boil. Carefully remove the pan from the burner.
  7. Keep a pan lid or a cookie sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire. This will put out the fire. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  8. Keep an eye on what you fry. Stay in the kitchen and never leave cooking food unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
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  9. Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  10. Check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to ensure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.

The Red Cross also advises people to test their smoke alarms and practice their home fire escape plan until everyone in their household can get out in two minutes or less. Visit redcross.org/homefires for more information and free resources, or download the free Red Cross Emergency App (search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps).

Red Cross was there when she needed it says woman whose home burned in fire

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:

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KerryAnn Laufer, who lost her home on Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg during the Kincade Fire, says she doesn’t know what she would have done without the help of the Red Cross after the fire. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross/Barbara Wood)
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KerryAnn Laufer lost her home in the Kincade Fire, but she says her experience with the American Red Cross at the Local Assistance Center in Healdsburg on Nov. 5 helped her when she needed it the most.

“I’m so grateful for the Red Cross. You guys bailed me out when I wasn’t in a good place there,” she said of her visit to the assistance center. She arrived shaken after having seen the long line of people seeking help in the parking lot of the Healdsburg Community Center.

“What has been a big emotional piece of this for me has been the scale of it,” she said. That the fire had left many people in need “was very apparent in the parking lot,” she said. “It rattles me, even more than my personal loss.”

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Local Red Cross volunteers help others while evacuated from their own homes

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:

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American Red Cross volunteers Vince and Robin Dieter worked on logistics and transportation and staffing for the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire even as they were evacuated from their own home in Windsor by the fire, which came within blocks of their home. Photo credit: American Red Cross

While more than 400 Red Cross workers eventually helped with the response to the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, many local volunteers who were evacuated from their own homes worked tirelessly on an effort that allowed more than 6,500 evacuees to stay in Red Cross and community shelters even while the Red Cross workers were unsure what had happened to their own homes.

Among the many local Red Cross volunteers who had been evacuated were Windsor residents Vince (logistics and transportation) and Robin Dieter (staffing), and Jeff Fleisher (logistics and facilities).

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Former volunteer applies Red Cross lessons to loss of her home to wildfire

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:

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Former Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteer Jeanne Sternbergh (l) and her husband Jim (r), who lost their home in the Kincade Fire reconnect with old Red Cross friend Cindy Jones at the Local Assistance Center in the Healdsburg Community Center on Nov. 4. See more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire. See photos from this response.

Jeanne Sternbergh spent many years as a Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, responding countless times to help Sonoma County residents displaced by home fires. Now she’s helping herself.

Sternbergh and her husband Jim lost their home off Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg, California to the Kincade Fire.

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