Pillowcase Project Prepares Local Girl Scouts for Emergencies







Joanna Madison brought many important lessons to the Girl Scouts who attended a recent Pillowcase Project session at the American Red Cross Gold Country office in Sacramento. But perhaps most important of all was this:

“Nothing in this world is more valuable than you.”

The Pillowcase Project, sponsored by Disney, is a preparedness education program for grades 3 – 5 that teaches students about personal and family preparedness, safety skills, local hazards, and basic emergency coping skills. Upon completion, students decorate a sturdy pillowcase which they can fill with personal emergency supplies.

With messages like “Turn around. Don’t drown,” and “Get low and go,” Madison cautioned her young students not to let curiosity get in the way of safety. These easy-to-remember phrases, combined with information about what to put in a preparedness kit and how to handle feelings in an emergency, can make coping with a disaster a little less stressful for 8- to 11-year-olds.

Haley Cantu, one of the Girl Scouts who attended the session, learned how important it is to practice a two-minute fire evacuation plan and stay informed.  “You should do what an officer tells you to do if there is an emergency,” she said.

Haley’s sister Veronica took home some important safety tips, too. “If there is a flood don’t walk in it,” she said. “Or if there is a fire, find the nearest exit, either by a window or back door, and don’t wait to grab anything—just get out quick.”img_4651

Their mother, Jessica, said she will be assembling a backpack with emergency supplies like a flashlight, batteries, money, water, some food or snacks, band aids, and medication. Another takeaway for her: “Keeping that pillow case under the bed, ready to grab with things that you need—maybe a brush tooth brush, or change of clothes,” she said. “Simple stuff to get you by.”

Madison and other Pillowcase Project presenters have provided this valuable safety training to 374 students through the Gold Country Region since July 2016. Their goal is to reach 2500 students by June of next year.





2016 Red Cross Classic Sponsors Support Gold Country Mission


Prepare, respond, recover.

Every year, the American Red Cross Gold Country Region team works hard to carry out its mission of alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.

In recent months, volunteers and staff have supported relief efforts for people displaced by wildfires in California, floods in Louisiana, and a hurricane in the southeast. Over the past year, Gold Country Disaster Assistance Teams have responded to over 700 incidents, mostly home fires. 3

Without the generosity of our donors, these responses would not have been possible.

We would like to thank the following supporters of our 2016 Red Cross Golf Classic, whose sponsorship helps make the Gold Country Region stronger and more prepared each day.

Title Sponsor               Integral Investment Advisors

Dinner/Auction           TD Ameritrade

Lunch                              Anheuser Busch

Breakfast                       Formulation Technology

North Course               PG&E

Volunteer                     Encore Glass

VSP Global

Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuks/Black Oak Casino

Hole-in-One              Niello Audi

Mazda of Elk Grove

Appetizer                   Rancho Murieta Country Club

Adopt-a-Hole          Nationwide Insurance (2)

Rancho Murieta Homes & Land

Superior Signs

Family First Mortgage

VSP Global (2)


Jackson Rancheria

ServPro of Rancho Cordova

Sysco (2)

Marcus H. Bole & Associates


Meet Sheri Bethoney

sheribRed Cross Gold Country searched far and wide for a Youth Services Coordinator, and recently found the talented Sheri Bethoney. Sheri joins us after previous work with National Geographic and USGS.

As the Youth Services Coordinator, Sheri coordinates the Red Cross Clubs at high schools and colleges throughout the region. Red Cross Clubs empower students with knowledge and life-saving skills to help prepare their schools and communities to respond to emergencies. Several robust clubs meet regularly around the Sacramento area, and Sheri is looking to expand the program into more schools throughout the region.

Sheri is very familiar with the local school districts, having lived in Sacramento most of her life. Outside of work, she loves learning, hiking, and listening to music.

If you know a student who would like to start a Red Cross Club at his/her school, please contact Sheri at: Sheri.Bethoney@RedCross.org

ARC + DHS + RSVP + CC = Safer, Better Informed Seniors

By Denise Nordell, Volunteer


Even if you’re not great at math, this equation makes sense.

Recently, Red Cross volunteers gathered in the Modesto office to assemble 1,200 information kits for distribution to area seniors. The preparedness items and safety information were provided with support from The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as part of an effort to better prepare seniors and other home-bound individuals for emergencies.

But how to get these important kits into the hands of seniors? Modesto Red Cross staffer Victoria Donoso has both a passion for serving elders and close ties with Catholic Charities in Modesto, which administers many programs for seniors, including transportation. Victoria reached out to her contact at Catholic Charities and a plan was soon formed.

In short order, Red Cross volunteers assembled the bags and delivered them to Catholic Charities. Soon the kits were on their way to the people who could best use them. Many were delivered by members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) who often support the Modesto Red Cross office. RSVP volunteers receive the added benefit of reimbursement for their mileage logged in service to seniors.


The kits will also be distributed at Red Cross events and key educational events held by SEAPA (Stanislaus Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance).

In an equation like this, everyone wins:

+ The Red Cross fulfills its mission of preventing suffering

+ DHS accomplishes its goal of disseminating potentially life-saving tools

+ RSVP volunteers perform a vital service to seniors

+ Catholic Charities clients receive contact and support

=  Most importantly, 300 seniors will be better equipped to contend with a disaster if one should occur.


A Day–or Two–in the Life of a DAT Member


By Heath Wakelee

On Monday, August 15, the phone rang while I was giving a disaster preparedness talk at the Marriott Hotel in Rancho Cordova. Ten minutes later, I looked at the phone and saw a Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) response request. Three adults needed help. I called Teresa Cameron to see if she would find someone to go on the call.  She volunteered to go herself. Yeah, Teresa!

I left Rancho Cordova, picked up Teresa in Roseville and we raced up to Auburn to find none of the three occupants of the single-family home at the scene.  One of the occupants was driving up to Nevada County, so we called Disaster Program Manager (DPM) Tami Martin.  Tami then called and asked Ned Russell from our Northeast Chapter to assist the client.  Thankfully, Ned agreed.  We left Red Cross contact information at the fire location.

That night I went to sleep at 9:30 because my alarm was set to go off at 4:00 A.M. so I could help out at the Channel 13/31 telethon for flood and fire victims. I wasn’t asleep for long. The phone rang at 1:30 A.M. with another fire call in Auburn: seven adults and two children.  I called Beryl Mayne and she said she could respond.  Others were hard to come by, but Herman Buckley in Roseville agreed to go.

I checked my phone again.  Another DAT call.

This one was for one adult in Roseville, so at 1:45 A.M., I called Teresa—again.  She is great!  She said she could respond, so I turned the Roseville call over to her.  Teresa called Arry Murphy and the two headed off to eventually find two adults with one child needing assistance. (Very frequently the head count is different from what we are initially told and often the address is close, but not 100% accurate.  We deal with the situation we find when we get there.)

Into the car. I headed for the Red Cross office in Auburn, where Beryl, Herman and I planned to meet.  Our call was in a remote part of Auburn and we finally arrived at about 2:45 A.M.  We ended up with three family units all needing assistance.  At 4:00 A.M. we headed to the Auburn office to get WiFi reception so we could activate their Client Assistance Cards (CACs).  Finally finished, we called the clients to inform them that their CACs had been activated and told them what their case numbers were.

Teresa and Arry did a great job on their call in Roseville. Now I could try to be a perky person and answer phones in West Sacramento. I arrived at the telethon at about 6:15 A.M. and had a good, positive experience.  That is, until around 1 P.M. when my head was hurting from hitting the table (not really, but I was tired). Janelle Weiner (our temporary Lilly Wyatt, Communications Director) asked if I would like to come back at 5 P.M. for a TV interview and I politely declined.

I headed home to do the DCSOPS reports and finally napped at 4:00 P.M.

Placer DAT had three DAT calls in 12 hours—a record for Placer County.  We did it and could have handled another call or two.  Placer DAT rocks!  Thanks again to Teresa, Arry, Beryl, Herman and Ned.

Many Regions, One Purpose

Sand Fire – July 2016

A resourceful development officer and some swift correspondence across regional Red Cross lines has helped launch the recovery relief process for a Southern California firefighter whose home was destroyed in the Sand Fire.


