Do You Know Someone Who Should Fill One of These Volunteer Positions?

The workforce of the Red Cross is 90% volunteer-driven. From time to time, key volunteer positions open up that are critical to us carrying out our mission throughout the region.

Each month, we will post the highest priority openings here. If you know someone who may be a great fit for one of these opportunities, contact CA Gold Country Volunteer Services at goldcountry.vol@redcross.org.

Volunteer Karen Smith Celebrates 55 Years with the Red Cross

By Stephanie Gaito, Volunteer

In tough times, we all need stories to inspire us to keep pushing through challenges.  

Karen Smith recently celebrated 55 years as a Red Cross volunteer.

Karen Smith’s lifetime of community service is one such story.

A resident of Fair Oaks, Calif., she recently celebrated a 55-year span of volunteering with the Red Cross.

The retired registered nurse has used her professional skills and compassion for others to impact local families and individuals for decades.

She started her career as a neurosurgery intensive care nurse at Los Angeles County General Hospital, now known as Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center.

In 1964, Karen left her position to care for her growing family when her oldest son was born. Her desire to continue helping others pushed her to seek alternative volunteer opportunities that would support her schedule.

Her search led her to the Red Cross.

Smith received this pin to commemorate her 55 years of service.

Karen began teaching local Mother Baby Care classes which walked new parents through newborn care essentials such as breastfeeding and bathing.

After relocating to the Sacramento area, she continued her Red Cross volunteer work even after she returned to her nursing career, working flu shot clinics and first aid stations at state and county fairs.  Karen has been administering the flu shot for 25 years and has seen first-hand how accessible health care can positively impact a community.

“Fifty-five years is a great accomplishment,” said California Gold Country Region Volunteer Services Officer Jennifer Campbell. “We value the lifetime she has given for others.”

 These days, Karen is working to helping to administer the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Part of my job is not just giving the shot, but making the patient feel comfortable,” she said. “What I like about it is being able to talk to people and explain to them what we are going to do. It gives me joy to see them happy that they have done something for themselves.”

When asked why she volunteers, Karen said, “I would never think of walking away if there was something I could do to help.”

With those inspirational words, we thank Karen Smith for her decades of service to help alleviate human suffering and to inspire hope in her community.

California Gold Country Region Looks Back at 2020

UPDATE: Camp Fire Grant Recipients: Where Are They Now?

After the 2018 Camp Fire, The American Red Cross California Gold Country Region was able to award more than $10 million in grants to a select group of non-profits in Butte County to help them continue to serve the wide array of needs presented by Camp Fire survivors.

All funding for the grants was made possible thanks to the generosity of our donors.

As we mark the second anniversary of the Camp Fire we are looking back at the six grant recipients to see what they have done with the funding provided by the Red Cross: Youth for Change, United Way of Northern California, Hope Worldwide, Habitat for Humanity Butte County, Caring Choices and the Boys and Girls Club of North Valley.

This post will be updated daily so check back throughout the week!

Reflections on Camp Fire’s 2nd Anniversary: Volunteer Cynthia Bellina

On this 2nd anniversary of the Camp Fire in Butte County, we remember the more than 80 lives lost and the thousands of people Red Cross volunteers served.

Check back here this week as we will be revisiting stories of survivors, volunteers and the local agencies supported by the Red Cross so that they may continue to care for Camp Fire survivors in the months and years ahead.

Today, we look back at disaster spiritual care volunteer Cynthia Bellina who forged a strong connection with one evacuee who called her “my voice, my angel.”

‘What Can We Do to Help?’: Century 21 Support of Red Cross Endures Through Many Disasters

In February, 2017, Doug Love found himself at the Silver Dollar Fairground in Chico. Nearly 200,000 Oroville residents in the path of the Oroville Dam spillway had just been ordered to evacuate.

“That strange event sent a town full of people into Chico and I was just trying to figure out what we can do to help, so I just parked on a side street and walked into the shelter,” said Love, an agent with Century 21 Select Real Estate in Chico.

“I walked in and asked someone in a red vest staffing a card table with information. I didn’t know this shelter was facilitated by the Red Cross at the time. I said, ‘Hey, I’m here from Century 21, what do you guys need?’”

Love was directed to Amanda Ree, then-Executive Director of the the Northeast California Chapter. Ree is now the Executive Director of California Wildlife Recovery.

“I went up to Amanda and just said, ‘Hey, I’ve got an office with a bunch of people and we live in this town. Is there anything we can do?’” 

Love recalled Ree having at yellow, lined piece of notebook paper and said that she was trying to secure things on her list: baby formula, food, toiletries, blankets, etc.

“Amanda was just this wonderful person in charge of everything and she took that minute with me,” Love said.

He went back to the Century 21 Select Chico office and quickly mobilized the team, sending group texts, emails and posting notes on the door. Century 21 staff immediately began donating money and items on the list.

Later that same day, Love returned to the Silver Dollar Fairground, this time with the Century 21 team and trucks full of needed items. 

Thanks to their incredible support, Century 21 Select Chico was recognized at the American Red Cross Centennial event that year. “That awards night was really inspiring because we saw the awards given to the real heroes – the people who jump into the middle of a wreck or fire and save individuals,” said Love.

“The stories that were shared were incredibly touching and inspirational. We just witnessed what the Red Cross is really all about. It’s the on the ground volunteers giving their time and talents to just help others.”

That is where the partnership between Century 21 and the Red Cross began.

In 2018, the Camp Fire came as close as Love’s back fence. Sixty percent of the houses in his neighborhood were destroyed. Unfortunately, the Century 21 Select office in Paradise perished as well, along with the homes of all the agents. 

Amidst their personal crises, the team again asked, “Hey, what can we do to help?”

The Century 21 Select Real Estate Group came together to donate funds and goods to support relief efforts in their community.

“Realtors are really a group of people who really are in it for their communities. Whenever we as an office just say hey, this happened and there is a need, our agents are there writing checks, bringing items, asking what we can do,” said Love.

When the Berry Creek Fire hit this year, Love reached out to the Red Cross to see how the Century 21 Select Real Estate Group could help. Century 21 Select partnered with the Red Cross by creating a microsite to raise funds. Their marketing team leveraged their extensive email distribution lists and social media channels to promote fundraising efforts. Along with committing to company donation, Century 21 Select will match the first $10,000 donated by Nov. 2, 2020. 

“Disaster after disaster, we’ve all become accustomed to being prepared for the next disaster. We’re just there to do whatever we can,” Love said.

“The fact of the matter is it just started from one person to another, no corporate solicitation or marketing campaign, just one person to another in the middle of a crazy disaster.”

“That’s the way I think of the Red Cross. It’s just one person to another. I am just so impressed with who the Red Cross is and what they do.”

Sleeves Up Blood Drive & Fundraising Event a Great Success

Thank you to all the blood donors who made Friday’s Sleeves Up Blood Drive and Fundraising Event a success!

We collected 75 units of blood at Sutter Health Park, home of the Sacramento River Cats. That amount can potentially save 225 lives!

A special thanks to our sponsors, including Sutter Health, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento, Reliable GMC, Port of Stockton, UC Davis Health and SMUD.

If you want to register to donate blood — including at our Nov. 5 blood drive with the Sacramento Kings, visit redcrossblood.org. Text SLEEVESUP to 41411 to support this critical lifesaving work with a financial contribution.

Warehouse Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Woods

One the critical parts of our mission is moving relief goods where they’re needed most. Mike Woods is currently a one-man team in Yuba City, getting supplies ready and shipped off to areas of the state where the Red Cross is helping people affected by wildfires.

If you’d like to volunteer to help Mike, or join the Red Cross in other capacities, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.