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  1. TopTop #1
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Issues with Red Cross

    A post from my FB feed:

    THIS IS FROM A DEAR FRIEND WHO DOES NOT WANT HER NAME MENTIONED:

    My friend and I filled up a suburban and a large pickup truck with donations for people at the tent camp at the Napa County Fairgrounds. We had contacted our friends and a few stores for donations. We ended up with a ton of stuff. We brought 25 cases of water, mens women's and children's clothing, toiletries, books, shoes, tents, tarps, pop up shelters, pillows, blankets and a ton more. When we arrived at the NC Fairgrounds it was very crowded. I drove in front and rolled down my window to speak with a Red Cross representative. I let him know we had two vehicles filled donations. His response was 'we do not need donations. We have plenty of stuff. The Red Cross could use cash donations'.

    I had to keep on moving in my truck so I pulled forward and signaled my friend to pull behind me. We got out of our vehicles and I told her what the gentleman had said. There was another two women in their large SUV who told us that they were told the same thing. This women had her vehicle filled with brand new items from Target. She said her father was a contractor in Napa and told her to go buy whatever she thought the victims may need brand new at target. She said that the Red Cross told her that she could leave all of her donations, however they would probably be put into a box truck and taken to another disaster. She said she bought these things for the people of Lake county and wanted them to have them. She said she was also asked for a cash donation. We decided to go speak with someone else. The next Red Cross Representative was very kind. He said they could only accept donations that were organized. Ours stuff was all separated, clean, and labeled. I totally understand that the American Red Cross has a system and I respect that however, we were turned away without them even looking at what we had.

    We decided to speak with the Napa County Sheriff and he advised us that people inside the camp were in need of items. He told us to pull our trucks into the tent camp and start our own donation center. So we did. And people did need things. We gave away clothes, shoes, toiletries, tents, blankets, pillows, books, candy, toys, and more. Everyone was so grateful and enjoyed being able to talk to someone who didn't have a tragedy in their life.

    I know so many people want to help and this is amazing. The truth is they do have enough necessities at the camp. There is plenty of water, blankets, towels, pillows, toiletries, water. What they dont have and want is forms of entertainment. Some good things to collect and bring are children and adult books, magazines, coloring books and crayons, board games, balls, jump ropes, candy and cards. Baby wipes were a hot commodity and people were asking for Qtips. Bring bags of fresh fruit so you can hand out cuties and apples to people.

    Other ways people can help is by their trade!!! I read in the paper that a nail technician went and gave people manicures. When I was there a yoga instructor was holding a yoga session and a masseuse was massaging people. Do you know anyone with a mobile dog grooming van? The dogs will need to be washed eventually. Do you know a face painter? The kids would love that.

    The NC Sheriff made a good point when saying this camp will be open for at least a month and they will need people to help the entire time. So if you can't help right now help in a few weeks. If you cant afford to bring anything just bring yourself. You don't need permission and you don't need to be trained to be kind to another human being. We are all the same no matter what you may think. We are all human beings. We were made to help each other and to rely on each other. Maybe your role in all of this could be to give out hugs. A hug goes a long way. Human touch and comfort can help people through very hard times.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-19-2015 at 01:42 PM.
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  2. TopTop #2
    jesswolfe's Avatar
    jesswolfe
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    I went there today. There is a sign saying no donations. But when I went in I saw people just come on in with what they had to offer. I was helping out a mobile vet offering free spay/neuter. Some people have been there a week and many will likely be there for awhile. I understand Red Cross usually only wants money but there is need for some basics. And need for volunteers. Go give what you can.

    Jessica
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  3. TopTop #3
    geomancer's Avatar
    geomancer
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    Ahem:

    How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti and Built Six Homes
    Even as the group has publicly celebrated its work, insider accounts detail a string of failures

    by Justin Elliott, ProPublica, and Laura Sullivan, NPR

    https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-red-cross-raised-half-a-billion-dollars-for-haiti-and-built-6-homes
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/...201349198.html

    They ALWAYS want money. Not a dime from me.

    Richard
    Last edited by Barry; 09-21-2015 at 02:05 PM.
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  4. TopTop #4

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    Nationally they are known to pay .08 cents on the dollar for actual help. The rest is their promotions, staging costs and salaries I guess. Millions for the CEO. And to think Redwood Credit Union is receiving a million local dollars in its Valley Fire Relief Drive - all of which will go to the Red Cross - don't they vet their non-profits?
    Last edited by Barry; 09-21-2015 at 02:10 PM.
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  6. TopTop #5
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    Oh no! I read that 100% was going to Valley Fire victims!

    How did you find out about this?
    Quote afinenettle wrote: View Post
    Nationally they are known to pay .08 cents on the dollar for actual help. The rest is their promotions, staging costs and salaries I guess. Millions for the CEO. And to think Redwood Credit Union is receiving a milliion local dollars in it's Valley Fire Relief Drive - all of which will go to the Red Cross - dont they vet their non-profits?
    Last edited by Barry; 09-21-2015 at 02:11 PM.
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  8. TopTop #6
    Stargazer's Avatar
    Stargazer
     

    Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    Here's a suggestion for anyone who is would like to do some background checking on nonprofits, including the American Red Cross. You will be able to read reviews and gather info before donating or volunteering to most of the nonprofits that you come across. It is not possible for this to be 100% accurate. The more info, the better. guidestar.org
    Last edited by Barry; 09-21-2015 at 03:33 PM.
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  9. TopTop #7
    nicofrog's Avatar
    nicofrog
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    My Father was in the second world war,in All the theatres ,S.Pacific,N.Africa, and Europe ,He KNEW the red cross was crooked way back then, he said even with the military they did not serve well,were cheap with supplies,and always asked for money that seemed to disappear.They were known for setting up small inadequate shelters,and getting credit for work that was done by military medics.

    We have a weird dynamic no one seems to KNOW or care about in Sonoma county with the HOMELESS, the police drive them out of any place they congregate or try to hide or get some proper privacy. under bridges,in a large thicket near the railway tracks, They want them right on the sidewalks around the gospel mission ,or IN the gospel mission, the only services they get is ALL with a big dose of Christian propaganda.

    I was headed down to see a Homeless "Town" I found out about by posting here,I was going to donate some goods directly to them, when I got there I was shocked to see police cars,and a BACK HOE the Back hoe was destroying their tents ,the police were not allowing the people to go in and remove their belongings from the tents ,they had a 20 cubic yard dumpster there and they were loading all the tents ,and cloths and everything else these people had into the dumpster,there were bicycles, toys clothing tents and trash. It is true when these camps develop,there is usually a considerable amount of trash that builds up around them, There was also a rail-road cop there,he was big and grumpy. Why not institute a volunteer group that helps homeless clean up? If you were living on the streets eating from dumpsters ,maybe trash pick-up wouldn't be your highest priority either?

    I hear a lot of talk about human decency, but We need to get that our service organisations are not serving that,they are serving their sense of superiority and protecting the community need to feed fears of "drug use" and"alcoholism " and "criminals" . I saw the sheriffs dept. team with Sebastopol police to swoop in in a "drug raid" manner to remove Rolin (our friendly intelligent kind local jester/creative homefree magician ) from HARDCORE Corner,the OLD location of hardcore cafe' ,he had been illegally camping there and doing a GREAT JOB of painting the horrible ugly old condemned building into a fun billboard of bright colors and forms They had a dozen cops(you know these skinny 70 yr olds with flowers in their hair can be dangerous )...they brought in a helicopter for backup just in case he,or any of his accomplices,(Baby) should make a break and head into our pristine neighbourhoods. I have heard that the Sheriffs Helicopter costs $1000.oo per hour to operate , Gee I'm sure glad our tax dollars are going to such good use to help out with the homeless "situation" , they took away his only "home" a mobile unit he had made from a baby stroller,Broke it in HALF and threw it in a dumpster (((this I believe was a completely illegal and arrogant move on their part,it was HIS property, and all he had to call a home,,it was ON WHEELS and easily moved to public space,he was NOT put under arrest))) ,it sickens me to see a community ignore the fact that their police force is acting this way,and modelling BULLYING in its purest form , right under our noses and no one speaks up.
    YUK

    is ignorance easier than action ?

