On Oct. 5, 2015, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Red Cross Los Angeles Region announced a first-of- its-kind partnership in the U.S. between a Catholic Archdiocese and the Red Cross to use parish halls and school gyms as emergency shelters in Southern California.
The announcement was made by Bishop David G. O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, at a press conference and school preparedness day held at Bishop Mora Salesian High School in Boyle Heights
“During his recent visit to the U.S., Pope Francis asked our Catholic parishes and schools to be centers of the community where people can trust and help each other,” said Bishop O’Connell. “This alliance is an example of how the Archdiocese is putting Pope Francis’ words into action by allowing us to better serve our communities in times of crisis.”
He described how offering shelters within communities provide warmth, safety, and comfort to those affected by disaster and helps expand shelter capacity to serve communities in need. The partnership is based on a master agreement, which allows each parish or school in L.A., Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties to decide whether to participate and apply to be a Red Cross shelter.
Jarrett Barrios, CEO, Red Cross Los Angeles Region, said, “We have a unique faith-based affiliate program that serves as a link for houses of worship to equip leaders, members, and facilities with American Red Cross- approved resources for preparedness and resiliency. This agreement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is a model for the rest of the country. We know that many communities turn to houses of worship for safety and support during the confusion of a disaster, and we are pleased and proud to welcome our new partners in preparedness.”
The partnership has already benefitted Catholic high school students during a pilot online health program this summer where more than 100 students became certified in First Aid and CPR.
As part of the announcement, students from Salesian High School and School of Santa Isabel (elementary school) broke out into two workshops: a Teen Preparedness Training and the Disney Pillowcase Project, a special emergency preparedness training for elementary school students.
Students also learned about how to prepare for and stay safe during an earthquake, by experiencing a simulated earthquake in the County of Los Angeles Fire Department’s “Shakey Quakey School House.
Photos by Roxanne Schorbach