Red Cross to Honor Local Heroes of Sacramento and Yolo Counties


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. These everyday heroes don’t have superpowers and likely wouldn’t claim to have done anything “heroic”. Rather, many say they only did “what anyone else would have done”. Lucky for us, they didn’t wait for somebody else to do it. They saw a need and they took action.

As a community leader in emergency preparedness, prevention, and response, the Red Cross of Sierra-Delta is proud to honor the following Heroes of Sacramento and Yolo Counties, who have taken action in a time of crisis to help others and show extraordinary human compassion. It is a great pleasure to share their stories:

Animal Rescue Hero

  • Renee Lancaster – President of Rotts and Friends Animal Rescue, in August, Renee took in 11 Rottweiler dogs which had been confiscated from another facility and were in severe stages of neglect. Renee worked tirelessly to nurse the dogs back to health.

Good Samaritan Hero (Adult)

  • Donna Cameron – In April, performed lifesaving CPR when her husband, Dan, collapsed of a heart attack in their home.

Good Samaritan Hero (Senior)

  • Judy Vera – Judy has made many personal sacrifices in order to care for and support her four grandchildren and help others in need. She goes above and beyond to put the needs of others ahead of her own.

Good Samaritan Hero (Youth)

  • Skylar Berry – At a Summer pool party, a young boy was pulled unresponsive from the bottom of the pool. Skylar checked for a pulse and immediately began hands-only CPR. The boy regained consciousness and ultimately recovered from the incident. Skylar has since started a club called “Staying Alive”, teaching others how to perform hands-only CPR.

Law Enforcemen Hero

  • Maggie Burns – An officer of the El Dorado County Probation Dept., Ofc Burns was on duty at the Juvenile Treatment Center notice a youth acting strangely. She engaged the quiet youth and attempted conversation. He revealed he had just tried to commit suicide. Ofc Burns remained with the boy until additional help arrived, ensuring that he would not harm himself.

Military Veteran Hero

  • SSGT Alex Jauregui served in the US Army for 11 years, which included two tours to Iraq and two tours to Afghanistan. On April 8, 2012, his last tour in Afghanistan, SSGT Jauregui was on patrol with his men and stepped on an IED where he lost both of his legs, some of his hearing and parts of his fingers.  After many months of surgeries and therapy at Walter Reed, Alex was able to come back home to California to be with his family, not just to rest but to stand up and educate the people of our community on perseverance and strength. He is an example to the community, teaching others that just because life throws you the unexpected it doesn’t me you can give up.

Military Veteran Hero

  • Christopher Williams – While dining with family in downtown Woodland, a woman at another table began to choke. Christopher responded by successfully performing the Hemlich maneuver and saving the woman’s life. Chris is a Woodland native and served two tours of duty as a Navy Corpsman in Iraq.

Workplace Hero

  • Chris Lundin – In March, as an employee at the Davis Athletic Club, Chris heard screaming out by the pool. A two year old boy had fallen into the pool and was not breathing. Chris immediately began performing chest compressions and rescue breaths. The boy regained consciousness and spit up water. He has since made a full recovery. Chris has been trained in CPR since he was 16 years old.

Professional Rescuer Hero

  • Matthew Brittain, Red Cross volunteer and professionally trained EMT, responded to a home fire to provide Red Cross assistance. While speaking with the family, Matthew noticed the father was having difficulty breathing and his 2-year old daughter was struggling as well. Matthew called for the paramedics and the family was quickly taken by ambulance to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. According to doctors, had the condition gone unnoticed for even two more minutes, the young girl may have lost her life.

Spirit of the Red Cross

  • Alena Anberg – A Red Cross volunteer, Alena is a hero to her community. Alena provides assistance to many people struggling with poverty, delivering care packages filled with basic household supplies such as soap, toilet paper, and laundry detergent to families once a month.

