Publication Name: Imperial Valley Press
Publication Date: July 05, 2012
By Chelcy Adami - Staff Writer
Three local volunteers have been honored for their service within the community through the American Red Cross.
Nancy Gaston received the All-Star Award,Melanie Moreno received Rookie of the Year Award and Martin Martinez was honored with the Cabrillo Award at the 13th annual American Red Cross Volunteer Appreciation event in San Diego last month.
"It's great to have people who are ready to assist at a moment's notice,"Imperial Valley Service Center Disaster Services associate Elizabeth Enriquez-Phillips said. "Having more people allows us to respond more quickly and efficiently and that is a huge help to the families. It's nice to know a neighbor is helping a neighbor."
The American Red Cross has between 50 and 60 volunteers in the Valley.
Moreno recently graduated from Central Union High School and was honored as Rookie of the Year for volunteer service during the past two summers.
"She's been fantastic," Enriquez-Phillips said. "For the short time we've had her she was just awesome to help us with projects."
She added that Moreno will likely continue her volunteer service while attending the University of California, Riverside, next year.
"I'm really grateful for all the volunteers we do have and we're really appreciative of the work they do," Enriquez-Phillips said. "It's really nice to see that. I'm really proud. It was emotional that night."
Gaston has been volunteering with the nonprofit organization since 2006 and with numerous others before and since then.
"I just feel like that's part of what we should do is give back to our communities, and the American Red Cross is a great way to do it. It touches so many lives," she said. "It's rewarding. You just don't realize how badly these people feel and how good it feels to be able to do something good for them."
Gaston's Ail-Star Award was given to her for her "exceptional leadership qualities, depth of service and dedication to the principles and spirit of the Red Cross."
Martinez is the first Imperial County resident to receive the Cabrillo Award, Enriquez-Phillips said, which is given to the volunteer who has demonstrated remarkable service to the Red Cross along with effective leadership exemplified by the model of Clara Barton.
He has volunteered more than 6,000 hours since May 2011 and assisted 86 people and countless first responders as well as completed more than 50 Red Cross training courses and responded to two incidents within 10 minutes.
The U.S. Army veteran has completed two tours in Iraq and said that the Red Cross allowed him to continue his military leadership and emergency response training.
Once police and fire department authorities have left a scene, often the "lights are gone and 20 faces turn and look at you," Martinez said. "It's a somber experience, because they don't know what to do. ... The Red Cross really gives you the tools of what to do."
He added that another draw of the Red Cross is that "you can volunteer as much or as little as you want.
"You can make a difference every day. Red Cross could have just the opportunity you're looking for, from comforting victims of a house fire to delivering messages to members of our military to connecting families displaced by conflict," said Teri Klemchuk, American Red Cross San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter communications coordinator.
Visit www.sdarc.org, call 760-352-4541 or 858-309-1200 for information on volunteering with the American Red Cross.