For Nini Sakaguchi and Beth Allen, the Red Cross is much more than an organization they volunteer for; it’s where they find humanity.
“I love the Red Cross because humanity matters. It’s our common thread,” Allen said. “We have a tendency to sometimes isolate ourselves in the ways that we think, and I feel like the Red Cross is this expansive space where all of us come together and share in our humanity.”
Allen has been volunteering for the Red Cross for the past six years; Sakaguchi for the past eight years. Both of their husbands are board members of the Los Angeles Region of the American Red Cross
The two Manhattan Beach women are part of the women’s group Tiffany Circle, a nationwide network of women leaders and philanthropists who work to bolster Red Cross’ mission in varying ways. The women each participate in one or multiple lines of Red Cross services that interest them, such as service to the armed forces, blood services or health and safety training. To be a member of the Tiffany Circle, you must donate $10,000 annually to the Red Cross.
“We’ve put in $80 million in the last 10 years to the Red Cross. This will be our 10th anniversary for this group of women,” Allen said. “We’re 800 strong across the country at the moment. It’s a really fascinating, diverse group of women.”
Beyond donating money, the women also work to raise awareness about the Red Cross.
“Tiffany Circle women are ambassadors for the Red Cross. We really try to connect in our communities and find ways to give back,” Sakaguchi said.
Whenever Sakaguchi meets someone new, she will speak with them about the Red Cross and its mission. She hopes through talking about the Red Cross to get more donors or volunteers to join her.
“Whatever store she walks into, every checkout counter she’s at, she talks about the Red Cross,” Allen laughed. “She’s not shy.”
“I just like to talk about the Red Cross,” Sakaguchi responded.
This year, Sakaguchi and Allen have used the 100th anniversary for the Los Angeles region of the American Red Cross to help find new ways to further their message. They’ve also been using the month of March, known as Red Cross Month, as a way to garner more support.
The two reached out to Kelly Stroman with the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professional Association to see what they could do to bring awareness locally. With Stroman’s help, posters are going up in various businesses every Thursday during the month of March.
The women were also able to get banners hung during the month of March on Manhattan Avenue and Highland Avenue with a sponsorship from Caskey and Caskey Realtors.
In addition to spreading awareness, Sakaguchi and Allen help facilitate different Red Cross events, such as blood drives, preparedness events and CPR training events.
There will be two blood drives in Manhattan Beach. The first is the Mark Vasquez Memorial Blood Drive at the Joslyn Center on May 22 and the other will be at the Farmers Market on July 25.
The two women said the underlying reason they volunteer their time to the Red Cross is simply to help the organization further carry out its mission.
“So many people think of the Red Cross as our swimming lessons or our CPR class, but it’s not really everything that we do,” Allen said.
“Really the Red Cross is there to lift people up in their darkest moments. When man-made or natural disasters happen, the Red Cross is there to embrace you, not to scare you,” Sakaguchi added.
Contact Daniella Segura at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can follow her on Twitter @dsegurajourno.