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.

 

Advertisements

Why I Work with the Red Cross

“I volunteer for the American Red Cross because I get the chance to help people who lost everything in a disaster, big or small.  I get to see people in both good times and bad.  But it can be a lot of fun also.  I get to take part in things that I would not normally do.  This gives the people the opportunity to see us also.  I am referring to all of the events we take part in.  I remember last year (after the wildfires) that we took part in two parades.  The people who were watching on both sides of the streets were applauding as we went passed.  This is a good feeling to know that we are appreciated for all that we have been doing.  We get to meet different people that we would not normally meet also.  We will always be there for people whenever they need us.  And we are continuously learning how to help them better.  I could carry on more but I am going to stop for now.”

— Robert Albonico

4th of July: Red Cross Steps for Enjoying a Safe Holiday Weekend Fireworks, beach safety tips to keep everyone safe this Independence Day

Sacramento, CA (June 28 2016) — Everyone is looking forward to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend and the American Red Cross has steps they can follow to stay safe when enjoying the fireworks or taking a trip to the beach.

“Millions of people will visit the seashore or watch fireworks shows over the 4th of July weekend and there are steps they can take to have a safe holiday,” said Gary Strong, Chief Executive Officer of the Gold Country Region. They can also download our First Aid and Swim Apps to have important safety information at their fingertips.”

4th of july

FIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many cities and states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

BEACH SAFETY If holiday plans include visiting the beach, learn how to swim in the surf. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. While enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Other safety steps include:

  • Swim sober and always swim with a buddy. Make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.

RIP CURRENTS Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:

  • If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

DOWNLOAD SWIM, FIRST AID APPS The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The app has features specifically designed for children, including a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. It also contains water safety information for parents on a variety of aquatic environments including beaches and water parks. The First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on a variety of situations from insect bites and stings to choking and Hands-Only CPR. People can download the apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in their app store or at redcross.org/apps.

The Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF) have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, and how to respond to an emergency.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

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, please visit redcross.org/GoldCountry or cruzrojaamericana.org. Stay up to date by following us on Twitter (@RCSierraDelta | @RedCrossNECal) or join the conversation on Facebook’s Sierra-Delta Chapter Page or Northeastern California Page.

 

 

 

Why I volunteer

Author: Amy Magallanes, Public Affairs Volunteer

I am a career parent, which is to say the last 20 years, of my 40 on earth, have been spent pouring the best parts of myself into 4 wonderful humans.  As the first of the 4 developed her wings and left for college; I was realizing the magnitude of being transplanted from one thing to another. For half my life, I have given. Time. Care. Hugs. Compassion. Kindness. Patience. As one by one my children will surely fly the coop; Even surer, is my capacity to give.

As a public affairs volunteer, Red Cross allows me the opportunity to listen. In every story I tell, I find my own.  In relating the details, I find the courage and heart each individual, or volunteer possess. I add it to my own ever growing heart.

Volunteering at Red Cross ,may be holding space for a stranger, or your neighbor, but it is also holding space for yourself. Red Cross needs volunteers to pour life into humanity. Volunteers, like me, need Red Cross to pour meaning into the words I write; or significance into the photos I capture. It builds a bridge over the gap the changes in my own life have created. It allows me to witness, first hand, the best parts of humanity.  It also connects me to other people who share the same idea; that giving of yourself with time, resource or compassion fills spaces that expand on who we are.  It allows me to give to something larger than myself, while developing new friendships and bonds.

Red Cross grants me a platform in which to reflect a little bit of myself onto those who need it. Sometimes it’s your neighbor, sometimes a stranger. Or even your own family. Be a mirror. With a smile. A hug. A meal. Your time.  The Red Cross reminds me, much like parenting does, you get back far more than what you put in.

