When an early-morning home fire resulted in a family of 11 being forced out of their Salinas residence during Christmas week, volunteers from the Central Coast Chapter provided the family with the kind of critical support people have come to expect from the American Red Cross: emergency funds for food, lodging, and clothing.
While that kind of baseline assistance is vitally important to people in need, it's the extra help that this particular family received from Red Cross partners that really caught the attention of Patsy Gasca, disaster program manager for the local chapter.
"It really does take a village to help people in need," Gasca says.
Central Coast volunteers Danny Webster, Dan Kemper, and Chris Brown rushed to the scene of the December 20 blaze to provide the 3 adults and 8 children immediate support; volunteer Janet Packer provided behind-the-scenes client support; and Gasca herself served as the Red Cross's incident manager.
While Gasca is proud of her team's work, she is especially passionate about the support the family received from the Red Cross partners summoned to help.
"Right off the bat, we needed specialty help with translation services because there are so many different dialects that originate in Oaxaca, where the family is from," Gasca says. "We received tremendous help from a translator we were able to commission out of Greenfield."
And then there's the local Motel 6 that worked with the Red Cross to provide temporary housing for the family. "Within a couple of days of the family being there, the motel's managers inquired about the possibility of 'adopting' the family for Christmas," Gasca says. "They invited the family to participate in the business's annual Christmas Eve dinner for employees."
And that wasn't all. "The employees themselves said they wanted to purchase gifts for the children so that it could feel more like a normal Christmas," she says.
That kind of heartfelt response underscores what is so special about the Red Cross's many disaster partners. "We do our best to help people when they really need it," Gasca says. "But we don't do it alone."