Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

Celebrating our amazing volunteers!

National Volunteer Week is celebrated each April; so we thought we’d give another salute to the (amazing) volunteers honored in our region in 2018

California Wildfires 2018

Volunteers, like the many who cared for and comforted so many people during last fall’s wildfires in Northern California, are an essential part of all lines of service in the American Red Cross. (Photo: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross)

National Volunteer Week this year takes place from April 7 to 13 and serves as an important reminder within the American Red Cross about the critical role that volunteers play in everything we do.

Each spring also means that a new round of Volunteer Recognition Events is getting underway in our region, giving each of the local operations a special opportunity to acknowledge (and celebrate) the tremendous work done by volunteers in each one of the counties we serve.

It’s in that spirit that we thought we’d take a moment to thank — one more time — the many volunteers we honored at our 2018 Volunteer Recognition Events:

Alameda/Contra Costa Counties Event

Central Coast Chapter Event

Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Event

Marin County Event

San Francisco Event

San Mateo County Event

Silicon Valley Chapter Event

Solano County Event

Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino Counties Events


2019 Volunteer Recognition Events: Some of this year’s volunteer recognition events in our region have already taken place; most have not yet. That means there’s still time to go to this page in Volunteer Connection and register to attend an upcoming event that is still accepting registrations.

Become a Red Cross Volunteer: You can make a difference by becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Volunteers constitute about 90 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. Get started by going to this web page.

Regional teams continue to ‘Sound the Alarm’ during the month of March

sta_420x279On average, home fires kill 7 people and injure another 36 — every single day in the United States. That’s why the American Red Cross launched its nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014 with the goal of reducing the number of home fire deaths and injuries.

A key component of the campaign is a series of Sound the Alarm – Save a Life events in which Red Cross volunteers, working with local fire departments and other partners, visit high-risk neighborhoods to offer to install free 10-year smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, and help families create escape plans. It is believed that the Sound the Alarm neighborhood visits, in which more than 1.5 million alarms have been installed, have already saved more than 500 lives throughout the United States since the Home Fire Campaign began.

During the month of March, eight more Sound the Alarm events were held in the American Red Cross’s Northern California Coastal Region. Here is a brief summary of each of these local activities:

  • In Vallejo on Saturday, March 9, volunteers installed 36 alarms in 19 homes. (See the photo album for this activity.)
  • In Rohnert Park on Saturday, March 9, volunteers installed 80 alarms in 28 homes. (See the photo album for this activity.)
  • In San Francisco on Saturday, March 9, volunteers installed 100 alarms in 21 homes. In all, the work made 52 people safer. For the home visits in the Outer Sunset neighborhood that day, the Red Cross partnered with Holy Name Church and the San Francisco Fire Department. 
  • In San Jose on Saturday, March 23, 49 volunteers installed 251 alarms in 87 homes. In all, the work made 163 people safer. For the home visits that day, the Red Cross teams partnered with Beautiful Day and the San Jose Fire Department.
  • In Oakland on Saturday, March 30, volunteers installed 214 alarms in 54 homes. In all, the work made 197 people safer. The Oakland Fire Department was a key partner in this work.
  • In Watsonville on Saturday, March 30, more than 40 volunteers installed 162 alarms in 52 homes. In all, the work made 228 people safer. The eight Red Cross teams were also supported by volunteers from the Watsonville Fire Department, Watsonville Fire Cadets, and Watsonville Police Cadets. Watsonville Fire Chief Rudy Lopez greeted the teams and shared his heartfelt appreciation for their live-saving service. Central Coast Board Chair, Rayvon Williams, also participated in his first Sound the Alarm event.
  • In Willits on Saturday, March 30, volunteers installed 59 alarms in 20 homes. The Red Cross partnered with NCO (North Coast Opportunities) and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) teams to make these home visits.
  • In San Francisco on Saturday, March 30, volunteers installed 41 alarms in 9 homes, making 19 people safer. Volunteers also gathered 18 sign-ups for future appointments.

From April 27 through May 12 this spring, volunteers and partners in communities throughout the country will be making an extra push to make in-home Sound the Alarm visits. The goal of this national effort will be to install 100,000 smoke alarms during that three-weekend period.

A number of these spring events are scheduled to take place in our region, and organizers are still in need of volunteer support. For information about how you can volunteer at these events, please see this press release.

For more information about the overall impact of the Home Fire Campaign in our region — and to sign-up to help at an installation event near you, you may also go to this web page. (This page also contains information about our generous regional and national Sound the Alarm partners.)

Thank you to all who are making our region’s contributions to this national Red Cross campaign so successful!

