Local Volunteer Honored with National Red Cross Award

Local volunteer Judy Stahl was honored with the national Humanitarian Services award at Red Cross headquarters in Washington D.C. last month.

National Awards and Recognition Dinner 2018
From left to right: Gail McGovern, American Red Cross President; Judy Stahl, Red Cross volunteer award winner; Sherri Brown, President of Humanitarian Services

Judy has been a proud Red Crosser for 9 years, most recently serving as a volunteer leader for the Pacific Division. From the event ceremony program:

“Judy Stahl is a leader. She is strategic, committed, loyal, collaborative, smart, and inspiring. Judy is solution-based and she drives results for critical business initiatives. Judy takes thorough ownership of projects. She does all of this with selflessness and inspiring passion for the mission.”

Last year Judy served as interim for two leadership employee positions, saving the organization thousands of dollars in wages and lost production. She led six regions in the Pacific Division to exceed their volunteer engagement targets. She also took charge of major projects in work order and facilities management. Her work saw major improvements by decreasing late fees, retaining partnerships, and saving employee work time.

“Judy performed these tasks with a sense of urgency and grace, keeping Humanitarian Senior Leadership informed of project status along the way.”

In an organization that’s more than 90% led by volunteers, behind-the-scenes volunteers like Judy are critical to ensuring that the organization functions so that the Red Cross mission can continue. Every day these volunteers are working tirelessly in operations, finance, human resources, volunteer services, and more. That’s why this Red Cross Month, we’re proud to honor Judy Stahl as a national Red Cross Humanitarian Services award winner! Congrats, Judy!


“You Won’t Find a Bigger Fan of the Red Cross Than Me.”

SBJenniferPhotoBlogHannah Troy of Montecito has stayed in two Red Cross shelters during two separate natural disasters that struck over a five-week period. She was evacuated twice during the Thomas Fire, the largest in California’s history. During her first mandatory evacuation she spent two days at the Red Cross shelter on the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus, and later stayed with a friend for 12 days over the holidays. 

Her return home proved to be brief when she woke up to the sound of heavy rain and a mudslide evacuation alert on her phone at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 9. She ran out to where her minivan had been parked, but it was no longer there. Her brother-in-law’s car was also swept away. The road clearly wasn’t safe to drive, so she went back inside her home and waited with her sister and brother-in-law, with whom she lives.

When they had learned the day before that their home was in a voluntary evacuation area, Hannah had packed her car with a bag with clothes and supplies for a few days in case they needed to evacuate again. Those belongings were gone in a wave of mud.

After being rescued from her home, Hannah was relieved to see the Red Cross shelter open at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). Having trudged through thick mud with her family and dogs, she was glad to have a hot shower and fresh clothes because she couldn’t carry many belongings with her through the mud.

You won’t find a bigger fan of the Red Cross than me,” she said.

The Red Cross has been providing shelter and other services for people impacted by the mudslides.

The area of mandatory evacuation expanded to clear the area for recovery efforts and more than 29,000 people were ordered to leave for what might be another week. People who arrived at the shelter were offered food, a place to sleep, mental health services, help reaching loved ones and access to hot showers and clean clothes.

Hannah stayed at the SBCC Red Cross Shelter with her dogs Lulu and Gabriel for a week, while she planned her next steps for a long-term recovery. She praised the Red Cross volunteers as giving her a sense of security after going through two natural disasters.

“There are all these amazing people and I feel safe,” said Hannah with her arms extended pointing toward Red Cross volunteers. “I just feel like this is the smartest place for me to be right now.”

Earlier this week, Hannah decided to stay with her aunt, but she promised to keep in touch with people she had gotten to know at the shelter.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org. You can also donate to the Red Cross at the same website, by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Byline: Jennifer Haake, American Red Cross Pacific Coast Chapter

1/18/18: American Red Cross Update



Santa Barbara, Calif., January 18, 2017 — In partnership with local relief organizations and government agencies, the American Red Cross of the Pacific Coast transitioned the San Marcos High School shelter to standby at 6:00 a.m. Thursday morning. Red Cross caseworkers met with each shelter resident to offer them a recovery plan and additional recovery resources.

