It’s Time for the 2019 BASH!

It’s time for the American Red Cross Gold Country Region’s 2019 BASH honoring the California National Guard!

This year’s event will be held at a new location: The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento!

See all the information above and go to redcross.org/bash to get your tickets and sponsorship information today!

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Red Cross, Partners Helping Coast Guard During Shutdown

With thousands of U.S. Coast Guard service members and families facing financial hardship as a result of the ongoing government shutdown, the United States Automobile Association (USAA), the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA), Inc. and the American Red Cross are teaming up to help Coast Guard service members and families in need.

Read more here.

1,600 New Blankets Arriving Soon for Camp Fire Shelter Guests

By Doug Bardwell

Almost two months after the Camp Fire, the American Red Cross continues its work at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds to keep the more than 700 shelter residents safe, happy and comfortable.

Arriving this week are more than 1,600 new blankets, two for each shelter guest. Each red and white, thick blanket is a generous twin size (approximately 66″ x 90″) – not the typical 50″ x 60″ comfort blankets that people give or receive as gifts.

New pillows for each person onsite have also been requested. The delivery date on those hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross hasn’t forgotten about the pets affected by the fire. They are going to be the lucky recipients of all the used blankets that are not soiled. Used blankets, plus any blankets left on the cots after people relocate, will be packaged and delivered to local pet shelters.

About the American Red Cross Gold Country Region:

The Gold Country Region serves a twenty-four county territory including Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba counties. For more information, visit redcross.org/goldcountry. Stay up to date on by following us on Twitter and Facebook @ARGoldCountry or by visiting our blog at capitalcrosswords.com.

Helping Folks on the Road to Recovery

The Yuba Sutter Red Cross Shelter in Yuba City is a large cavernous building that was home to about 80 people who evacuated the city of Paradise and beyond, to flee the Camp Fire. Their cots are neatly lined up at the back of the building, most of their belongings stashed underneath. Red Cross medical staff are set up along the far wall to provide various medical needs including replacing prescriptions, eyeglasses, wheelchairs, and more. The opposite side of the shelter is lined with table after table of colorful clothes, books, kids’ arts, and crafts, toiletries, and household goods, ready for folks to select what they need. A little brown-haired girl with a sweet face tries out some of the toys as she takes in snippets of the video that plays in the small children’s play area. Snacks and drinks are also available for between meal nibbling.

VOLUNTEER_Linda and Barry (1)And, tucked into a quiet corner seated together are Linda DeVane and Barry Abromovage, Red Cross volunteer caseworkers. Each has traveled more than 2,500 miles to this place to do what they can to help.

Linda watched the news about the Camp Fire from her home in Macon, Georgia. She knew the devastation was terrible, and says, “You don’t realize until you’re right here in the middle of it, how bad it is.” It’s important for people to have someone to talk to. “It means a lot,” sighs Linda, not just to them, but to us too.”

Over the past several days, Linda and Barry have worked with over 60 individuals at the shelter to help them start down the long road to recovery. “We try to get them thinking about future plans,” Barry notes. Linda and Barry let people know that when they’re ready to leave the shelter, the Red Cross will help with their transition. They are not facing the future on their own, but for now, life is pretty tough.

The folks at the shelter had no idea that they would spend this Thanksgiving away from home in an unfamiliar setting. However, Linda and Barry knew. In fact, Barry arranged his deployment to ensure that he would be here over the Thanksgiving holiday. He wanted to be here to help people like the family he met recently. The children’s school burned, their church burned, their home burned, the places where the parents worked burned. And Barry was there to help, to hear their story, painfully similar to so many others he and Linda have listened to since arriving at the shelter.

Linda and Barry, two Red Cross volunteers, who chose to leave their homes in Lebanon, Virginia and Macon, Georgia to travel across the country to Yuba City, California— because this Thanksgiving, this is where they are needed most.