Silicon Valley Chapter, American Red Cross thank FAST for a job well done


Red Cross volunteers Liz Dietz, left, and Peg Geringer were among those supporting FAST’s work in 2017 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Go to this album to see photos of FAST members at the San Jose Jazz Festival that same year.

On February 19, almost 50 people attended the last official meeting, dubbed the “FAST Finale,” of the Silicon Valley First Aid Services Team, or FAST. The Silicon Valley FAST was founded in 1959 and was the most active of the few FAST groups remaining in Red Cross regions throughout the country. This dedicated local team of professionals served almost 25,000 hours just from the period of January 2015 through February 2019.

During its tenure, the local FAST had become a welcome sight at many of the area’s major public events such as the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the Obon Festival, Cinco de Mayo events, the San Jose Jazz Festival, and the Nike Women’s Marathon.

The Silicon Valley team provided a variety of services from stations, carts, and even bikes and walking teams. Team members applied their medical skills to perform a wide range of treatments, from first aid for minor injuries such as blisters, scrapes, and strained muscles to major medical or trauma events. The team coordinated responses with Advanced Life Support and transportation with regional EMS units.

In addition to treatment, the team provided a range of complementary services and supplies, including blood pressure checks, stroke awareness education, sunscreen, diapers, and more than a dozen over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Benadryl.

The team’s leadership included a chairperson, Peg Geringer, and a licensed physician, Dr. Ian Brown, M.D., from Stanford University, who served as medical advisor. At the time of its disbanding, the local FAST had 125 members. Reportedly at its peak, FAST had over 400 members. Team members consisted of Emergency Medical Technicians, Emergency Medical Responders, Registered Nurses, and other trained personnel.

Some past highlights included the use of AEDs to save a life at the Bay To Breakers in San Francisco, saving a dog from dehydration at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, supporting the Women’s March in 2016, and providing first aid to pigs, horses, and goats at the Santa Clara County Fair.

The team was a sterling example of a volunteer organization. Team members took responsibility for all operations, whether that be training, logistics, or rendering care. The team was composed of a diverse group of dedicated professionals of all ages and served selflessly for half a century.

The community and the Red Cross owe the local Red Cross FAST a great deal of gratitude for their dedication and service. Each of the team members contributed to the welfare of the community and to accomplishing the team’s mission.

We hope that FAST members will continue to volunteer their valuable time in service to the Red Cross and the community.


About the author: Larry Dietz is a Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army Reserve, as well as a dedicated Red Cross public affairs volunteer in the Silicon Valley Chapter.

Volunteer teams continue ‘Sound the Alarm’ activities in San Jose, Alameda County


With the help of the Red Cross’s Katareina Vincent, Christian (left) and Carlos Chavez create an escape plan during a “Sound the Alarm” visit to their home in Oakland. (Photo: Cate Calson)

On average, home fires kill 7 people and injure another 36 — every single day in the United States. That’s why the American Red Cross launched its nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014 with the goal of reducing the number of home fire deaths and injuries.

A key component of the campaign is a series of “Sound the Alarm – Save a Life” events in which Red Cross volunteers, working with local fire departments and other partners, visit high-risk neighborhoods to offer to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, and help families create escape plans. It is believed that the “Sound the Alarm” neighborhood visits, in which more than 1.5 million alarms have been installed, have already saved more than 500 lives throughout the United States since the Home Fire Campaign began.

On Saturday, February 16, two more “Sound the Alarm” events were held in the American Red Cross’s Northern California Coastal Region. One of the organized events took place in the city of San Jose; another was held in various locations in Alameda County.


San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien and the Silicon Valley Chapter’s Terry Unter brief volunteers prior to the installation activities. (Photo: Oleksii Nazaruk)

•  In San Jose, more than 50 volunteers made 53 homes and 243 residents safer in the Sunshadow Mobile Home Park. In all, 216 free smoke alarms were installed in the residents’ homes. The Silicon Valley Chapter’s regular partner in local smoke-alarm installations, the San Jose Fire Department, was also on hand to help on Saturday. Fire Chief Robert Sapien and department PIO Mitch Matlow there, as were 2 fire engines and 1 ladder unit. In addition to Red Cross volunteers taking part in the activity, the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation provided six volunteers who supported the home visits. Breakfast was donated by Chick-fil-A, and coffee was provided by Lee’s Sandwiches, which also supplied lunch at reduced prices. (See the photo album for this activity.)

•  In Alameda County, Red Cross volunteers were out in Oakland (Fruitvale community) and in Spanish-speaking communities throughout Alameda County, installing free smoke alarms and educating residents about home fires. They visited 40 homes, installed 117 alarms, and made 188 residents safer. (See the photo album for this activity.)

From April 27 through May 12 this spring, volunteers and partners will be making an extra push to make in-home visits in communities throughout the country. The goal of this national effort will be to install 100,000 smoke alarms during that three-weekend period.

