Tag Archives: Regional

Red Cross Certificate of Merit presented to Cupertino Resident and volunteer for using training skills to save a life

On September 9, 2019, Stuart Chessen, trained in American Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED, helped to save the life of a gentleman who had experienced a seizure on the sidewalk outside the American Red Cross office in San Francisco, CA. Stuart, a Cupertino resident, was teaching a class of students lifesaving skills when suddenly a bystander ran into the building alerting a gentleman was in distress. Stuart exited the classroom and found a gentleman on the sidewalk.  Stuart quickly assessed the situation and placed a jacket under the gentleman’s head as he was striking the sidewalk. Stuart along with bystanders were able to keep the gentleman calm. Emergency Medical Services arrived shortly after to continue care. Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to save the life of this gentleman.

IMG_2863For this act, Stuart Chessen was awarded on January 7, 2020 the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit. This is the highest award given by the American Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course. The certificate bears the signature of the President of the United States, who is the honorary chairman of the American Red Cross, and the signature of the chairman of the American Red Cross.

This action exemplifies the highest degree of concern of one human being for another who is in distress.

Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills session) and classroom courses are available at redcross.org/takeaclass.

56848179_2334828693205437_3535371440297607168_oIf you or someone you know has used skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain the life of another individual, visit LifesavingAwards.org to nominate, recognize, or be inspired.

Red Cross-installed smoke alarm alerts mobile home residents to fire

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These volunteers were among those installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the Sunshadow mobile home park on Feb. 19, 2019, six months before two residents’ lives were saved when the smoke alarms alerted them to a fire. Photo Credit: American Red Cross/Oleksii Nazaruk.
Click here for more photos from the event.

San Jose resident Nguyen Robson had been an American Red Cross volunteer for less than a year when he was called to help two mobile home residents displaced by a fire and received a vivid lesson about his volunteer work’s impact.

When Robson arrived at the Sunshadow mobile home park in San Jose, the two residents — waiting safely outside their home — greeted him with grateful recognition in their native Vietnamese. They remembered Robson as one of the volunteers who had installed smoke alarms and helped them prepare an evacuation plan for their mobile home only six months earlier. The alarm woke them from a mid-afternoon nap and allowed their escape.

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Alert: Critical need for blood and platelet donors 

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The American Red Cross is asking the public to kick off 2020 by doing something big: Give blood or platelets now to address the critical need for blood donors of all blood types – especially type O – and platelet donors.

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A shortfall in donations can cause delays in care

The family of 12-year-old Dagan Hawkins, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November, knows this all too well. “While at the hospital, Dagan needed platelet and blood transfusions,” said Dustin Hawkins, Dagan’s father. “There was a time when platelets had to be delivered from another location because they were not available.”


You can help restock the shelves

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting orgor calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a critical need for blood and platelet donors and ask them to #GiveNow.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Your support can help ensure blood products are there for patients going through cancer treatments, trauma victims, premature babies and others who depend on transfusions for survival.

SuperBowl GiveawayBe a champion for patients in need

To help tackle the current critical need for blood and platelets, the Red Cross has teamed up with the NFL to offer one lucky winner the chance to experience the Super Bowl live in Miami. Those who come to give Jan. 1-19, 2020, will automatically be entered for a chance to win an exciting Super Bowl LIV getaway for two. The Super Bowl LIV getaway package includes two tickets to Super Bowl LIV, entry to the official NFL Tailgate, two tickets to Super Bowl Experience at the Miami Beach Convention Center, round-trip airfare to Miami and three-night hotel accommodations (Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2020), and a $500 gift card for expenses. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Don’t wait to help. Make your game plan to give now and help save lives.

Out of the Ashes: The story of a Santa Rosa family that survived the Tubbs Fire — and hopes to help other disaster victims

by Marcia Antipa

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The Dorsey’s first Christmas back home! left to right: Lynn, Brendan, Bill, and Brian

The weekend before the 2017 Tubbs fire swept through Santa Rosa, Bill and Lynne Dorsey were visiting their son in Arizona. As their flight home landed on October 8, they noticed the plane was buffeted by unusually strong winds.

Before they went to bed in their Coffey Park neighborhood, they heard there was a fire in Napa, but were not too concerned. However, just a few hours later, they woke up to hear the wind rushing and howling around their house. Then, they looked out the window. “We could see the embers coming out of the sky and emergency vehicle lights.

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Meet Gene Beck Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award Recipient Betsy Witthohn

Betsy Witthohn 420x279From the ashes of wildfires rise everyday heroes. Betsy Witthohn is one of them.

After reaching safety, the fire survivor recounts how time stood still two years ago until mandatory evacuation orders were lifted. Her mind was preoccupied with anxiety as she feared for the worst.

Returning to the area, she found the flames spared her residence. Many nearby were not as fortunate. That experience served as a catalyst to becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Her husband joined, as well.

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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,

Red Cross responds to Kincade Fire


Smoke from the nearby Kincade Fire mars the California blue sky. Photo by Lindsay Peak, American Red Cross

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here or see list of stories, below.

[Updated November 4, 2019] More than 400 Red Cross workers alongside government and community partners are providing shelters, meals, health services, comfort and other support for affected residents.

  • More than 6,500 people stayed in Red Cross and community shelters in Northern California. With the lifting of evacuations orders, all shelters have been closed.
  • With partners, the Red Cross has served more than 51,000 meals and snacks, provided more than 2,500 relief items, and made more than 2,800 individual care contacts.
  • This week, at the Local Assistance Center, affected families can meet one-on-one with trained Red Cross caseworkers who will assess their disaster-caused needs, offer recovery information, help with medication and eyeglass replacement and other emergency needs, and referrals to other agencies. Financial assistance is also available to those whose home was destroyed or had major damage.

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