Meet Board Chair Roxanne Gould

Sierra-Delta Board Chair Roxanne Gould

By Peg Taylor, Volunteer

Throughout 2023, we are introducing you to the board of directors for our Sierra-Delta and Northern California chapters.

We begin with current Chair of the Sierra-Delta board, Roxanne Gould, who first came in contact with the Red Cross as a child when her family survived a home fire.

Roxanne, who is president of her firm Gould Government Relations, has been a member of American Red Cross Gold Country Region Board of Directors since 2016 and was appointed Board Chair in 2022.

When she was five years old, Roxanne lived through an apartment fire that she says was only survivable because of the quick thinking of her brother who saved both Roxanne and her mother.

She remembers sitting in a car watching their home burn to the ground and recalls Red Cross volunteers placing a blanket around her shoulders and giving her mom money for food, motel and other necessities.

Roxanne considers the Red Cross volunteers who helped her family that night as her heroes.

Roxanne has been driven to support the work of the California Gold Country Region through her work on the Board of Directors, and by volunteering her time with Sound the Alarm, the Pillowcase Project, various telethons and blood drives. She is also a member of the Red Cross Tiffany Circle, a community of women leaders who carry on Red Cross founder Clara Barton’s legacy by advancing the Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure.

“I am always moved by the generosity of our donors in times of trouble. Donors know and understand the work of the Red Cross. I certainly do and will continue to give back for the rest of my life,” she says.

We thank Roxanne for her continued work on behalf of the Red Cross.

Red Cross Continues to Respond as Bomb Cyclone Impacts California

This information was last updated on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 8:00 a.m. Please check back regularly for updates.

Flooding, along with the potential for power outages and landslides, will impact the state through this weekend into next week. The American Red Cross has mobilized resources and is collaborating with government and community partners to respond to this storm. Nearly 400 Red Cross workers from across the country, along with shelters and supplies, have been activated to accommodate residents evacuated from their homes.

This online story map offers a look at the ongoing response to California floods; this map is updated as more information and stories from the ground are available.

Statewide Red Cross, County and Partner Shelter Information by County:

Everyone is welcome at a Red Cross shelter. All Red Cross disaster assistance is free. Current list denotes open shelters managed and/or supported by the Red Cross, county or community partners.

  • Amador County
    • Evelynn-Bishop Hall (located in Charles Howard Park)
      • 701 CA-124, Ione, CA 95640. MAP
  • Santa Clara County
    • Seven Trees Community Center
      • 3590 Cas Drive, San Jose, CA 95111. MAP
    • Camden Community Center
      • 3369 Union Avenue, San Jose, CA 95124. MAP
    • San Martin Lions Club
      • 12415 Murphy Avenue, San Martin, CA 95046. MAP
  • San Mateo County
    • San Mateo County Event Center
      • 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403. MAP
  • Santa Cruz County
    • Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds – JJ Crosetti Building, Fine Arts and Harvest Hall
      • 2601 E. Lake Avenue, Watsonville, CA 95076. MAP
    • Cabrillo College – Cafeteria
      • 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA 95003. MAP
  • Merced County
    • Merced County Fairgrounds – Yosemite Hall, Half Dome Hall, Pavilion Hall
      • 900 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Merced, CA 95341.MAP
    • Merced County Spring Fair
      • 403 F Street, Los Banos, CA 93635. MAP
    • Atwater City Community Center
      • 760 E. Bellevue Road, Atwater, CA 95301. MAP
  • Monterey County
    • Prunedale Grange Hall
      • 17890 Moro Road, Salinas, CA 93907. MAP
    • Monterey County Fairgrounds-Monterey Hall
      • 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey, CA 93940. MAP
    • King City High School
      • 720 Broadway Street, King City, CA 93930. MAP
    • Sherwood Hall
      • 940 North Main Street, Salinas, CA 93906. MAP
  • Sacramento County
    • California State Fairgrounds-Cal Expo
      • 1600 Exposition Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95815. MAP
  • Stanislaus County
    • Yolo Middle School
      • 901 Hoyer, Newman, CA 95360. MAP
  • Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Tulare and Ventura Counties

Click here for an updated list of all shelters.

Safety Information and How You Can Help 

Pack your emergency kit, know your routes and destinations, and listen to the advice of emergency officials. Download the free Red Cross Emergency app for real-time weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and expert advice on storms and flooding. Search “American Red Cross” wherever you download apps or go to redcross.org/apps

Flooding Safety

  • Stay off the roads and away from floodwaters. If you must drive, avoid flooded roadways. If power lines are down, call 9-1-1 and don’t approach or step in any puddles or standing water near the downed lines. 
  • Follow evacuation orders and don’t return home until officials say it is safe to do so. 
  • Use caution when cleaning up your home and wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and boots. Throw out items that absorb water and can’t be disinfected, and dispose of all food, drinks and medications that have either spoiled or been damaged. 
  • For more information, visit redcross.org/flood

Landslide Safety 

  • Stay informed about the risk of landslides in your area. Most landslides are caused by events like heavy rain, snowmelt, earthquakes or wildfires. 
  • If you suspect you are in danger, evacuate immediately. Take your pets with you, inform your neighbors and contact emergency officials. 
  • Listen for unusual sounds like trees cracking or boulders knocking together that could indicate moving debris. 
  • For more information, visit redcross.org/landslide

Blood During Disasters 

  • The Red Cross is working to maintain a stable blood supply amid the threat of storms and winter weather across the country, as severe weather often causes widespread blood drive cancellations. Where it is safe to do so, we encourage donors to make and keep blood donation appointments by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

Help Those in Need 

You can help people affected by disasters like storms and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767), or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

Sign Up to Volunteer 

While volunteering needs are in flux as the current weather event passes through our region, we are likely going to need more volunteers to support our response in the coming days. Be on the lookout for more information on ways you can help as needs evolve! 

Stay Up-to-Date on Social Media 

Updated information on the Red Cross response to this storm, and preparedness information is continually updated on regional social media channels. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ARCGoldCountry. We’re on LinkedIn here.

Red Cross Nurse Helps Humboldt County Resident Stay Calm and Even Fix Water Heater After Earthquake

Mark Mowrey is a volunteer nurse with the California Gold Country Region of American Red Cross.

By Nate Russell, Disaster Program Manager

Mark Mowrey is a retired nurse and spends much of his time with the American Red Cross plying his skills as a Disaster Health Services volunteer.

When disaster struck Mark’s community in southern Humboldt County this week, Mark donned his Red Cross vest and sprung to action.

Shortly after Mark arrived at the shelter, a woman had registered for assistance who was visibly distraught. As Mark observed her talking with the shelter staff, he could see that she was becoming overwhelmed with worry so he did exactly what he did with his patients in his former job as a nurse. He sat down with her and asked her to tell her story.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake had shaken a pipe free from her water heater and had started to leak water all over her basement. For some, this might be a minor inconvenience and a quick fix, but for a disaster evacuee, there are myriad invisible compounding stressors that can make even the smallest problems seem daunting.

I’ve done it many times in the ER and in the Red Cross,” Mark said. “Asking people to tell their story relieves some of that pressure that they are feeling. It allows them to vent, to process, and to problem solve.”

The woman was able to start at the beginning and tell Mark about all the factors, large and small, that were contributing to her stress. It all culminated to a broken water heater that she hadn’t the slightest idea how to fix.

“She told me what kind of water heater she had, so I was able to help her figure out what part she needed, and gave her directions to a local hardware store.”

Armed with a plan and a clear path forward, the evacuee’s spirits were visibly raised as she set out from the shelter.

That’s what I love about being a nurse and what I love being a Red Cross volunteer,” Mark said. “I love helping people find a pathway to help solve their problems. It feels good to help someone else tackle that overwhelming dilemma so they can take back that sense of control and, well, take a shower!”

Consider supporting our volunteer nurses and our disaster responders in your community by making a donation today. You can also sign up to volunteer!

‘You Need to Upgrade Once in a While’ – Why We Need Your Support for a New Emergency Response Vehicle

By Robin Blomster, Volunteer

Just how food and supplies expire, the American Red Cross needs to retire its emergency response vehicles every few years. 

Why?

“Imagine showing up to your work … in a 1972 Datsun,” said Bob Willmon, Disaster Action Team Captain and Logistics Co-Lead for the California Gold Country Region. “That’s about where our existing ERV status in this region is. You need to upgrade once in a while.”

WATCH: Take a look at how critical ERVs are to our lifesaving mission

Through Dec. 31, the California Gold Country is asking donors to help raise $150,000 to purchase a new Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to better serve local residents and people around the country who are affected by disasters large and small.

The next-generation American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle

WATCH: Tour a next-generation ERV

The modern ERV has lots of functional amenities like two rows of shelves, sturdy storage and even a pop-out back window to more easily distribute aid in crisis situations.

“These fires, these emergencies, they almost never happen on a beautiful 70 degree day,” Willmon said. “They’re always rainy, they’re always cold, it’s always in the middle of the night. So to have a vehicle like this to have a platform to do what we do to help people is awesome.”

The ERV is based on the Mercedes Sprinter and drives as easily as a sedan, according to some volunteers. Among many other things, it comes with a CB radio that allows for communication with the command center even when traditional lines are down. It’s also more fuel efficient than previous models, so is a great investment in efficiency and maintenance. 

The vehicle can fit three people while driving, and up to five or six when stationary, turning into a quiet space for decompressing. 

See how Red Cross volunteers served our 26-county region in 2022

“The energy that goes on in an emergency scene is palatable,” Willmon said. “When you can come in here and close the doors, block out all that kind of stuff, they can sit in here and take a break. And our volunteers … can sit down with them and calm them down.” 

Click here to learn more about the ERV and contribute toward our ERV fundraising campaign.

Local boy, 10, struggles with sickle cell disease; Family encourages blood donations to help

Jah’Sear Lusk, 10, is a sickle cell anemia patient in the Sacramento area. His family encourages people to donate blood at redcrossblood.org to see if they have antigens that can be used to treat the disease.

Editor’s note: September was Sickle Cell Awareness Month, a time when the American Red Cross emphasizes the importance of a diverse blood supply to help meet the needs of those with sickle cell disease – the most common inherited blood disorder in the U.S. Since the California Gold Country Region’s social media space has been so focused on the wildfires that have ravaged much of Northern California, we chose to wait until now to share Jah’Sear Lusk’s story to give it the attention it deserves.

By Robin Blomster, Volunteer

Sickle cell anemia is an insidious disease. It sneaks around in deformed blood cells, painfully blocking oxygen, creating clots and affecting the body’s ability to fight infections. And it’s not satisfied with a physical toll – it wreaks havoc on the mental health of a patient and their community, too.

The American Red Cross is bringing awareness to the disease and the ongoing need for research, blood donations and work toward a cure. Sickle cell anemia affects approximately 100,000 individuals in the United States, one of whom is Jah’Sear Lusk, 10.

Jah’Sear was born with sickle cell anemia (SCA), and the physical and mental challenges have shaped his life and the lives of his Northern California family for nearly a decade. 

“From ages 1 to 3, he was always sick,” said Jah’Sear’s mom, Andrea Lusk. She kept a “go bag” in the car because of the frequency with which she was visiting doctors.

“When you’re immune compromised, you catch viruses and infections easily. And SCA patients (are kept for) 72 hours … to run tests, take labs, and make sure … antibiotics are working. Every month and a half I was (in the hospital).”  

The most serious complication of Jah’Sear’s illness hit him when he was just 3 years old. 

“He had a bad virus. His fever never broke,” Andrea said. “His body became very inflamed, and then he had a massive ischemic stroke when he was 3, in 2016.”

Because he was 3, he’s had remarkable “get back,” how Andrea terms his recovery. He had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again. He was left with physical disability, mental/cognitive disability and vision impairment, and he’s a fall risk. 

“He’s struggling. I’m getting him all the help he can get. It’s a struggle for him and he has a lot of self awareness (at this age). He asks, ‘Why did God let this happen to me?’ It was the hardest thing to answer. I knew it was coming. I ask God to give me the words to say to him to continue to build his confidence.”

Andrea has made it her life’s work to advocate for her son. She says she’s grateful to have her “village,” which includes her husband, William; her mom, Linda Castro; and her aunt, Patricia Franklin, who is a retired UC Davis registered nurse. But even so, it’s not easy. 

When you donate, blood is tested for specific antigens that are needed to treat sickle cell disease. If your blood contains those characteristics, the Red Cross will let you know so you can help sickle cell patients by donating whole blood, plasma or platelets. 

“We both work, we’re both self employed, which is amazing because at any given minute I have to drop everything to go be there with him. My husband doesn’t get to go to work, I don’t get to go to work (when Jah’Sear needs support),” Andrea said. “There are mental health ramifications for everyone involved. I can’t imagine other families and what they’re going through when I already know what I’m going through.” 

Jah’Sear’s ongoing treatment is blood exchanges every five weeks, which are done through an apheresis machine. Many patients get transfusions, Andrea said, but she advocated for Jah’Sear to have apheresis because it pulls out a portion of the patient’s blood while giving them new blood. 

“It’s like an oil change,” she said. 

While there are promising treatments on the horizon, like DNA editing, for now because of Jah’Sear’s medical conditions he relies on blood.

“It’s life threatening. People with sickle cell wouldn’t be able to survive without blood donors. And we greatly appreciate it.”

Sickle cell is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States and affects individuals of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. The majority are of African descent, and blood from donors of the same race or similar ethnicity is important in ensuring the best results, with the least potential reaction.

When you donate, blood is tested for specific antigens that are needed to treat sickle cell disease. If your blood contains those characteristics, the Red Cross will let you know so you can help sickle cell patients by donating whole blood, plasma or platelets. 

Call us at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800­-733-2767) or download the free Blood Donor App for more information or to schedule a blood donation appointment.

Evacuated Family Grows After Taking on Abandoned Kittens

By Alicia Door

Isabella Stigen and her boyfriend were camping in Dru Barner Campground near Georgetown, Calif., when they received the notice to evacuate due to the Mosquito Fire. Thankfully, she says, they were in a box truck they had recently bought so they could safely bring their dog and new kitten with them for the trip.

Isabella says they were on their way out when they saw a litter of abandoned kittens. As the evacuation order loomed, they tried to help.

“There were three, and the other two just scattered. They seemed strong. But this one – it was almost like she picked me,” Isabella says.

“There wasn’t enough room for two trucks at our family’s home, so we are just happy we get to be here,” Isabella Stigen says.

Gypsy, as the new kitten is called, is safe with her new family as they wait for evacuation orders to be lifted. They are all staying in the box truck together in the parking lot of the American Red Cross shelter at Sierra Community College in Rocklin where they have access to regular meals, facilities and showers, a mobile laundry service, along with comfort and care from Red Cross volunteers.

“There wasn’t enough room for two trucks at our family’s home, so we are just happy we get to be here,” Isabella said.

Help those affected by wildfires and other disasters across the nation by making a financial donation, big or small, to the Red Cross. For more information on how you can donate call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcross.org/donate.

‘It’s all about perspective’

By Michelle Hogue, Volunteer

Bob Dunham and Patty Girdner evacuated from Yreka and got acquainted through their stay at the Red Cross shelter in Weed.  Neither had been in a situation of needing to shelter away from home previously, so they had no idea what to expect when they got there.

Bob and Patty both said they have been “blessed and amazed” by the care they have gotten from the Red Cross volunteers. 

Bob, who has lived in Siskiyou County for 44 years, was not in an area of town that was under a mandatory evacuation, but the unpredictability of the situation and his health concerns affected by the smoke brought him to the shelter.

While he was at the shelter, Bob’s dog, Scooter, was being cared for at the Rescue Ranch dog shelter. His growing up as a military dependent and going through earthquake drills when he was a kid in Japan and Hawaii taught him to be prepared always to “go on a moment’s notice.”

Patty was in a similar situation as Bob.  She said she would love to be a volunteer when she gets back on her feet, health-wise.  Patty said she is very grateful for the support she has received at the Red Cross shelter.

“I’ve never seen the over-abundance of giving like this. I want to volunteer and give back.” 

Both Patty and Bob repeatedly expressed how much they appreciated having the shelter available. Both could often be seen trying to help out in some way around the shelter.

Bob said, “I’m happy for what little I’ve been able to do around the shelter.”

“We’re all in the same boat.  Everybody has come together,” said Patty. “We are all helping each other.”

As Bob and Patty talk about their evacuation experiences, they remain hopeful and eager to get back to their homes. They both noted, “It’s all about perspective,” that “choosing to live in Siskiyou County means choosing to live with the possibility of wildfire.”

Bob said, “Everyone encounters disasters. Each area has its own kind of potential disaster. How you get through it is with the relief from the Red Cross and other organizations – the people showing up just to make donations was unbelievable.  To be hands on with the Red Cross…you guys are wonderful. 

“It’s the heart and empathy that makes people want to be Red Cross volunteers and do the amazing things you’re doing here.”

You can support Red Cross disaster relief efforts by making a financial donation at redcross.org/donate.

First-time Disaster Volunteer Awarded Red Cross Challenge Coin for Exemplary Service

Diedre Cazneaux took it upon herself to run the kitchen at the Red Cross shelter in Siskiyou County.

By Judith Lester, Volunteer

Deidra Cazneaux’s deployment with the California Gold Country Region of the American Red Cross to the McKinney Fire was her first, but it wasn’t obvious.

The McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County displaced some 2,000 residents in late July. That’s when Cazneaux looked straight into the face of the disaster and went right to work.

“I just walked into the shelter kitchen and took over,” she said.

In her days at the shelter, Cazneaux always did her job with a smile, chatting with each evacuee and even advocating for them to ensure partner agencies who provided meals were offering nutritious options.

Shelter manager Bill Hart described Cazneaux, saying, “Deidra is an incredibly positive force in the face of controlled chaos.”

In recognition of her work at the shelter and her positive attitude while on the job, Cazneaux was presented with a Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services challenge coin.

“It’s always been in my heart to serve people,” Cazeneaux said, adding: “It’s an avenue for me to be who God wants me to be.”

Visit redcross.org/volunteer to explore the many opportunities to serve as a Red Cross volunteer.

McKinney Fire Evacuee Pledges to Volunteer for the Red Cross After Her Shelter Experience

Harlene Schwander lost her home in the McKinney Fire and regularly expressed her gratitude for the help she’s received since she evacuated.

By Judith Lester, Volunteer

Harlene Schwander hadn’t driven in years. But she drove herself to the American Red Cross Shelter at the Weed Community Center when her home was destroyed in Siskiyou County’s McKinney Fire.

Schwander was not shy about expressing her appreciation for people who gave her clothing, comfort and care while she was at our shelter.

She told her life story and the circumstances of her evacuation to several news reporters who visited the Weed shelter.

Schwander said she’s planning to volunteer for the American Red Cross after this experience.

“I am amazed at how much you help people mentally and physically— you just buoy people!”

“I am overwhelmed by your kindness,” Schwander said, adding that is why she is planning to join the Red Cross team.

The Red Cross always needs volunteers! Join us by visiting redcross.org/volunteer.

Red Cross Turns Compassion Into Action During McKinney Fire

By Judith Lester, Volunteer

The American Red Cross is busy 365 days a year, 24 hours a day turning compassion into action.

When Siskiyou County’s McKinney Fire broke out, the Red Cross was called upon to open an evacuation shelter in Yreka. Within just a few hours, the doors were open.

Once evacuation orders were issued in Yreka, the Red Cross relocated the shelter to the Weed Community Center.

Barbara Leper and her husband are guests at the Red Cross shelter in Weed.

Barbara Leper, 78, and her husband are at the shelter in Weed because they are once again under the threat of losing everything all over again. “Last year we had to run for our lives when our home in Happy Camp burned to the ground in just a few minutes,” Leper said.

The Lepers have lived in beautiful Siskiyou County for nearly 30 years. Regardless of the continuum of wildfires, they are planning to stay put in the Weed community. “We just love it here, it’s our home,” Leper said.

The Red Cross was there for the Lepers last year. Leper shared how the Red Cross helped them along with temporary housing and the essential items they needed.

“The Red Cross kept helping us along the way,” Leper said. “We received another $500 gift certificate in December for food and gas.”

Consider supporting Red Cross disaster relief efforts by visiting redcross.org/donate.