Giving to the American Red Cross has been part of Robert "Bob" Balles' philanthropic DNA. To date, the Carmel resident has donated more than $40,000 for the organization through his annual gift-matching initiative.
Bob began donating to the Red Cross in 2004. Several years ago, he increased the level of his giving, matching donations up to $3,600. He has raised that amount each year since, and for year-end giving in 2018, Bob has agreed to match donations to the Red Cross up to a total of $4,100.
"I'm trying my best to continue the tradition," he says. That's how Bob, a retired college math instructor, retired businessman, and investor describes his decision to donate thousands of dollars annually to the American Red Cross of the Central Coast in loving memory of his parents, William and Marie Balles.
Red Cross roots run deep in the Balles family. In fact, Bob Balles says his mother volunteered for several decades as a fundraiser in New York City on behalf of the Red Cross.
"My mother would go to banks and set up a table to solicit donations," he says. "She even occasionally approached neighbors with a donation can for contributions to the American Red Cross."
To reinforce his long-term support of the Red Cross, Bob has also made a bequest in his trust to continue the matching tradition. "I really admire the fact that the Red Cross assists people of all races, creeds, colors, and ethnicities," he says.
Donations are the lifeblood of the American Red Cross, funding responses to large and small disasters across the country. It's a mission that moves Bob. "I can't think of anything better to do than help people who are struggling through natural disasters," he says.
Like others, Bob has observed how incredibly busy the Red Cross has been in recent months, responding to very destructive hurricanes (Florence and Michael) in the southeast and devastating wildfires in his own state.
"My mother would be so proud of all of the work that the Red Cross has been doing this year," he says.
That work includes plenty of local responses as well. In fact, in the 2017-18 fiscal year, the Central Coast Chapter — serving Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties — responded to approximately 65 local disasters, providing care and comfort to more than 100 households in the tri-county area.
In that same period of time, the organization also trained thousands of people in preparedness skills like CPR, AED, First Aid, and water safety.
To make a tax-deductible matched donation to the Red Cross, please contact Camilla Boolootian at (831) 600-4909 or mail your donation to American Red Cross of the Central Coast, Donation Processing Center, 1663 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 before December 31. Please write "Balles Match" in the memo section of your check.
People may also make gift via the Red Cross's online donation site. If this option is selected, please include "Balles Match" in the "In Honor Of" box.
Bob also invites donors to join him in including the Red Cross in their estate plans; information about this kind of philanthropy is available on this web site.