“I’m trying my best to continue the tradition.” That’s how Robert Balles, a Monterey County retired college math instructor, businessman and investor explains why he donates thousands of dollars annually to the American Red Cross in loving memory and in honor of his parents, Marie and William Balles.
Balles said his mother volunteered as a fundraiser in New York City on behalf of the Red Cross for several decades.
“My mother would go to banks and set up a table to solicit donations,” said Balles. “She even went around with a can to neighbors occasionally.
“I try my best to continue the tradition.”
To make sure his giving continues he has made a bequest in his trust to continue the giving tradition.
Balles began donating to the Red Cross in 2004. A few years ago he increased the level of his giving, matching the chapter’s donations up to $3,600. In 2015 he will help the Red Cross to the tune of about $3,700.
“I really like that the Red Cross helps people of all races, creeds, colors and ethnicities, and that is something I value and cherish,” he said.
Donations are the lifeblood of the American Red Cross, funding responses to big and small disasters across the country. In 2013 Red Cross volunteers in the Gateway to the Golden State Region responded to 728 local emergencies including a number of disastrous fires that displaced families. The Red Cross provides financial aid for food and clothing and helps families find a place to stay until they can get their lives back on track.
“I can’t think of anything better to do than help people who are in dire straits,” said Balles.
In Fiscal Year 2013-2014 the Monterey Bay Chapter responded to 28 local disasters and assisted 55 people struck by a disaster. The organization also trained almost 5,000 people in preparedness skills as well as CPR, AED, First Aid and water safety skills.
Balles said he tries to help other organizations and charities in addition to the Red Cross.
“I’m giving annual academic excellence awards to Santa Catalina School, and beginning in 2015, to Stevenson and York High Schools.” The awards focus on math and science, said the philanthropist. He said Santa Catalina High is erecting a new science building he called “the most modern on the Peninsula.”
“There is a Hawaiian proverb that says ‘blessings come to those who persist in doing good.’ Doing good embraces the idea of stepping forward and helping organizations like the Red Cross,” said Balles.
Readers wishing to include the Red Cross in their estate planning can obtain information at http://www.redcross.org/ca/san-jose/ways-to-donate/planned-giving. To make a tax deductible matched donation to the Red Cross contact Tracy Shelby at 831-626-5253 or mail your donation to P.O. Box AR, Carmel CA 92921 and write “Balles Match” in the memo section of your check.