Following the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943, President Barack Obama proclaimed March as Red Cross Month across the United States. The non-profit organization that provides humanitarian aid domestically and around the globe has a special connection here in Turlock. The first Stanislaus County chapter of the Red Cross was established in Turlock in 1917. Ninety-seven years later, the organization is still providing support during emergencies and helping to prepare residents before disaster strikes.
"The American Red Cross in Stanislaus County is here to provide support to those in need 24/7, 365 days a year," said Stanislaus County Regional Manager Rebecca Ciszek.
The Red Cross supports active military members and their families, provides emergency preparedness education, health and safety courses, first aid stations and blood services. And, of course, responds to disasters both locally and around the world.
"The number one incident the American Red Cross responds to across the nation is home fires," said Ciszek, and that's true in Stanislaus County also.
During the past seven months, local Red Cross staff and volunteers responded to 62 home fires that left 214 Stanislaus County residents temporarily homeless. Relief totaled $32,104.50 in emergency motel lodging, food, clothing assistance, case-management and replacement prescriptions.
The Red Cross also responds with volunteers and support during larger disasters, such as last summer's Rim Fire that burned nearly 371 square miles in Tuolumne County.
"We operated shelters for three weeks at the Rim Fire, the biggest local disaster in recent history," said Ciszek.
Along with local disaster response, the Stanislaus County area also deploys volunteers to help with emergencies in other parts of the nation and world. Two local volunteers are currently assisting with the relief effort for victims of the deadly landslide in Oso, Wash.
The Red Cross has an ongoing need for volunteers in all areas, from responding to disasters, to teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation courses, to helping with paperwork and events. The organization also recently started a Red Cross Club on the campus of California State University, Stanislaus.
For more information on volunteering with the Red Cross, call 523-6451. To donate, visit redcross.org.