Volunteer Reflections – Carrie Reilly

Written by Carrie Reilly, American Red Cross Volunteer

Volunteer Carrie Reilly delivers water and supplies to residents impacted by 2014's Boles Fire in Weed, CA.

Volunteer Carrie Reilly delivers water and supplies to residents impacted by 2014’s Boles Fire in Weed, CA.

I was sent someplace – can’t recall where – but a big fire had swept through a small city leaving it a lunar landscape. I was with the ERV [Emergency Response Vehicle] doing mobile feeding and it was just as the first light of day on a cold overcast morning that my partner and I suddenly noticed the people combing their property for anything of value suddenly stop and stand up. Utter silence engulfed us. Then, the most beautiful sound reached our ears. It was the sound of a single trumpet playing taps and someone slowly raised an American flag. When the final notes ended, the sun suddenly burst through the clouds. The chill of the day appeared to dissipate and warmth touched every heart and face. Freddie Az was my partner and we didn’t speak or move for minutes. I can’t explain it but it was as if every dead tree had absorbed the sound of taps and was echoing it back to everyone.

Carrie and volunteer Freddy Aw, prep an ERV to head out and deliver food, water, and supplies to disaster victims.

Carrie and volunteer Freddie Az, prep an ERV to head out and deliver food, water, and supplies to disaster victims.

Taps was played in honor of the fallen town, but in my heart I’ve always believed it was those notes that began the rebirth of that blackened landscape and the people who had lived in those homes. The tribute of taps being played, along with the raising of the American flag, certainly was far more than any thank you I have ever received.

I have never worked any disaster – close by or far away – where the majority of people didn’t thank me as a Red Cross volunteer. I have met upset people, angry people, dazed people – but if I had to put it into words I’d say the reason for being a Red Cross volunteer is because it is in times of disaster that the best of mankind asserts itself.

Carrie Reilly joined the Red Cross the day after Hurricane Katrina hit – 10 years ago this August – and spent two weeks helping the disaster relief efforts in Louisiana. Upon her return home she took the first Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) class available and has taken numerous training classes since. She has deployed to many disasters, locally and nationally, providing shelter support, bulk distribution, mobile feeding, disaster assessment and much more.

Carrie checks the latest info before heading out on the next ERV delivery run.

Carrie checks the latest info before heading out on the next ERV delivery run.

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Recognizing Excellence – Volunteer Instructor, George Schubel

George10This month the Annual American Red Cross National Award ceremony will be held in Washington, DC, highlighting the extraordinary work of the Red Cross over the past year. Specifically, this annual event will once again recognize those employees and/or volunteers from across the country who have gone above and beyond the level of extraordinary service. Continue reading

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Red Cross Honors Local Heroes of Sacramento and Yolo Counties

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Today is one of our favorite days of the year in the Gold Country Region. This morning, at the Woodland Community Center (Yolo County), we will celebrate our Annual Heroes Recognition Luncheon and proudly recognize members of the community who have gone above and beyond to make a difference. From saving lives – of both people AND pets, to going the extra mile to make a positive impact, Heroes come in all forms. Continue reading

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Red Cross Fire Safety Campaign Aims to Raise Awareness, Reduce Deaths and Injuries

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Volunteers launched the Home Fire Safety Campaign in the Gold Country Region with a visit to Turlock neighborhoods in November.

This weekend, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service and a continued commitment to serve our communities, Red Cross volunteers will visit neighborhoods in Sacramento, Chico, and Turlock to help residents be fire safe.

The community canvass events – during which volunteers will also install smoke detectors in homes in need – is part of a national Red Cross campaign aimed to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. Continue reading

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What it Means to Give Back as a Red Cross Volunteer and Staff Member

Written by Debbie Calcote, Disaster Program Manager (Tuolumne & Stanislaus Counties), Red Cross Capital Region

Debbie Calcote (R) provides direction for Red Cross volunteers during a recent fire safety canvassing event in Turlock, CA.

Debbie Calcote (R) provides direction for Red Cross volunteers during a recent fire safety canvassing event in Turlock, CA.

In 2005, like many other people, I was devastated by what I was seeing in the media about Hurricane Katrina.  The sadness and total devastation of so many things and people was almost more than I could bear.

My heart went out to all impacted by this rage of Mother Nature. I needed to do something only I was caring for my disabled husband and couldn’t leave the area. So I went to the local Red Cross office and offered to help in any way. Continue reading

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Holiday Mail for Heroes v 2.0

Check out our new twist on one of our favorite holiday traditions! With a reduction in U.S. military forces overseas, particularly in the Middle East and across Europe, we have revised our Holiday Mail for Heroes program!

Rather than collecting hundreds of individual holiday cards, we are collecting messages and signatures on large banners to be distributed to and displayed in military and VA facilities throughout the region! What began as a Veteran’s Day project for several Red Cross Clubs in the Capital Region is quickly taking off… Continue reading

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Giving Tuesday – Why We Give Back

Volunteer Freddy Aw helps deliver relief supplies to residents of Weed, CA following September's Boles Fire.

Volunteer Freddy Aw helps deliver relief supplies to residents of Weed, CA following September’s Boles Fire.

Tuesday, December 2, has been designated at “Giving Tuesday”. This is a global campaign driving people to give back in some way, shape, or form during the day and bring some balance to other days on the calendar devoted to shopping and giving thanks. And whether you choose to provide financial support, or get hands-on and volunteer to help, there are countless opportunities around the world and in your own backyard to get involved and give back where it’s needed most! Continue reading

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