Local Cancer Survivor Encourages Blood Donations as Shortage Continues Nationwide

By Rita Blomster, Communications Volunteer

As the American Red Cross reports its lowest blood supply in a decade, one cancer survivor’s story illustrates the critical importance of blood donations.   

Brittany DeNorscio was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017.  Last month, she told ABC10 in Sacramento that she was thankful for the many anonymous donors who saved her life as she went through chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants and countless blood transfusions. 

Now in remission, DeNorscio wants others to become blood donors.   

“You could be, you know, walking down the street and pass somebody you don’t even know that you saved their life just by donating blood,” she told ABC10.  

Dr. Sarah Barnhard, UC Davis Health Center’s Director of Transfusion Medicine, agrees.   

“There is no other medical therapy that can replace giving blood transfusions to patients,” she told ABC10. “There are a whole host of patients that need blood transfusions in order to survive. They would include everyone from the oncology wards to patients who deliver babies and then have bleeding afterward.  

“Even tiny babies in the intensive care unit oftentimes need to have blood transfusions in order to save their life.” 

The Red Cross must collect about 12,500 blood donations and nearly 3,000 platelet donations every day for hospital patients. All from volunteer donors.

January is Blood Donor Month. To donate blood, simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.  

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.  

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App. 

Introducing Gold Country’s New Senior Disaster Program Manager

By Michelle Hogue, Communications Volunteer

All the way from Ohio, welcome our new Senior Disaster Program Manager, Doug Fee!

Doug comes to us with a large family which includes his wife, six kids (three boys and three girls) and a grandson. This includes two sons currently serving in the United States military.

Before joining the California Gold Country Region, Doug served as Disaster Program Manager (DPM) for the Northern Ohio Region. Looking for the opportunity to expand his career, Doug could have moved into the Senior DPM position in Ohio, but he had come out to California to serve as the interim Senior DPM from August to October 2021 and discovered “this place has everything.”

He is currently based in Sacramento, serving the eight disaster territories of the California Gold Country Region.

Doug has had experience working in disasters of all kinds. He has participated in hurricane and wildfire responses, and nuclear power plant hazardous materials (HAZMAT) planning – with Ohio having multiple nuclear power plants. With that, he has been a part of detailed planning in many areas of disaster response.

When asked what his favorite job responsibility is, without hesitation Doug said, “Mobilizing volunteers” and “the workforce engagement function.” The ability to engage and support volunteers is both rewarding and enjoyable for him. He is passionate about training DPMs to better engage, support and keep volunteers.

We look forward to getting to know, working with, and learning from Doug!

Have a question for Doug? You can reach him at doug.fee@redcross.org.

Resiliency, optimism in her “home away from home”

By Kim Mailes, American Red Cross public affairs volunteer

For Frieda Ingram, right now “home” is a cot in the American Red Cross emergency shelter in Reno, Nevada. Despite being evacuated from the South Lake Tahoe when wildfires approached her apartment, she’s all smiles and maintains a positive attitude. This is just another bump in a long road that’s been filled with obstacles.

“I’m so grateful for the Red Cross,” she said. “I know I’ll be safe here until this is over.”

Continue reading Resiliency, optimism in her “home away from home”

Joy in the midst of uncertainty

By Barbara Wood, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

It’s been more than two weeks since Josephine Hernandez and her six children had 30 minutes to pack their car and to evacuate the looming Caldor Fire, but on Sept. 1 as the family awaited news that they could return to their Pollock Pines home, the children joyfully played on a lawn at the Green Valley Church Red Cross shelter in Placerville.

Five of Josephine Hernandez’ six children cool off in a kiddie pool outside the room at the Red Cross shelter in the Green Valley Church in Placerville that was their home for more than two weeks as they awaited word that they could return to their home in Pollock Pines. They are (l-r) Adriana, 13; Briana, 13; Camille, 6; Daniel, 2 and Steven, 4. Photo by Barbara Wood/American Red Cross

Hernandez and her six children spent the first two nights after their Aug. 17 evacuation sleeping very close together in the family’s Suburban. Then they heard about the shelter that had been opened at the Green Valley Church in Placerville. After a few more nights in the church parking in two borrowed tents, the family was moved into a classroom at the church.

“It’s been terrible,” Hernandez said. “More than a challenge.”

Continue reading Joy in the midst of uncertainty

May’s High Priority Volunteer Positions

The California Gold Country Region needs to fill the following volunteer positions as soon as possible. If you know someone who may be a great fit for one of these opportunities, contact CA Gold Country Volunteer Services at goldcountry.vol@redcross.org.

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.

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.

Red Cross Launches World Disasters Report: Leaving No One Behind

The global Red Cross Red Crescent network’s 2018 World Disasters ReportLeaving No One Behind spotlights the global challenges involved in delivering aid to the most vulnerable people—along with solutions to help humanitarian actors better reach communities around the world.

Read the report here.

Many Regions, One Purpose

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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.