By Ravi Sharma, American Red Cross volunteer
Over the last several days, the American Red Cross Southern California Region has mobilized its disaster workers to provide assistance to those affected by the Bond Fire in Orange County. The American Red Cross is operating a Temporary Evacuation Point (TEP) located at El Modena High School in Orange County. After an evening working to help over 170 individuals affected by the fire, providing needed emergency shelter in nearby hotels, volunteers continued their work on Friday, December 4. They stood by for other evacuees in need of assistance.
Red Cross volunteer Dan Stack shared, "The Temporary Evacuation Point was a test of new procedures, initiated because of the pandemic. In all cases, it was a success in gaining insight and information, and most importantly, helping evacuees find comfort and shelter." Dan worked with El Modena High School Security Staff Member, Alexander (Alex) Lewis, ensuring the safety of students, evacuees, and volunteers. Alex stated there had not been a single item of concern for him.
A fellow volunteer had similar sentiments on the day’s successes in helping evacuees. Although the prefix "un" usually indicates a negative force of the word it precedes, leave it to camera-shy volunteer Nancy Wolff to take away any negative connotations of “un” when she provided comment on her fellow volunteer's "unbelievable and unselfish unity."
While working at the sign-in table, volunteer John Gustavo found reward in what he called "smiling eyes." Although evacuees wore masks, he could still see relief and gratitude in their "smiling eyes." Similar feelings were felt by volunteers Eric Ledesma, Mark Phillips, and John Marsh as they responded to the needs of evacuees.
As Eric, Mark and John assisted evacuees, volunteer Andrea Alfonsi Fuller responded to an interview request from Estrella TV, KRCA Los Angeles. Calling on her AP High School Spanish, a trip to Spain in the past, and encouragement from fellow volunteer Tom Kunicki, Andrea provided an excellent overview of the Red Cross response and shared important information and phone numbers that may be needed to facilitate recovery for those affected by the Bond Fire…and did it all in Spanish!
Whether helping Bond Fire evacuees with emergency lodging and aid or helping to inform the public and share the Red Cross story, Red Cross volunteers will continue to be there to help when needed most – always hoping to see more “smiling eyes.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities or to become a volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.