Sunday, June 17 , 2018, 9:33 pm | Fair 59º


Local Chapter Marks American Red Cross Month

Despite an upturn in fires and a downturn in donations, Santa Barbara County officials focus on a brighter future

As the single organization responsible for providing shelter, food and basic needs to those affected by disaster, as well as the group that prepares Santa Barbara County for disasters and emergencies, it’s been a challenging few years for the American Red Cross-Santa Barbara County Chapter.

“It is critical for our community to know that despite whatever the American Red Cross is dealing with, we can’t back away from any of our government mandates to provide relief to everyone affected by disaster and to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. It’s simply not an option for us,” said Louise Kolbert, CEO of the Red Cross chapter.

In 2009, the organization helped more than 20,000 people in Santa Barbara County. During the Gap, Tea, Jesusita and La Brea fires, the Red Cross sheltered nearly 1,600 people and distributed more than 28,600 meals and snacks to community members and emergency personnel.

Last year, 10,000 individuals, including school groups and businesses, were trained in emergency preparedness. The chapter also taught First Aid, CPR, water safety, babysitting, lifeguarding and other lifesaving classes to more than 8,000 people in Santa Barbara County.

“We really want to utilize American Red Cross Month to celebrate our achievements and share with the community how we operate and what we are prepared to do for them,” Kolbert said.

During March, the Red Cross chapter has a full schedule of activities planned for the community:

» Century of First Aid — Red Cross First Aid Class at a reduced price. Contact the Santa Barbara County Chapter at 805.687.1331 for dates and times.

» Volunteer Orientation, March 11 — This is an opportunity for community members to learn about what volunteer opportunities are available through the local chapter. The free orientation starts at 5:30 p.m. at the chapter headquarters, 2707 State St. in Santa Barbara.

» Tweet Up, March 16 — The Red Cross will engage members of the community through social media to gather at Ruth’s Chris Steak House for happy hour to discuss the Red Cross, its programs and how community members can get involved. The event is free.

» Flags on State Street, March 22-April 2 — Red Cross flags will be flying high all along State Street to celebrate its dedication and commitment to the community, and to celebrate Red Cross Month.

» Threads of History/chapter tours/donor wall ceremony, March 26 — This is an opportunity for the public to tour the chapter headquarters and see the Red Cross uniforms, pins, patches and posters that span the 117 years that the Red Cross has been in Santa Barbara County. The day will end with an unveiling of the donor wall and an intimate ceremony honoring those who have made the financial commitment that make the organization’s good work possible.

American Red Cross Month is being sponsored locally by Marborg Industries, Halsell Builders and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

— Marjorie Wass is a publicist.

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