Red Cross Community Outreach Specialist Patty Madera told a version of this story on our “Close to the Vest: Alone/Together” livestream event. Full video below. 

Thank you for having me. My name is Patty Madera. I’m very excited to tell my story. We’ve all done such great things to support the community this year, and I’m excited to be able to share that with you.  

One opportunity I was given during this quarantine and this pandemic was to be deployed to Northern California to support the wildfires. I went with the Latino Engagement Team, also known as LET. 

The focus of LET is to support the Spanish-speaking community during times of need; to be a middle ground to support them; and to translate for them as well. It was a great opportunity, in more ways than one. 

I was grateful to be able to use my Spanish in such an effective way and to support local farm workers, who had been affected by the wildfires in Northern California. 

I visited 10 to 15 farms and offered them so many of our services. While I was out in the community meeting with these workers, they let me know that there was a local strawberry farm that no one had been able to access to offer supplies or services. 

The workers on this farm were cut off and had not had any resources for the past three weeks. That was the moment that I knew we needed to do something as the American Red Cross. We needed to find these farm workers and offer them any support we could. 

Luckily, we were able to connect with a local organization that worked with these farm workers. They were very supportive of our efforts to help. We worked together and were finally able to reach them. 

We entered the farm bringing supplies like food and water. We were able to talk to them about other resources the Red Cross had to offer them as well. We let them know we were there to help anybody and everybody in need. 

Many of them were born in other countries where the role of the Red Cross is different. So, it gave me the opportunity to really talk to them about everything we had to offer. It was the first time they really understood how much the Red Cross was able to help them. 

They were shocked by all the services we had to offer. Even starting with Red Cross shelters, they did not know they could go to our shelters. They did not know we had shelters.  

It was a liberating experience to be able to offer them this information. And for them to be so excited and happy that the Red Cross was there to support them in that moment. Personally, it was just an amazing feeling to be able to help them and to be able to use my Spanish. 

Being able to support this small community that had not received any resources and the fact that we were able to step in and offer them support right away… was the best feeling I’d ever had. 

Especially with COVID, they just felt a sense of relief when we arrived and told them we were going to help in any way we could. 

Overall, it was an amazing experience, and it was just great to know that if anything else were to happen to this community, any natural disaster, they knew that the Red Cross would be there to help them. That no matter who they were, their race or documentation statusnothing mattered. We help all human beingsIt was so heartwarming to see.  

That is why I’m so happy to be part of the American Red Cross and to have had the opportunity to help those farm workers in their moment of need. 

That was an experience I had during this pandemic that I will always carry with me. Those farm workers will always have a special place in my heart. 


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