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Celebrating an Out-of-this-World Volunteer Excellence Awards

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“You are part of an amazing team of Red Cross volunteers.” Garrett Reisman

In 1998, NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman was part of an elite group of astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which took him to the International Space Station for three months. 

On Sept. 24, 2016, Reisman described this historic experience for Red Cross volunteers at the Red Cross L.A. Region Volunteer & Employee Excellence Awards held at the California Science Center, right next to the Endeavour. 

Over 400 volunteers heard Reisman describe how his amazing mission would have not been possible without teamwork. “As part of the Endeavour crew, I knew that my fellow crew members were all looking out for me. I couldn’t have walked in space by myself; we were all looking out for each other. In fact, our spaceship couldn’t have even taken off without the 1,000 people in the background who were making sure everything worked.” 

Pointing to the audience, Reisman said, “You all get that because you have our collective backs. You are part of an amazing team of Red Cross volunteers.” 

Reisman kicked off the event, which celebrated the Red Cross L.A. Centennial and all of the volunteers who continue to ensure the Red Cross provides its services to the community today and in the next 100 years. 

As part of the evening’s festivities, eight volunteers, who were nominated by their peers, were recognized with special awards. The awardees were: Clara Barton Honor Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership - John Luong Disaster Preparedness & Response Volunteer Award - Kenneth Dieball Special Citation for Exceptional Volunteer Service - Carmela Burke Health & Safety Services Award - Kay Schneider Service to the Armed Forces Award - Eric Brubaker Volunteer Leadership Award - Grant Graves Outstanding Youth Services Volunteer Award - Timothy Hokanson Biomedical Achievement Award- Irene Spencer 

Across the Region, volunteers donated more than 245,000 hours in 2016. Those who contributed between 100-500 hours in 2016 were recognized with a President’s Volunteer Service Award pin and certificate. Fourteen volunteers received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for serving more than 4,000 hours with the Red Cross. 

Special 5-year incremental pins were also awarded to volunteers who have served five years or more. Bert Asklund, who volunteers in Blood Services in Pomona, received a 75-year pin. He started his Red Cross service as a member of the Junior Red Cross in 1941. 

Presenters at the event include Jeff Sakaguchi, member of the Board of Directors and chair for two terms; current Board of Directors Chair Andrea Davis, CEO Jarrett Barrios; COO David Englin and Nikki Davis, Sr. Director of Community and Volunteer Engagement. Employee of Quarter awards were presented to Doreen Wheeler, Barbara Mariscal and Ruben Mercado. 

A special thank-you to the UCLA NSU Modern dancers who got the party started with a rousing, high energy dance performance, California Science Center, Summit Catering, Sunseri’s Bartending, and the entire L.A. Region Community and Volunteer and Engagement team, including Helene Rousselle, Regional Lead Volunteer for Disaster Cycle Services, who helped plan the event. 

Check out more photos by our volunteer photographers on our L.A. Region Flickr albums: 

Photos by Sunny Lu: 

Photos by Rudy Lopez: