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.

 

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Red Cross Helps in Texas as Floods Devastate Communities Once Again


Sacramento, CA (June 1 2016)
— Texas residents are once again facing devastating flooding and the American Red Cross is there, helping those affected. Since the beginning of the year, numerous storms flooding (1)have ravaged the state, displacing thousands of families and devastating homes and businesses.

Some parts of Texas have already received as much as 19 inches of rain and the threat isn’t over – weather experts predict flooding will continue for several more days.in the Red Cross has 15 shelters open in Texas.. Emergency officials estimate that some 6,000 homes may be affected as mandatory evacuations continue.

Red Cross volunteers have mobilized once again, and our local region is helping with this national disaster by deploying volunteers. The Red Cross is also providing meals in coordination with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and other local partners. Red Cross volunteers will also be delivering relief supplies as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Texas has been having a tough year. Disasters volunteersfirst hit the area as the year began and again in March, April and earlier this month,” said Robin Friedman, Regional Disaster Officer. “Many families have suffered repeated loss from several floods just this year alone. Red
Cross workers have been helping from day one and will remain in the affected communities in the weeks and months ahead to make sure people get the help they need.”

HOW TO HELP You can help people affected by the Texas Floods and Tornadoes by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word TXFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Texas Floods and Tornadoes will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.

FLOODING SAFETY INFORMATION With the threat of more flooding in the region, the Red Cro
ss has steps people should follow to remain safe:

  1. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and heed evacuation orders when given. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  2. Stay away from floodwaters.
  3. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  4. Keep children out of the water.
  5. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY With the threat of more severe weather, people should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The App also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

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.

Giving Back… Gives Friendships

Jess Chairez and Marcus Heningburg met through the Red Cross. They drive the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) together, and have developed a friendship that both are grateful for.

For Jess, joining the Red Cross was a way to recover after the loss of his son Joe. Joe was 24, a newly graduated police officer, with a history of helping others. He collapsed while making an arrest. “Joe pushed kindness on everyone.” Exclaimed Chairez proudly. As a testament to his son Joe Chairez says “I am so thankful for the Red Cross and Donor network west, to keep the legacy of my son alive, and helping people in the process, that’s the biggest blessing.” Joe will forever live in servitude, so will his father Jess. “Red Cross gives me different platforms to work from, it keeps me active, they don’t realize that they are healing my heart,” said Jess.

Jess’ first assignment with the Red Cross, immediately after joining, was ten years ago during Hurricane Katrina. He spent 4 weeks in service to the victims of the largest and third strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in the US at the time. “To hand someone a meal, and give them a hug, let them speak to you is helping them from one step to the next,’ Jess remembers “I am so thankful, it is such a healing to my heart.” Ten years later, Jess continues to serve the Gold Country region in different capacities. It doesn’t matter to Jess how big or small the need is, “People need hugs, and someone to talk to. The more I help people, the better I feel inside of me. I’m trying to give back.”

For Marcus Heningburg… the Red Cross journey began in Mobile, Alabama many years ago. His family taught him early on, that if you can help, you should, and there is always some way you can help. Marcus stood in service to this country with the Air Force, and then with the penal service. By the adage that was instilled in him early on, he joined the Red Cross. Marcus also found was a new friend, another selfless individual, Jess Chairez.

Marcus is humble and likes getting involved in preparedness events as well as disasters. But there is never a dull moment in the Red Cross and he’s done so much. Working in telethons, installing smoke detectors, delivering mattresses to veterans, working as a parking lot attendant during the the California State Fair, and even participating in staff events at the headquarters like potlucks and staff meetings. “How can I help?” Red Cross answers that question for me and many of us,” smiles Marcus humbly. “Seeing someone with a smile on their face, and shaking their hands, is my reward. It’s easy.” Said Marcus “It’s so easy working with Jess, I do it as much as I can. He allows me to do as much as he does, He is always going. I try to keep up.” Meanwhile, Jess adds “You don’t have to force the guy, he wants to do it. You can see the compassion, it might be a parking lot one day, and delivering a mattress another. Marcus does it with a smile on his face and with open arms.”


Pairing up to drive the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), these two enter into a partnership, that adds to each individual in ways unimaginable. Red Cross allows them the  platform in which to reflect a little bit of themselves to those who need it. Sometimes it’s a neighbor, sometimes a stranger. It doesn’t matter which, be a mirror; with a smile. A hug, a meal or your time, as Jess and Marcus do. Red Cross can help you serve those in your community; show you an opportunity to give. It may also connect you, as it did Jess and Marcus, with your long lost best friend.

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.

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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

 

Red Cross Responded to 176 Large U.S. Disasters in 2015

At home and around the world, the Red Cross reached out to help those in need.

Friday, December 18, 2015 (Sacramento, CA) — In an unusually busy year, the American Red Cross helped hundreds of thousands of people impacted by disasters in 2015, both here at home and around the globe. Red Cross disaster workers responded to 176 large U.S. disasters – more than each of the past three years.

The cost of just the four largest of these disasters is more than $30 million – this includes flooding in Texas and South Carolina, wildfires in California and Typhoon Soudelor, which battered the island of Saipan in August; (Saipan is part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific).