By Marlene Stamper, American Red Cross Volunteer

After Heroic Escape, Red Cross Shelter and Music Provide Comfort

It might seem that Joe Avila doesn’t have a lot to be grateful for, after losing everything he owned — including 2,000 books from his library and all the music and instruments he used to teach music — when his hometown of Paradise burned to the ground in the Camp Fire on Nov. 8.

CLIENT_Joe Avila3

But Avila, 64, says he’s grateful for a lot: that he escaped with his life, that the American Red Cross and other organizations have provided him with a safe place to stay and taken good care of him in an evacuation shelter in the Oroville Nazarene Church, and that kind community members have given him a used guitar and replaced some of the books he was using to study theology.

He’s also heard from FEMA that they’ll give him some assistance, and he’s working with a Red Cross recovery team to find an apartment to move into.

Sitting at one of the dining tables outside the church shelter that had been his home since he escaped just in front of the fire, Avila talked about what happened that morning, after he looked outside his apartment door to see the building next door on fire. As he spoke, he took several breaks to strum his donated guitar and sing several classic songs, providing his own music therapy.

Avila said he had peeked outside because he’d seen a bright light through the window even though the power had gone out.

“I got up, and I opened the door, and the building across from me was on fire. It was only about 30 feet away from me,” he said.

Another building in his senior complex of about 100 apartments was also on fire, he said.

“I just knew it was very serious,” he said. “I just grabbed my walker. I didn’t have any shoes or socks on; I just had my pants and my shirt,” he said.  “I looked up, the roof of my complex was on fire.”

He said that he didn’t even recognize the scene he saw, and later realized it was because a wooden fence that had screened part of his view of the complex had burned to the ground.

Trees were bursting into flames, embers flying and windows blowing out. He heard noises that sounded like bullets exploding, Avila said.

He hid behind a dumpster when the wind worsened the firestorm. “Some of the apartments started exploding behind me,” he said. “That’s when I lost my walker. It went flying across the parking lot.”  When the rubber lid to the dumpster caught fire, “that’s when I had to start crawling across the parking lot to get my walker. If I had stayed there, I would have caught on fire, easily,” he said.

“I couldn’t see the street; it was so smoky,” he said.  “I could see about 20 feet.”

Avila said he didn’t have time to be afraid.

“I just knew I had to get out of there,” he said. “I just knew I had to go, to keep moving.”

Avila said soon after he rescued his walker and made it to the street, his knees bloodied, a police car stopped, and officers told him to jump in. After picking up one other man escaping from the fire, they drove them to the evacuation shelter that had been set up at the Nazarene Church in Oroville.

Avila, who will be 65 in December, said he’d lived in Paradise for about 15 years. When

his home burned, “I lost all my musical instruments, my keyboards, my guitars, my amplifiers, foot pedals” as well as all the music he’s collected over the years. His library of about 2,000 books included books on theology, psychology, philosophy and quantum mechanics as well as music, he said.

CLIENT_Joe Avila2

Generous community members who visited the shelter brought him a used guitar. Others promised to order him some of the most important books he’d used to study theology, Avila said. The church provided him with any clothing or other things he needed, including a brand-new pair of sneakers.

He said he’s grateful to the Red Cross volunteers, including medical professionals, who have been “very attentive and compassionate.”

 

He said he feels the Red Cross volunteers he has interacted with genuinely care about him and his needs. “It doesn’t feel like it’s their job and they don’t mean what they’re saying,” he said.

“Whatever I needed,” he said he was told, “don’t hesitate to ask.”

As Avila finished sharing the story of his escape from Paradise, he abrupted jumped up.

“I have to take a break,” he said.

CLIENT_Joe Avila1He rushed over to where a group of local college student musicians was setting up to entertain the shelter residents and sat down at their keyboard.

Soon he was playing and belting out “Amazing Grace.” He began smiling and visibly relaxed.

“I had to do that,” he said when he’d finished.

Playing music, both on his guitar and his keyboard, he said, is something he was used to doing several times a day, especially since his wife died eight years ago.

“It was a way of expressing my grief, my joy, my loneliness,” he said.

Story and photos by Barbara Woods, American Red Cross volunteer