By Los Angeles Region CEO, Jarrett Barrios
| July is high summer. Mostly everyone is thinking about a vacation. Here at the Red Cross we are also busy saying goodbye to our past year’s Americorps members, and getting ready for a new crop of idealistic young leaders join us this August.
In 1994, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region became the first Red Cross Region nation-wide to take Americorps members as part of their Disaster Services team. Today, we have 26 members from three different AmeriCorps programs: The National Red Cross Corps, The California Safe Corps, and the brand-new California AmeriCorps Disaster Team.
Less than two-months ago an item came up in the news that left many people wondering what type of impact would be had on our Red Cross preparedness programs and disaster response efforts if the Americorps Program were to lose its funding.
Here in Los Angeles, the potential impact is crystal clear— cutting funding for the Americorps program would decimate us, and here’s why.
This past fiscal year, the Americorps team at the Red Cross Los Angeles Region has:
Provided comfort and care for 235 local emergencies, like home fires (35% of team members were promoted to Disaster Action Team Leader)
Deployed to major disaster response efforts outside of Los Angeles, including the Hurricane Matthew, Louisiana Flood, and Oroville Damn Spillway relief efforts
Taught 1750 Los Angeles residents CPR & First Aid, including 605 in Spanish (one student even saved a co-worker’s life, on a construction site, less than 72 hours after he completed his course)
Taught 9058 Los Angeles school children home fire preparedness with the Disney Pillowcase Project
Spent 20% of their total time making Los Angeles area vulnerable communities better prepared for home fires, including planning and leading free smoke alarm installation events that led to over 10,000 properly working smoke alarms being installed
Helped us reach all corners of Los Angeles with members fluent in four out of the five major non-English spoken languages in L.A., including: Korean, Spanish, Mandarin, and Tagalog
Personally, I feel our 2016-2017 Americorps team members were the engine that powered our volunteer efforts to prepare Los Angeles for its next disaster—big or small. I also believe that next year’s class, the 2017-2018 team, will build upon the work we’ve already begun to reach even more Los Angeles residents with life-saving safety information and preparedness education. No matter when or where a disaster may strike, the American Red Cross will always be there. I know every effort we make in continuing to deliver our mission to the people of Los Angeles will be stronger, more effective, and even more heartfelt—no matter what time of year it is— by the continued and consistent presence and leadership of our Americorps!
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about joining us as an Americorps Service Member, please visit: http://www.redcross.org/local/california/los-angeles/volunteer/americorps
Jarrett Barrios is the Chief Executive Officer at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. But, above all, Jarrett Barrios is a humanitarian, with more than 20 years of experience helping those in need throughout the United States and Cuba.
To learn more about Jarrett Barrios or the America Red Cross Los Angeles Region, visit RedCrossLA.org