Holding HandsOccupied with the demands of fighting the blaze, which to date has consumed over 40,000 acres and 18 structures, the firefighter was not able to tap into Red Cross services after he learned of his lost home. He had secured a temporary place to stay, but his departure date from that location was rapidly approaching.

That’s when his childhood friend Laurie Gallo stepped in. Gallo called Kristen Kirkpatrick, Chief Development Officer for the Gold Country Region, with the news of her friend’s unfortunate loss. Knowing the firefighter and his family could need long-term recovery assistance, Kirkpatrick immediately reached out to Los Angeles Region colleague, Davi Weber.

Weber soon zipped a message back to Gold Country that Disaster Case Manager Alex Rose would work to contact the firefighter and open a case file for him right away. With a case established, the firefighter can receive immediate assistance as well as help developing a long-term recovery plan.

Working as one Red Cross, Gold Country and Los Angeles came together to provide essential, timely services for a first responder who put others’ needs before his own. The Red Cross Los Angeles Region has provided shelter, meals, snacks and comfort items to hundreds of evacuees since the Sand Fire began.

To see more photos of the American Red Cross Sand Fire response,  please visit here.

Seniors Take Charge in their Community Installing Smoke Alarms

It’s about Time…

Two minutes, to be exact.

In this agonizingly short timeframe, a family can win or lose its fight to escape a home fire and the lethal smoke created by that fire.   One device can even the odds for a family:  tested, working smoke alarms.

Our golden age community members understand this; they know there’s never any time to waste so these seniors didn’t.

Partnering with the American Red Cross, they took matters into their own hands.  They knocked on doors, hauled ladders, drilled into walls, mounted alarms, replaced dead batteries, shared fire prevention tips, and documented their results in a smoke alarm installation campaign. In just four-days they saw 20% of their neighborhood homes equipped with brand new 10-year-battery smoke alarms.  The group visited more than 100 homes installing 225 alarms.

They were the disaster volunteers of Mobile County Club in Rancho Cordova who carried out the project with the support of their management and Home Owners Association.

Nothing stopped them, not even temperatures which topped 100 degrees.  Red Cross staff and volunteers, in some cases half the age of their clients, did their best to keep up.  “They set a pace we haven’t seen before,” said Myisha Aban, Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Manager. “These people are so resilient and delightful. I wish my grandmother lived here.”

Equally important, residents were given safety literature emphasizing the all-imperative escape plan, ensuring that a two-minute evacuation strategy would not fail due to blocked or inaccessible exits or pathways to safety unknown to anyone in the household.

Spearheading the charge was Antonio Martinez, HOA Treasurer and the tireless promoter of disaster preparedness for his community of mobile homes.  Tony initiated this project when he called the Red Cross inquiring for free vests.  Joining Tony were residents Bob Schroeder, Lyle Fellows, Bill Johnston, Darrill Sturgeon, Jorge (Chiqui) Nievies, Linda Martinez, Deborah Fieldson, and Irene Ferraro.

The group proved itself not only handy but tireless.  Keeping up with them (or trying to) were Veteran Red Cross volunteer Marcus Heningburg who oversaw Operations along with David Hansen, Todd and Terry Sanford, Isadora Marks, Reena Singh, and Patricia Davis, all of the American Red Cross.

Start to finish, the project was encouraged by Property Manager Leslie Gomez and Office Assistant Kelly Boughton; their support and hospitality contributed significantly to the event’s success.

The alarms and batteries were provided free of charge as benefits of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide movement to cut by 25% and over a five-year period deaths from home fires.

Coast-to-coast, the fire service has supported the campaign and did so here.  On the first day, a ladder company from Sacramento Metropolitan Fire walked with volunteers and encouraged neighbors to join the movement at Mobile Country Club.

…because Tony and his friends aren’t done.

They’ve got more of that Park to cover.  And they will.

Given several factors, the Red Cross encourages all mobile home parks and their managements to consider a Home Fire Campaign for smoke alarm installation and community disaster education. For more information or to schedule installations visit our website: redcross.org/GoldCountry and click on Home Fire Campaign.