    We went to the PANCAKE BREAKFAST at Graton fire ,GREAT FUN nice community outing ,nice Military FIGHTING VEHICLE and BOMB SQUAD TACTICAL UNIT , And there was a nice guy who seemed quite popular and accepted among his peers there, strolling and talking and handsome (ERIC GELHOUS)

    I asked why the bomb unit(they assured me they get a lot of action that requires these expensive tactical units and warrants their upkeep. I hope they sell tickets to the next action with the military fighting vehicle ,should be interesting.

    if this is how we want to be "safe" it think I'd rather be sorry than safe
    Last edited by Barry; 09-21-2015 at 03:33 PM.
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  11. TopTop #8
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    Thank you for sharing your direct experience and knowledge. I encourage everyone to do the same. Our eyes and hearts, see and feel what's important to share, but many of us just "like", which actually does nothing to spread the information. Please know that "SHARE" is what matters, whether on Facebook, or any site. Networking is a the heart of volunteering, and makes a difference.

    In the past week, I've connected strangers with each other, who are also strangers to me. When I see information that I believe has value to others, I SHARE. How many of us share WaccoBB messages on Facebook? It's just a matter of clicking the button, and has the power to transform lives. If you can't do anything else, you can do this......if you really care.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-21-2015 at 03:34 PM.
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  13. TopTop #9
    newdawn707's Avatar
    newdawn707
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    Wow, thats horrible. the misusing of funds, esp meant to help people and received in kindness and integrity.

    I like how you said you brought your items directly to the homeless people. i think that is very very helpful.
    Like how some are bringing items directly to those displaced by the fires.

    There are some already 'displaced' even before the fires, homeless or those almost homeless.

    Its great we are also opening our minds and seeing this as a community. I bet this could change too. What if 'we gave in things or in presence (gov't) to those in need?
    People really are compassionate, deep inside.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-21-2015 at 03:35 PM.
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  14. TopTop #10
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Issues with Red Cross

    from Ronogden Gobmc


    My response to the American Red Cross Problem in Calistoga.- I can't belive that there as been no required reform for the largest 501c nonprofit that has a salary and overhead that consumes 92 cents of every dollar. It is a crooked money making machine that takes advantage of its volunteers and its contributors. Without a private watchtower group or a Government investigation this will continue. What's funny is the Government deems them necessary and effective and continues to pat them on the back for a job well done. It's a sad state and crooked at the top.

    The average age of the volunteers for ARC at the fairgrounds was around 62 and they were tired and overworked and really incapable of moving boxes and standing long periods of time. We had them cut in line to eat because I was under the impression that they were in control and it was important that they get back quickly to their posts. The ARC started serving their dinner at 5pm and were taking trays of hotdogs and burgers that we brought and prepared. Then came and cut in line for our Tri Tip dinner. In charge? by mid day I knew better. The great people of the Calistoga Boosters had taken control and been way more effective in feeding the victims. They tried to turn me away at gate 4 with my truckload of camping gear. I told them that I was one of the MC clubs in charge of the Tri Tip BBQ and that I had 600lbs of meat in the cooler. I was told to drive in, drop meat off, then park outside. (LC Sheriff)

    I of course ignored the command of the well paid watchdog and went about completing my mission. We filled two pallets with tents, bags,bedding, lanterns, plus sorted hygiene products in organized boxes. Within two hours they were all gone but one open sleeping bag. Sad state of propaganda to lie to the helpful public for financial gain. The first ARC volunteer I met I asked about the donation turn away issue. She said that they have informed the media and public that there was plenty of donations and now they need financial donations for the next step. I asked her for what? She said so we can provide cash vouchers for the displaced victims. I am sure they are quick to hand those out.... SURE!!! When I walked back over the donation area all of the items that I brought were gone including the open red sleeping bag.

    The situation was not in control and it was an obvious attempt to exploit the Valley fire victims and I hope that enough of you all light a fire under your local politicians ass to investigate this. What I saw was a skeleton crew of aged volunteers with vests and credentials to create the illusion of help to justify a crooked nonprofit to continue to exploit the hearts of giving people and take advantage of disasters around the world. Please remember that the ARC volunteers I saw were doing their best and several thanked us. But if it wasn't for Eli, Kathi Youngblood, and them boosters this whole situation and the victims care would have been a dire event but it may have exposed the cracks in this crooked operation.

    Thank you and the Conservation corps for getting it done. also the several private citizens at the public donation area like Ben and Terry for ignoring the order and letting donations come in the RV gate. Shame on you ARC. Thank you for the Nothbay community. Make me proud to be one of them
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  16. TopTop #11
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Any reports on Valley Fire victims receiving CASH VOUCHERS? If so, for how much?

    Red Cross is saying they need money so they can give cash vouchers. Does anyone know residents who have received any, and if so for how much? I'll also be doing research on this to see what I can dig up.
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  17. TopTop #12
    meagain's Avatar
    meagain
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    The head of the Red Cross is paid more than half a million dollars every year and a jet...of course they want money. Find someone you want to help and give THEM some money, not these greedy ego maniacs.

    From Business Insider:

    We recently discussed how America continues to reflexively rely on the Red Cross to provide disaster relief despite mounting criticism of the organization. As interest in the organization grows, we looked into Red Cross's financials to see what we could find. Okay, we basically just want to know how much these guys are getting paid. In 2010, top executive compensation looked like this: Executive director Gail McGovern made $561,210EVP for biomedical services James Hrouda made $621,779Biomedical services president Shaun Gilmore made $573,933 Here is the full compensation table, via Guidestar, from 2010. GuideStarTotal executive comp came to $4.5 million (Line IX-5 in the doc). That may seem like a lot, but you have to ask what kind of organization you're comparing the Red Cross to. Most would regard them as a charity, but others might say they're more akin to a large, complex organization that competes with corporations for talent. In 2010, the Red Cross finished its fiscal year with revenues of about $3.6 billion in revenue (Line I-12). As far as 501(c)3s, that puts it on par with mega hospital networks, not goodwill organizations. That's a story in itself. But keeping the focus on aid groups, if we look at executive comp as a percentage of direct grants, we can get an idea of how well Red Cross executives were paid. For the Red Cross, total grants in the U.S. and abroad came in at $383 million (Line IX-2/3). That's 1.2% percent of executive comp. Seems reasonable. But in 2010, Feeding America, another relief group, provided grants totaling $1.1 billion, according to Guidestar (Line IX-1). They paid top execs $2.7 million (Line IX-5). That's .2% of grants. Here's how that group paid their top execs:
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  19. TopTop #13
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    Thank you for sharing these details. I looked at their financials for last year, and it shows a "loss", but of course we know how figures can be manipulated when we have the money to pay for it. Consider that white collar criminals do it all the time, and most average tax payers do it on a much small degree.

    The symbol of a RED CROSS is a manipulative visual that people equate with hope. I know I used to. I was programmed well; weren't we all? The time for questioning is upon us. Let's step up, and stand up for integrity for "helping" organizations.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-23-2015 at 04:47 PM.
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  21. TopTop #14
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Another eyewitness report on RedCross....READ it and WEEP as you take in this ugly truth!

    Rebecca Rowan-Connors

    September 20 at 12:03pm

    Firefight: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
    My name is Rebecca Rowan, I am long time resident of napa valley. I have experienced the relief efforts here through numerous floods, the big earthquake in the 90s, and the most current earth quake of 2014. Each time, I was proud of my community and the way we banded together to support on another. As a native napa woman, I cherish this place and its people with all my heart. So please know, that I am reaching out to you from place of gratitude and love.

    The valley fire has been devastating for us. When I heard about the fire the first thing I thought is "what can we do?". The Red Cross mobilized the shelter at the fairgrounds and promptly asked for donations (specifically blankets). On Sunday my husband and I filled his truck up with donations. 50% of which was brand new clothing, tents, water, formula... We co-ordinated with friends to drop off at our home in order to drive it up valley. 5 people came to our home and gave additional brand new items. My husband loaded up the items and went to the designated drop off in napa town only to be turned away. The Red Cross was no longer accepting donations. I googled the valley fire and saw the piles of clothing and food piled high at the fairgrounds... No staging, it looked as if a truck just dumped them there.. We found a church that would take our donations. Perfect! I inquired why the Red Cross wasn't accepting anymore donations and was told, they aren't sorting them. Well, I knew how to organize and merchandise, I had worked for over a decade in fashion. THIS was how I could best contribute! Great! I went up to the fairgrounds in Calistoga. It was about 3/4pm when I got there.
    It was a mess.

