“All is Not Lost”: A Carr Fire Survivor Shares Her Story

Los Angeles-based Red Cross volunteer Carmela Burke recently completed her deployment to the Carr Fire in Redding where she assisted the public affairs team. While there, she got the chance to interview Terry Zeller, a resident whose home burned in the fire.

But thanks to the help from firefighters and the support of friends and neighbors, Zeller said, “All is not lost.”

Read her story here.


Twice is Enough

By Georgia Duncan

“I couldn’t believe it could happen twice.” That’s how Heather Hournay, an Event Based Volunteer with the American Red Cross, began our conversation.

Heather and her family reside in Redding, California. She explained that on Friday the 13th in January, 2017 she and her family were sleeping when her husband awoke and discovered a fire in the ceiling of their daughter’s room. Just as the family had everyone and all the pets out of the house there was an explosion and the home was destroyed.

Heather said her church contacted the Red Cross and a Disaster Action Team arrived at her home. Red Cross volunteers offered the family comfort, gave them much-needed hugs and offered them assistance to get through the next few days. The family began their road to recovery.

Fast-forward to Thursday, July 26, 2018. The Carr Fire began moving toward her new home. Heather and her husband gathered their children, their pet rabbit, Guinea pig and dog and fled to a friend’s home.  As of today she is unsure if she has a home to return to.

Knowing her family was safe, Heather began searching for a place she could help others affected by the fire. She found the shelter at Shasta College that was helping evacuees. She found the Red Cross new volunteer intake area and applied. “It only took about 15 minutes and I was an official Event Based Volunteer,” reported Heather. Immediately she began talking to evacuees, offering a sympathetic ear and when appropriate, a hug. Heather said she has laughed and cried with other in the same situation she finds herself.

When asked she had decided to volunteer, Heather said, “I just had to work and serve to get through this.”

Carr Fire Shelter Update

(Redding, Calif., Saturday, July 28, 2018) — The Red Cross has opened new shelters to accommodate additional evacuees of the Carr Fire.

A new shelter is open at Trinity High School, 321 Victory Lane, Weaverville, CA, 96093. The shelter at Weaverville Elementary School is now closed. Evacuees from that shelter are moving to the Trinity High School site.

In addition, a new shelter is open at Foothill High School, 9733 Deschutes Rd, Palo Cedro, CA, 96073.

Carr Fire evacuees can also visit the following Red Cross shelter sites: 

  • Crosspointe Community Church, 2960 Hartnell Avenue, Redding, CA, 96002
  • Simpson University, 2211 College View Dr, Redding, CA, 96003

The shelter at Shasta Community College, 11555 Old Oregon Trail, Redding, CA, 96003, is at maximum capacity. No additional clients are being accepted at that site.

Anyone is welcome at Red Cross shelters, including those with service animals. Shelter guests can expect a place to sleep, meals, drinks, snacks, comfort and the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and get information. Red Cross staff is on hand providing health services such as replacing lost medications and eyeglasses, emotional support and spiritual care.

The Red Cross urges everyone to follow evacuation orders from local law enforcement and to have an emergency kit ready to go. Find a shelter by visiting redcross.org or download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which includes wildfire safety tips. The app is available in app stores by searching for American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

If possible, people who stay in a Red Cross shelter should bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, other comfort items and important documents. It is also recommended to bring special items for children such as diapers, formula and toys.

The Red Cross delivers help to anyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or citizenship status. People who have disaster-caused needs do not need to be American citizens to access Red Cross services.

STAY CONNECTED WITH LOVED ONES: Visit the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org/safeandwell. The site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available, open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:  Help people affected by disasters by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

We Need Your Help! Join the Missing Types Campaign Today

This summer, the American Red Cross launched the Missing Types movement to educate the public about what happens when there’s a shortage of blood on hospital shelves. And now, we’re looking at that reality. There is an emergency need for blood.

The easiest way to help? Sign up to donate blood today.
Blood Services Vehicles 2013
Your generosity can help change lives and keep families together. Whether you donate solo or with a friend, patients will be so thankful for your kindness. It only takes about an hour, and your one donation may help save more than one life.

  Join the movement!  
If you aren’t eligible to donate blood, you can still help. Encourage your friends and family to take action and help save lives.

Gold Country Volunteer Says Kilauea Volcano Disaster was Like No Other

By Denise Nordell

Disaster Volunteer and Case Work Supervisor Jan Campbell has been deployed to more than 15 disasters since joining the Red Cross with her husband, Mike, in 2010. But Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano presented a unique set of challenges to Campbell and her fellow volunteers.

Campbell, shown on the far right in the above photo, was deployed on May 25, one of handful of Gold Country volunteers sent to relieve the first wave of volunteers who arrived soon after the volcano erupted on May 3. At that time, the Red Cross was operating shelters at the Keeau Senior Center (later moved to the Armory), Sure Foundation Church, and—the largest, sheltering more than 200 people—at Pahoa Community Center. Jan and her fellow volunteers were housed at the University of Hawaii dormitories during their stay; Campbell returned home on June 9.

Campbell, who has worked disasters all over the U.S., from the Rim Fire (2013) to Superstorm Sandy (2012-13) and Hurricane Matthew (2016), observed several things that set the Kilauea Volcano apart. For one, “With a fire or flood, the rain eventually stops, or the fire is contained, and you wait until the water or flames subside so people can go back in and reclaim and rebuild their homes.” But with a disaster like Kilauea, where the volcano is still destroying land and homes the situation is still very much in flux the “land” in many cases is gone, and only lava beds remain. Campbell’s task as Case Work Supervisor was to work with clients to plan their next steps toward recovery.

