SMUD Partners with Red Cross in Support of Sickle Cell Initiative

By Peg Taylor, Volunteer

The American Red Cross and SMUD have joined together to support the American Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative and address the critical need for blood specific to the needs of those with sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease affects about 100,000 people nationwide with more than 400 patients residing in the Sacramento area. People with sickle cell disease live with extreme pain, anemia, tissue and organ damage and stroke.

READ: Local boy, 10, struggles with sickle cell disease; Family encourages blood donations to help

There is no cure for sickle cell disease but treatment through frequent blood transfusions can help prevent or reduce these symptoms. It has been found that blood donations from African-American donors can decrease complications related to transfusion therapy needed by sickle cell patients who receive lifelong transfusions.

Patients need as many as 10 units of blood every month. This need, along with a shortage of donors, has resulted in a dire need for African-American blood donations.

The American Red Cross is well placed to help meet this need, as the organization manages about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. The American Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative was born out of the need to increase the amount of blood products available for people with sickle cell disease by increasing the number of currently underrepresented African American donors nationwide. 

The Sickle Cell Initiative has a nationwide goal to triple the number of African-American blood donors by the end of December 2024.

READ: The blood donation process

“My experience with donating blood (to the Red Cross) was easy from start to finish. From the time I called over the phone, to the time I was sitting in the chair donating, the experience felt welcoming and safe. Everything was explained to me about the collection process. The staff were patient and accommodating,” said Anya-Jael Woods, with SMUD’s Sustainable Community Partnerships.

“The education I was provided about sickle cell disease and how blood donations help the community living with the disease made the process that much more impactful for me.  It was a blessing to be a part of this drive and I look forward to participating again.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Volunteers needed to help with blood donations

To schedule your appointment or for more information visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

The Red Cross is now screening self-identified African-American donors for the sickle cell trait to help patients in need. Click here for more information on the American Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative or to schedule a blood donation.

We thank SMUD for their partnership in bringing awareness to sickle cell disease.

Meet Board Chair Roxanne Gould

Sierra-Delta Board Chair Roxanne Gould

By Peg Taylor, Volunteer

Throughout 2023, we are introducing you to the board of directors for our Sierra-Delta and Northern California chapters.

We begin with current Chair of the Sierra-Delta board, Roxanne Gould, who first came in contact with the Red Cross as a child when her family survived a home fire.

Roxanne, who is president of her firm Gould Government Relations, has been a member of American Red Cross Gold Country Region Board of Directors since 2016 and was appointed Board Chair in 2022.

When she was five years old, Roxanne lived through an apartment fire that she says was only survivable because of the quick thinking of her brother who saved both Roxanne and her mother.

She remembers sitting in a car watching their home burn to the ground and recalls Red Cross volunteers placing a blanket around her shoulders and giving her mom money for food, motel and other necessities.

Roxanne considers the Red Cross volunteers who helped her family that night as her heroes.

Roxanne has been driven to support the work of the California Gold Country Region through her work on the Board of Directors, and by volunteering her time with Sound the Alarm, the Pillowcase Project, various telethons and blood drives. She is also a member of the Red Cross Tiffany Circle, a community of women leaders who carry on Red Cross founder Clara Barton’s legacy by advancing the Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure.

“I am always moved by the generosity of our donors in times of trouble. Donors know and understand the work of the Red Cross. I certainly do and will continue to give back for the rest of my life,” she says.

We thank Roxanne for her continued work on behalf of the Red Cross.

Embassy Suites Employees Honored by Red Cross After Saving Colleague’s Life

The importance of learning CPR is front and center in the news right now after Buffalo Bills star Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during a recent NFL game.

The American Red Cross not only teaches CPR and other lifesaving skills but regularly recognizes people who save lives after taking such training.

This is one of our favorite stories out of the California Gold Country Region: two hotel employees who helped save the life of a coworker. And they were taught CPR by a manager who was also trained by the Red Cross!

Visit redcross.org/take-a-class today.

Gold Country News and Notes

IMG_2171 Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront employees David Thrailkill and Amit Raj, along with their colleague and Red Cross CPR instructor Darryl Smalley (from left to right) were recognized with the Red Cross Lifesaving Award in January.