    I couldn't even believe it. I have photos of the piles. Brand new clothes getting dropped in the dust, toys becoming undone and dirty, perfectly good blankets and towels, destroyed.
    This couldn't happen! These items were needed. I pushed out of my mind thoughts of getting there sooner and how much more pulled together it COULD HAVE BEEN & put myself to work!

    Bending over for hours with no break or food, I diligently sorted and sifted through bags upon bags. I spent my time hugging the victims and talking about their efforts to get out. We cried together as I heard heroic stories of people ditching their cars and out running the fire... Driving through walls of fire... Letting their livestock out of their cages to fend for themselves... I can't imagine what they faced when they did... It was very humbling. So while we spoke, I chatted with them about their immediate needs. What could they need that night? These were people that had nothing. Sifting through the piles unorganized donations we found what they needed... This was good, hard work. I felt very in touch with the needs of the Middletown/ hidden valley fire victims. These were my neighbors... I felt honored that I could be there for them.

    After some time I became frustrated. The amount of sorting and lack of help was overwhelming and my back hurt from bending over. I was taught that the Red Cross SHOWS UP in these situations but after hours of volunteering I saw no one from the ARC in their red vest. Taking matters into my own hands, I decided it was time to ask for help. I walked over to the main building and asked for 10 volunteers. Volunteers that I could see by looking around were available. I was quickly dismissed that the Red Cross did not manage donations. I found this ironic since they blasted every local news station asking for these donations but now that they have arrived, the ARC didn't "handle donations". I explained that it seemed rather absurd. I was instructed to mind my own and would be asked to leave if I became combative. Not wanting to take away from those in need I quieted myself and went back to work, at night, with no flash light or head lamp. I continued to work until 11:30pm, no one from the Red Cross checked on us once. Not once.

    Monday was my second day there. I got there around 10am... I was exhausted but no matter, I drank some coffee and got to it. Sifting, sorting, hanging... It was getting better... Slowly. Once again, I asked the Red Cross if they could help with the donations. They again said no.

    I decided to go check up on the main ARC volunteer building. It was filled with people in their red vests hanging around talking to one another, using their laptops, texting on cells... Ample food was out. Donated by local restaurants. They looked rested and clean. In contrast, I was filthy from sorting in the dirt outside, my back was aching from bending over for hours at a time, and my face poofy from crying with the victims.
    They ate the food being donated by my community kitchens, yet weren't doing any of the grit. We community volunteers were having an entirely different experience. As I was walking out, they were so kindly taping off their offices so victims and community volunteers felt uncomfortable "checking in" with them with red tape that said "do not cross"-oh ok then.

    I would also like to note I blasted about 8 facebook groups indicating we needed help sorting donations on a daily basis. Approx 5,000 people got my message. About 25 in total were turned away by the Red Cross (by my count) because they said that they had enough volunteers. When in actuality, the community was overwhelmed by the donations and we couldn't get the ARC whom had the infrastructure in place to coordinate the donations, simply wouldn't.

    It was a sad moment for my community but a great one for bureaucracy. For me, this was very upsetting. I was drowning in donations and I come to find out that my very needed help has been turned away! Once again, I approached the Red Cross (an organization that my family donated to and had believed in) and requested "please don't turn anyone away we need help!". And was then told to "go away". Literally. I left on Monday defeated and overwhelmed. This was turning into one of the best and worst experiences in napa.
    I took Tuesday and wed to myself.