The Red Cross and its partner agencies are committed to making sure that everyone impacted by this disaster is offered a safe place to go. For those whose home address has been verified by CAL FIRE as in the impacted area, a short-term lodging solution has been made available by community partners as part of their larger community recovery plan.

Red Cross emergency shelters are designed to meet the immediate, short-term needs of impacted residents until long-term efforts can get underway. As the Santa Barbara community begins to recover from this disaster, the Red Cross is meeting one-on-one with any affected residents and providing an individualized recovery plan.

Caseworkers from the Red Cross are available to meet with the public at the Local Assistance Center at Calvary Chapel of Santa Barbara, 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. Additionally, Red Cross crisis counselors are available to meet the emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of those feeling the impacts of this disaster. Red Cross Emergency Vehicles and volunteers also continue to distribute relief supplies such as clean drinking water and snacks at the US Post Office, 2245 Lillie Ave., Summerland, CA 93067.

 About the American Red Cross Central California Region

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The American Red Cross Central California Region provides services to the ten counties across Central California that is home to more than 4 million people. For more information, please visit http://www.redcross.org.


Over 800 Community Members Become Red Cross Volunteers During Thomas Fire

The outpouring of support from the Santa Barbara and Ventura communities has been incredible. The Red Cross helps to mobilize local residents who want to help their neighbors after a disaster, including the Thomas Fire.  When needed, community volunteers can expand the reach of trained Red Crossers by helping to hand out relief supplies or perform other tasks.

As of December 23, 2017, the Red Cross registered 1871 local community volunteers, with 834 community members attending an orientation and working a shift at one of our shelter locations.

I had the pleasure of meeting several people from the area who signed up to volunteer during the Thomas Fire. Despite all of their differences, they all felt a calling to help their neighbors.

Ben Pallan originally set out to volunteer with the casework team. When he found out there was a need for sheltering, he signed up to work two shifts at the shelter in Santa Barbara. “I wanted to do anything I could to help out, and Red Cross was the way to go.”

Pictured is Fred Samuel, Sean Whipple, Ben Pallan, and Kam Kobeissi.

Sean Whipple, a senior at Humboldt University spent his Christmas vacation feeding residents at the shelter. “My mom lives in Ojai and had to evacuate. I wanted to help others going through the same thing she did. I really felt connected to this”.

Susie DiMauro from Santa Barbara works at a local nonprofit, spent her day at the shelter taking down cots and other random tasks. “I had a good time. It was good to help out,” she said.

Mom and daughter duo volunteered at the Red Cross shelter at UC Santa Barbara.

As some of the lucky few that did not have evacuate in Santa Barbara, Deborah Danielson and her 15-year-old daughter Nicole, still felt the impact on their community. They attended an orientation at our Red Cross chapter in Camarillo, and then volunteered at the Red Cross shelter at UC Santa Barbara on its last day of operation. Along with many other new volunteers, they helped clean up the Recreation Center, which included cleaning cots and restocking Red Cross trailers so they would be ready for the next disaster.

Pictured from left to right, Nicole Danielson, Ben Pallan, Deborah Danielson, Susie DiMauro, and Sean Whipple. Together they helped serve lunch, restock trailers, and disinfect cots.

“Our community truly came together when we needed it the most. Our volunteers made sacrifices to help ensure their friends and neighbors had shelter during this difficult period. The words ‘thank you’ don’t even begin to describe how much we appreciate their efforts,” said Kimberly Coley, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast and Ventura County Chapters. Thanks to these new Red Crossers and their efforts, the local Red Cross will be prepared to respond to the next disaster.

