Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Have You Made Your Emergency Kit for the Zombie Apocalypse?

It has been over 6 weeks since I began my journey here at the American Red Cross. I am pleased and excited to collaborate with the fantastic six AmeriCorps members this upcoming year. With all of our past experience, ambition, and determination I am confident that all six of us will get things done for future AmeriCorps members to follow.

Within these six weeks I have learned so much and have seen many wonderful humanitarian efforts the Red Cross provides nationwide and even in the community I live in. I have engaged in presentations that educated and prepared families to be safe for disasters, and provided assistance to families after a house fire. It is a great pleasure to see the smiles of each family member when we show up to community events or during a disaster response. I am excited for what the future holds for me at the Red Cross.

I cannot stress how important it is to have an emergency kit in your household. During my presentations I have seen on an average of five audience members have kits. A kit will provide you the basics in order to live on your own until first responders arrive. Therefore having a kit will develop you to be more independent rather than depending on others to take care of your family. A kit should consist of water, food, documents, first aid and many more.

Many of us watch the show The Walking Dead, where they even stress the importance of having a kit as well. You cannot always depend on Daryl or Rick to take care of you during a zombie apocalypse. You should be prepared at all times. I was looking at previews for the upcoming season of The Walking Dead and came across this amazing item:

The Walking Dead offers a survival kit at a reasonable price that includes the following:

  1. Emergency food ration
  2. First aid kit
  3. LED flashlight
  4. Blankets
  5. Ponchos
  6. Waterproof matches
  7. Face masks
  8. And packets of water
If Daryl and Rick are fighting for their life from these flesh eating ugly zombies, I think you should make an investment and begin your kit for your family.

Daniel Avina
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central Valley Region

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Volunteers to the Rescue!

The American Red Cross relies heavily on the help of volunteers. Volunteers help our organization in many different ways, from helping out Red Cross staff in the office to assisting clients on disaster calls. I have been an AmeriCorps member serving in the Central Valley Region for over three weeks now and I have worked side by side with many Red Cross volunteers.

My first opportunity to work with Red Cross volunteers was at the 2014 A Taste of River Park event. This fun event provided guests with great food, drinks, and fashion shows. The best thing about this event was that a portion a of the ticket proceeds helped benefit the Red Cross. At this event, I was able to see how the Red Cross in the Central Valley Region came together to work as team. The Red Cross employees and volunteers worked diligently to make sure guests had a great time.

But I want to share a positive experience I had with a specific volunteer and how she saved the day.

A fellow AmeriCorps member, Alex Desiga, needed assistance with three presentations that she had scheduled at a military base.  The coordinator at the base needed two children’s safety presentations and a Be Red Cross Ready presentation for adults. All three presentations needed to be done simultaneously so a volunteer and I assisted Alex by presenting Masters of Disasters and Andrew Bashman from the Visalia office presented The Pillowcase Project.

From Left to Right: Alex Desiga, Elizabeth Barragan, Nicole German, Andrew Basham
Nicole German, the volunteer that assisted me with the presentation is a nursing student at Fresno City College and she is volunteering with the Red Cross to get presentation experience. We only had a handful of children for our Masters of Disasters presentation. In our group of children, there was a little girl that was hard of hearing. Her mother was by her side as she seemed timid and uncomfortable. Her mother had to leave her side to attend other matters, and this made the little girl so upset to the point where she started to cry.

As I went to attend to the distressed girl, Nicole stepped up to the plate and was able to continue with the other children and presentation. I was able to educate the little girl on safety and preparedness on a  one on one level, which made her feel comfortable to the point where she was able to joined the other children at the end.

The coordinator and the little girl’s mother were so grateful and pleased with how we handled the situation. I was also thankful to have Nicole there volunteering with me. I know it would have been a stressful situation for me if she was not there.

Volunteers perform 98% of outreach and disaster response in the Central Valley and are essential to the Red Cross mission.

Registering to volunteer is easy! Click here to sign up today.