    Thursday back at it! Up in Calistoga by 10am, coffee in hand! Come to find out that the Red Cross doesn't want the community volunteers to organize the donations on site. We have moved to the Calistoga watering plant. I ended up knowing a lot of people here and saw some friends that were helping, this time no one was turned away. The community was taking charge. I inquired why we weren't at the fairgrounds, the consensus was the Red Cross did not want us on site. While I was at the warehouse labeling, sorting, and distributing... I saw at least 20 or so Red Cross workers standing off to the side, in the air conditioned offices, doing nothing. They didn't even update us on the immediate needs for the victims... Actually, the only time one of them spoke to me, was to cut in front of me to use the bathroom. That was it. What the ARC bureaucrats were fighting for was control, power, credit, praise for themselves

    On that same day, my husband split from me to work at the fairgrounds. He told me that he showed up to more piles of disorganized donations (so there was a drop off there?!)... His background is in operations and he instinctively knew how to compartmentalize the items and delegate the tasks. He volunteered for a minimum of 8 hours that day, no one from the Red Cross spoke to any of the volunteers to pitch in or check in at his post. Once again, the community response was 100%...

    I have heard rumors that the Red Cross took over lunch for wed... And only cooked for150 persons when the boosters cook for a min of 500... I guess not everyone needs to eat?
    The local community has been fighting to recover the lives of people who were burned out, who lost everything but their lives and the clothes on their backs, who have to start over totally. At times, I wonder why the ARC is even here?
    Last edited by Barry; 09-23-2015 at 05:12 PM.
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  23. TopTop #15
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    RED CROSS CEO tries to kill investigation saying she has "no time" to be accountable...

    https://www.propublica.org/article/red-cross-ceo-tried-to-kill-government-investigation

    I've been reading personal stories of people who've experienced the RedCross corruption first hand:

    One I find hard to believe: "They handed out coffee and donuts for a photo op, then asked for them to be given back"!!

    I've also read that the government repays the RC for any help they provide.

    The Red Cross was chartered by Congress over a century ago and operates as a kind of public-private hybrid. It responds to disasters hand-in-hand with the federal government but that work is largely funded through private donations. A law passed after Hurricane Katrina reforming the Red Cross explicitly empowered the GAO to investigate the group.

    If you have information about the Red Cross, email [email protected].
    To anonymously send us documents online, visit our SecureDrop site.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-23-2015 at 05:08 PM.
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  25. TopTop #16
    Sara S's Avatar
    Sara S
    Auntie Wacco

    Re: First Hand report on RED CROSS crap in Calistoga

    I heard (second-hand) last night that someone was busted trying to return to Walmart items that had been donated for fire victims; supposedly the person returning the stuff had stolen them. I haven't seen anything in the news about this; has anyone else heard about it?
    Last edited by Barry; 09-23-2015 at 04:54 PM.
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  26. TopTop #17

    Re: My post on RedCross under Fire was deleted here and from my FB page, but not B4 TV new

    One of the biggest problems with 'donating to the Red Cross' to me is what the PD acknowledged today quoting a Red Cross representative:

    https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/4...ism-for?page=2
    "...Most donations enter a general fund, and those donors who do indicate a preference for where the money is used generally mail a check, a process that takes longer..."

    Red Cross is a GENERAL FUND.... NATIONAL. Period. No tally of specific donations received from locals meant for locals only. No accounting of local money gathered and how it was locally distributed. NO transparency.

    So how much was in this 'General Fund' before this tragedy? Exactly why do they need only/more money for THIS tragedy? Auto-pilot press is always 'need more money'.

    It's my understanding that these issues loomed large after Katrina, and are still very murky and actual receipt-distribution very concealed and reasons for serious questions very substantive.
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  28. TopTop #18
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Issues with Red Cross


    Red Cross under criticism for shelter operation in Valley fire

    BY JULIE JOHNSON
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
    September 23, 2015, 8:35PM

    Horrified by the sight of carloads of Lake County residents fleeing for their lives in the first hours of the monstrous Valley wildfire Sept. 12, Calistoga resident Wendy Lopez drove straight to the startup emergency shelter at the Napa County Fairgrounds in town and asked how she could help.

    That’s where a volunteer in a Red Cross vest tried to turn her away, she said.

    Lopez was among a vocal group of people who said they were rebuffed by Red Cross representatives, who reportedly told people to go home and donate money, in what was the start of a series of alleged problems with the national humanitarian organization at the fairgrounds, local officials and volunteers said.

