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

Day in the Life: Fundraising, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

The sun was setting over the Bakersfield skyline as guests started to arrive at the airplane hangar for the annual Kern County Real Heroes event. It was the perfect celebration to end a day full of wonderful volunteer services throughout the Central California Region. The 1940’s big band music was playing, drinks were flowing, and the party goers were anxiously bidding on silent auction items.

heroes1Lisa Laine stood at the event entrance to greet guests with her Board Member pin proudly displayed on her evening’s attire. As a Red Cross board member representing Chevron and a volunteer, Lisa and her colleagues have spent the last several months helping plan and organize the evening’s event.

Fundraising volunteers like Lisa play a crucial role in securing resources for Red Cross services like disaster relief and preparedness education. Sometimes that means assisting with event logistics like securing sponsors, collecting donated silent auction items, or helping with venue logistics. Other times it simply means representing the Red Cross in their community or educating local businesses on how their contributions can help make their town safer and more resilient.

“This event, although coordinated by the American Red Cross, is an excellent example of local businesses in Kern County working together to give back to the communities in which we live and operate,” said Lisa, “I’ve enjoyed talking about this event with local businesses and members of Chevron’s leadership team in effort to gain their support through volunteering or financial commitments.  The Real Heroes Event represents a significant portion of the Kern County Chapter’s fundraising efforts which are given back to the members of the community in need.”heroes2

The airplane hangar was full now – a sold out event! Lisa began to make to her rounds, greeting guests and thanking donors who had contributed to the evening’s festivities.

“The best aspect of volunteering is the opportunity to partner with people from different parts of the world with different experiences, all sharing a common value – humanitarianism,” said Lisa, “The ultimate goal is to prevent human suffering; however when emergencies do happen, the power of people pulling together to alleviate human suffering is truly remarkable.”

The music came to a stop. Lisa wrapped up her conversation and found her seat; the ceremony was about to begin.

Fundraising volunteers like Lisa Laine 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.

As the evening’s festivities came to a close, Red Cross volunteers stood ready for what the next day may bring. 24 hours a day, seven day a week, volunteers are providing hope and comfort to people in need throughout Central California.