By Communications and Marketing Intern, Alessandra Pacheco
My name is Alessandra Pacheco and I’m a proud Summer Intern at the Red Cross Los Angeles Region with the Communications and Marketing Team. At heart I’m a journalist, and I feel privileged to have had many opportunities to write and tell the Red Cross story throughout the last nine weeks.
I didn’t know about all the programs and services of the Red Cross until I became an intern. I’ve learned about the international presence of the Red Cross, by writing articles about the Restoring Family Links program. I’ve learned of the constant growth and success of the Los Angeles Region, by helping with planning their Annual Meeting. And, I’ve also learned that my own family has their very own Red Cross story!
In 1959, the Pacheco family was struck with temporary tragedy. With plenty of children and work to be done, my Grandpa, John Pacheco’s home burned down.
At only nine years old, he didn’t know the gravity of the situation, especially considering he and his family were relatively poor, and the house they’d been living in was already a temporary arrangement.
The entire family, including all of my great uncles and my Great-Grandmother, were making ends meet harvesting walnuts on a walnut farm. To be close to an abundance of work for everyone in the family, they lived in a temporary home. And, even with both parents working, it was still necessary for my Grandpa, to be a picker on the walnut farm.
Although my Grandpa says he’s not sure how it happened, he remembers the house going up in flames and the fire department doing their best to remedy the situation. Maybe it was the heat of Simi Valley, or just a plain accident, but the house and all the items (not much to begin with) were gone.
Later on, my Great Grandparents, Carl and Julia Pacheco, had an interview with a local news station reporter named George Putnam. During the interview, my grandparents were on-camera, talking about the fire and the loss of their home. After the interview, the reporter called the local Red Cross to tell them the Pacheco family could use some help!
Today, I asked my Grandpa if he remembered anything about it. “We [my family] were up in Simi Valley picking walnuts and the little house we had rented went up in flames! When we got there, the fire department was putting out the flames. Then, George Putnam interviewed us. He was the one who called the Red Cross!”
Within no time at all, Red Cross volunteers came out, put up a tent and temporary beds. They even gave money and food coupons to my great grandmother, to help her feed the family. Everyone stayed in the Red Cross tent for about two weeks, until conditions were safe enough to return to the home.
With walnut picking season over, my Grandpa and his family soon moved on to look for work elsewhere.
The Pacheco’s will forever be grateful to the Red Cross for helping them during the two weeks when they needed it most! Thank you American Red Cross!
Alessandra Pacheco will be a Senior at Da Vinci High School. She hopes to become an accomplished author and editor, and enjoys watching basketball. This is Alessandra’s first year interning with the American Red Cross.