Campbell, who understands that relief missions can be complicated, especially when they involve multiple agencies, felt that the partnership between The Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, county agencies and other organizations worked well. This depended on clearly defined roles for each organization. “There are always bumps in the road, of course,” said Campbell. “But everything fell into place within a short time. When we all work together and focus on our mission — relieving suffering — small differences fall away.” Campbell commented that the supervisory structure for this event was one of the best and most efficient she has experienced.

Another difference that presented some challenges was becoming accustomed to the Hawaiian lifestyle. For example, a “house” might mean something different to an Islander: it might have one fixed wall and screens or fencing. How do you go about replacing that? Many Hawaiians also prefer to live “off the grid,” said Campbell. “They are more laid back and feel less urgency about their day-to-day lives.” This meant that Campbell and her fellow relief workers needed to listen carefully to understand what each client’s idea of recovery meant to him or her. “People are amazingly resilient,” said Campbell.  “But this will be a long haul and that resiliency can understandably wear thin.” Nevertheless, Campbell found her clients to be patient, understanding, and grateful for the assistance they received.

When not deployed, Campbell’s “Steady State” job is working as Territorial Disaster Workforce Engagement Lead. In this role, she helps disaster responders find the assignment that they will enjoy within the Disaster Workforce, guiding them in seeking training classes to give them skills and knowledge through Red Cross classes.

Regardless of the unique challenges Kilauea presents, “Our mission is always the same,” said Campbell. “We are there to relieve human suffering and help [clients] recover and move on.”


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Sign Up Now for Mind/Body Workshop

Our July 14 Mind Body Workshop is for U.S. military, military families, veterans, and friends of military/veterans.

The American Red Cross has created a new series of workshops that engages both the mind and body to address common stress reactions.

Red Cross Mind Body Workshops focus on the interaction between the mind and body and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly affect health.

Workshop participants practice skills like breathing and meditation, which are proven to lower stress and improve well-being.

Red Cross Mind Body Workshops complement the well-established Reconnection Workshops, which focus on growth through group discussion and skills building.

There is no magic bullet to heal the injuries received while serving our country. Healing takes time and happens differently for each person and family.

This one-time workshop will teach service members, veterans and their families/friends simple tools to help them stay grounded and refocus during times of stress.

Introduction to Mind-Body Skills is perfect for those that are who are just getting started or are hesitant about trying mind-body awareness. The workshop covers breathing, mindfulness techniques, stretching and movement, body awareness and guided imagery.

Space is limited so sign up here today!


Founders of Cpl. Palmer Foundation Share Why Operation Care Package Means So Much

As stated by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In this same vein, sometimes a life full of purpose begins with a single caring deed. For Chuck and Teri Palmer of Manteca, California, their journey began with the desire to take meaningful action following the combat death of their son Charles during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Corporal Charles O. Palmer II was your everyday sort of hero. He was the kind who knew his deepest sense of peace and purpose could only be found in service to others. After five years serving as a reservist in the Marine Corps, he called his father to say he wanted to enlist in the Marines fulltime and was not going to settle for anything less than a role at the epicenter of combat operations.

“I told him to sit on it for 30 days,” said Chuck Palmer, “make sure he was really thinking this through.”
Cpl. Palmer II wasn’t a naïve man. He knew the cost of service, saying, “Mom, I hope my wife understands I won’t be the same man as when I left.”

For someone called to service, wishing he was out there fighting beside his brothers-in-arms as soon as possible, it’s easy to imagine how long those 30 days must have felt. But wait he did. And enlist he did. And so began the daily badgering of his sergeant major, asking for combat placement until the commander finally tired of Charles’ persistence and gave him orders to report to Iraq’s Al Anbar province, a region thick within the soup of combat.

“Once he rejoined, he said, ‘I’m home and I’ve never been happier,’” says Chuck Palmer, who put aside his concerns for his son’s safety in the truest show of support a father can give.
On May 5, 2007, Corporal Palmer was killed during a security sweep when his Humvee stuck a roadside improvised explosive device. He was never assigned to the security detail, but was simply tasked with finding a replacement for a soldier injured on an earlier expedition.

For anyone who knows parents Chuck and Teri Palmer, it is clear where their son inherited his strength and courage. Within only a few short years they formed a far-reaching non-profit dedicated to caring for all sons and daughters busy in service to their country.

The Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Troop Support Program began with care packages sent to their son-in-law in early 2008 and grew to over 1,800 packages sent to troops stationed across the world by the end of the year. And their efforts only skyrocketed from there. Involved in everything from veteran suicide awareness to fundraising drives for family members of those lost in combat, Chuck and Teri have become a true force of support for our troops and those closest to them.

“We owe it to them to let our soldiers know they are loved and supported by the community,” said Teri Palmer.
And their reason for care packages? The joy on the soldiers’ faces in photos sent back in thanks for a little taste of home. Their biggest surprise? The way the community has come together to help rally support: raising funds, collecting goods, and coming together to package the items and see them off, including hand-written letters that soldiers say are every bit as heartening as the goods they receive.

According to Chuck and Teri, the real secret of their success in reaching so many has been collaboration. For the past three years they have been working with the American Red Cross which, thanks to programs such as Operation Care Package, “offer(s) gobs and gobs of supplies to local veteran organizations.”

According to Teri, Operation Care Package is “a very well-planned event. They knock on doors, working hard to get donations. It is clear that the Red Cross has a real desire to serve and protect. It’s an honor to be asked to part of it.”
The Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Troop Support Program welcomes addresses for care packages for soldiers stationed anywhere in the world as well as any family members of soldiers or veterans in need of a little heartfelt giving. Their non-profit operates entirely on word of mouth.

They can be found online at http://www.cplpalmertroopsupport.com/index.html and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cplpalmersupport/.