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.”

Registration Open for Drive Fore Disaster Relief Golf Tournament Benefiting the American Red Cross

Once again our partners at Rancho Murieta Country Club are hosting Drive Fore Disaster Relief, a golf tournament to benefit the American Red Cross!

Funds collected will benefit local Red Cross disaster relief and preparedness efforts.

There is still time to register so contact RMCC at the number or email addresses below. Hope to see you there!

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Wildfire Evacuee Thanks Red Cross Volunteers: ‘U Have No Idea’

By Stephanie Gaito, Volunteer

On Monday night, August 17, Margaret Grant received an after-hours call from her insurance agent. Evacuation warnings had been issued for the North Complex fires near Susanville, but she was waiting for more information.

Once the phone rang, Grant knew the call from her agent must be urgent, and she was correct. The agent urged her to immediately evacuate the home she shared with her fiancé and parents. Their property was in danger as the fire rapidly headed in their direction.

Grant and her fiancé, Rick Duckworth, moved six years ago to rural Susanville from Southern California to help her parents care for their family home and surrounding property. That Monday when they were evacuated, her family’s safety was the main concern. As each family member headed to a safe destination, her worries were put to rest.

“As long as my parents are safe with my brothers, Rick and I would have slept in our car and done whatever we needed to do,” Grant said.

Grant and Duckworth used their own resources to cover the expense of staying two nights at the Diamond Mountain Casino in Susanville. They didn’t want to bother anyone or use resources for others in need.

“At that point, it has been over two days, and we had pretty much run out of funds” she explained. “We didn’t know what we were going to do. Later that day, a lady called and asked if we had eaten, and at that point we hadn’t,” she explained through tears. “She called and took care of our food and she has called and checked on us every single day since.”

The woman who called Grant was a Red Cross volunteer, and she Textmade sure to take care of the family’s needs. The Red Cross assisted by covering additional nights at the hotel and by providing meal tickets and vouchers to Grant and her fiancé so their stay was as safe and hassle free as possible.

Grant and her family had made considerable efforts to protect their home from wildfire, including maintenance of defensible space and adding fire suppression tanks to the property. When asked if there was anything she would recommend to those looking to protect their homes, maintaining well equipment was high on her list. She said to make sure all equipment has been serviced and maintained to ensure sufficient water pressure, as this could save your home.

“I’m just grateful for the firefighters up here. Between the Red Cross and the firefighters, we would have lost our house if it wasn’t for them.”

If you would like to support Red Cross disaster relief efforts, visit redcross.org.

CA Gold Country Region Welcomes DPM Andrew Bogar

AndrewAndrew Bogar recently arrived from Alaska where he was the Disaster Program Manager for Juneau and Southeast Alaska for 4 1/2 years.

He joins the California Gold Country Region as the DPM for Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

He has worked very closely with tribal, government, and not-for-profit partners to build capacity to prepare, respond, and recovery from disasters in Alaska, ranging from wildfires to earthquakes.

Before coming to the Red Cross in 2014, Andrew served in the Alaska National Guard, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.

Welcome, Andrew!

Gold Country’s Victoria Donoso Reflects on Puerto Rico Quake Deployment

By Nick Blasquez, Red Cross Volunteer

PR1Four months after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook southwestern Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory continues to experience serious seismic activity – the latest a 4.2 magnitude quake on March 30.

This latest quake hit during a month-long curfew enforced to curb spread of the coronavirus.

The January earthquake left an estimated PR87,500 residents displaced. For American Red Cross Senior Engagement Specialist Victoria Donoso, the need for disaster assistance was too urgent to ignore.

It had been over 100 years since Puerto Ricans had experienced an earthquake of this magnitude. Houses made of cement to withstand hurricanes were defenseless against the tremors of a shaking earth.

“In this case, the biggest issue is the fear. People were fearful to go back into their homes, so they lost everything and just had to start again,” Victoria said.

PR7She deployed to San Juan after being requested for the job by name. Her role was three weeks as assistant director of workforce, only one of two trained for disaster assessment and emergency assistance.

On the front lines of the natural disaster, a unique challenge she faced was navigating the waters where Red Cross services met Puerto Rican governance. Sheltering and feeding was being done by the local government, providing services to only 2,000 residents who secured a place within the shelters.

PR6“People that were being counted were only those staying in government shelters, but the reality is there were encampments everywhere with sometimes hundreds of people who had never had anybody come out there to help them, yet.”

The primary role of the American Red Cross during this disaster was supporting the local government shelter efforts, but the undocumented encampments is where help was needed most.

PR5“Working with government agencies, they would notify us, ‘Hey, there’s an encampment of 80 people here. We need to get services to them,’” said Victoria.

She and her team of local volunteers traveled in vans to provide individual disaster care to those most in need. Water for those trapped under debris and so much bug spray to battle swarms of tropical biting insects. She would assess the encampments, reporting back on the condition of those present, especially those disabled and unable to seek shelter without assistance.

PR4Victoria had visited San Juan back in 1995, checking out the most populous, tourist-friendly areas of the city. This time around was different, experiencing the remote and devastated places few Americans will ever see, she was out in the jungle assisting people living in tents among piles of rubble.

