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Photos from the event can be found here.
SANTA ROSA, CA (June 12, 2019) – On Friday, May 17, 2019, more than 160 community members, business leaders, and guests joined the American Red Cross of the California Northwest in honoring 10 inspirational community members for their selfless acts of courage at its 16th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast. The event took place at the Hyatt Regency Wine Country in Santa Rosa, CA and raised more than $120,000 to benefit the American Red Cross disaster preparedness, response, and recovery programs.
The event sponsors included Kaiser Permanente, St. Joseph Health, Team Ghilotti, Luther Burbank Savings, REACH Air Medical Services, Silver Oak | Twomey, Sonoma Raceway, Sutter Health/Sutter Lakeside Hospital, Union Bank, and Wells Fargo.
The Real Heroes Breakfast is a signature event for the local Red Cross chapter. It benefits the numerous lifesaving programs and services the chapter provides in support of nearly 1 million people in the six counties served: Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa. After careful consideration, a committee of local community leaders selected the 2019 California Northwest Red Cross Hero Award recipients based on the degree to which their heroic actions have benefited their communities and upheld the values of the American Red Cross. The following individuals were honored at this year’s banquet:
Service to Animals/Animal Rescue Heroes: Dr. Christi, Moncho and Diego Camblor (Sonoma County)
In 2001, Santa Rosa veterinarian Dr. Christi Camblor and her husband Moncho created the nonprofit Compassion Without Borders (CWOB) to save as many dogs as possible in areas where they suffer and are euthanized in extremely high numbers. Their nine-year-old son, Diego, helps to foster special-needs dogs at home and is the “kid-friendly barometer” so dogs will be placed appropriately.
Disaster Services Hero: Jeff Okrepkie (Sonoma County)
After losing his home in the Coffey Park neighborhood to the Tubbs fire in 2017, Jeff Okrepkie founded the Coffey Strong community group to help his fellow neighbors organize, rise from the ashes, and rebuild. He also traveled to Redding and Paradise to help those in need with their fire recovery. Jeff turned the darkest time in his life into advocacy for people devastated by natural disasters, especially wildfires.
Environment Hero: John Shelter (Humboldt County)
John Shelter, Founder and Director of The People of New Directions, conducts environmental cleanups in sensitive ecological areas by employing homeless individuals. In 8 years, New Directions has properly disposed of 50 TONS of garbage. New Directions educates and trains the homeless and functions as a conduit and monitor in uniting the community to protect fragile wetlands.
First Responder (Citizen Rescue) Hero: Daniel Hungerford (Del Norte County)
In October 2018, Daniel Hungerford saved an elderly neighbor from a home fire. Daniel heard his neighbor yelling “smoke.” Realizing she would not be able to evacuate unassisted, Daniel ran into the apartment only to be blocked by a coffee table in flames. He threw it across the room and found his neighbor lying helplessly on the floor. He quickly picked her up and carried her out the front door with only seconds to spare.
Healthcare Hero: Brandie Wilson (Humboldt County)
Brandie Wilson, who once battled substance abuse and homelessness, rose above tough circumstances and created the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction to assist others in recovery. With counseling, meals, health care clinics, and new clothes, the center has been able to move people from volunteer positions to stipend peer leader posts and into regular paying jobs.
Humanitarian Adult Hero: Elizabeth Quiroz-Vasquez (Sonoma County)
Elizabeth Quiroz-Vasquez is the President of the Second Chance Club, a group at the Santa Rosa Junior College who welcome students with a similar history to her own of substance abuse, alcoholism, arrests, and incarceration. She is also on the Sonoma County Task Force for Human Trafficking and formed the first support group in the community for survivors of sex trafficking.
Humanitarian Youth Hero: Liam Richardson (Sonoma County)
Liam Richardson is a fifteen-year-old boy with Down's Syndrome and a powerful advocate for individuals with special needs. Liam's efforts brought to life the Miracle League playground and ballpark in Petaluma for special needs children and adults. He continues to act as an ambassador and spokesperson for disabled kids, their siblings, and friends, leading talks and speaking before community groups.
Service to the Armed Forces Hero: Frank Parker (Lake County)
Frank Parker has been the driving force behind providing support and services to homeless and nearly homeless veterans in Lake County for the past six years. His organization, Stand Down, hosts events offering health screenings, transitional housing vouchers, sleeping bags, hygiene kits and information about how to sign up for VA benefits. He is now working with veteran groups in Santa Rosa to start a similar event there.
About American Red Cross of the California Northwest
With office locations in Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties, the American Red Cross is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that depends on the generous contributions of time and money from residents and companies to provide services and programs that help our community to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. For more information, visit our website at redcross.org/calnw or call us at 1-707-577-7600. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.