Ventura County “Heroes for the Red Cross” Honored

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They are our neighbors here in Ventura County, symbolizing the Red Cross spirit of Everyday Heroes.

On Wednesday, April 30, the American Red Cross serving Ventura County, recognized its 2014 Heroes for the Red Cross at an awards breakfast held at Spanish Hills Country Club. Representing five categories of local heroism, the award winners are individuals and organizations from throughout Ventura County showing extraordinary acts of courage, compassion and community service.

First Responder Hero: Ventura County Fire Department. Amid, high winds, record temperatures, and an historic drought, the Springs Fire erupted on May 2, 2013, eventually burning an area the size of the city of Santa Barbara. Trained and ready to meet this threat, the Ventura County Fire Department went into action, first on-scene to fight the fire and ultimately spearheading a firefighting force of 2,000 people from across the western United States. At the fire’s height, 4,000 homes were threatened along with Cal State Channel Islands and Naval Base Ventura County. In the end, no lives, homes, or military facilities were lost.

Education Hero: Oxnard School District. On October 4, 2013, the 1200 block of South Oxnard Boulevard caught fire, leaving 90 people homeless. The Oxnard School District offered long-term shelter and support to the displaced families. The gym at Frank Intermediate School became a dormitory with cots filling the basketball court and its long-unused showers activated. Donated goods piled up in aisles at the school library for disbursement. The Oxnard School District kept the shelter open an extra week to ensure all needs were met for the displaced families.

Good Samaritan Hero: Kirwin International Relief Foundation. Christmas Day, 2004, Mark and Angela Kirwin were vacationing with their children in Thailand. Their decision to stay in the mountains instead of a beach resort saved their lives when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck the next morning. The Kirwins helped with recovery efforts over the next several days and decided to start a relief foundation upon their return home to Ventura. In the years since, the Kirwin International Relief Foundation has raised money and provided direct assistance to scenes of disaster and hardship around the world.

Corporate Hero: Reiter Affiliated Companies. Reiter Affiliated Companies (RAC) embraces health, safety and giving, paralleling the philosophies of the Red Cross. To promote wellness for its workers and their loved ones, the company opened employee health clinics in 2009. For $6 a week, an RAC worker and his/her family can receive primary medical care and access a basic pharmacy. RAC has launched “Sembrano Salud,” a program to create healthy ranch communities through obesity and diabetes prevention. RAC bestows community grants to improve the health and wellness of farmworker communities and build community leadership through education and civic engagement.

Youth Hero: Sean Reed. In 2011, Sean Reed and his family watched video from Japan as tsunamis thundered through cities after a mammoth 9.0 earthquake. Determined to help those in need across the Pacific, Sean organized a bake sale to raise money. Today as a fourth grader, Sean continues organizing bake sales for disaster relief. The drives have grown, attracting businesses that provide baked goods and public space for his bake sale station. To date, Sean has raised nearly $2,000 for survivors of the Japan earthquake/tsunami, Superstorm Sandy on America’s east coast, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

“It is a privilege to honor these local Heroes of the Red Cross,” said Jim McGee, CEO, Central Coast Region. “They are our neighbors here in Ventura County, symbolizing the Red Cross spirit of Everyday Heroes.”