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West Sacramento News-Ledger

Yolo County Red Cross Needs Volunteers

Nov 15, 2023 11:51AM ● By Michele Townsend, photos by Francis Huezo, American Red Cross

The First Latinx team. From left to right, Nathan Russell, Brent Lorenz, Francis Huezo, Adrianne Holstine, Ervin Membreno, and Amanda Collins. 

YOLO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - The American Red Cross was founded by a woman before her time. Clara Barton was born in 1821. During her life she was a teacher, a nurse and one of the first women to work for the American government. Clara provided nursing services to soldiers fighting in the Civil War, and became known as “Angel of the Battlefield.” When the war ended, Clara found new ways to help the military. With permission from President Lincoln, she opened the Office of Missing Soldiers, helping to reconnect more than 20,000 soldiers with their families.  

During a trip to Switzerland in 1869, Clara learned about the Red Cross movement, in which civilians provided humanitarian relief to those injured in combat during the Franco-Prussian War. This, along with her previous aid in the Civil War, led her to bring the Red Cross movement to America. In 1881 Clara founded the American Red Cross. The work done by the American Red Cross has led to historically significant developments and practices worldwide that are still being followed to this day.

Here we are 142 years later, and the American Red Cross is still the leading organization that the world turns to when in need of assistance, both near and far. The Red Cross territory has always encompassed Sacramento and Yolo County together. However, recently they have split apart, and the two counties now have their own Red Cross teams. As the Yolo County team is being formed, the Red Cross is now looking for local volunteers to join the Yolo County team.

Volunteering for the Red Cross can look many ways. Volunteers can “work” (volunteer) as many hours as they desire. There are a multitude of positions available including (but not limited to) Blood Donor Ambassador, Blood Transportation Specialist, Disaster Action Team and Hero Care Network Caseworker. The positions listed are those that are currently in the greatest need.

If you are someone that wants to be hands-on with the people being helped, being a Disaster Action Team Member might be your cup of tea. Locally, these team members might go to a site where a family has just lost their home to a fire or some other disaster. The team member would assess what this family needed in order to begin moving forward to recovery. Sometimes this could mean setting them up in a hotel for up to six months. It may include providing food, clothing, personal items, or any number of needs.

If responding to a family in shock from a fire is a little too high drama for you, perhaps being a member of the Shelter Support Team is more your style. These people may run the phone lines that those in need turn to for guidance and direction. In this position you would assist with reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks.

Perhaps you have a soft spot for veterans or military personnel. The Red Cross provides emergency communications and critical care for our military and their families. Should you need to reach someone in boot camp or that is deployed, the way to do that is through the Red Cross. The Red Cross has so many volunteer positions, doing such a variety of jobs, there is sure to be one for you. All training is provided, and continued training is always available. This includes general CPR classes to a string of rescue training. Training from basic to advanced rescue is available.

When there is a need for help and support from the Red Cross, a call is put up to the volunteers. The volunteers then have the choice to accept or deny the deployment or service that is needed. You are never forced to work volunteer hours that you don’t want to work, and you are never forced to go anywhere that you don’t want to go. If you are deployed to a situation that requires support, all travel expenses and accommodations are paid for by the Red Cross.

Currently Yolo Red Cross is actively looking for volunteers that want to do preparedness training for the community. This may be for kids or adults. These volunteers may be taught the curriculum so that they can then teach it to others in the community, schools, churches, and other groups. The Red Cross works completely with your schedule and tries their best to avoid conflicting issues with someone’s employment or other obligations. Many volunteers are on-call so these volunteers don’t have to worry about losing sleep, unless there is an emergency.

Kelseyville Diana Ramos Nathan Russell Sandra Benito

The Kelseyville team. From left to right, Diana Ramos, Nathan Russell, and Sandra Benito.

In addition to CPR classes, the Red Cross teaches first aid classes, and they provide free smoke alarms and bed shakers for those that are deaf or hard of hearing. They will help your family create an evacuation plan for your family, and they provide refrigerator magnets with emergency information. Sometimes they just need someone to go to an event and provide literature.

“The most wonderful thing about volunteering is the people that you get to meet,” said Francisca Huezo, Director of the Yolo County team. She continued with, “The people are so grateful and you get to be that one that gets to give them the resources and wrap that blanket around them. You get to be the one who provides a safe place where the family can gather together.”  Francisca explained that the Red Cross can provide health services, mental health services and spiritual services if needed.

The Red Cross is committed to helping anyone that is facing a disaster. For this reason, they are looking for people of all races and spiritual beliefs, and those who speak any language, so that they can provide support to any group. If you have any questions, would like more information on the variety of duties performed, or are interested in volunteering, please visit or Click on the volunteer tab and fill out the application. There will be a background check performed and they will contact you.