 

IMG_8468

Local Collection Drive to Bring a Smile to Our Military

Author: Randi Benton, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

Screeeech”! No, not the guy from Saved By The Bell, this is the sound of care packages being sealed and ready to ship to the troops after being filled with the countless items and supplies donated by the community in Northern California. Care packages? Donations? What’s the occasion, you ask? Well, of course that would be the third annual Operation Care Package – a joint effort between the American Red Cross Gold Country Region and KCRA/ KQCA to collect care package items, goods and supplies for our military, local and abroad.

Image-1-5“Care packages provide a touch of home and an opportunity to say “thank you” to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces for their service and sacrifice,” said Tobrin Hewitt, Services to the Armed Forces Manager for the American Red Cross Gold Country Region.

Operation Care Package was underway from dawn ‘til dusk on Friday, June 10, 2016, receiving in a cornucopia of donations from hygiene products to books and snacks.. But, prior to the start of the event, at precisely 4 A.M. volunteers swarmed the empty car lot in front of the Toyota dealership at the Roseville Automall, a little bit like a hoard of sleep-deprived zombies but nonetheless ready and willing to set up the tents and have everything arranged for the day ahead.

Armed with some coffee, Red Cross and partner volunteers were fast at work when the first donations began to pour in. One lane was blocked off for drivers to pull up and unload their donations, and believe me when I say it was busier than an In ‘N Out drive thru on a Saturday night! In between the colossal amount of cars driving by to drop of various items and supplies for donation, Sutter Health drove in with a truck load full of hundreds of items and even the local chapter of the Girl Scout who donated 5,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

photoThis year’s Operation Care Package consisted of volunteers from the Red Cross, Blue Star Moms, Move America Forward, Retired Veterans, Current Servicemen and many more. Even a Cheer Squad from Oakmont High School took time out of their summer to help out with the event and cheer the drivers as they were driving by with their donations. Even more surprising, little kids were getting in on the action helping out their parents and excited to give back, or in this case sort out the items being received.

“Volunteers not only worked effortlessly to make this event a success, but they also made sure to look after one another,” said Robin DeCristofano from the Blue Star Moms. “Some of them were passing out icy cold strips to others to stay cool, handing out snacks, and ensuring everyone had a cold water bottle to stay hydrated. Overall, everyone was in jovial spirits.”

Throughout the course of the day, despite the mild heat and busy atmosphere, everyone was determined to make this day another proverbial win for the books. And I dare say it was! We were able to collect approximately 12,000 individual items which will help us put together more than 5500 care packages for military members deployed in Honduras serving in Joint Task Force-Bravo, Blue Star Moms, Marine Families, Yolo military families as well as Move America Forward and Corporal Palmer Foundation will receive items to send to service members.

As always, this event would not have been possible without the partnership and support from KCRA/KQCA, the Roseville Automall, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Sutter Health, and Safe Credit Union.

Check out more the pictures from the event here.

 

A Trip to IKEA, But Not to Shop: IKEA Donates 100 Comfort Kits

By Marlene Stamper, Public Affairs Volunteer, Photos by Bob Eger    A few days ago I went to the IKEA store in West Sacramento. For me, a trip to IKEA is usually about new throw pillows or maybe something to brighten up the kitchen or patio. But this trip was different. It was not about shopping or buying stuff, it was special. Why? Because I got to spend time with some great IKEA folks who were packing up 100 bright blue shopping bags with cool stuff to donate to the American Red Cross.

When I got to the conference room where the IKEA team was working (although they seemed to be having too much fun to call it “work”) they had already organized a colorful assembly line of towels, washcloths, sheet sets, pillows, and teddy bears. They were busily packing everything into shopping bags ready for giving. We call these bags “comfort kits.” It didn’t take long for these energetic workers to complete the job of assembling 100 comfort kits.

Once the kits were packed, the team put everything into carts and then we all headed down to the parking lot for the final step—loading up the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV). What an enthusiastic and energetic team! And what a pleasure for me to spend a little time with them!

