Los Angeles, February 2, 2019 — The American Red Cross Los Angeles honored eight local volunteers for their service at the annual Volunteer Excellence Awards this afternoon, capping off a year in which the organization called on volunteers across the state to respond to record-setting wildfires among other disasters.
“When large disasters upended lives this year, Red Cross volunteers from our community answered the call to help — all while continuing to provide relief and comfort for neighbors devastated by home fires and other emergencies each day,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. “Each person recognized is someone who stepped up and provided service that was above and beyond the call of duty. We are honored to have so many volunteers and compassionate individuals make up the Red Cross and we are thankful to them all! "
Held at the Los Angeles Zoo, the Volunteer Excellence Awards was attended by 550 of the region’s 8,567 Red Cross volunteers who, after an intense year of responding to wild fires and other tragedies, were able to unwind, play games, mingle with their fellow humanitarians, and admire the exotic wildlife.
Volunteers provide critical support to the American Red Cross mission. In fact, 90% of the Red Cross’ humanitarian work is carried out by volunteers.
This year’s award winners are:
Amisha Chowdhury – Outstanding Youth Services Volunteer Award
A youth leader on many boards locally and nationally, Amisha has grown her local Red Cross Youth Corps by more than 50 percent since she began and continues to motivate other youth to get involved.
Mark Stapf – Clara Barton Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership
With more than 30 years of Red Cross service under his belt, Mark has served across the organization from Disaster Action Teams to government liaison services to helping at Sound the Alarm Events and first aid stations.
Doug Wiita – International Services Award
A committed member of the Restoring Family Links program, Mark spares no effort to make sure people affected by disaster receive the assistance they need, no matter what it takes: whether contacting them by phone or letter, searching for them online, or going straight into the community to knock on doors. In addition, to his casework responsibilities, Mark also trains new Red Cross volunteers.
Rajnita Jain – Special Citation for Exceptional Volunteer Service
Rajnita is an exceptional volunteer as evidenced by the 1,500 hours she has served with the Red Cross in the last year alone. While she began her work with the Red Cross as a blood donor ambassador in 2013, she has since worked her way into Disaster Cycle Services, where she has become a leader in her territory.
Pam Haner – Volunteer Leadership Award
A 17-year Red Cross veteran, Pam plays a crucial role in on-boarding, training, engaging, and mentoring volunteers. She also demonstrates extraordinary commitment to her work in Disaster Mental Health, Disaster Action Teams, Bootcamp trainings, disaster deployments or local Sound the Alarm campaigns.
Jim Jones – Service to the Armed Forces Award
Jim is the epitome of a team player. Through his sincerity, empathy and honesty, Jim forms deep connections with his clients and in doing so, helps them heal and creates a positive impact in their lives.
Brenda Baker – Disaster Preparedness & Response Volunteer Award
Brenda is a dedicated disaster specialist with more than 1,000 disaster service-related hours in the books and has deployed to six disasters – including the recent Woolsey Fire – in the last year alone. Her colleagues describe her as motivating, supportive, encouraging, and always ready to help.
Robert Ray – Biomedical Achievement Award
Robert is a committed member of the Red Cross Blood Services team, serving as a transportation specialist blood driver as well a trainer of new volunteer drivers. He’s a proud Red Cross supporter who promotes the organization wherever he can, whether at Red Cross outreach events or through his own personal social media network.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information about the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, please visit redcross.org/la or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossLA or @CruzRojaLA.