    “We just wanted to help. They tried to shut us down,” Lopez said.

    Lopez stayed anyway, joining a corps of local residents who spearheaded an effort to accept donations of clothing and other articles pouring into the fairgrounds for evacuees forced to abandon their homes and possessions. The Calistoga site, which is set to close Thursday, has served as the largest of several temporary shelter locations in the Valley fire, which displaced nearly 20,000 people in the first days and burned more than 1,200 homes. Roughly 3,000 people have been left homeless, authorities said.

    Volunteers working apart from Red Cross ended up providing the bulk of services given to evacuees at Napa County Fairgrounds, sorting through heaps of goods and arranging daily meals donated and prepared by local restaurants and other groups.

    Of the nearly 1,000 evacuees who stayed at the fairgrounds, only about 25 each day were housed in the Red Cross indoor area set up inside one of the fair buildings, with the bulk staying outside in tents or RVs, Napa County Fair chief executive officer Carlene Moore said.

    Complaints included those lodged by rebuffed volunteers, others who said their donations of materials were turned away, and officials who said the organization was not a collaborative partner in the early aid effort. Some evacuees and volunteers said aid services provided by the Red Cross fell short.

    Continues here.

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  30. TopTop #19
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: My post on RedCross under Fire was deleted here and from my FB page, but not B4 TV new

    I see that my post is still up, but was placed under a new category called "Issues with the Red Cross", but I was able to find my original post, which was a copy of a first hand report:

    My title was: Read it and Weep as you take in this ugly truth:
    Firefight: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

    My name is Rebecca Rowan, I am long time resident of napa valley. I have experienced the relief efforts here through numerous floods, the big earthquake in the 90s, and the most current earth quake of 2014. Each time, I was proud of my community and the way we banded together to support on another.
    As a native napa woman, I cherish this place and its people with all my heart. So please know, that I am reaching out to you from place of gratitude and love.

    The valley fire has been devastating for us. When I heard about the fire the first thing I thought is "what can we do?". The Red Cross mobilized the shelter at the fairgrounds and promptly asked for donations (specifically blankets). On Sunday my husband and I filled his truck up with donations. 50% of which was brand new clothing, tents, water, formula... We co-ordinated with friends to drop off at our home in order to drive it up valley. 5 people came to our home and gave additional brand new items. My husband loaded up the items and went to the designated drop off in napa town only to be turned away. The Red Cross was no longer accepting donations. I googled the valley fire and saw the piles of clothing and food piled high at the fairgrounds... No staging, it looked as if a truck just dumped them there.. We found a church that would take our donations. Perfect! I inquired why the Red Cross wasn't accepting anymore donations and was told, they aren't sorting them. Well, I knew how to organize and merchandise, I had worked for over a decade in fashion. THIS was how I could best contribute! Great! I went up to the fairgrounds in Calistoga. It was about 3/4pm when I got there.
    It was a mess.

    I couldn't even believe it. I have photos of the piles. Brand new clothes getting dropped in the dust, toys becoming undone and dirty, perfectly good blankets and towels, destroyed.
    This couldn't happen! These items were needed. I pushed out of my mind thoughts of getting there sooner and how much more pulled together it COULD HAVE BEEN & put myself to work!

    Bending over for hours with no break or food, I diligently sorted and sifted through bags upon bags. I spent my time hugging the victims and talking about their efforts to get out. We cried together as I heard heroic stories of people ditching their cars and out running the fire... Driving through walls of fire... Letting their livestock out of their cages to fend for themselves... I can't imagine what they faced when they did... It was very humbling. So while we spoke, I chatted with them about their immediate needs. What could they need that night? These were people that had nothing. Sifting through the piles unorganized donations we found what they needed... This was good, hard work. I felt very in touch with the needs of the Middletown/ hidden valley fire victims. These were my neighbors... I felt honored that I could be there for them.