Hero of the Year

  • Sean Tatum – In April, California Highway Patrol Officer Tatum came upon a multi-vehicle accident in which one vehicle was on fire with a passenger trapped inside. Officer Tatum attempted to break in through a window. When that didn’t work, he partially entered the burning vehicle and pulled the woman to safety. When she was safe, he continued to protect others by attempting to suppress the fire with an extinguisher and directing the other vehicle involved out of harm’s way until additional emergency responders arrived.

This annual Heroes event is one of three we conduct during the year to recognize Heroes throughout our region. Our next event will be held in Lodi on Wednesday, March 25, honoring Heroes of San Joaquin, Calaveras, and Amador counties. Visit for more information.

Our final Heroes event will be in Modesto on Wednesday, June 3 to honor community members of Tuolumne and Stanislaus counties. More info on that event is available at

Do you know someone who has made a difference in your community? Nominate them for recognition at one of our Heroes events. Hero nominations may be submitted year round! CLICK HERE to fill out the nomination form and tell us the story of your Hero!

Proceeds from the luncheon will support the critical disaster relief services provided by the American Red Cross Gold Country Region as well as critical Red Cross training programs which help prepare our community members to respond in times of emergency.

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


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.

Turlock Firefighter, Scott Wejmar, installs a smoke detector during the November canvass event.

Turlock Firefighter, Scott Wejmar, installs a smoke detector during the November canvass event.

The campaign seeks to increase the use of smoke alarms in neighborhoods with higher frequencies of home fires and to encourage all Americans to develop and practice their fire escape plans.

“Smoke alarms cut the risk of death from a fire in half, which is why it is critical for all households to have them and test them regularly,” said Kathleen Weis, Chief Executive Officer for the Red Cross Gold Country Region. “We have seen an increase in home fires throughout our region, on average responding to one every 11 hours, so it is critical that residents take action to reduce their risk and improve their safety in the event of a home fire. Simply testing your smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home can save lives.”

Many Americans Mistaken about Their Ability to Survive a Fire

InfoGraphic_HomeFiresThe Red Cross fire prevention campaign comes at a time when a new national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire.

The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape, more than twice the amount they actually have. Nearly 18 percent erroneously believe they have ten minutes or more to get out.

When asked about their confidence levels in escaping a burning home, about 42 percent of those polled said they could get out in two minutes. Nearly seven in 10 parents (69 percent) believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help.

However, the poll showed few actions had been taken that would support the level of confidence of parents about their children’s ability to escape a fire:

  • Less than one in five families with children age 3-17 (18 percent) have actually practiced home fire drills.
  • Less than half of parents (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety.
  • Only one third of families with children (30 percent) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home.

Four Fire Safety Steps

There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:

  • If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
  • If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
  • Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States – and the vast majority of those are home fires. Over the next several months, the Red Cross will team up with local fire departments and community groups to install smoke alarms in neighborhoods with high numbers of homes fires.

You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire or contact their local Red Cross to find out the location of local smoke alarm installation events

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130 adults is +/- 2.92 percent. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 percent.

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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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Veteran’s Day

By Jordan Scott, Communications Director, Red Cross Capital Region

I grew up in a military family. My grandfather flew B-24’s over Europe in World War II, and continued his service to our country over a distinguished and decorated career in the United States Air Force. My father followed a similar path, serving nearly 30 years as a flight navigator, working at the Pentagon, and retiring as a Lt. Colonel. In fact my father’s side of the family all served in the Air Force. Two uncles fought in Vietnam, others in the Gulf War, and one uncle even earned the honor to lead the USAF Thunderbirds! Continue reading

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Memories of Loma Prieta

A section of the I-880 viaduct through Oakland, CA collapsed as a result of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

A section of the I-880 viaduct through Oakland, CA collapsed as a result of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

At 5:04 PM on October 17, 1989, the earth shook. The San Andreas fault, one of California’s and the world’s most infamous fault lines, shifted violently beneath the Loma Prieta peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The force of the shift resulted in a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that sent shockwaves throughout California and, most notably, the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area. Continue reading

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