Friday, September 12, 2014

Celebrating 20 Years of AmeriCorps: #GettingThingsDone For The Central Valley

How many people get to say they were welcomed to their new job by four different U.S. Presidents? Well here in the Central Valley we know at least 6 who can say that they were.

Veronica, Elizabeth, Alexandria, Korri, Daniel, and Andrew are the new AmeriCorps NPRC members for the Red Cross Central Valley, and they were officially sworn in today by President Barack Obama, alongside Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and George H. W. Bush.  The special event was organized to honor the 20th Anniversary of the AmeriCorps program, which was founded in 1994 by President Clinton.

The event was live streamed from the South Lawn of the White House with AmeriCorps members simultaneously pledging service from their offices around the country. Here in the Valley, the six new members participated in the Fresno, Visalia, and Bakersfield Red Cross offices surrounded by volunteers and employees cheering them on and welcoming them into the Red Cross family.

Here’s video of Elizabeth, Veronica, and Alex participating from the Fresno office:

Now that they’re official, the Red Cross Central Valley AmeriCorps team will work in our community for the next 11 months, responding to disasters and increasing community preparedness through outreach and education.

To honor the milestone anniversary, Voices for National Service has issued a report, with a forward written by Chelsea Clinton, celebrating 20 years of service and impact through AmeriCorps. The report chronicles the history of AmeriCorps and celebrates the transformative impact AmeriCorps members have in local communities each day.

Now you can celebrate with us! Check out these infographics from the Corporation for National & Community Service Blog, highlighting all the work AmeriCorps has done over the last two decades. Then join the conversation online using the hashtag #GettingThingsDone to welcome the new AmeriCorps members and celebrate 20 years of service.

We can't wait to see how these six talented AmeriCorps members will get things done with Red Cross Central Valley!

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Whoopie! Red Cross Partners with Eddie’s Bakery for A Delicious Fundraiser

Have you ever had a whoopie pie? It’s basically superior to all other desserts. Why? Because it’s like a cross between a cake, a pie, AND a cookie. It’s a triple threat! And for the month of July it can be all yours at Eddie’s Bakery for just $2.95.

And what makes this delicious treat even sweeter? Proceeds from the sale go to your local American Red Cross! So it’s basically guilt free - have a second one!

These heavenly treats are made from two decadent red velvet cake pieces united by a sweet cream cheese filling sandwiched between.

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.

So buy a special treat for someone you love, or pick up a dozen for the holiday barbecue, or surprise everyone at the office with an afternoon snack! You’ll feel good knowing that the money is going towards a great cause like the Red Cross.

Eddie's Bakery is located on the Northwest corner of Herndon & Cedar in Fresno, right behind Applebee's. The fundraiser runs for the whole month of July.

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications

Thursday, July 3, 2014

An AmeriCorps NPRC Farewell

Well folks, the time has come. Today marks the end of my AmeriCorps NPRC term. I can honestly say that this has been one of the best decisions I have made in my 24 years of life. 11 months ago, I arrived in Bakersfield after a long road trip from Indiana. I didn't know a single person here except for one of my now greatest friends Amy Mayer, who I had only spoken to over the phone and through email. Two days after my arrival I found myself in the Fresno office, sitting in between my colleagues Veronica and Amitai. We were bombarded that day with numbers and goals to reach, and at that point the three of us were a little intimidated, yet up for the challenge. The next day we were in airports, headed to DC for training and some team bonding time...and boy was that fun! 
Since our return from DC, time has flown by. I've been asking myself in the weeks leading up to the end of my time here, "Where has the time gone?" From the early morning Team Firestopper community canvassing events, to the fire safety seminars, to Save-A-Life Saturdays, to spontaneous DAT calls, to community outreach events, to almost 100 presentations here in Kern county - okay, I guess I can see how the time flew by. There was never a dull moment. I'm finishing my term with so much experience, and feelings of great accomplishment and gratitude - gratitude to all of the people who have supported me, guided me, made me laugh, and made me feel like this was my home away from home.  

Just a few things before I say my final goodbye:

A HUGE thank you to the Kern Chapter Staff - Each of you know how much you mean to me. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend my time here with you ladies. You've been my second family, and you will never be forgotten. All of the support, guidance, laughs, good mornings, and see you tomorrow's have helped in making my time here so rewarding. Both personally and professionally, I love you all.

Another HUGE thank you to all of the volunteers. It has been such a pleasure getting to know each of you both personally and professionally. I've learned so much from you guys. The passion each of you has for the American Red Cross and volunteerism in general is astounding, and something I will carry with  me for the rest of my life.

To my supervisor, Alex - I'm pretty sure Veronica, Amitai and I were the luckiest of all AmeriCorps NPRC members in the country. You put up with the three of us for 11 months! My sincerest apologies for all of the gray hairs, eye rolls, and screams into your pillow. You pushed each of us, allowing us to see what we're capable of. I've learned so much from you, and this experience as a whole, and I can't thank you enough for allowing me to be a part of the Central Valley team. Also - on top of being the best boss I've ever had, you can quote as many lines from The Office as me, and I think that's pretty darn cool. 

Last, but certainly not least, a thank you to my fellow AmeriCorps members Veronica and Amitai. When I look back at my time as an AmeriCorps member, I will think of you guys first. We've been through a lot together. We've laughed, we've cried, we've argued, we've competed, and together we've achieved so much for the Central Valley Region of the American Red Cross. We had our moments, but in the end we made one heck of a team. You guys have shown me the importance of teamwork, the importance of service, and the importance of laughter. You each have such bright futures, and I can't wait to hear all about the fantastic things you guys are going to do. Both personally and professionally, I love you.

Way to go Prep Squad! Thanks for the memories!!