Here in the Gold Country Region, the Red Cross launched relief operations after more than eleven major wildfires stuck our region including the Hayfork Complex fires, the Wragg fire, Rocky fire, Lowell fire and of course the Butte and Valley fires which are considered the top ten most destructive wildfires in state’s history. Volunteers from across the country deployed to the area and helped to provide emergency essentials such as food, shelter, health services and emotional support for hundreds of people who lost everything.

“These disaster affected many people’s lives here in the Gold Country Region,” said Robin Friedman, Regional Disaster Manager. “Red Cross workers from both here at home and across the country worked tirelessly to make sure people had a safe place to stay, food to eat, and help planning their next steps.”

131003-Year-End-Graphics_1024x512_FINAL-USAcross the country, the Red Cross provided more than 34,000 overnight shelter stays to people forced from their homes because of disasters, served more than 1.1 million meals and snacks and distributed more than 800,000 relief items this year (as of December 8). Red Cross caseworkers provided recovery support to more than 19,000 households, and health and mental health workers provided more than 65,000 consultations after disasters.

As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross also worked alongside other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to support families in Nepal after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake there in April. Across the world, the Red Cross continues  to address the needs of displaced families from Burundi, people facing food insecurity in Senegal, and is assisting with the ongoing migration crisis in Europe.

Flooding, Wildfires Devastated Communities Across U.S.

In May and June, the Red Cross responded across multiple states to help people impacted by flooding and wildfires. Residents of Texas, Alaska, California, Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Illinois turned to the Red Cross for help. In July and August, the Red Cross responded as raging wildfires burned out of control in Washington and California. In September, Red Cross workers helped after several massive fires in California destroyed hundreds of homes, forcing thousands of people to evacuate. As the Red Cross continued to assist people in California, catastrophic flooding hit South Carolina in early October and again, hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers responded. Then in early November, Texas was hit by a second round of relentless storms and floods just months after flash flooding wreaked havoc on much of the state in May. The Red Cross opened numerous shelters, provided food, health and mental health services and helped people plan their next steps.

Home Fires Continued to be Largest U.S. Disaster Threat

Amidst all of these devastating events, home fires continued to be the largest disaster threat in the United States. During 2015, the Red Cross provided casework assistance to help 214,000 people whose lives were affected by a home fire. The Red Cross also helped prevent home fires and related injuries and deaths by working with thousands of local partners across the country to install 195,000 smoke alarms and teach 268,000 youth about fire safety.

Here in the Gold Country Region, the Red Cross responded to 439 home fires, and installed 1,684 smoke alarms with the help of community partners.

131003-Year-End-Graphics_1024x512_FINAL-GLOBALNepal Earthquake and Migration Crisis
In late April, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, causing significant destruction and loss of life. Working with Red Cross and Red Crescent societies from 33 countries, the American Red Cross helped provide 4.6 million liters of clean water and 70,000 cash grants to support 350,000 people. Cash grants empower families to buy the items they deem most urgent in their time of greatest need.

Currently, families are searching for safety across the Middle East and Europe and the global Red Cross network is providing vital humanitarian assistance to those in need. More than 49,000 Red Cross volunteers are helping tens of thousands of migrants and refugees in 28 countries throughout Europe, providing help such as food, water, healthcare, hygiene kits, baby supplies, clothing and first aid kits.. The American Red Cross deployed eight disaster specialists to support the effort, along with 10,000 cots to help families in Germany.

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to assist people affected by disasters. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting http://www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Behind the Scenes with ARCSA

IMG_0458Hello all! My name is Sophie Amirrezvani and I am the president of the American Red Cross Student Association (ARCSA) at Sacramento State.

We are dedicated to fostering a volunteering community within our club. We do a lot of events both on and off campus. I am a second year at Sac State and I remember coming into college knowing that I wanted to be involved on my campus but had no idea what I wanted to do. At the beginning of my first semester I checked out a few different clubs and the only one that really stood out to me was the ARCSA. I really loved Thursdays because not only was it one day closer to the weekend, but I got to go to see my Red Cross friends.

Last year, the club was short on officers so the officers recruited a historian and a secretary. I ended up being secretary and look where that got me. By being an officer I have learned so much more about the Red Cross and all the wonderful services we have to offer. This year I am also a board member, representing Sac State. It is truly inspiring to meet so many people that are so dedicated to helping their community.  I have been volunteering for the Red Cross for just over a year now and have loved every minute of it. If you have not already done so I highly encourage becoming a volunteer! It is a wonderful experience and you get to meet so many amazing peopleIMG_0461

Whenever my mom asks me what I am up too other than school, my natural response is that I’m either volunteering for a Red Cross event or I plan on hanging out with my Red Cross friends. I am so happy to have joined such a wonderful and diverse club. Most people assume that our club consists solely of science major, although for myself that is true, I am a biology major. However, we have members that are majoring in a wide variety of subjects, ranging from criminal justice to computer science to gerontology. Fun fact: there is only one gerontology major in our club and she is awesome!!