In Redwood City’s North Fair Oaks neighborhood, this year’s Save-A-Life Saturday event from the American Red Cross became a fiesta, with fun for the whole family while teaching everyone crucial skills in CPR and disaster preparedness.
Beverly Cabrera, who has volunteered for the Red Cross in Burlingame for nearly four years and works with community partnerships, helped provide the vision for the event at the Siena Youth Center in June. The event attracted more than 300 adults and children, and included Taiko drummers, a Zumba class, Mexican folkloric and youth dancers, food, games, puppet shows and Red Cross trainings.
Cabrera, who grew up in San Carlos and is of Hispanic descent, thought up the fiesta theme along with Alan Kwok, the Red Cross Ready Neighborhoods manager for the West Bay Area. Their aim was for the fiesta to bring together the whole community, which is primarily Hispanic, to learn the importance of disaster preparedness.
“On a lark, I said why don’t we hold a fiesta– a big party where residents both young and old can participate and have fun while learning about disaster preparedness?” said Beverly. “The idea was well received and the North Fair Oaks Save-A-Life Saturday Fiesta was a go!”
The Save-A-Life Fiesta was held as part of the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter’s Ready Neighborhoods initiative in North Fair Oaks, a vulnerable neighborhood in Redwood City. The initiative, funded by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, gives people in the community the skills they need to survive during and after a disaster and aims to reach 50 Bay Area neighborhoods over the next few years.
Beverly explained why the Ready Neighborhoods program is so important for the community in North Fair Oaks.
“If there is a large disaster the people that come from another area or country generally react to an earthquake differently, compared to people that have grown up here,” said Beverly. ”We work with the community to educate and empower them to have the skills and be prepared for a disaster. They will respond and recover faster.”
The event offered fun activities for all ages. Key volunteers were a local and newly established Red Cross youth group, led by Gabby Meneses, a local Latino community preparedness volunteer. The Youth Engaged in Service team and 30 Red Cross volunteers including many Spanish speakers were also instrumental in making the event a success.
Although a main part of the event was the training component, it was also very important for people to have fun. Booths were set-up for residents to make a disaster plan, build a kit and be informed about emergency preparedness. Hands-only CPR training was also available for all ages and more than 250 free disaster starter kits were distributed with water, food, a flashlight, whistle, first aid kit, hand sanitizer, poncho, emergency blanket, tissues, hot and cold pack, pocket warmer and toothbrush/toothpaste.
Beverly said, “Every child learned. Little ones sitting there doing hands-only CPR, they understood better than the parents!”
The event generated a lot of interest from the North Fair Oaks community and over 30 bilingual residents signed up to be part of the Red Cross Disaster Services team.
Beverly said the fiesta was a great success, “It was fantastic to see parents and children learn life-saving skills together while having fun. The event really brought the whole community together.”
For more information about Ready Neighborhoods visit http://www.redcross.org/ca/san-francisco/local-programs-services/ready-neighborhoods