Love, Sam

Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross
Central Valley Region

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prepare-aphernalia: Emergency Water In A Can!

Pop Quiz:
How much water should you have in your home emergency kit?
When was the last time you checked the expiration date on your emergency water supply?

Were you able to answer these questions correctly? Many people already know that the Red Cross recommends storing one gallon of water, per person, per day for three days as part of a home emergency kit. But many more may not realize that their water supply could be expired!

What’s the solution to this drinking dilemma? One California business has the answer. World Grocer has developed Emergency Canned Drinking Water with a shelf life of 30+ years.

The makers of this life-saving resource have donated 67 pallets of the specialized canned drinking water to the American Red Cross Central Valley Region for drought relief efforts. Because of California’s historic drought conditions, the local Red Cross expects to see a record number of drought emergencies this year. So it’s more important than ever this summer to make sure you include water as part of your emergency kit.

Check out this video to learn more:

What else is in your emergency kit? Tell us in the comments!

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications

Monday, June 9, 2014

Vine Your Support for World Refugee Day!

The American Red Cross and its partners invite you to join in celebrating this year's World Refugee Day on Friday, June 20!

For World Refugee Day, the Red Cross is having a Vine Your Support contest. Participating in the contest is easy!

Just post a Vine sharing why and/or how you support refugees worldwide and in your local community. Then, send us an email linking to your entries. The winning entries will then be reposted on the Restoring Family Links Twitter the week of World Refugee Day and shared during the World Refugee Day event.

The deadline for entries is Sunday, June 15.

Needs some Vine inspiration? Here's some tips!
  • Try filling in the blank:
    • I support refugees because _______.
    • I support my local refugee community by _______.
    • I celebrate World Refugee Day to/because _______.
    • World Refugee Day is important because _______.
  • Use this year's themes:
    • One family forced to flee is too many (UNHRC)
    • Celebrating our identities (SWRC)
  • Show your involvement with your local Red Cross chapter or refugee community
  • Check out some other Vines to inspire ideas
  • Don't be afraid to get creative!

Each contestant is allowed a maximum of 5 submissions. And remember, the deadline is this Sunday, so get your Vines submitted to before June 15!

Click here to learn more about Restoring Family Links.

Good luck!

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Teamwork: The Secret To Red Cross Success

History has proven that when humanity works as a team towards a common goal, we can accomplish great things. From building skyscrapers that pierce the sky, to political revolutions, and even to Super Bowl victories, societies around the globe have proven that with a little collaboration, we are capable of grand achievements.

Often times, great teamwork leads to amazing achievements in our own community.

Last Wednesday the Fresno Inn was condemned due to unsafe living conditions. When a gas leak was discovered soon after, residents were quickly and suddenly forced from their homes. The local Red Cross responded, providing food assistance to more than 30 families.

But what was truly amazing about this particular disaster relief call was the display of teamwork that was seen throughout the event. Agencies and non-profits alike joined forces to assist the residents in need. Red Cross coordinated efforts with community partners like the Central California Animal Disaster Team who provided assistance for the numerous pets living at the hotel. The Development and Resource Management Department, Department of Public Works, and the Fresno Area Express volunteered their services and provided transportation to the temporary hotel and made sure other needs were met.

But the teamwork didn't stop there. The Fresno Inn residents, who before that day had mostly been anonymous neighbors to each other, banded together to problem solve and help those in need. These residents, who desperately needed help themselves, were selflessly looking out for others.

An elderly resident with a pacemaker and heart problems was cared for by the family next door. When one resident’s dog escaped during transport, neighbors rallied in the parking lot to catch the dog and bring him safely home. In yet another instance, a resident helped his neighbor load heavy boxes into a car.

In the face of this stressful event, these moments of caring and sacrifice shined brightly through the chaos. Neighbors helping neighbors. Volunteers providing comfort and resources. Agencies protecting those in need. It was a beautiful moment of community teamwork: individuals coming together to provide a safe haven for dozens of residents who needed help.

Every day the American Red Cross teams with volunteers, community partners, and agencies to provide compassionate care for those in need. Would you like to join our team? Visit to learn more!

Jessica Piffero
Regional Director of Communications

Friday, March 28, 2014

Team Firestopper - Onyx Edition

Hello all!

A couple months ago, I met with a gentleman in the tiny town of Onyx, California to talk about fire safety and home fire prevention. He expressed a need for his community, informing me that he and a lot of other people in the town did not have proper fire prevention utilities, such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Considering that much of my duties as an AmeriCorps member deal with preparedness, this struck me as something that needed to be fixed. With the help of my supervisor, Team Firestopper sprung into action. Two weeks ago, I and a group of wonderful volunteers from the Kern River Valley canvassed the Onyx community, handing out flyers with vital fire safety information to each and every home in the area. Also on these flyers was an invitation to a Community Fire Safety and Prevention Education course that I will be leading this Sunday, March 30th at Weldon Methodist Church just down the road from Onyx. 

To make it easier for the residents to attend, I allotted three shifts of these Fire Safety courses for them to choose from, the first from 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., the second from 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., and the third from 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. At the end of their shift they will take home a bag that has a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, surge protector, and a fire extinguisher inside, and they can then install and use each of these utilities in their homes, making them more resilient to home fires. I am pleased to say that in less than two weeks over 30 Kern River Valley residents have registered to attend the course! Words can’t express how excited I am to be able to teach these people the importance of fire safety, and help them all prevent home fires in their community. One of the greatest perks of my position as an AmeriCorps NPRC member with the American Red Cross is that I get an incredible amount of those warm fuzzy feelings that one gets from helping others. Thank you AmeriCorps, thank you American Red Cross, and thank you Central Valley!

Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
Preparedness Coodinator
American Red Cross - Kern Chapter