For more information about the Home Fire Campaign in our region, please go to this web page.

Her son’s heroism reintroduced this dedicated board member to the Red Cross

chris-carlton_420x279Chris Carlton’s work for the American Red Cross is plenty heroic: She has served tirelessly on the Silicon Valley Chapter’s Board of Directors for seven years, including two years as board president; she is currently serving as chair of the board’s Development Committee; she has generously supported the Red Cross with financial donations, qualifying her to be a Tiffany Circle member; she has served on the Tiffany Circle Council; and several years ago she even helped draft Culture Initiative values for the Pacific Division.

With that kind of a Red Cross portfolio, it’s easy to see why Chris was selected to receive the chapter’s Clara Barton Award for 2018. The award, named after the founder of the Red Cross, recognizes a volunteer for service in a series of leadership positions held over a number of years; it was given to Chris at the chapter’s Volunteer Recognition Dinner at Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos last spring.

While Chris is proud of her Red Cross efforts, she is the first one to say that her devotion and dedication to the organization stems from the actions of the real hero of this story: her son, Evan.

Evan’s heroism occurred nearly 10 years ago, as he and a girlfriend were returning home from a San Jose Shark’s game. Waiting for a train at the nearby Diridon Station, the couple struck up a conversation with a man and his grandson. “My son turned away for a minute, and when he turned back, the man was on the ground,” Chris says. “The gentleman was turning purple.”

Without hesitation, Evan asked anyone within earshot if they knew CPR; no one responded. “So he just took it upon himself to attempt to revive the man,” Chris says. “Evan started doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and another person nearby subsequently joined him to start chest compressions.”

When the paramedics arrived, they attempted multiple times to restart the man’s heart with a defibrillator. Eventually, they took the victim away in an ambulance.

Evan returned home that fateful night, believing that the man he had tried to save had not made it. “He was pretty depressed about it,” Chris recalls.

Then, some two months after the incident, the family spotted an article in the San Jose Mercury News. In the column, the writer was relaying a message from a reader who was recovering from a heart attack suffered at the train station after a Sharks game. The survivor was looking for a young man he had been speaking to — and who had led the effort to save him that night. He was looking for Evan so he could thank him.

Evan’s family responded on his behalf, and shortly after that, the man (“Paul”) and Evan met. Following their exchange, Paul decided to nominate Evan for a Red Cross Award. Not surprisingly, the nomination was well received by the local chapter, and in 2010, Evan received a Good Samaritan Hero Award. (See this video featuring Evan and Paul.)

Paul was fortunate that night: Evan had worked as a lifeguard for several years, so he was skilled in CPR; and the person who assisted Evan was studying to be an EMT. “It was the two boys, basically, who worked hard to save the man’s life,” Chris says.

Her son’s lifesaving efforts did more than fill Chris and her husband with justifiable pride: The incident spurred them to both get recertified in first aid and CPR themselves. Their Red Cross training put them in touch with chapter personnel, and eventually Chris was asked to join the local Board of Directors.

“Many years ago, I had taken a first aid training class from the Red Cross,” Chris says. “I also taught a first-aid class for a while, but then my career [in high-tech in Silicon Valley] got very busy so I just had to drop it.”

But, since reconnecting with the Red Cross, Chris Carlton has more than made up for her gap in service. While her volunteer work can be time-consuming, it comes with real benefits, says the former HR executive.

“I get to work with people who are on a humanitarian mission,” Chris says. “They are down to earth, put other people first, and are willing to do whatever it takes to help others.”

In other words, she gets to work with people like her own son, Evan.

Helping people is a team sport

Photo of attendees at the boot camp

The American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter office in San Jose was the site of a well-attended training “boot camp” on January 20 that introduced local members of Rotary International and other attendees to the many volunteer opportunities available through the American Red Cross. (Photo: Sasha Boyko)

For more photos of the day-long event, please go to this Flickr album.

Two of the world’s leading service organizations — the American Red Cross and Rotary International — joined forces on Sunday, January 20, for an all-day “Red Cross Training Boot Camp.” The session, held at the Silicon Valley Chapter in San Jose, was designed to provide Rotarians and other attendees with “Shelter Fundamentals” training and to expose them to the many Red Cross volunteer opportunities. Read more

Red Cross, partner volunteers install more than 200 free smoke alarms in San Jose


Volunteers are briefed at the beginning of the day’s installation activities.

More than 70 volunteers from the Silicon Valley Chapter and from two Red Cross partners (ARM and the Miss & Mrs. Vietnam USA) met on Saturday, January 19, at the La Buona Vita Mobile Home Park to Sound the Alarm by providing residents there with free smoke detectors. Read more

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