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.

Stronger Together: Thanks for the great meals, Salvation Army

Strong relationships with community partners are pivotal in caring for those who need assistance during a disaster. Volunteers from the Salvation Army in Redding have been serving up great meals to dozens of McKinney Fire evacuees. Pictured are Joy Wegner (top left), Teri Lewis (top right), Dorinda Cox (bottom left), and Steven Brooks (bottom right).

Electra Fire: Up Next… Distribution of Emergency Supplies

Red Cross volunteers are getting ready to distribute emergency supplies to Electra Fire evacuees in Amador and Calaveras counties.

In the coming days, county officials will choose locations for those impacted by the fire to stop by and pick up items such as garbage bags, tarps, gloves and cleaning supplies.

The Red Cross is able to provide this service thanks to the generosity of donors. If you would like to support our disaster relief efforts, visit redcross.org/donate.

Thank you, Cowabunga!

A big thank you to Cowabunga Ice Cream Truck out of Valley Springs for delivering some frozen sweet treats to our shelter in San Andreas this week.

During a wildfire, when our shelter guests have lost so much, something as simple as ice cream can sure boost their spirits!

Cowabunga’s owners posted on Facebook: “A great night visiting evacuees and volunteers in San Andreas. Next stop Amador! Passing out free ice cream for those who have been displaced and those that need a smile on their faces. Fun night.”

Thank you for caring, Cowabunga!

For information on how you can support the American Red Cross during times of disaster, visit redcross.org/donate.

Northern California Volunteer Shahadat Hossain Khan Balances Graduate School and Volunteering

Shahadat Hossain Khan is currently attending school to obtain his Master’s Degree in Computer Science.

He and his family are also business owners in Chico.

With his busy schedule as a student, business owner and father, Khan still finds the time to be a volunteer for the Red Cross.

We would like to welcome him as the newest Disaster Action Team Service Associate in the Lower Northern California Territory.

We would also like to express our thanks and appreciation for his service as a volunteer.

Thank you!

Congratulations to Deborah Harper – Recipient of the Ann Magunsen Nursing Award

 

Red Cross Nurse Deborah Harper

California Gold Country Region volunteer Deborah Harper has been awarded the 2021 American Red Cross Ann Magunsen Nursing Award.

 This award is presented annually to a volunteer or employed registered nurse who has made an outstanding contribution to strengthening or improving American Red Cross programs and services. It is the highest honor of individual nursing achievement in the American Red Cross.

“We value your work as the Nursing Network Regional Nurse Lead and your many Disaster Cycle Services volunteer positions. Your humanitarian spirit is reflected in your outstanding leadership, dedication and accomplishments,” noted National Nursing Committee Awards Chairperson Laurie Willshire.

In presenting the award, Red Cross Chief Nurse Linda McIntyre said, “Your humanitarian service has a far-reaching impact and I’m grateful that you share your time and expertise with the Red Cross.”

As expected, Deborah has received an outpouring of praise from our staff and volunteers. In an email she said, “I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to send congrats. It means a lot. I’m so fortunate to be a part not one but two amazing regions!!!”

High-Priority Volunteer Needs

The Red Cross is always looking for new volunteers!

Take a look at some of the high-priority positions here in the California Gold Country Region. Sign up to volunteer at redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Blood Services – Donor Ambassador (Tuolumne County)

Blood Donor Ambassadors welcome donors to blood drives and provide friendly support before and after they give. This can include helping donors to register, answering their questions, and assisting them at the refreshments table. Hear firsthand why others have volunteered in this role. Training is free, but the support you provide is priceless. Make a difference by joining the American Red Cross to collect lifesaving blood to those in need.

Disaster Cycle Services

Disaster Action Team – Every day, people are forced from their homes due to fires, storms, or other disasters. Our Disaster Action Team volunteers respond day and night to meet the immediate needs of their neighbors. Our help may include financial assistance for food, clothing, and lodging; emotional support; or replacing prescription medications and other critical items. Learn more about this role. Training is free, but the hope you provide is priceless.

Recovery Caseworkers – Dedicated teams of American Red Cross volunteers continue to step up to address the deep and diverse needs of our communities. Recovery Caseworkers provide follow-up and recovery planning services, including referrals, for individuals and households affected by local and regional events – primarily home fires.