Elizabeth Barragan
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central Valley Region

Monday, September 29, 2014

AmeriCorps: Hitting the Ground Running

Hello everyone!  My name is Andrew, and I am excited to be a part of this year’s AmeriCorps team working with the American Red Cross.  We are a total of six this year working with the Preparedness team in the Central Valley Region, and boy did we have to hit the ground running.

Our predecessors laid down great groundwork in our communities, and it will be a challenge to live up to and exceed all of the work and hours they put in before us.  However, I know that we have a highly motivated team that is more than ready to live up to the challenge.  

From left to right: Veronica, Korri, Andrew

The first few weeks have been a bit hectic with training, and it had me rearing to get out into the community to meet our neighbors and spread the Be Red Cross Ready message.  My counterpart for Tulare and Kings Counties, Korri, and I were accompanied by our Latino Community Preparedness Coordinator Veronica on our first community outreach presentations.  We were honored to speak in front of three 6th grade classes at John J. Doyle Elementary school in Porterville, CA.  The children were eager to learn how to create their own preparedness kits and emergency action plans.  What’s more is they pledged to take this new information home with them to share with the other members of their household.

And so our mission is well underway.  I am excited to meet and teach members of our surrounding communities over the course of the next year.  I have no doubt that the time will fly by, and that we will leave our communities in a more knowledgeable and safer place than they were before.

Andrew Basham
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central Valley Region

Friday, September 12, 2014

Celebrating 20 Years of AmeriCorps: #GettingThingsDone For The Central Valley

How many people get to say they were welcomed to their new job by four different U.S. Presidents? Well here in the Central Valley we know at least 6 who can say that they were.

Veronica, Elizabeth, Alexandria, Korri, Daniel, and Andrew are the new AmeriCorps NPRC members for the Red Cross Central Valley, and they were officially sworn in today by President Barack Obama, alongside Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and George H. W. Bush.  The special event was organized to honor the 20th Anniversary of the AmeriCorps program, which was founded in 1994 by President Clinton.

The event was live streamed from the South Lawn of the White House with AmeriCorps members simultaneously pledging service from their offices around the country. Here in the Valley, the six new members participated in the Fresno, Visalia, and Bakersfield Red Cross offices surrounded by volunteers and employees cheering them on and welcoming them into the Red Cross family.

Here’s video of Elizabeth, Veronica, and Alex participating from the Fresno office:

Now that they’re official, the Red Cross Central Valley AmeriCorps team will work in our community for the next 11 months, responding to disasters and increasing community preparedness through outreach and education.

To honor the milestone anniversary, Voices for National Service has issued a report, with a forward written by Chelsea Clinton, celebrating 20 years of service and impact through AmeriCorps. The report chronicles the history of AmeriCorps and celebrates the transformative impact AmeriCorps members have in local communities each day.

Now you can celebrate with us! Check out these infographics from the Corporation for National & Community Service Blog, highlighting all the work AmeriCorps has done over the last two decades. Then join the conversation online using the hashtag #GettingThingsDone to welcome the new AmeriCorps members and celebrate 20 years of service.

We can't wait to see how these six talented AmeriCorps members will get things done with Red Cross Central Valley!

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Whoopie! Red Cross Partners with Eddie’s Bakery for A Delicious Fundraiser

Have you ever had a whoopie pie? It’s basically superior to all other desserts. Why? Because it’s like a cross between a cake, a pie, AND a cookie. It’s a triple threat! And for the month of July it can be all yours at Eddie’s Bakery for just $2.95.

And what makes this delicious treat even sweeter? Proceeds from the sale go to your local American Red Cross! So it’s basically guilt free - have a second one!

These heavenly treats are made from two decadent red velvet cake pieces united by a sweet cream cheese filling sandwiched between.

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.

So buy a special treat for someone you love, or pick up a dozen for the holiday barbecue, or surprise everyone at the office with an afternoon snack! You’ll feel good knowing that the money is going towards a great cause like the Red Cross.

Eddie's Bakery is located on the Northwest corner of Herndon & Cedar in Fresno, right behind Applebee's. The fundraiser runs for the whole month of July.

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications

Thursday, July 3, 2014

An AmeriCorps NPRC Farewell

Well folks, the time has come. Today marks the end of my AmeriCorps NPRC term. I can honestly say that this has been one of the best decisions I have made in my 24 years of life. 11 months ago, I arrived in Bakersfield after a long road trip from Indiana. I didn't know a single person here except for one of my now greatest friends Amy Mayer, who I had only spoken to over the phone and through email. Two days after my arrival I found myself in the Fresno office, sitting in between my colleagues Veronica and Amitai. We were bombarded that day with numbers and goals to reach, and at that point the three of us were a little intimidated, yet up for the challenge. The next day we were in airports, headed to DC for training and some team bonding time...and boy was that fun! 
Since our return from DC, time has flown by. I've been asking myself in the weeks leading up to the end of my time here, "Where has the time gone?" From the early morning Team Firestopper community canvassing events, to the fire safety seminars, to Save-A-Life Saturdays, to spontaneous DAT calls, to community outreach events, to almost 100 presentations here in Kern county - okay, I guess I can see how the time flew by. There was never a dull moment. I'm finishing my term with so much experience, and feelings of great accomplishment and gratitude - gratitude to all of the people who have supported me, guided me, made me laugh, and made me feel like this was my home away from home.  

Just a few things before I say my final goodbye:

A HUGE thank you to the Kern Chapter Staff - Each of you know how much you mean to me. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend my time here with you ladies. You've been my second family, and you will never be forgotten. All of the support, guidance, laughs, good mornings, and see you tomorrow's have helped in making my time here so rewarding. Both personally and professionally, I love you all.

Another HUGE thank you to all of the volunteers. It has been such a pleasure getting to know each of you both personally and professionally. I've learned so much from you guys. The passion each of you has for the American Red Cross and volunteerism in general is astounding, and something I will carry with  me for the rest of my life.

To my supervisor, Alex - I'm pretty sure Veronica, Amitai and I were the luckiest of all AmeriCorps NPRC members in the country. You put up with the three of us for 11 months! My sincerest apologies for all of the gray hairs, eye rolls, and screams into your pillow. You pushed each of us, allowing us to see what we're capable of. I've learned so much from you, and this experience as a whole, and I can't thank you enough for allowing me to be a part of the Central Valley team. Also - on top of being the best boss I've ever had, you can quote as many lines from The Office as me, and I think that's pretty darn cool. 

Last, but certainly not least, a thank you to my fellow AmeriCorps members Veronica and Amitai. When I look back at my time as an AmeriCorps member, I will think of you guys first. We've been through a lot together. We've laughed, we've cried, we've argued, we've competed, and together we've achieved so much for the Central Valley Region of the American Red Cross. We had our moments, but in the end we made one heck of a team. You guys have shown me the importance of teamwork, the importance of service, and the importance of laughter. You each have such bright futures, and I can't wait to hear all about the fantastic things you guys are going to do. Both personally and professionally, I love you.

Way to go Prep Squad! Thanks for the memories!!

Love, Sam

Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross
Central Valley Region

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prepare-aphernalia: Emergency Water In A Can!

Pop Quiz:
How much water should you have in your home emergency kit?
When was the last time you checked the expiration date on your emergency water supply?

Were you able to answer these questions correctly? Many people already know that the Red Cross recommends storing one gallon of water, per person, per day for three days as part of a home emergency kit. But many more may not realize that their water supply could be expired!

What’s the solution to this drinking dilemma? One California business has the answer. World Grocer has developed Emergency Canned Drinking Water with a shelf life of 30+ years.

The makers of this life-saving resource have donated 67 pallets of the specialized canned drinking water to the American Red Cross Central Valley Region for drought relief efforts. Because of California’s historic drought conditions, the local Red Cross expects to see a record number of drought emergencies this year. So it’s more important than ever this summer to make sure you include water as part of your emergency kit.

Check out this video to learn more:

What else is in your emergency kit? Tell us in the comments!

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications