by Kathleen Maclay, volunteer contributer, American Red Cross
A dozen youth with California Conservation Corps’ Ukiah Center received heart-felt thanks, applause and formal certificates of appreciation as they headed home after a three-week deployment to the Red Cross shelter set up at the Twin Pine Casino & Hotel in Middletown for those affected by the Valley Fire.
“We really couldn’t make it without them,” said Rose Madison, the shelter’s mass care lead, as she prepared the certificates and circulated individual thank-you cards for grateful Red Cross volunteers to sign.
The team of nine young men and two women led by Charles Coffman were assigned to the shelter for a range of responsibilities. Duties included unloading trucks delivering bulk supplies to Twin Pines; loading Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) dispatched to the surrounding community with food items, clean-up kits and supplies; greeting clients and other visitors; vacuuming; washing shelter cots used by clients and volunteers; setting up canopies for other partners on the scene; and more.
Members of the CCC are young men and women ages 18 to 25 who commit to a year with the state agency, performing natural resource work and emergency response. The agency was created in 1976 by Jerry Brown, California’s governor then, and now.
“They took the initiative to do what they saw needed to be done, and they did it with a smile on their faces,” said Madison, a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Central California. “It was inspirational to see these young people really making a positive contribution.”
LaRae Ewing, 21, of Redlands, is a graphic design student at California State University, San Bernardino, who called her experience meeting “life changing.”
Angel Shah, 19, of Richmond, said in the 10 months or so he has been with the CCC, the Red Cross is the largest sponsoring agency he’s worked with, and the Valley Fire assignment his first emergency response.
Employed in carpentry and construction before joining the Corps, Shah said he has learned invaluable skills in terms of workplace organization and better communication that he will take with him as he moves forward.