American Red Cross recognizes local volunteers

Photos Ricardo Tomboc: Several volunteers and staff members stage at nearby locations to coordinate the parade’s approach to honorees' homes. Second person from the left is Laura Green Red Cross Recovery & Workforce Engagement Manager, third person from the left is Erin Fox Red Cross Disaster Program Manager, and the last person on the left is San Bernardino Red Cross Chapter’s Executive Director Yevette Baysinger.
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On Tuesday, June 23, the American Red Cross San Bernardino Chapter recognized several volunteers throughout the county.  Traditionally, the Red Cross honors volunteers during a recognition ceremony banquet.  However, this year in keeping with the COVID-19 safety guidelines and social distancing, San Bernardino County Red Cross Executive, staff members, and volunteers formed a parade of vehicles that drove right up to each recipient’s home.

Recipients were instructed to meet the parade of cars at their front yard with family and friends.  All participants were instructed to keep a social distance and use face coverings at all times.  As the procession of cars approached the residences, drivers and passengers would approach on foot, staying a safe distance from the home.  At most residences, volunteers would cheer and carry signs, and many would dance to music provided from a loudspeaker. 

John Caviness received the “Volunteer of the Year” award for his service as a Logistics Lead for the San Bernardino County Chapter of the Red Cross.

San Bernardino Red Cross Chapter’s Executive Director Yevette Baysinger presented each of the recipients a glass award trophy in recognition and appreciation for their dedicated and extraordinary service.  In addition Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers donated a gift basket containing several goodies for the recipients, including a stuffed Labrador Retriever toy, which is the restaurant’s mascot and for whom the restaurant is named after. 

The first stop for the Volunteer Recognition Parade was in the City of Fontana where Abigail Valassis received the “Youth Award”.  Several family members greeted the procession of cars and volunteers as they approached. 

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Highland was the next stop for the parade of cars where John Caviness and his wife Becky and other family members were waiting patiently.  John Caviness received the “Volunteer of the Year” award for his service as a Logistics Lead for the San Bernardino County Chapter of the Red Cross.  Laura Tolbirt, the San Bernardino County Red Cross Board Chairperson is also a resident of the City of Highland.  Laura Tolbirt was awarded the “One Red Cross” award for her commitment to service and exemplifying the spirit of a “One Red Cross” volunteer. 

The parade continued to Apple Valley were Laura Peters received the “Rising Star” award for her outstanding work and dedication as a new volunteer who is aspiring to lead or already leading others.  Norma Alvarez also from Apple Valley received the “Unsung Hero” award for her commitment, diligence, and excellence in providing behind the scenes support to the Red Cross. 

The parade continued to the City of Barstow where Shara Baythavong received the “Outstanding Leadership” award for her serving in a leadership role and has demonstrated the capacity to empower others and built a stronger team to support the Red Cross mission. 

Abigail Valassis (left) received the “Youth Award” from San Bernardino Red Cross Chapter’s Executive Director Yevette Baysinger.

Most of the Red Cross volunteers are always on a last-minute standby alert to respond to local disasters and emergencies.  “Disaster Action Team” (DAT) volunteers can respond within minutes to local disasters at the request of the local Fire Department or Red Cross National Headquarters.  Several other volunteers make themselves available to respond within hours to disasters across the nation including wildfires, major earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, and any other unexpected emergencies.  Many seasoned volunteers have served on several deployment such as Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey, Camp Fire, Joplin Tornado, Northridge Earthquake, the Highland Floods, and many others. 

For more information on the American Red Cross or how to become a volunteer, go to and click on the Volunteer tab.  The American Red Cross is not a governmental agency, nor do they receive any funding from any governmental source.  The American Red Cross solely depends upon the private donations of the American people.

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