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Volunteer Commitment Drives Successful Home Fire Prevention Event

Volunteer Commitment
Volunteer feedback was that “we would do this again!”

The American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley recently engaged in a highly successful program where residents of San Jose mobile home parks were provided with lifesaving smoke alarms and emergency escape plans and training. This campaign is a part of a National American Red Cross initiative that aims to reduce deaths and injuries caused by home fires by 25% in five years with the “Home Fire Preparedness Campaign”.

The event was driven by Tom Tanner, the event’s Project Manager. Tom’s role started in January 2015 when he agreed to manage the ‘pilot event’ to canvass the Vietnamese-speaking South Bay Mobile Home Park in San Jose. He quickly enlisted the help of Christine Joseph and Vaishnavi Vaidya who were both working with the Chapter as AmeriCorps members.

Tom credits Christine and Vaishnavi with much of the success because they did a tremendous job planning and executing while Tom facilitated cross-functional cooperation. Tom serves a Project Manager for Cisco and was able to apply his project management skills to shepherd the project along.

Site selection was also an important reason for the project’s success. The San Jose Fire Department recommended the selection of mobile home parks as the event focus because they are self-contained communities, making the operation more controlled and manageable.

The canvassing event was a real team effort. It included over 50 chapter volunteers, Chief Executive Officer, Quinn Tran, along with Board members Patti Fry and Thu-Thuy Truong. The Chapter teamed up with the San Jose Fire Department and linguistic support from the Tzu Chi Foundation.

Participating volunteers were trained ahead of time in their roles to feel comfortable the day of the event. Residents were assisted with formulating an escape plan and in learning how to maintain the smoke alarms and react in an emergency. The residents were extremely grateful and continuously would thank the volunteers with a smile on their face.  

Tom described the project as a great one, he noted that “Our volunteers enjoyed what we did because it was well orchestrated and they could immediately see tangible results. It’s a real hands-on experience. Volunteer feedback was that “we would do this again!”

Tom and his team were recognized with the Collaboration Award at the 2015 Silicon Valley Chapter Volunteer Recognition Night on April 15th for performing extraordinary work in a cross-functional way. Tom and his team exemplify the high standards of the dedication of Red Cross volunteers.

View more pictures from the event here: