“The galley sink remodel is the completion of a goal of the Feeding Team for years. It is so amazing that in a few short months as a result of the generosity and hard work of the wonderful Red Crossers this project is complete!”
- Sharon Sveningson
By Dana Simmons, American Red Cross
In July 2016, Sharon Sveningson brought her extensive background in foodservice management as a registered dietitian to the American Red Cross San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter. After five years of volunteering with the Red Cross, Sharon now serves as the Southern California Regional Feeding Lead. She has served on countless disaster relief operations, and she was recently honored with a renovated galley “kitchen” named after her.
The galley renovation has been a vision that Sharon and the Feeding Team have held over the past years to improve upon the area and make it more efficient for the Feeding volunteers to work and better serve Red Cross clients – those impacted by disasters. When Sharon found out that she had cancer, the team wanted to do something special for her – that’s when they decided to bring the dream renovations to life.
A lot of fundraising, planning and teamwork went into the galley renovation project, including collaborating to follow health department guidelines and purchasing and installing the new equipment.
On November 16, 2021, Red Cross staff and volunteers came together to unveil the renovated galley at the San Diego Chapter office. The galley is named “Sharon Sveningson Galley” in honor of Sharon’s selflessness, resilience and long-time commitment to the Red Cross mission.
While Sharon could not be at the San Diego Chapter office in person, the small gathering was live-streamed by Red Cross volunteer Bob Birch for Sharon and several others to join virtually. Bixi Howe, Southern California Region Disaster Program Manager, started the ceremony by sharing about the project and collaboration that brought the renovated galley to life. She also spoke about Sharon’s “meticulous and outstanding work when it comes to bringing meals to responders and survivors.”
Sean Mahoney, Regional CEO for the Red Cross Southern California Region, and Pete Kriz, Sharon’s husband and a Red Cross volunteer, had the opportunity to speak about the project and Sharon’s contributions to the Red Cross. “Many of us have shared the experience of deploying and seeing that Sharon was already there, smoothly running large feeding operations in the midst of chaos,” Sean shared. “Sharon earned everyone’s respect – here at home and away.”
After hearing about Sharon’s countless disaster relief operations in the Southern California Region and across the nation, San Diego and Imperial Counties Board Chair, Charlene Zettel, joined Sean to cut the ribbon allowing entry into the galley. Individuals had the opportunity to tour the updated galley, which has renovated sinks and Sharon’s kitchen and Feeding Team “commandments” that have been placed along the wall.
“The galley sink remodel is the completion of a goal of the Feeding Team for years,” says Sharon. “It is so amazing that in a few short months as a result of the generosity and hard work of the wonderful Red Crossers this project is complete!” Even from afar, Sharon had the opportunity to express that she was “overwhelmed with gratitude and deeply humbled.”
Sharon is appreciated by Red Cross volunteers and staff locally and nationally. Jane Scanlon, Southern California Sheltering Regional Program Lead and galley renovation project manager, shared her gratitude for Sharon over the years. “One volunteer, one idea, one friendship...how one person can make a difference,” Jane said. “Sharon is a powerful person with her quiet gentle ways. She has taught all of us so much.”
This renovation project was more than just a kitchen sink. The galley represents the hope and comfort that Sharon has provided to families displaced by disasters; it represents the wonderful charisma that Sharon has brought to the Red Cross; and it represents the Red Cross team coming together to support one another.
Sharon extends the following message to everyone who came together to make these renovations happen, “I can’t begin to thank you for your generosity! These improvements will make such a positive impact for all future Feeding volunteers, making their jobs much easier.”
A big thanks to all who made Sharon’s sink project happen: Terry Allinger, Melody Armendariz, Karen Bachofer, Ron Brav, Lisa Brewer, Ron Clagett, Don Ellis Construction, Cheri Curtis, Larry Davis, Steve Deal, Pam Parvini Designs, Himne Drees, Michele Earnest, Lawrence Gary, Tom Holland, Kayla Holmes, Bixi Howe, Mike Kassarjian, Laurie Katz, Pete Kriz, Rick Krukowski, Debbie Leahy, Cynthia Mah, Sean Mahoney, Ronn Mathieu, Sue Mayberry, Malinda McDonald, Sandy Meditz, Richrd Moore, Ashlyn Picard, Candace Powell, Palecek Plumbing, Joe Raffetto, Mary Richardson, Vicor Roose, Jane Scanlon, Tom Simpson, John Steinberger, Rosalinda Stevenson, Sharon Sveningson, Julie and John Stone, Beverly Wight, Mark Williams, Bob Williams, Bob Wilson, Cathy and Royce Wolfe and Joe Zechman
A special thank you to Jane Scanlon, Cheri Curtis and Bixi Howe for their initiative and direction in making the dream renovations come true!
Sharon Sveningson’s Impact as a Red Cross volunteer:
From 2020 to 2021, Sharon was the driving force for the SoCal Region’s successful wildfire responses. She served as the Feeding Manager and as a mentor under COVID-19 protocols during the Niland Fire, Apple Fire, Valley Fire, El Dorado Fire, Bond Fire, Silverado Fire, Creek Fire and more, with over 60,000 meals and snacks safely served to evacuees.
Sharon has also deployed across the nation as a Feeding Supervisor and Feeding Manager, and as a Shelter Supervisor to assist countless people who were displaced by numerous disasters including: Hurricane Matthew, the Oroville Dam crisis, Missouri Flooding, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Florence in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Dorian and the Gold Country Region Fire House model.
Sharon has received many accolades for her extraordinary work in the Southern California Region, Pacific Division and across the nation. In 2018, Sharon was named Regional Volunteer of the Month from the San Diego and Imperial Counties Board of Directors and was recognized as the 2018 Regional Volunteer of the Year. She is also the Divisional Feeding Champion and part of the National Feeding Working Group. And now, thanks to the time, talent and funds of over 50 SoCal Region staff and volunteers, Sharon has a renovated galley in her name!