Historic Red Cross youth conference pivots to create increased access for students
This year, the American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region hosted a four-day virtual youth development conference from June 21-24, attended by more than 225 student delegates and 20 youth staff. While this year’s Leadership Development Center (LDC) was modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it still provided an opportunity for youth ages 13-18 to develop and cultivate core leadership skills such as teamwork, public speaking and diversity awareness through virtual presentations, workshops and small group discussions.
The staff prepared for seven months to plan the curriculum and activities for the conference, all from scratch. Camp directors Emily Elmore and Gaby Azcarate led the process, and while the directors and youth staff were afraid that some of the camaraderie that delegates get in their small groups would be lost in this modified format, they worked hard to make sure that planned activities included opportunities for delegates to get to know each other and work as a team, even in a virtual environment.
“A positive note on the virtual conference is that it opened the door to have students attend who otherwise may not have been able to spend a full week with us in person,” said Allie Parker, Red Cross Volunteer and Youth Services Manager. “We were also able to invite more guest speakers to join us who may have had more difficulties attending an event in person.”
Volunteering with the American Red Cross takes many forms. For some, volunteering means active deployment into the heart of disaster responses, where people are at their most vulnerable. Others find meaning and purpose behind the scenes, coordinating their peers from a virtual office. And then there is a family tradition, where roles pass down from one generation to the next. Gary Zellerbach is part of such a legacy.
Gary Zellerbach’s grandmother, Doris Zellerbach, served as a Donut Dolly in WWII, volunteering and working with the Red Cross her entire life. She specifically invested time and energy into youth services. Upon passing, she not only left an endowment to the Red Cross, but her son (and Gary’s father), Stephen Zellerbach, picked up the mantle in youth services. Gary retired around the same time his father died in 2011, and he readied himself for service.
“I had met Harold Brooks [the regional Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter from 1997-2013] at events over the years,” says Gary. So, Gary called him and asked, “Harold, are you ready for the next generation?” Harold introduced Gary to the then head of development, Michael Lawrence, who – naturally – recommended that Gary join the Youth Services Committee.
(l to r) Eva Marquez, Keith Hoffman, LouAnne Williams, and Jeff Airth. Photography: Kane Wong | American Red Cross _____
LouAnne Williams keeps it simple. On October 31, 2013, she began to look for ways to give back to her community. She tried to register with a local hospital but felt that they had an overwhelming number of rules and regulations. Craving something simpler and more direct, she sought counsel from friends and family. Her son-in-law suggested she try the Red Cross, so LouAnne walked into the front door of the Red Cross, literally across the street from the hospital. And she has never looked back.
LouAnne began her journey as a preparedness instructor and now leads her peers in multiple capacities. Last year, she received the San Mateo County Volunteer of the Year Award, something that came as no surprise to her colleagues.
Berlin Gomez-Muniz, 11, received a Red Cross “Hero” medal for alerting her family to a Dec. 19 fire in San Jose. Her mother, Frankie, and Silicon Valley Red Cross chapter board chair Terry Unter look on. Photo: Mark Butler/American Red Cross
Berlin Gomez-Muniz stood quietly as a 3-inch diameter “Hero” medal was draped around her neck at the Jan. 16 Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross board meeting, but when it was the most important, the 11-year-old says, she yelled so loud her throat hurt after she alerted her extended family to a fire just before Christmas. Read more
On October 19, 2019, a team of over 100 American Red Cross and Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers supported by Council Member for District 7, Maya Esparza, San Jose Fire Department worked in teams to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
The Silver Creek Mobile Estates is a community of 240 homes located in San Jose, California. Captain Bien Doan of the San Jose Fire Department working with Terry Unter, Disaster Services Volunteer at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Red Cross, directed a coordinated campaign to canvass the community and pre-book Saturday morning appointments for the installations. Following the installation, everyone regrouped for lunch: subs from Lee’s Sandwiches. Read more
The American Red Cross Youth Leadership Development Camp for the Northern Californa Coastal Region was held at Camp Butano Creek in Pescadaro on August 5th through 8th. The multi-day camp involves youth throughout the Bay Area in Red Cross activities and provides leadership and learning activities to develop our future leaders.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
123 campers attended this year representing all four regional chapters – a first for the region!
An additional 23 youth staff attended, including seven advisory board youth staff, all of whom worked to plan the camp since December 2018.
146 youth were certified in CPR/First Aid.
All participants experienced Community Disaster Education and learned how to install smoke alarms/check their homes for fire safety preparedness.
Campers studied the following components of Raid Cross, a role-playing simulation activity that helps students understand the basic rules of International Humanitarian Law:
Prisoners of War
Militia members making artillery decisions
Army Generals making a decision far away from the battles themselves
Always a highlight, Raid Cross introduces many students to unique parts of armed conflict and Red Cross’ involvement in each one.
Each student took part in the Diversity program designed to guide youth in understanding privilege. Students took part in a diversity circle to encourage recognition and appreciation of each other’s similarities and differences.
Thank you to all who attended. We hope to see you next year!
Please visit this link to view pictures from the event.