Thanks to these folks and everyone at IKEA, people in emergency situations will receive the comfort of new fresh bedding, pillows, and towels. Maybe this sounds a bit humdrum to you, but imagine if you were trying to rebuild your life after a fire, you might feel a little different. In fact, a Red Crosser told me when she delivered comfort kits to victims of last summer’s Butte Fire, they reacted as if she’d given them “a pot of gold.” But, it’s not just recipients of the comfort kits who benefit. I spoke to several members of the IKEA team who put together the kits. They were proud to work for IKEA because IKEA is committed to helping the community. Angel R. told me that it makes him happy to work for IKEA due to their support for this great cause. Well, Angel, what IKEA and people like you do makes a lot of people happy, including me. Thanks, again to you and everyone at IKEA!

Here’s the official scoop on the five-year partnership between the American Red Cross and IKEA:

IKEA has generously committed to a national in-kind donation of 4,300 “IKEA Care Packages” nationwide for Red Cross disaster clients. Annually they have committed to provide 100 packages per IKEA location across the United States (currently 41 IKEA stores and 2 IKEA Offices) to 31 American Red Cross Regional offices.

The care packages include the following items:

  • 1- 4 pack washcloths
  • 1-bath towel
  • 2-standard pillow cases
  • 2-pillows
  • 1-queen flat sheet
  • 1-queen fitted sheet
  • 1-optional plush toy
  • 1-large blue plastic bag —shopping bag that contains all of the items.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Also, IKEA comes through when times get tough. Michelle LaPierre Bell, Executive Director, Northeastern California Chapter told me that IKEA donated an additional 400 each of towels, washcloths, and lap blankets for victims of last summer’s fires here in California. Currently, we are in year two of our five-year partnership with IKEA. And, as Michelle said, “IKEA is a great partner and we look forward to many more years of partnering with them.”

 

Gold Country Volunteer Making an Impact Across the Country

Henjeremiah 6ry Braxton was among the first to assist the American Red Cross when he and his neighbors were caught in the path of rising water in the Natchez, Louisiana, area. Every day for nearly a week, he did whatever he could do to lend a hand, from helping to distribute cleanup kits to showing volunteers flood-damaged areas.

“The Bible says put my hometown first and put myself last, and I think God will bless me for that,” Henry said one recent evening at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Natchez, where the Red Cross offered hot meals, cleanup supplies, emotional support and casework assistance.

He was among dozens who attended, but he wasn’t there to seek help. Rather, he assisted people carrying cleanup supplies and other items to their vehicles.

Inside the church, Henry reached into his pocket and pulled out a Red Cross challenge coin that he received for his efforts—a coin that few receive and even fewer have ever seen. When he displayed the coin, it was obvious to Red Cross volunteers that Henry was a person who had been singled out for recognition.

“It was a high honor and brought tears to my eyes. I was just doing the best I could to help the people needing help,” he said.

Henry, a big man with rippling muscles and an infectious smile, said his late mother raised him to be kind to others and to go to church. To honor her, Henry said his philosophy is simple: “Any way I can help out, I will.”

As he talked, it was clear that Henry deserved more than the thanks of a grateful Red Cross. Henry said he hadn’t signed up with the Red Cross for help, and with that, he

jeremiah 3
Jeremiah Norrell, a volunteer from Sacramento assisting Henry in Louisiana

was introduced to Jeremiah Norrell, a Red Cross Jeremiah Norrell, a Red Cross caseworker from the Sacramento, California area. Henry explained how he had lost his refrigerator, stove and furniture to rising water, which soaked his floors. Yet he hadn’t asked for anything.

Henry indeed qualified for Red Cross immediate assistance, as he and Jeremiah together checked a map to see that his home was in a flooded area. He was eligible for supplemental Red Cross assistance and in position to be referred to various partner agencies for things such as clothing and furniture.

As he left, Henry stopped and hugged volunteers who helped him get assistance. When he walked out the door, he turned around, waved and smiled before disappearing into the night.

—Carl Manning/American Red Cross