Tag Archives: Volunteers

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing new leadership at the Red Cross

National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to recognize the myriad contributions and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans both in the Red Cross and the broader community. One such impressive Latina, Dr. Hortencia Jiménez (Monterey County), recently joined the Board of Directors for the Central Coast Chapter. A published scholar, Dr. Jiménez brings decades of work in immigrant rights, lived experience as a Latina immigrant from an indigenous background, and community connectivity to the table.

“I was working with the Monterey County Immigrant Services Network of Empowerment (CISNE)—a hub of service providers—when a member of the steering committee suggested I apply for the Red Cross Board of Directors,” says Dr. Jimenez. “I wanted to make sure I joined a board that was committed to racial equity and social justice work. Michele [Averill, CEO for the Central Coast Chapter] was intentional – she told me that she thought I would be a great person to work with and engage the Latinx community.”

While still a self-described “newbie,” Dr. Jimenez is learning her role step-by-step. She has grand yet practical visions on how to use her post. “I want to bring experts from the Red Cross to facilitate training with local Latinxs communities and immigrant groups,” she says. “We need to create and build relationships with various community groups. I’m excited to be a bridge between the Red Cross and the Latinx community in the Central Coast and beyond.

You can follow Dr. Jiminez here on Instagram.

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Local Red Crossers receive prestigious national recognition

From left to right: Colleen M. Sasso, Terry Unter, Patty Montmorency, Katie Pierson, Christine Medeiros and Shivum Kapoor

In an unprecedented year of challenges, we have made adjustments in many aspects of our lives. Most of us at some point over this time have faced postponement or cancelation of important events celebrating life milestones, traditions and special occasions. At the American Red Cross, this has included the National Awards and Recognition Ceremony we hold annually to celebrate our outstanding recipients.

In response, the Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region celebrated the national recognition of six local volunteers yesterday in a virtual ceremony, presented by the Regional CEO. The prestigious Red Cross National Awards represent and honor the highest level of achievements in their respective fields. Nominated by their peers, each recipient embodies the true spirit of the Red Cross and has dedicated their time and talent, resulting in noteworthy success.

“Now more than ever, it is important we take time to pause and recognize the accomplishments and sacrifices made by our teammates,” says Jennifer Adrio, CEO of the American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region. “It’s time to celebrate this spectacular group of volunteers and employees who have given the best of themselves to deliver our lifesaving mission!”

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Stan Massie keeps the Red Cross connected

Stan Massie — recipient of the Contra Costa Volunteer of the Year Award — still has the buttons he received from completing swimming lessons with the Red Cross as a young child in San Rafael. So when he retired from the banking world in 2016, he wanted to do something that “added value to the world.” Inspired by the work done by volunteers during the 2017 Tubbs fire, he signed up to volunteer through the Red Cross website. Now he is as busy — if not busier in retirement as in his professional career.

Stan’s intake coordinator at the Red Cross pegged him for External Relations based on his corporate background. Briana Taylor, Regional Disaster Chair for the Northern California Coastal Region, served as the External Relations Lead at the time and met with Stan to discuss the commitment. Over coffee, Briana described the role with a “broad brush.” Stan said yes.

He’s been in action ever since.

“Once I got in, they pulled me into multiple positions,” Stan says. “First it was the External Relations Committee, then the Contra Costa Leadership Council, the Government Relations Committee, and then the Bay Area Board of Directors.”

Stan now sits as chairman of Contra Costa Leadership Council and still works in External Relations with elected officials and County partners.

“Last fall, I deployed for the first time and was assigned to Monterrey County to work in the Office of Emergency Services (OES),” Stan says. “My main job today is to work with partners throughout the county, fire, health, the Board of Supervisors, etc., so that when disaster strikes, we can get services quickly where needed.”

Stan is busy outside of his Red Cross work, looking after two grandchildren from time to time and attending to other family needs. And then there is the occasional game of golf.

“I like to tell people ‘just be realistic and honest about the time commitment,’” Stan says. “If you want to do [this] well, you’ll need to put in the time.

Stan hopes to recruit for the leadership positions he’s filled over the last several years. “All volunteer positions take time to fill and succession is very important to keep the continuity with our partners.

Stan says he sticks close to the Red Cross work for the same reason he signed up. “I thought volunteering would be showing up at an event or shelter. I didn’t want to do something that mimics my corporate world. But now I know I can do both.”

Local leaders join the Red Cross Board of Directors in multiple chapters

In early 2020, mere weeks before the pandemic hit, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern visited the San Francisco office for a Town Hall meeting, her first in the Bay Area in four years. She often speaks about the importance of leadership and the crucial role Board members fill. Photography by Eric Carmichael | American Red Cross

This June, individuals from all across the Northern California Coastal Region of the Red Cross stepped up to help lead their respective chapters. Each chapter’s Board of Directors elected new members and most installed new officers.

“As we dive into the next fiscal year, we look forward to the potential of our new members combined with the expertise of our officers,” says Jennifer Adrio, CEO of the America Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region. “Their combined diverse experiences are critical to the work our Region does for more than 10 million people throughout 15 counties.”

The new board members bring a wealth of diverse experience to their roles, including decades of experience in IT, communications, technical consulting, social services, mental health expertise, the field of law, education, communications, design, real estate, government, environmental sustainability and more.

“During the past year alone, Red Crossers responded to 1,342 local disasters — many of them home fires — collected 103,240 units of lifesaving blood and trained 56,943 residents in first aid and water safety,” Adrio says. “And those are just a few of the many ways our region made a difference in our local communities.”

The new members began their terms effectively July 1.

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Special guests helped celebrate new Red Cross Blood Donation Center in San Francisco

San Francisco Mayor London Breed addresses the press. Photo: Eric Carmichael | American Red Cross

This past Monday, September 27, the American Red Cross welcomed local dignitaries and members of the press to celebrate the recent opening of the San Francisco Blood and Platelet Donation Center 1663 Market Street. San Francisco Mayor London Breed thanked the Red Cross for the new community asset and emphasized the need for donors, especially given the current shortage. “You never know the impacts of what your blood can do for someone else.”

The center opened just in time. On September 14, the Red Cross launched a sickle cell initiative to grow the number of blood donors who are Black to help patients with sickle cell disease and improve health outcomes. You can learn more about the Red Cross sickle cell initiative here.   

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Tirtza, Barry and Gumby help out in Gold Country shelter

Photos and reporting by Barbara Wood

Tirtza and Barry Pearl

Tirtza Pearl of San Francisco figures she has deployed nearly 60 times since she joined the Red Cross in 1991 after the devastating firestorm swept through the hills of neighboring Oakland. Only recently, however, has she convinced her husband, Barry, to join her. Both Pearls worked in a Red Cross shelter in the Cameron Park Community Center in El Dorado County after the Caldor Fire in September. It was Barry’s second deployment.

“The people who volunteer for the Red Cross are an amazing group of people, ” Barry said. “They devote heart and soul to the clients.” 

Barry says, so far, he’s only deployed with Tirtza. “I feel much more confident of all her years of experience,” he said.  “I’m still learning the ropes.” 

In addition to recruiting her husband, Tirtza has brought another special guest along on at least ten deployments – Gumby. The stretchy green figure represents the unofficial motto of the Red Cross “Semper Gumby” or “Forever Flexible.”

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