The Kat Pinedo Blood Drive

Most people don’t spend their wedding anniversary hosting a blood drive, but that’s exactly what Katherine “Kat” Pinedo is doing on Friday, August 21. Residents of Carpinteria and surrounding communities are invited to join Kat and her family in helping save lives by giving blood at a blood drive in her honor:

Friday, August 21, 2015
1:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Carpinteria Community Church
1111 Vallecito Road, Carpinteria, CA

 You can make an appointment today by visiting redcrossblood.org and using sponsor code KatPinedo, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or using the free Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Katherin-Kat-Pinedo-Blood-DriveAt the age of 2, Kat was diagnosed with Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack organs. The disease was in remission until her late 20’s when it destroyed her kidneys. Thanks to generous donors, Kat received a kidney transplant along with many pints of livesaving blood, but Kat’s body later rejected her donor kidney. Today, this 31-year-old mother is now on a waiting list for a new kidney and must endure dialysis until a suitable donor is found.

Through all this, Kat is also working to raise awareness for blood donation, not only for transplant patients, but for those fighting cancer, premature babies, trauma victims, and others in need.

The blood drive coincides with her wedding anniversary. It’s a chance for her to set an example for her 6-year-old daughter by advocating for others in need and creating what she hopes will become an annual community event.

“I’ve decided to use this situation to be a voice for those who can’t speak up about the need for blood and platelet donors,” said Pinedo. “This isn’t about just me. I’m not dwelling on the negatives. I know how important this is. I hope everyone who can donate takes the time to help others who need it.”

Kat-Pinedo-Quote-01

Kat’s blood drive comes at a time when the Red Cross often faces a seasonal shortage. Blood and platelet donations historically decline during the summer months for a variety of reasons, including busy summer schedules and vacations, but the need remains constant.

Summer offers more than 100 days to make a difference. Clear your calendar for what’s most important and #ChooseYourDay!

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To Thank Our Heroes

As many of you know, I am at the end of my second term, and I have had a chance to meet some amazing people. I have created partnerships with all the “Office of Education” for our region. I have introduced the American Red Cross to different organizations and had the opportunity to educate a lot of parents and children, but there is one group I have had the opportunity to work with, that I have to recognize.

Our local fire fighters have done so much to help not just me, but to help our Central Valley AmeriCorps and preparedness team.  In my two terms, I have worked with our fire departments on events such as: Team Firestopper, Wild Firestopper, Kid Firestopper, MLK Day of Service, and our Home Fire Campaign. Anytime I, or anyone on the team, have called on the fire departments, without hesitation, they have been there to help us. One might say, “Helping others is what they do.” And yes, helping others is what they do, but sometimes it’s so easy to overlook all they do that isn’t publicized.

chris nelson
Chris Nelson

When working on my Kid Firestopper program last year, I sat down with some fire fighters from Fresno and Merced, and asked for some of their input. I took some of the questions the children were asking me and received their answers. Now, I could have looked up the answers, but I wanted to give the children answers from the fire fighters. I felt it made more of an impact on them.

During Team Firestopper, the fire fighters were there to help us canvass and also gave us the facility to host our seminars. For HFC, they came out with their Explorers, Hot Shots, and a couple of engines to help install smoke detectors; one station even giving us carbon monoxide detectors to install. So big deal, a partnership with the Red Cross is almost expected, but many of the fire fighters who came to help did so because they appreciated our help. That’s huge for me to see and hear from them.

Blood donation for Captn. Dern
Veronica donating blood

Before I began serving the American Red Cross, I had already established a respect for our fire fighters, but during these past two terms, that respect has grown. It has grown so much that I felt the need to give back in some way, but I didn’t know how. An opportunity presented itself last February when during a training exercise Fire Fighter Paramedic Chris Nelson, from Selma Fire, fell off a 45 ft. ladder. This accident left him needing several surgeries, and ultimately leaving him paralyzed. Due to the numerous surgeries, blood donation events were hosted in Fresno to help. I’m terrified of needles, but there I was donating blood for the first time to a fire fighter I had not, nor have, met. I did this for two reasons; he was a close friend to my close friend Captain Sean Johnson, and he was a man who would have helped us had we asked. During this event, I watched as brother fire fighters banded together to help another fire fighter, a brother. After experiencing this, I promised Captain Johnson, anytime any of his brothers needed help, I would do what I could. A prayer every time an engine would zoomed by, advocacy for fire fighter rights, and yes even another pint of blood was what I had to offer. Maybe it sounds extreme, but considering all a fire fighter offers any of us, at any given time, it was the least I could do.

