On August 25, 2014, the Red Cross L.A. Region welcomed its newest AmeriCorps members, just in time to salute the 20th anniversary of the national service-based program that occurs in mid-September.
Through the California Safe Corps program, the L.A. Region has partnered with AmeriCorps since its inception in 1994. Current CEO of the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Chapter, Ron Farina, in his previous position as L.A. Chapter Associate Manager, helped successfully lobby the National Corporation for Community Service to fund a grant establishing an L.A.-based AmeriCorps program to serve as an arm of the Red Cross’ disaster preparedness and response service.
“It is so gratifying to see the AmeriCorps program continuing to thrive after 20 years,” said Farina. “Young men and women from around the country have served the people of L.A. County with dedication beyond words; their contribution to our mission has been priceless.”
The newest class of 26 California Safe Corps members, including 12 in the Los Angeles Region, will spend the next 10.5 months promoting preparedness to vulnerable communities and under-served populations. These include community groups, youth, non-English speakers, recent immigrants, seniors, schools, non-profits, and individuals with disabilities. They will also respond to disaster calls and provide recovery services to disaster clients through region’s Disaster Action Team (DAT) program.
“Every year, a group of individuals from all backgrounds are selected to participate in our Red Cross California Safe Corps program,” said Joseph “Joe” Edwards, Director, and California Safe Corps. “They learn valuable skills, help the community and develop into future leaders.” He said that this year’s members were selected from a pool of about 1,000 applicants.
Members undergo extensive training prior to beginning their assignment by taking CPR and First Aid, and Red Cross disaster classes. Members primarily help at local disasters, but they can be deployed across the country. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, more than 20 California Safe Corps members from across the state were sent to New Jersey to help out with the disaster relief.
This year, the L.A. Region is also excited to welcome seven members of another AmeriCorps program called the National Program and Response Corps (NPRC). These members will have similar roles to the Safe Corps team, as well as assisting with the region’s Service to the Armed Forces/International Services program and shelter readiness. This is the first time NPRC members have worked with the Region.
More than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have served America during the last 20 years.
Edwards says after completing the program, members usually attend graduate school, find jobs in the non-profit sector, go into teaching, or sometimes find employment through the Red Cross.
“For over 20 years, AmeriCorps members have contributed enormously to fulfilling the Red Cross mission. We couldn’t do our work without them,” said Edwards.
Top row (L to R) Sarah White, Velma Escamilla Duran, Kinsey Egan-McGee, and Andrew Wills.
Middle row (L to R) Nidhi Chillara, Tori Kanhayuwa, Sara Jayne Breuer, Taylor Mobley.
Bottom row (L to R) Miguel Soltero and Josue Perez.)