To sign up to become a volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer to sign up today. There are several ways you can volunteer to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters with the Red Cross.

Taylor Poisall
Red Cross Communications

Thanksgiving Tips To Be Thankful For

If your family is anything like mine, then you know that Thanksgiving can be a perfect storm of disasters waiting to happen. Take a bunch of loud family members, add a deep fryer, and sprinkle in a few kids and pets, and it’s a recipe for holiday chaos!

It’s no secret that cooking fires are the most common cause of home fires and fire injuries, and Thanksgiving is a time when you are more likely to be distracted while preparing a meal. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving Day 2013 was the leading date for home cooking fires with 1,550, 230% above the daily average. That’s why your Red Cross has a few tips to make sure all family and food make it safely to the table:

  1. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease build up. Never pour water on a grease fire. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen.Thanksgiving1
  2. Keep children and pets away from the cooking area. Make sure children are at least three feet away from cooking areas. White meat turkey can be safe for your pet, but make sure to remove any excess skin or fat, and make sure there are no bones.
  3. Never leave cooking food unattended. If you’re simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food, check on it regularly.
  4. Keep flammable items away from cooking surfaces. This includes oven mitts, towels, or food packaging.
  5. Download the Red Cross Emergency App. Get more safety and first aid info at your fingertips. Test your disaster knowledge with fun quizzes and set up customized weather alerts.

Most of all, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday from your friends at the Red Cross!


Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications

Farewell, AmeriCorps!

Saying goodbye is never easy.

But every July, in a moment that is surely bittersweet, our Red Cross family must say goodbye to our team of AmeriCorps members. It’s bitter, because we will undoubtedly miss their dedication, passion, and lively personalities. Sweet, because we know these 10 young adults are on their way to do great things.

Over the past 11 months, the Central California AmeriCorps NPRC members educated thousands of families at hundreds of preparedness presentations. From teaching kids how to cope during a disaster through the Pillowcase Project, to educating senior citizens on how they can be Be Red Cross Ready, these team members reached countless individuals and taught them lifesaving skills.


This year’s AmeriCorps also played a vital role in our disaster response. They acted as part of the Disaster Action Team (DAT) to help families facing devastating home fires. This often meant getting up in the middle of the night or putting other plans on hold to bring hope and comfort to a family that had lost everything.

But their disaster response didn’t stop at the county line. Several AmeriCorps members had the chance to go on a national deployment, most recently to assist families that were impacted by flooding and tornadoes in Texas. Many operation leaders reported back to us that our AmeriCorps members showed extreme dedication and compassion, representing Central California well – we couldn’t be more proud!

DRO 636 Texas

Just when we thought their plates were full, this year’s AmeriCorps team took on one of the most ambitious Red Cross projects yet: The Home Fire Campaign. The task: overwhelming. The goal of saving lives: daunting. But AmeriCorps didn’t hesitate and jumped into these neighborhoods, one doorbell at a time.


And that’s just the highlights! In addition to these major projects, our AmeriCorps members hosted international conferences, supported Service to the Armed Forces events, created strategies to reach under-served communities, and much, much more.

So to Little Alex, Daniel, Liz, Andrew, Alex, Katherine, Korri, Aissa, Veronica, and Clara:

From all of us in your Red Cross family, THANK YOU for the countless hours of dedication. THANK YOU for your inspiration and passion. THANK YOU for the long nights, busy weekends, DAT responses, presentations, resource fairs, Pillowcase Projects, smoke alarms installations, Facebook posts, and ideas so crazy they just might work! THANK YOU for the laughs, the hugs, the tears, and the memories. We wish you well on your next adventure and can’t wait to see the good work we know you’ll continue to do for your communities.

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So without further ado, cue the cheesy music! This one’s for you, AmeriCorps!

(Pro tip: hit play and scroll through the pictures while you ugly cry – you know who you are!)

Thanks for everything, AmeriCorps!

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications