Red Cross Champions

  • Red Cross Portland Red Cross Champions
Each of us has our own story about the Red Cross – why we serve and why it’s important to us. Please take a few minutes to share how you serve, why the Red Cross is important to you and what makes you a Red Cross Champion.

February 2, 2016

“My greatest accomplishment is the work we are doing with Portland Fire & Rescue. They reached out to us in August 2014 about their interest in hosting a special blood drive to honor those lost on 9/11. With less than a month to schedule, plan and recruit, I was skeptical about how successful the drive would be. We were able to launch a city-wide marketing campaign, got media support, and collected 74 units of life saving blood on our goal of 73! Portland Fire & Rescue loved the experience and committed to hosting the drive annually. In 2015 we grew the blood drive by adding a bloodmobile, and collected 115 units! We’ve collected 189 units the last two years and helped up to 567 patients in need!”

- Cassi MacQueen, Portland, OR

“Being part of the early response to Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg this past October, standing in the crowd at the first vigil, representing the Red Cross felt so right. Because of our team’s quick thinking and coordination (three disaster mental health volunteers and one health services volunteer) we were able to make a difference early on.”

- Janet Bailey, North Plains, OR

“My biggest accomplishment is helping facilitate the service of our AmeriCorps members every year. It is impressive to see what members both from the Red Cross and from other agencies accomplish during their term and what they pursue after their term ends. The last two terms, almost every member has left our program with a position lined up or grad school planned out, including many members who stay at the Red Cross or emergency management organizations in the state. I I have an ongoing pride that I have been able to participate in this program and contribute to the service and professional growth of so many passionate individuals.”

- Ryan McGoldrick, Portland, OR

“In my six years of Red Cross volunteering, I have helped many volunteers to become acquainted with the Volunteer Connections system as well as deploy volunteers to many Disaster Relief Incidents. I believe that when I am giving assistance to clients or volunteers I am doing my part for the American Red Cross.”

- Becky Hoffman, Salem, OR

January 5, 2016

I had firsthand experience in business recoveries for the events of September 11, 2001 and Katrina. I know what a difference having a plan made for those impacted and I also saw the difference the Red Cross made in helping to respond and recover.… Every time you hear news of a tragedy, the last words out of the broad casters mouth is usually ‘the Red Cross is providing assistance to those impacted.’ I am proud to be a small part of making that happen.

- Kelley Okolita, Portland, OR

Last summer, we watched the flames from the Rowena Wildfire come over the western ridge of The Dalles and rush toward the Chenowyth neighborhood. Within minutes, cars were filing up the hill to our shelter at an elementary school. We were open, ready to receive clients. Red Cross handled the surge incredibly well, and we provided a safe place for dozens of people to spend the night.

- Kyle Henning, Vancouver, WA

I am incredibly proud of the fact that as a Red Cross volunteer, I am working with an organization that doesn’t ask people who they are or what they have; rather we ask them ‘what do you need?’ It’s what keeps me motivated and willing to put in long, hard hours. The principles of Impartiality and Neutrality allow us to open a shelter that accommodates undocumented farm hands alongside a third-generation homeowner who has also lost a home in a California wildfire. The principles make sure we can go into any situation to provide humanitarian care with no other criteria than someone needs our help. This is what I’m proud of.

- Carol Gross, Beaverton, OR

After being hired by the American Red Cross, I was determined to involve myself with everything the Red Cross had to offer. I toured a shelter, learned about disaster preparedness, and gave blood for the first time. However, nothing was more meaningful than receiving my first assignment. I had the great pleasure of working with five-star-stellar volunteer Becky Hoffman to qualify this past September. Knowing that I had been trained by the Red Cross to serve my community in a time of need far outweighs any community honor, academic accolade, or diamond ring. What a gift!

- Sarah Koski, Eugene, OR

December 3, 2015

Turning a gutted second-floor of an industrial building into a cozy staff shelter for ERV (emergency response vehicle) drivers on Staten Island during the Hurricane Sandy response was probably my proudest Red Cross moment. B the time the ERV teams returned to the place where they had spent two nights on the floor, my husband and I had a welcome sing, cots for everyone, coffee and snacks, and all the dangling electrical wires tucked into the beams. I had been disappointed at first to be assigned to manage a staff shelter rather than a client shelter, but when I saw how hard these volunteers had been working, and what their needs were, I as so grateful to be there to support them.