CPR and first aid classes are something that so many of us are mandated to do in our respective fields. It can become something that we dread if we already feel proficient and have been re-certified countless times. There are times, however, that this class proves most useful and ultimately saves a life.

For years, Darryl Smalley, the security manager of Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront, has been certifying his employees in CPR and first aid. By providing this service to them, Darryl was able to equip two employees with the skills and knowledge that they needed to save a friend and coworker.

On Thursday, June 6, 2019, at about 8 a.m., David Thrailkill, the guest…

View original post 374 more words

Red Cross Continues to Respond as Bomb Cyclone Impacts California

This information was last updated on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 8:00 a.m. Please check back regularly for updates.

Flooding, along with the potential for power outages and landslides, will impact the state through this weekend into next week. The American Red Cross has mobilized resources and is collaborating with government and community partners to respond to this storm. Nearly 400 Red Cross workers from across the country, along with shelters and supplies, have been activated to accommodate residents evacuated from their homes.

This online story map offers a look at the ongoing response to California floods; this map is updated as more information and stories from the ground are available.

Statewide Red Cross, County and Partner Shelter Information by County:

Everyone is welcome at a Red Cross shelter. All Red Cross disaster assistance is free. Current list denotes open shelters managed and/or supported by the Red Cross, county or community partners.

  • Amador County
    • Evelynn-Bishop Hall (located in Charles Howard Park)
      • 701 CA-124, Ione, CA 95640. MAP
  • Santa Clara County
    • Seven Trees Community Center
      • 3590 Cas Drive, San Jose, CA 95111. MAP
    • Camden Community Center
      • 3369 Union Avenue, San Jose, CA 95124. MAP
    • San Martin Lions Club
      • 12415 Murphy Avenue, San Martin, CA 95046. MAP
  • San Mateo County
    • San Mateo County Event Center
      • 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403. MAP
  • Santa Cruz County
    • Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds – JJ Crosetti Building, Fine Arts and Harvest Hall
      • 2601 E. Lake Avenue, Watsonville, CA 95076. MAP
    • Cabrillo College – Cafeteria
      • 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA 95003. MAP
  • Merced County
    • Merced County Fairgrounds – Yosemite Hall, Half Dome Hall, Pavilion Hall
      • 900 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Merced, CA 95341.MAP
    • Merced County Spring Fair
      • 403 F Street, Los Banos, CA 93635. MAP
    • Atwater City Community Center
      • 760 E. Bellevue Road, Atwater, CA 95301. MAP
  • Monterey County
    • Prunedale Grange Hall
      • 17890 Moro Road, Salinas, CA 93907. MAP
    • Monterey County Fairgrounds-Monterey Hall
      • 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey, CA 93940. MAP
    • King City High School
      • 720 Broadway Street, King City, CA 93930. MAP
    • Sherwood Hall
      • 940 North Main Street, Salinas, CA 93906. MAP
  • Sacramento County
    • California State Fairgrounds-Cal Expo
      • 1600 Exposition Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95815. MAP
  • Stanislaus County
    • Yolo Middle School
      • 901 Hoyer, Newman, CA 95360. MAP
  • Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Tulare and Ventura Counties

Click here for an updated list of all shelters.

Safety Information and How You Can Help 

Pack your emergency kit, know your routes and destinations, and listen to the advice of emergency officials. Download the free Red Cross Emergency app for real-time weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and expert advice on storms and flooding. Search “American Red Cross” wherever you download apps or go to redcross.org/apps

Flooding Safety

  • Stay off the roads and away from floodwaters. If you must drive, avoid flooded roadways. If power lines are down, call 9-1-1 and don’t approach or step in any puddles or standing water near the downed lines. 
  • Follow evacuation orders and don’t return home until officials say it is safe to do so. 
  • Use caution when cleaning up your home and wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and boots. Throw out items that absorb water and can’t be disinfected, and dispose of all food, drinks and medications that have either spoiled or been damaged. 
  • For more information, visit redcross.org/flood

Landslide Safety 

  • Stay informed about the risk of landslides in your area. Most landslides are caused by events like heavy rain, snowmelt, earthquakes or wildfires. 
  • If you suspect you are in danger, evacuate immediately. Take your pets with you, inform your neighbors and contact emergency officials. 
  • Listen for unusual sounds like trees cracking or boulders knocking together that could indicate moving debris. 
  • For more information, visit redcross.org/landslide

Blood During Disasters 

  • The Red Cross is working to maintain a stable blood supply amid the threat of storms and winter weather across the country, as severe weather often causes widespread blood drive cancellations. Where it is safe to do so, we encourage donors to make and keep blood donation appointments by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

Help Those in Need 

You can help people affected by disasters like storms and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767), or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

Sign Up to Volunteer 

While volunteering needs are in flux as the current weather event passes through our region, we are likely going to need more volunteers to support our response in the coming days. Be on the lookout for more information on ways you can help as needs evolve! 

Stay Up-to-Date on Social Media 

Updated information on the Red Cross response to this storm, and preparedness information is continually updated on regional social media channels. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ARCGoldCountry. We’re on LinkedIn here.

Red Cross Nurse Helps Humboldt County Resident Stay Calm and Even Fix Water Heater After Earthquake

Mark Mowrey is a volunteer nurse with the California Gold Country Region of American Red Cross.

By Nate Russell, Disaster Program Manager

Mark Mowrey is a retired nurse and spends much of his time with the American Red Cross plying his skills as a Disaster Health Services volunteer.

When disaster struck Mark’s community in southern Humboldt County this week, Mark donned his Red Cross vest and sprung to action.

Shortly after Mark arrived at the shelter, a woman had registered for assistance who was visibly distraught. As Mark observed her talking with the shelter staff, he could see that she was becoming overwhelmed with worry so he did exactly what he did with his patients in his former job as a nurse. He sat down with her and asked her to tell her story.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake had shaken a pipe free from her water heater and had started to leak water all over her basement. For some, this might be a minor inconvenience and a quick fix, but for a disaster evacuee, there are myriad invisible compounding stressors that can make even the smallest problems seem daunting.

I’ve done it many times in the ER and in the Red Cross,” Mark said. “Asking people to tell their story relieves some of that pressure that they are feeling. It allows them to vent, to process, and to problem solve.”

The woman was able to start at the beginning and tell Mark about all the factors, large and small, that were contributing to her stress. It all culminated to a broken water heater that she hadn’t the slightest idea how to fix.

“She told me what kind of water heater she had, so I was able to help her figure out what part she needed, and gave her directions to a local hardware store.”

Armed with a plan and a clear path forward, the evacuee’s spirits were visibly raised as she set out from the shelter.

That’s what I love about being a nurse and what I love being a Red Cross volunteer,” Mark said. “I love helping people find a pathway to help solve their problems. It feels good to help someone else tackle that overwhelming dilemma so they can take back that sense of control and, well, take a shower!”

Consider supporting our volunteer nurses and our disaster responders in your community by making a donation today. You can also sign up to volunteer!

‘You Need to Upgrade Once in a While’ – Why We Need Your Support for a New Emergency Response Vehicle

By Robin Blomster, Volunteer

Just how food and supplies expire, the American Red Cross needs to retire its emergency response vehicles every few years. 

Why?

“Imagine showing up to your work … in a 1972 Datsun,” said Bob Willmon, Disaster Action Team Captain and Logistics Co-Lead for the California Gold Country Region. “That’s about where our existing ERV status in this region is. You need to upgrade once in a while.”

WATCH: Take a look at how critical ERVs are to our lifesaving mission

Through Dec. 31, the California Gold Country is asking donors to help raise $150,000 to purchase a new Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to better serve local residents and people around the country who are affected by disasters large and small.

The next-generation American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle

WATCH: Tour a next-generation ERV

The modern ERV has lots of functional amenities like two rows of shelves, sturdy storage and even a pop-out back window to more easily distribute aid in crisis situations.

“These fires, these emergencies, they almost never happen on a beautiful 70 degree day,” Willmon said. “They’re always rainy, they’re always cold, it’s always in the middle of the night. So to have a vehicle like this to have a platform to do what we do to help people is awesome.”

The ERV is based on the Mercedes Sprinter and drives as easily as a sedan, according to some volunteers. Among many other things, it comes with a CB radio that allows for communication with the command center even when traditional lines are down. It’s also more fuel efficient than previous models, so is a great investment in efficiency and maintenance. 

The vehicle can fit three people while driving, and up to five or six when stationary, turning into a quiet space for decompressing. 

See how Red Cross volunteers served our 26-county region in 2022

“The energy that goes on in an emergency scene is palatable,” Willmon said. “When you can come in here and close the doors, block out all that kind of stuff, they can sit in here and take a break. And our volunteers … can sit down with them and calm them down.” 

Click here to learn more about the ERV and contribute toward our ERV fundraising campaign.

New Americorps Member Ready to Help Hurricane Ian Evacuees

By Jenny Farley

Americorps member Ajaya Fullmore

One of the California Gold Country Region’s newest Americorps members is anxiously awaiting word on whether she will deploy to Florida to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian.

It would be Ajaya Fullmore’s first deployment as she continues to settle into her new job working in Disaster Services.

“I want to be there to help everybody,” she said.

Losing two women in her life who meant everything to her inspired Ajaya to seek the assignment with the Red Cross. “Once you get into the American Red Cross you start to think, ‘I’m here for a mission.’ It’s changing my life already.”

Ajaya’s sister Mahogany died two years ago and her grandmother Brenda Ann died recently. “She has been a woman in my life that I look up to. She was into making a difference. She was a humanitarian.”

Ajaya Fullmore with her sister, Mahogany and grandmother Brenda Ann.

In that humanitarian spirit, the Red Cross has had more than a thousand workers and volunteers helping provide shelter, food and meals in states impacted by Ian.

Ajaya is ready to go but she’s asking herself a few questions. “I want to see the impact I can make. Can I be in these shelters and make these people comfortable? Can I do the things I am sent there to do?” she said.

Seeing media coverage of Hurricane Ian’s destruction makes Ajaya feel for those who have lost their homes and belongings. “My heart goes out to those people. These individuals have built their lives in their homes. For all that hard work to just disappear within a matter of hours or days, that’s a scary thing.”

More than a hundred people lost their lives in Hurricane Ian. If Ajaya deploys to Florida, memories of her grandmother and sister won’t be far away. “I do this to honor her. My grandma was the embodiment of love.”

Despite knowing the deployment may be challenging, Ajaya said she’s not worried about her own life. She wants to show people in Florida that it doesn’t matter where you are, the message is the same.

“Love is nationwide and I am here to spread it.”

To learn about volunteering with the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Local boy, 10, struggles with sickle cell disease; Family encourages blood donations to help

Jah’Sear Lusk, 10, is a sickle cell anemia patient in the Sacramento area. His family encourages people to donate blood at redcrossblood.org to see if they have antigens that can be used to treat the disease.

Editor’s note: September was Sickle Cell Awareness Month, a time when the American Red Cross emphasizes the importance of a diverse blood supply to help meet the needs of those with sickle cell disease – the most common inherited blood disorder in the U.S. Since the California Gold Country Region’s social media space has been so focused on the wildfires that have ravaged much of Northern California, we chose to wait until now to share Jah’Sear Lusk’s story to give it the attention it deserves.

By Robin Blomster, Volunteer

Sickle cell anemia is an insidious disease. It sneaks around in deformed blood cells, painfully blocking oxygen, creating clots and affecting the body’s ability to fight infections. And it’s not satisfied with a physical toll – it wreaks havoc on the mental health of a patient and their community, too.

The American Red Cross is bringing awareness to the disease and the ongoing need for research, blood donations and work toward a cure. Sickle cell anemia affects approximately 100,000 individuals in the United States, one of whom is Jah’Sear Lusk, 10.

Jah’Sear was born with sickle cell anemia (SCA), and the physical and mental challenges have shaped his life and the lives of his Northern California family for nearly a decade. 

“From ages 1 to 3, he was always sick,” said Jah’Sear’s mom, Andrea Lusk. She kept a “go bag” in the car because of the frequency with which she was visiting doctors.

“When you’re immune compromised, you catch viruses and infections easily. And SCA patients (are kept for) 72 hours … to run tests, take labs, and make sure … antibiotics are working. Every month and a half I was (in the hospital).”  

The most serious complication of Jah’Sear’s illness hit him when he was just 3 years old. 

