In the year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, people have stepped up to address the emotional needs of families reeling from the coronavirus and 2020’s record-breaking disasters.
In the Heart of the Valley and across the country, trained American Red Cross disaster mental health and spiritual care volunteers have had more than 53,000 conversations to provide emotional support to people in 2020 — which had the greatest number of billion-dollar disasters in a single year. In addition, trained volunteers have provided free crisis counseling through the Red Cross Virtual Family Assistance Center for grieving families during COVID-19.
“The past year has been tough coping with the coronavirus pandemic — plus all of last year’s record-breaking disasters,” said Christopher Losavio, Executive Director of the Heart of the Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. “With families overwhelmed, many in our communities have stepped up to provide comfort and care through the Red Cross. During Red Cross Month in March, we honor this humanitarian spirit and ask you to join us by donating, giving blood, volunteering or taking a class to learn lifesaving skills.”
You can help ensure that families don’t face emergencies alone — especially during a pandemic:
Donate: Support the Disaster Relief efforts at redcross.org/GivingDay. A gift of any size makes a difference to provide shelter, food, relief items, emotional support and other assistance. Your donation will be part of our annual Giving Day on March 24 to aid families in need across the country.
Volunteer: Visit redcross.org/VolunteerToday for most-needed positions and local opportunities.
Give Blood: If you’re healthy and feeling well, make an appointment at RedCrossBlood.org. Your donation can make a lifesaving difference for a patient in need. As a thank you, those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma on March 15-26 will receive a Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
Learn Lifesaving Skills: Take a class in skills like CPR and first aid to help in an emergency at redcross.org/TakeAClass. Online options include the Psychological First Aid for COVID-19 course, which covers how to manage stress and support yourself and others.
For nearly 80 years, U.S. presidents have proclaimed March as Red Cross Month to recognize people giving back through its lifesaving mission — which is powered by more than 90 percent volunteers.
They include people like Vicky Powell, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Santa Clara County. Powell leads a team of mental health professionals to support Disaster Mental Health in the Northern California Coastal Region. They address the immediate emotional distress and psychosocial needs of both families coping with a disaster and Red Cross disaster responders during the pandemic.
“When disaster strikes, we work to identify individuals who need additional support, provide short-term disaster mental health interventions and refer individuals to local resources as necessary, in order to supplement local community resources and strengthen community resilience,” Powell said.
A 2020 study on a rise in volunteer experiences added to LinkedIn profiles shows that more people want to help others during this unprecedented time. Last year, more than 70,000 people across the country became new Red Cross volunteers largely to support urgent disaster and essential blood donation needs. In addition, thousands of COVID-19 survivors — many new to blood donation — rolled up a sleeve to give convalescent plasma and help patients battling COVID-19.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit them on Twitter at @RedCross.