Disaster Responders – Feeding & Sheltering – Every year, thousands of families are affected by wildfires in Northern California. Volunteering for the American Red Cross gives you a way to directly impact these families by providing meals, shelter, and hope. Register to volunteer today so you can complete training before it’s needed. Your volunteer support is critical. Let’s help. We can’t do it without you.

Disaster Health Services – Disaster Health Services teams address the unmet disaster-related health needs of impacted individuals, families, and communities. They provide hands on care within a RN-led model, assistance with replacement of medication, durable medical equipment, glasses, dentures and other medical supplies, and support individuals with disabilities and functional and access needs. Current unencumbered license required for RN, APRN, DO, EMT, LVN/LPN, NP, Paramedic, MD, and PA.

Service to the Armed Forces

Resiliency Facilitators – The Red Cross continues its work with the military plus community helping families strengthen their resilience to stressors they encounter during their loved one’s deployment. We believe ensuring that family members are prepared and trained to cope with stresses and challenges that may arise without the support of their spouse or loved one helps our deployed service members focus on their mission. A current and unencumbered license with master’s level or above mental health degree is required.

Volunteer Services – Screener Many Red Cross volunteers serve in support roles working behind the scenes. Screening Team members seek to understand what brought prospective volunteers to the Red Cross, their areas of interest and what position they would find most meaningful. This is a great opportunity to develop administrative and interviewing skills. Learn more about this role.

Red Cross Month 2022: Reflections on a DAT call Eight Years Later

By Heath Wakelee, Volunteer

I’ll never forget the little guy looking up at me and with almost tears in his eyes, looking first to his father for approval and then back at me (after his father had nodded OK) to accept the Mickey Mouse doll that I had offered.

The little guy looked back at me, now with tears in his eyes and mouthed, “Thank you.” 

I almost lost it. Even today, that memory impacts me every time I think about that family and their kids.

It was a dark, cold and windy night in January. The single-family home was at the top of the property and it was still burning when our Disaster Action Team arrived.

The family (mother, father and two small children) were huddled on the wet grass in front of their home. A neighbor sat nearby with some paintings and photographs that he was trying to dry off and salvage after they were removed from the home.

That event took place over eight years ago. I hope those kids remain warm and safe.  I still think about them and wonder how they are doing. I think that I always will.

There was not much for us to do until the family started thinking about their recovery. The two kids were about three and five years old. Because of their age, they were not really able to comprehend the gravity of the situation. Their home was being destroyed.  The only thing that they really understood was that their toys were “gone.”

If you are interested in volunteering with your local Red Cross Disaster Action Team, click here.

You can also support the Red Cross by making a financial contribution or supporting our BASH virtual auction and event later this month.

Roseville Family Credits American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign After Safely Evacuating Blaze

By Peg Taylor, Red Cross Volunteer

Paula Metz and her family know firsthand the value of the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.

Their Roseville, Calif. home caught fire in August, 2021.

When the fire happened, the family of five, including one person who uses a walker, had to evacuate. They were able to respond quickly and evacuate safely due to the knowledge and evacuation planning provided them by the Red Cross.

“The fire happened so quickly. Having the Red Cross training was helpful. I felt a sense of readiness,” said Metz.

“Before, I wouldn’t have thought about my cars, full of gasoline, as being accelerants. One of the first things we did when we got out was to get our cars out of the driveway and away from the house. I’m now more aware of these things.”

“A month prior to the fire, the Red Cross did a telephone interview to educate us on fire preparedness, how to prepare an evacuation plan, how to use fire extinguishers, how to make sure our smoke alarms were working,” said Metz. “They also sent a package of information for me to read.”

Home fires are the most frequent and deadliest disaster in the United States. Every 24 seconds, a fire department in the U.S. responds to a fire somewhere in the nation, according to the National Fire Protection Association. On average seven people die each day from these fires and 36 people are injured.

When a home fire happens, those inside often have less than two minutes to get out safely.

To reduce the high number of home fire fatalities and injuries, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014. The program educates people about home fire safety, helps them create customized evacuation plans, and provides installation of free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for home fires.

So far, more than 1,200 lives have been saved in the U.S. as a direct result of the Home Fire Campaign. Seven of those, including the Metz family, live in the California Gold Country Region of the Red Cross.

Paula and her family are thankful they took the time to participate virtually in the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. “I hope others check out Red Cross’ fire preparedness information,” she said.

For more information on the Red Cross’ Home Fire Campaign, to donate to the Red Cross, or to join thousands of volunteers across the country who come to the aid of people impacted by home fires, visit redcross.org.