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Taking Care of Our Open Hearts

When I saw that Red Cross on the truck, coming this way, I knew I was going to be okay.

“When I saw that Red Cross on your vest, I started to feel better.”

“When I saw that Red Cross on the truck, coming this way, I knew I was going to be okay.”

“When I was greeted by a Red Cross volunteer, I felt such relief.”

Red Cross volunteers hear these words many, many times during their hours, days and weeks of service.

Yevette Ramos, Executive Director for the American Red Cross Serving San Bernardino explained, “These volunteers roll up their sleeves and open up their hearts when they receive the call for help. We are so fortunate to have such compassionate people in our ranks. We see how they truly make a difference in the world. There is so much goodness they bring to a disaster or tragedy, and they bring that goodness home with them.”

When a major disaster or emergency situation occurs, the American Red Cross knows that the people affected need emotional support. They are anxious; they may be stressed or worried at their current situation and the uncertainty of what they face in the days and weeks ahead.

The Red Cross has over 3,000 Disaster Mental Health volunteers nationwide, all of whom are licensed mental health professionals. These volunteers respond locally and nationally to help meet the emotional needs of individuals and communities affected by disasters and emergencies. Using professional knowledge and skills, Disaster Mental Health (DMH) responders provide approved disaster mental health interventions that focus on basic care, support and crisis management for individuals experiencing disaster-related stress.

Dawn Peria is a licensed clinical worker with Victor Community Support Services and is also a volunteer with the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team and Mental Health Team. She shares the same sentiments as Ramos. “When I put on that vest, I don’t think ahead of the tragedy I’m going to. Instead, I start thinking of how I can help them,” said Peria.

Peria was called on recently to join her mental health colleagues in providing help to the families affected by the tragic shooting in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015. It was a difficult assignment, but as Peria shared, “I also attended the candlelight vigil held soon afterwards, and what I saw was an outpouring of goodness and care from so many, many people. There really is much more goodness in this world. This tragedy was the result of the actions of two people. But what I saw that night, at the vigil, was the goodness of thousands.”

“I saw the same thing,” agreed Michele Maki, Public Affairs volunteer with the Red Cross. “In the middle of so much grief, there was a tremendous outpouring of love and goodness from all over the community and the world. There is much more goodness in this world, and as Red Cross volunteers, we are gifted in seeing it, and experiencing it each time we are called upon.”

Please click here for more information and tips on coping with disasters and emotional recovery.