- Ann Fenderson, Salem OR

My mother taught me at a young age the value and importance of serving and volunteering. She is my inspiration. When 9/11 hit, I was strongly inspired to serve then but could not leave work and didn’t understand how to get involved in disaster response. My first encounter was at Katrina. I spent two weeks with multiple churches that traveled from the Northwest to assist victims. I was bit by the disaster bug. I had to be more involved. I joined the Red Cross and started my training. I joined AmeriCorps for three years and make sure each year we have a team in Cowlitz county trained to assist in sheltering. I then spent a year as a Vista volunteer teaching disaster preparedness in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. I continue to be involved in Disaster Response and Preparedness.

- Julia Bishop, Longview, WA

I was looking for ways to contribute back to the community and after watching a short video on disaster response. It was what I wanted to do. Little did I know how broad the scope of help provided would be, how many wonderful and giving people I would get to know or how rewarding it would feel to help those in need. Sometimes defined as the "hardest job you'll never get paid to do" - I really believe it's the "greatest job you'll never get paid to do". Being there in a time of need for so many, Red Cross staff and volunteers have provided so much assistance - in so many ways to so many people that I feel honored to be part of the organization and incredibly proud of all the Red Cross does.

- Dennis Kelly, Clackamas, OR

My proudest Red Cross moment was the first DAT (disaster action team) call I went on. It was the first time I’d been around a home that had burned down. There were still pockets smoldering while the family picked through to rescue what they could. It felt great to be able to get them set up with lodging and an assistance card for food and clothes. The gentleman of the couple whose home it was, was an army ranger in Vietnam and very much the stereotypical “tough guy.” To get a thank you hug and be there to share incredibly personal moments like when he showed me his ROTC picture from the yearbook he forum, was very meaningful.

- Carol Coddington, Portland, OR

November 16, 2015

Last year on Christmas Eve, we closed the office early so that the volunteers and staff could get home with family. At about 4 p.m., I heard a knock at the door. It was an elderly woman requesting assistance. Her husband (a veteran) had passed away the previous day. She wasn’t sure what to do, but one of her husband’s last comments was “after I’m gone, contact the Veteran’s Administration and the Red Cross. They will both know how to help.” We spent more than an hour making a list of things to do, and phone numbers of the VA and Red Cross. She seemed much more at ease the more she was able to talk, and know that help was available for her. I didn’t know all the things I should have done, but did the best I could. In a moment of great need, someone that experienced a great loss was able to turn to the Red Cross, and we were able help. Knowing that the organization is there in times of need, anytime and anywhere helps me understand our obligation to always fulfill the mission.

- Dennis Rugg, Vancouver, WA

While deployed on an ERV team doing mobile feeding following tornadoes that affected Mississippi in 2014, I provided much more than a meal for one individual on our route. I found the missing shoe she needed to complete her pair for work. Hidden under a piece of debris, finding that shoe helped her take the first step on a long road to recovery after her home had been destroyed. It was one of the proudest moments of my Red Cross career and one I look back on to remember what carrying out the Red Cross mission can look like in practice.

- Jenny Carver, Ashland, OR

My Red Cross story began in 1963. On the day of JFK’s assassination, my mother, a college student at the time, was run down by a hit and run driver. This incident led to countless of surgeries requiring dozens of units of blood collected from Red Cross donors. I’m happy to say that my mother is alive, well and mobile thanks to skilled surgeons and the donations of blood that allowed them to perform their life-saving work. The Boxing Day Tsunami in Sri Lanka set me on a path that led me to the Red Cross. Having witnessed the tragedy and the heroic response of the international community alongside my wife, I’ve found myself drawn to humanitarian work ever since. As a Red Crosser, I’ve taught CPR classes, conducted earthquake preparedness seminars, worked the front desk, sold classes, managed a sales team and a development team, written proposals, laughed, cried, sweat and bled (mostly voluntarily). The Red Cross has provided me with opportunities, friend and mentors, and is a home away from home for me.

- Steve Eberlein, Portland, OR

I am proud to walk through the doors of the American Red Cross every day. Every time I read the increasing number of lives we save as a result of a smoke alarm installation, it takes my breath away. Daily I have the opportunity to talk to all walks of life. It makes people so happy just to have someone to talk to, and know the gift they are making is going to make a difference, irrelevant of the amount.

- Justine Monahan, Portland, OR

July 28, 2015

“It wasn’t until I joined a Red Cross committee that I found out that the Red Cross provides help to families following a house fire. This was of personal interest to me because when I was 8 years old, my family’s home was consumed by fire. Fortunately we kids were away at school, but when school let out, we found out the house and its contents were a total loss. We were able to stay with a family friend and neighbors provided us with clothes and essentials until we could get back on our feet. While the Red Cross was not involved in the recovery, I can imagine what a relief it would be for families who didn’t have the same community that we had. For me, the Red Cross response to the small personal disasters is the compelling story.”

- Julie Grandstaff, Portland, OR

“Growing up in rural Oregon near ponds, lakes and rivers, after safety was important to our mom, so she enrolled us in American Red Cross water safety and swim classes. As I grew older, I was on swim team, became a lifeguard, taught swimming and was an assistant swim coach. Yes, I saved a few lives thanks to my Red Cross aquatics training. And, to this day, swimming is one of my favorite sports. I now volunteer in the Red Cross Cascades Region communications department. I helped to launch Camp Prepare!, an annual region-wide coordinated camping event that invites people of all ages to experience life using only the contents of their preparedness kits. The staff and other volunteers are hard-working and dedicated to helping people in emergency situations. Best of all, they are fun! I enjoy my time and sense of accomplishment volunteering at the American Red Cross.”

- Ann Frank, Portland, OR

“My Red Cross story begins as an Emergency Management student looking for hands on experience. A professor encouraged me to volunteer at my local Red Cross as a DAT member. A few of my peers were volunteering with the Red Cross already and they loved it. So, with much excitement, I became a DAT member. The more involved I got and the more friends I made at the Red Cross made me realize what a dynamic organization this was and what truly important work was being done every day. At the end of the school year in 2014, I applied for, and accepted, the AmeriCorps position of Emergency Preparedness Coordinator out of the Salem office. This position has offered me a myriad of experiences that have been so fantastic! From being able to teach the Pillowcase Project to over one thousand kids, to being a part of the launch of the national Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, every experience has allowed me to grow as a person and as a student of the Red Cross. There are so many opportunities the Red Cross has to offer anyone who is willing to get involved. I’ve been honored to work so closely with so many superb volunteers and staff. I am a proud Red Crosser and I believe it is safe to say, I’m hooked!”

- Jacleen Simons, Portland, OR

June 1, 2015

“My Red Cross story started in middle school when I took a babysitting class offered by the American Red Cross at the local hospital. Later, I enrolled in Red Cross Water Safety and Life Guard classes, and learned skills helped me gain employment as a swim instructor, life guard and camp director during my college years. I serve on the board of directors for my local Red Cross and have always been impressed with the work of the Red Cross during national and world-wide disasters. I am proud to be associated with the organization.”

-Tricia Welch, Eugene, OR

“From blood and apheresis drives, training for our Emergency Response Teams, and helping with drills and exercises, the Red Cross has been an invaluable partner in increasing emergency preparedness and business continuity efforts within our community. I would encourage other business leaders to connect with the Red Cross to build a more resilient workplace.”

-Tripp M. Robinson, Portland, OR

“In 1968 I was stationed in Germany by the United States Army when the Red Cross informed me that my mother was going blind. The unit First Sergeant informed me that I was to get an emergency leave of absence as soon as possible. This led the Red Cross and U.S. Army to do everything in their power to get me home. I have always had a warm fuzzy feeling for the American Red Cross. I've been a volunteer for 41 years now.”

-H. Gene Paul, La Grande, OR

April 1, 2015

“There is simply no other organization with the commitment, reach, and resources to provide so much help to so many …. In the variety of roles I’ve played in the five years I’ve been a Red Cross volunteer we’ve… helped a serviceman’s family get him home for the final moments of a loved one’s life, provided shelter for those whose homes were threatened or destroyed by fire or flooding, and so much more.”

-Stephen Sirkin, Clackamas, OR

“I cannot do anything any better than Service to the Armed Forces (SAF). The reward comes in the form of hearing a Commanding Officer tell me that Red Cross helped him come home when his daughter had fallen gravely ill. Time after time, I hear praise for Red Cross and I am proud to be a part of it. I have definitely found my niche here and appreciate the opportunity to do what I do.”

-Donna Winkler, Portland, OR

“In 1976 my little brother at the age of 6 years old accidently got a hold of some matches and burned half the house. A lot of important things were destroyed. The Red Cross came in and [provided] another place to live, money for food, clothing and blankets. Then they checked to see how we were doing and getting along. The love and respect they gave was a godsend. It meant a lot to us knowing that there were people who cared. This is why I love being a Red Cross volunteer myself.”

-Carol Jensen, Roseburg, OR

“It is a wonderful feeling to be around so many people who give so much time and energy for the benefit of other people. The volunteers are one of the reasons that I come to work every day because of all the passion, enthusiasm, and hard work they put into making sure that they can make the life of another a little bit easier after a traumatic event. I’ll be a Red Crosser for life.”

-Emily Wegener, Redmond, OR