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Red Cross Announces 2014 San Francisco County Heroes

San Francisco, CA – The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter will honor recipients of the 2014 San Francisco County Heroes Awards at a breakfast on September 25, 2014 at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. This annual Heroes Breakfast recognizes local individuals and organizations that make a difference in their community through acts of extraordinary courage and kindness.

This year’s honorees include the following San Francisco County citizens and organizations:

Lifesaving Hero: Anthony Barbero

Anthony Barbero was surfing at Ocean Beach when he saw a boy floundering in the waves. He pulled the boy up on his surfboard, took him back to shore, and returned to the water to save the boy’s uncle who was unconscious and struggling for life.

Community Service Hero, Individual: Eddie Kittrell

Eddie Kittrell and his fellow Community Health Leaders (CHLs) walk a group of children to Starr King and Daniel Webster Elementary schools every day to make sure they get there safely and in time to have breakfast. As a CHL, he works for the Healthy Generations Project, which offers activities and solutions to the Potrero Hill public housing residents to help reduce the impacts of stress on children’s cognitive, emotional, mental and long-term physical health, and to strengthen parent/child relationships.

Community Service Hero, Organization: Everybody Solar - Youness Scally

Youness Scally’s idea to help agencies that couldn’t afford to go solar soon developed into Everybody Solar. Their mission is to protect the environment and strengthen U.S. communities through solar energy projects. By providing solar power to local charities and non-profits, the organization helps them reduce electricity costs and direct their limited resources to the communities they serve.

Act of Kindness Hero, Individual: Doniece Sandoval

Doniece Sandoval has made it her mission to widen the homeless population’s access to water and sanitation services by converting retired city buses into mobile shower and toilet facilities. Known as “Lava Mae,” playing on the Spanish command “lavame” for “wash me,” this project aims at helping to reduce the rate of illness, unemployment and social isolation many homeless people experience.

Act of Kindness Heroes, Group: SFPD Officers Brendan Caraway, Brian Carew, Eithne Cummins, Teresa Gracie, and Valerie Durkin

San Francisco Police Officers pooled their money to house a homeless family of six who were caught in a storm. They got them a room at the Budget Inn on Market Street and, the next day, Lieutenant Teresa Gracie worked the phones and got the family into longer-term housing.

Act of Kindness Hero, Organization: Bay Area Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (BALEAF) - Kelly Blackwell-Garcia

Kelly Blackwell-Garcia, President of the Bay Area Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (BALEAF), is accepting the award. BALEAF was developed in 1999 by officers of the San Francisco Police Department who noticed that when an officer passed away or was killed in the line of duty, there was a lag time from the last paycheck the family received to the time benefits arrived. BALEAF was formed to assist these families who found themselves in dire straits.

Asiana Flight 214 Response Heroes

In the aftermath of the crash-landing of Asiana flight 214 at SFO in July 2013, many heroes stepped up to assist and tend to the needs of the passengers and crew on the flight, as well as their families and loved ones. Heroic efforts occurred not only on the scene of the crash, but also at hospitals across the Bay Area and at the Family Assistance Center that housed over 180 passengers and family members at its peak. Working at the crash-landing site, the airport facilities, and at the Family Assistance Center (FAC), Red Cross personnel witnessed many of these heroes in action. As such, we are honored to recognize some of the many outstanding individuals and organizations who made extraordinary efforts to care for those affected.

First Responders

San Francisco Fire Department Mike Kirk: SFFD Fireman and Paramedic Mike Kirk was one of the first responders on the scene of the Asiana plane crash and worked with crew mates to knock down flames in the cabin and extricate several non-ambulatory victims from the plane, working through smoke and debris to clear all passengers and crew off the plane.

San Francisco Police Department James Cunningham: Officer James Cunningham was patrolling the North end of the airfield when he witnessed the Asiana plane crash-landing and was one of the first people to respond. He assisted passengers, helping them to safety and also entered the burning aircraft until SFFD members arrived.

San Francisco Sheriff’s Department: The Sheriff's Department provided Korean and other Asian translators during the initial response and in the days and weeks after the crash-landing as well as transportation for the victims and their families between the hotel and San Francisco General Hospital. They were also responsible for the security and safety of the victims and their families.

Public Health

Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, San Mateo County Health System - Terry Wilcox-Rittgers and San Francisco Public Health Department - Edwin Batongbacal

San Francisco and San Mateo behavioral health workers worked tirelessly and collaboratively with mental health workers from across the region, first at the airport Friends and Family Center, and then in the days and weeks after at the Family Assistance Center (FAC). They provided mental health care and emotional support to crash survivors, their families and other workers affected by the trauma.

Outstanding Cultural Support

Jessica Cen and Kayi Lau: Jessica and Kayi both served as AmeriCorps volunteers with the Red Cross Bay Area Asian Community Preparedness program and were recommended by Michael Wong, the Red Cross Asian community preparedness manager, to serve as escorts for the families of two girls who died in the crash from the time they deplaned at SFO to when they arrived at the FAC to meet with the coroner.

Non-Profit Organization

Salvation Army - Ken Cavallero: Salvation Army personnel provided vital translation services and supported health services and mental health personnel in some of the most challenging situations at the FAC. They were quick to recognize needs and responded with essential services such as a clothes “closet” and electronics charging stations for passengers in the days after the FAC opened.

Private Sector Organizations

Crowne Plaza, San Francisco Airport - Brendan Dixon-Beckett: The staff of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Burlingame worked around the clock, responding compassionately and resourcefully to the diverse and pressing needs of their guests, while graciously accommodating an incredible barrage of requests from multiple government and service agencies.

United Airlines, San Francisco Airport - Mike Hanna: United Airlines and its employees came to the rescue with the expertise and financial resources to establish and ensure the smooth operation of the FAC. Within 24 hours of the crash, dozens of their trained and skilled personnel were on scene, coordinating every aspect of the assistance efforts for passengers and their families.

About the Heroes Awards Program

The residents of the Bay Area make a difference in the lives of others in their communities every day. The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter and civic leaders from six counties in the Bay Area are joining together to celebrate everyday heroism, recognizing those individuals and organizations whose extraordinary acts of kindness and courage make them heroes. American Red Cross chapters around the country hold events in their com munities to recognize acts of heroism by local residents and pay tribute to those who have performed lifesaving acts. Each year, nearly 900 people attend events in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Solano Counties to honor local heroes. For more information about the events and corporate sponsorship opportunities, please visit All proceeds from the events support the disaster preparedness and relief efforts of the American Red Cross in the Bay Area.

About American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter

As a community-based, humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter provides relief to those affected by disasters and empowers individuals in our community to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. By helping people in the Bay Area learn how to take care of their families and neighbors, the Red Cross strengthens the community and makes it ready for all types of disasters, including home fires, earthquakes, wildfires and health emergencies. Call 1-888-4-HELP-BAY (1-888-443-5722) or visit to learn more. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.