At Red Cross shelters across the country, leaving behind a blanket signed by shelter residents, staff and visitors in appreciation of the facility that hosted the emergency center is becoming something of a tradition.
Staff at the Red Cross shelter at the Florence Douglas Center in Vallejo, which was set up to help local residents affected by the 6.0 earthquake that hit the Napa and Solano county areas more than a week ago, are joining in.
Robin Brinson of the Capital Region Chapter in Sacramento was among the shelter staff in Napa, and she suggested collecting signatures and notes of thanks signed with pens of different colors on a white Red Cross blanket imprinted all over with the Red Cross logo.
Brinson said she’s done it on other deployments: in the state of Washington after the recent wildfires there; in West Virginia after Hurricane Sandy; and in Pennsylvania after Hurricane Irene.
The Vallejo shelter staff is especially grateful for the help by Florence Douglas Center Executive Director Peter Wilson, she said, rattling off a long list of how he has stepped in to support shelter clients with everything from clothing at a nearby thrift shop to showing up with dog food and a carrying crate for a client’s pet. He even brought the staff homemade cookies still warm from the oven.
“It’s the beauty of being a tight-knit community,” said Wilson, noting that the supportive response for the shelter from the center’s 500 members. “We got so many calls (from members) to help out.”
“Anything we want, he just gets,” said Brinson.
“I’m just glad we were able to open the doors,” said Wilson. “Otherwise, where would these people go?” He recalled the husband and wife who arrived first at the shelter, followed by two women who had recently moved to Vallejo and had no family nearby. “They all just showed this sense of relief that someone was available for them. It was a comfort thing.”
The shelter is his first experience with the Red Cross, Wilson said “and it’s been amazing.”
Staff wanted to keep the blanket project a complete surprise until handing it over to Wilson when the shelter closes, but Brinson said that he did get a glimpse of it spread out on the center’s pool table and ready for more signatures. But, she said, he wasn’t allowed close enough to read the signatures and comments.
When he took a short break for Labor Day weekend, it gave them a little more time to collect still more fond farewells.