Capt. Sean Johnson
Capt. Sean Johnson

On March 29th of this year, another brother came to need the communities help. Captain Pete Dern, of the Fresno Fire Department, fell through the roof of a house that was on fire. He was ventilating the roof of the garage when he stepped forward through the roof into a fiery pit. He was rescued by his crew, but not before he received burns from 60-70 per cent of his body. Capt. Dern has, since March 29th, undergone countless surgeries, and has an entire nation routing for his recovery and hosting blood drives. So there I went again, still hating needles, to donate for one of our own, a local fire fighter. As I arrived to the blood drive, there lining the parking lot were fire crews that I had the pleasure of working with during these past two terms. Each fire fighter took the time to thank me, and those in line, for coming out and helping Capt. Dern.  They were thanking us, but what I don’t think they realized was, we were there to thank them (or at least I was.) This man, with his accident, has a nation wishing and praying for his recovery, and expressing their gratitude for the risks fire fighters go through every day.

Pete Dern
Capt. Pete Dern

As a moment of complete honesty, I joined AmeriCorps and agreed to serve the Red Cross for one huge reason; the opportunity to work with the Fire Department. I don’t believe I have the guts to become a fire fighter, but I have the heart to help them. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank our fire fighters, not just those in the Central Valley, but all fire brothers across the nation. Thank you for stepping into the fire for someone or something (pets) that may have been trapped inside. Thank you for doing your job and for never asking for thanks in return. Thank you for being our heroes! So for Captain Sean Johnson, Captain Pete Dern, and Fire Fighter Paramedic Chris Nelson, this little sister thanks you for being my heroes!

Veronica Lases,
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Latino Community Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central California Region

Day in the Life: Red Cross Club Blood Drive, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Blood Services Vehicles 2013The CSU Channel Islands campus was still quiet as Laurie Hurtado made her way to the library. She and other Red Cross Club members were there early to set up for their blood drive. All week they had been tabling in front of the library to sign students and faculty up for the big event.

Laurie came prepared with her club t-shirt and stack of forms. Together the group set up their table, complete with clipboards, balloons, and flyers.

Red Cross Club members like Laurie play an integral role in community outreach. From blood drives, to fundraising, to preparedness education, these clubs are a fun and energetic experience for high school and college students throughout the region. Red Cross Clubs also offer many opportunities for self-development, and empower students to build critical leadership skills.

“I have been a blood donor since 2005, so I was thrilled to become a club member at school and to have the opportunity to participate in other ways for the organization,” said Laurie, “Being a student nurse, I find that being a volunteer for the Red Cross enhances my education and leadership skills.”

Earlier in the week, Laurie and her fellow club members decorated a beautiful glass case display in the library to celebrate Blood Donation Awareness Week. Their engaging visuals, facts, and stories were starting pay off as students began to approach their table.

Utah State University Blood Drive 2012“My favorite part about being a Red Cross club member and volunteer is being an active member on my campus and in my community. I like spreading awareness about blood donations and encouraging people to donate,” said Laurie.

It was Laurie’s turn to make her own donation, one of more than 41,000 donations that are needed every day. She climbed into a chair and got ready. Just then a woman approached her and said thank you. The only reason she was alive was because of a blood transfusion she had years ago.

“Every time I get nervous about the needle stick, I think of that woman and how scared she must have felt when her life was in jeopardy. I am instantly humbled and no longer nervous.”

Red Cross Club members like Laurie are part of the more than 90% volunteer workforce that provides humanitarian services in the Central California Region. The Red Cross thanks and honors these selfless and compassionate every day heroes during National Volunteer Week, April 12-18. Click here to learn more about the “Day in the Life of a Volunteer” series.