Her personal takeaway? The resilience of the Puerto Rican people: always polite, generous, happy, and warm. “Very loving and very welcoming, I think this speaks a lot to the way they are going to handle the recovery process and the way they are going to persevere.”

15-Year Volunteer Jim Horning on Why Sound the Alarm is So Important

Jim Horning STA Team
Sound the Alarm Volunteer Lead Jim Horning (white shirt, center) stands with his San Joaquin County team.

By Nick Blasquez, Red Cross Volunteer

Did you know: The risk of dying in a house fire drops by 50% in homes with a working smoke detector? Yet nearly 5 million houses across the United States do not have one installed.

That’s the message Jim Horning, a 15-year Red Cross volunteer, would like you to know.

Jim is the volunteer lead for the Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign in San Joaquin County.

The national Sound the Alarm program has been rescheduled out of an abundance of caution during the coronavirus outbreak. Once it is rescheduled, some 27,000 Red Cross volunteers will install 100,000 smoke alarms nationwide for free.

WATCH: Horning helped the Gold Country Region educate donors on the importance of the ERV

Around Stockton, Jim and his team of 15-20 volunteers will install smoke detectors in 250 homes and educate the residents on the importance of fire preparedness.

They have protected 9,000 homes to date throughout the region, Jim said.

The death rate is much higher when a smoke alarm was present but not working during a fire than in homes that had no smoke alarms at all.

The number one cause of non-operational alarms? Dead batteries.

“Protecting people and their lives feels really good,” said Jim, who began his volunteer journey after watching Hurricane Katrina ravage New Orleans back in 2005.

After deploying to five major disaster sites in a six-month period, it’s safe to say that he takes great satisfaction in being part of the solution. “Red Cross is there every day, every year, for every major disaster.”

With over two million smoke alarms installed thus far (and many more to come), enthusiastic volunteers are welcomed and appreciated. From donations to joining an installation crew to starting a social media fundraiser, everyone can make a life-saving impact in their community.

In addition to free smoke detector installations, the American Red Cross will educate at-risk communities on fire safety essentials while fundraising to help families prepare, respond, and recover from home fires.

In the Gold Country Region, the goal is to install 1,100 smoke alarms this year. According to Jim, “The satisfaction is in the work. Come get trained and change some lives. You’ll be a changed person.”

Jim is a former Gold Country Region board member and chair of our golf tournament. With the realignment of our regional boundaries, he and his team will be working with the Northern California Coastal Region once Sound the Alarm resumes.

We are so appreciative of Jim’s work with the Gold Country Region and know he will continue to inspire NCCR volunteers with his dedication to Sound the Alarm and all the Red Cross does.

NOTE: As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic grows, the American Red Cross continues to work closely with public health officials to deliver our lifesaving mission where and when it’s safe to do so. To protect everyone’s safety, we have postponed all Sound the Alarm events, home fire safety visits and preparedness presentations until further notice.

Home Fire Campaign Celebrates 715 Lives Saved; How You Can Help!

The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is celebrating a milestone this week with the 715th life saved as a result of free smoke alarms being installed in homes around the country.

In all, we’ve installed more than 2 million smoke alarms nationwide since 2014 in hopes of reducing home fire deaths and serious injury by 25%.

This year in the Gold Country Region, our goal is to install 4,000 free smoke alarms — 1,100 of them on April 25 as part of our national Sound the Alarm event!

When a fire starts in the home, you have less than two minutes to escape safe. Smoke alarms can make all the difference. But we can’t do it alone! Sign up to join a team of installers by going to soundthealarm.org.

Looking for a Volunteer Opportunity That Could Save Lives in Sac/Yolo Counties?

Looking for a #volunteer opportunity in #Sacramento and #Yolo counties that will save lives?

The national Sound the Alarm event in the Gold Country Region is April 25! Our goal for 2020 is 4,000 alarm installations – 1,100 of those on April 25 alone!

As part of the Home Fire Campaign, Sound the Alarm is our largest community event!

To reach our goal, the region’s Preparedness Department is looking for a volunteer lead to oversee April 25 installations in Sacramento and Yolo counties.

This position is responsible for supporting and engaging the members assigned to the preparedness team, which includes ensuring assigned volunteers are provided with outstanding support and management.

Ability to build and lead a team using a collaborative leadership style and demonstrating traits of honesty, forward looking, competence, intelligence, and compassion. Capacity to envision the team’s impact in their area and inspire them into action. Ability to communicate how the team fits into the larger Disaster Cycle Services structure and how their actions can positively influence and support the DCS program as a whole.

#endhomefires

Additional Qualifications:

1) Ability to relate effectively with diverse groups and individuals
2) Excellent interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills
3) Demonstrated ability to read, understand, and review program guidelines and tools

Interested in learning more? Contact Community Preparedness Program Manager Kim Christensen at
916-281-4315 or kim.christensen@redcross.org.

About the Home Fire Campaign:

Every day, seven people die in home fires, most victims in homes that lack smoke alarms. The American Red Cross wants to improve the odds and save lives – that’s why we launched our Home Fire Campaign in 2014.

Sound the Alarm is a critical part of the campaign. In just six years, our home visits have accomplished so much, including the installation of more than 2 million smoke alarms and preparing more than 2 million people against home fires.