“He had a bad virus. His fever never broke,” Andrea said. “His body became very inflamed, and then he had a massive ischemic stroke when he was 3, in 2016.”

Because he was 3, he’s had remarkable “get back,” how Andrea terms his recovery. He had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again. He was left with physical disability, mental/cognitive disability and vision impairment, and he’s a fall risk. 

“He’s struggling. I’m getting him all the help he can get. It’s a struggle for him and he has a lot of self awareness (at this age). He asks, ‘Why did God let this happen to me?’ It was the hardest thing to answer. I knew it was coming. I ask God to give me the words to say to him to continue to build his confidence.”

Andrea has made it her life’s work to advocate for her son. She says she’s grateful to have her “village,” which includes her husband, William; her mom, Linda Castro; and her aunt, Patricia Franklin, who is a retired UC Davis registered nurse. But even so, it’s not easy. 

When you donate, blood is tested for specific antigens that are needed to treat sickle cell disease. If your blood contains those characteristics, the Red Cross will let you know so you can help sickle cell patients by donating whole blood, plasma or platelets. 

“We both work, we’re both self employed, which is amazing because at any given minute I have to drop everything to go be there with him. My husband doesn’t get to go to work, I don’t get to go to work (when Jah’Sear needs support),” Andrea said. “There are mental health ramifications for everyone involved. I can’t imagine other families and what they’re going through when I already know what I’m going through.” 

Jah’Sear’s ongoing treatment is blood exchanges every five weeks, which are done through an apheresis machine. Many patients get transfusions, Andrea said, but she advocated for Jah’Sear to have apheresis because it pulls out a portion of the patient’s blood while giving them new blood. 

“It’s like an oil change,” she said. 

While there are promising treatments on the horizon, like DNA editing, for now because of Jah’Sear’s medical conditions he relies on blood.

“It’s life threatening. People with sickle cell wouldn’t be able to survive without blood donors. And we greatly appreciate it.”

Sickle cell is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States and affects individuals of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. The majority are of African descent, and blood from donors of the same race or similar ethnicity is important in ensuring the best results, with the least potential reaction.

When you donate, blood is tested for specific antigens that are needed to treat sickle cell disease. If your blood contains those characteristics, the Red Cross will let you know so you can help sickle cell patients by donating whole blood, plasma or platelets. 

Call us at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800­-733-2767) or download the free Blood Donor App for more information or to schedule a blood donation appointment.

Red Cross works closely with local departments after wildfires to help residents

By Alicia Dorr

“We’re grateful the Red Cross is here.”

The Mosquito Wildfire was first detected more than three weeks ago, but residents near it are still reeling from its destruction. As Red Cross volunteers go into the communities to help families get back on their feet, fire information officers Kimberly Peterson and Andrew Dowd are also in the community working to educate residents about wildfires.

“This is such a great classroom for talking about wildfire,” Andrew says.

The Red Cross partners closely with local officials to help communities get on the road to recovery – but also to help educate on how to protect your family should a fire spark again. For the Red Cross, this means offering hope for the future through immediate assistance or resources like our Emergency Preparedness App. Kimberly says hope is what they want to share, too.

“Life is still here,” Kimberly says. “In those areas where the fire cleared up the forest floor, new growth will come back – not all is lost.”

Kimberly and Red Cross disaster job director Betsy Witthohn discussed ways buildings can be protected, from prescribed burns by local fire departments to ensuring low brush is cleared out around your home. Kimberly also shared that the red fire retardant used to push back fires has ammonium nitrate in it.

“It actually puts nutrients back in the soil,” she explains.

Red Cross volunteers go into the communities affected by the Mosquito Fire doing everything from handing out clean-up kits to connecting people with long-term resources, and they interact regularly with local officials who are also the boots on the ground. Kimberly says it does not go unnoticed.

“We’re grateful the Red Cross is here,” she says.

To find out more about how you can prepare your family for disasters, or to find out how you can donate or volunteer, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcross.org.

Recovering from the wildfire: A story in pictures

By Alicia Dorr

Volunteers have been at Local Assistance Centers and out in the communities helping and caring for residents affected by the wildfires. Call 1-800-RED CROSS to donate or find out more about how you can get involved with the mission.