Photographer with a Heart: Roxanne Shorbach

By Los Angeles Region CEO, Jarrett Barrios

Every day, I am reminded of how essential our volunteers are to the mission of the American Red Cross. But, every now and again, a super special volunteer comes along and exemplifies what it means to dedicate oneself to service. Today, I’d like to tell you a little about Roxanne Shorbach who, you guessed it, is one of those super special volunteers.

Roxanne has been a Red Cross volunteer for more than 30 years but, additionally, she has served internationally as a volunteer photographer for the Comboni Missionaries (a missionary group dedicated to serving victims of poverty, civil war, hunger, and disease), the Grossman Burn Foundation in Calabasas, CA and Hope for Kabingo. Like I said, this woman defines what it means to serve.

Roxanne takes a break from taking photographs to pose fellow volunteer, Jarvis Dean during a Rose Parade First Aid training.

It turns out, her grandparents, mother and sister were all involved in the American Red Cross and it seemed natural that she would become involved in some way, too. For Roxanne, that didn’t take long. Her very first job was as a receptionist for a small company in Pomona, CA and the owner was an electrical engineer who happened to be the Disaster Chairperson for the Pomona Valley Chapter. He was the one who ultimately talked her into volunteering with Red Cross disaster services. He also mentored her on how to show compassion for people affected by disasters while maintaining the ability to capture compelling photographs. To do this, he took her to various disasters, taught her how to shoot appropriate photos, and perhaps most importantly, how to stay out of the way when working an active disaster scene.

Along with Mimi Teller (pictured here), Roxanne documented last spring’s Centennial Gala, with her camera.

Since then, Roxanne’s photos have been used to tell the Red Cross story, show the destruction caused by home fires and help remind others about the importance of having properly working smoke alarms installed their homes. Her photos are regularly featured on RedCrossLA.org, RedCrossLATalks.org, PrepareSocal.org and RedCross.org. Personally, I am inspired by her steadfast dedication and commitment to our mission. But, I’ll let you experience it for yourselves, in her words:

Here, Roxanne photographs volunteers preparing to head out into the community to install free smoke alarms. Photo by Debi Moraza

“The Red Cross goes back two generations in my family, so I guess you could say “it’s in my blood.” The American Red Cross has a national program called Sound the
Alarm designed to install free smoke alarms in vulnerable neighborhoods with the goal of reducing home fire-related deaths and injuries by 25%. I try to make each of
the events in my area to document the installation of free life-saving smoke alarms. It’s amazing how many people don’t have smoke alarms or have them and don’t
realize the batteries are dead. It is rewarding to see how grateful people are to have a new, properly working smoke alarm installed in their home.”

Within the last month, Roxanne has been honored for her outstanding work in photography. First, she was named the Grand Prize Winner of the 2017 Texas Butterfly Photo Contest. Then, less than a month later, she was named the Grand Prize Winner of Nation’s Photo Lab Photographers with a Heart Spotlight, beating out over 300 photographers for the top honor.

On behalf of all of us here at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, CONGRATULATIONS ROXANNE! And, I think I can safely speak for everyone that has worked with you and say that we are extremely lucky to have you on our team!

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 people 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.

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