The Tulare County Board of Supervisors celebrates the humanitarian spirit and mission of the American Red Cross throughout the month of March
VISALIA – As the Central Valley continues to get pummeled with rain, the American Red Cross remains by the side of many residents bringing hot meals and shelter as areas continue to flood.
On March 14, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors proclaimed March to be American Red Cross month. Chairman Dennis Townsend, district five supervisor, read the proclamation declared this year to be the 80th annual American Red Cross month. The proclamation hits a little closer to home in 2023 after over ten atmospheric rivers have hit the state of California since January. American Red Cross regional communications director Taylor Poisall said it has been an incredibly busy year already on the west coast.
“[The proclamation] is especially timely this year, because we’ve had such a busy 2023 disaster season already,” Poisall said. “It’s been interesting to try to celebrate and have fun recognizing our volunteers while there are a lot of people currently suffering that are finding shelter in Red Cross shelters.”
Poisall said as of yesterday, there are 600 volunteers who have “deployed in” to help those in need in California. She said some of these volunteers are from around the country, including North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas and more. According to an American Red Cross Central California Region Facebook post on Monday March, 20, there are over 490 trained disaster workers deployed throughout the Central California Region. According to Poisall, that region covers areas from Kern County up to San Jose.
“[Those from out of state] are currently here in Tulare County, which is very cool, because we send a lot of our volunteers to big disasters like hurricanes, and now they’re helping us with our big disaster,” Poisall said.
The volunteers who are supporting disasters have backgrounds in a variety of different areas. They bring support systems in areas like nursing, social work, mental health and more. Poisall said in addition to the groups of volunteers they have on board now, there are more who are sitting on standby, and others who will help more with the aftermath efforts.
“We even have teams on standby across the area in case, especially with this current storm, if it causes any more evacuations that they’re ready to go and they’ve got all the supplies to be able to do that within two hours,” Poisall said.
The proclamation of March being made Red Cross month is a tradition which dates back to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. It is a way for local elected officials and community members to recognize the work the Red Cross does for the community. The proclamation stated:
“Whereas the county of Tulare honors and commends the tireless efforts of American Red Cross volunteers, who lend a helping hand to make an extraordinary difference for neighbors in need, whether it is providing emergency shelter, food and comfort for families displaced by home fires and other disasters,” Townsend read from the proclamation.
Currently the evacuation shelter at Porterville City College, and the one at the Exeter Memorial building are fully operated by the Red Cross. Within the shelters, they are currently providing shelter to approximately 100 evacuees across the two. Poisall said they are helping out with the others throughout the Valley, but those two are fully run through Red Cross efforts.
Volunteers are working in shelters providing shelter, hot meals, health services, mental health support and providing logistics and supplies. They are also working with elected officials and in the Emergency Operations Center, delivering meals to affected communities as well as caseworkers who will be connecting residents to available resources.
March 22, is Red Cross Giving Day. To participate individuals can join the annual Red Cross Giving Day campaign by donating at redcross.org/givingday. Donations could help provide shelter, food, relief items, emotional support and other assistance for people affected by disasters big and small. In the bigger picture of Red Cross Month, individuals can visit redcross.org to make a financial donation, become a volunteer or take a class in lifesaving skills, such as first aid, CPR and how to use an AED.
“When help can’t wait during emergencies, people in our communities rally together to provide relief and hope for neighbors in need,” Lori Wilson, Executive Director of the Red Cross Central Valley Chapter said. “This humanitarian spirit is at the heart of our community, and we are proud to honor all those who make our mission possible during this year’s Red Cross Month celebration. You can join in their commitment by donating, volunteering or taking a lifesaving skills course.”
The efforts done through the AMerican Red Cross are continuing Clara Barton legacy. She began the efforts of the Red Cross in 1881. It established the bold mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering and was created with a dedication to people in need throughout the United States and the world. Now, 140 years after it was founded, volunteers with the Red Cross are still working diligently on the front lines following Barton’s legacy.