    After some time I became frustrated. The amount of sorting and lack of help was overwhelming and my back hurt from bending over. I was taught that the Red Cross SHOWS UP in these situations but after hours of volunteering I saw no one from the ARC in their red vest. Taking matters into my own hands, I decided it was time to ask for help. I walked over to the main building and asked for 10 volunteers. Volunteers that I could see by looking around were available. I was quickly dismissed that the Red Cross did not manage donations. I found this ironic since they blasted every local news station asking for these donations but now that they have arrived, the ARC didn't "handle donations". I explained that it seemed rather absurd. I was instructed to mind my own and would be asked to leave if I became combative. Not wanting to take away from those in need I quieted myself and went back to work, at night, with no flash light or head lamp. I continued to work until 11:30pm, no one from the Red Cross checked on us once. Not once.


    Monday was my second day there. I got there around 10am... I was exhausted but no matter, I drank some coffee and got to it. Sifting, sorting, hanging... It was getting better... Slowly. Once again, I asked the Red Cross if they could help with the donations. They again said no.

    I decided to go check up on the main ARC volunteer building. It was filled with people in their red vests hanging around talking to one another, using their laptops, texting on cells... Ample food was out. Donated by local restaurants. They looked rested and clean. In contrast, I was filthy from sorting in the dirt outside, my back was aching from bending over for hours at a time, and my face poofy from crying with the victims.
    They ate the food being donated by my community kitchens, yet weren't doing any of the grit. We community volunteers were having an entirely different experience. As I was walking out, they were so kindly taping off their offices so victims and community volunteers felt uncomfortable "checking in" with them with red tape that said "do not cross"-oh ok then.

    I would also like to note I blasted about 8 facebook groups indicating we needed help sorting donations on a daily basis. Approx 5,000 people got my message. About 25 in total were turned away by the Red Cross (by my count) because they said that they had enough volunteers. When in actuality, the community was overwhelmed by the donations and we couldn't get the ARC whom had the infrastructure in place to coordinate the donations, simply wouldn't. It was a sad moment for my community but a great one for bureaucracy.

    For me, this was very upsetting. I was drowning in donations and I come to find out that my very needed help has been turned away! Once again, I approached the Red Cross (an organization that my family donated to and had believed in) and requested "please don't turn anyone away we need help!". And was then told to "go away". Literally. I left on Monday defeated and overwhelmed. This was turning into one of the best and worst experiences in napa.

    I took Tuesday and wed to myself.
    Thursday back at it! Up in Calistoga by 10am, coffee in hand! Come to find out that the Red Cross doesn't want the community volunteers to organize the donations on site. We have moved to the Calistoga watering plant. I ended up knowing a lot of people here and saw some friends that were helping, this time no one was turned away. The community was taking charge. I inquired why we weren't at the fairgrounds, the consensus was the Red Cross did not want us on site. While I was at the warehouse labeling, sorting, and distributing... I saw at least 20 or so Red Cross workers standing off to the side, in the air conditioned offices, doing nothing. They didn't even update us on the immediate needs for the victims... Actually, the only time one of them spoke to me, was to cut in front of me to use the bathroom. That was it. What the ARC bureaucrats were fighting for was control, power, credit, praise for themselves

    On that same day, my husband split from me to work at the fairgrounds. He told me that he showed up to more piles of disorganized donations (so there was a drop off there?!)... His background is in operations and he instinctively knew how to compartmentalize the items and delegate the tasks. He volunteered for a minimum of 8 hours that day, no one from the Red Cross spoke to any of the volunteers to pitch in or check in at his post. Once again, the community response was 100%...

    I have heard rumors that the Red Cross took over lunch for wed... And only cooked for150 persons when the boosters cook for a min of 500... I guess not everyone needs to eat?
    The local community has been fighting to recover the lives of people who were burned out, who lost everything but their lives and the clothes on their backs, who have to start over totally. At times, I wonder why the ARC is even here?

    I shared this post on FB, along with others, and it got media attention. So, the Red Cross can run, but they can't hide!
    Last edited by Barry; 09-25-2015 at 04:00 PM.
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  32. TopTop #20
    gypsey's Avatar
    gypsey
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross

    I am really glad that this information is out in the open for all of us to ponder and discuss. At the same time, I hope we are smart enough to realize we cannot expect perfection in times of crisis

    Regarding donations, I've always known that Red Cross donations go to them nationally, helping many people not just our immediate neighbors. I support that philosophy but also make sure in times of local need, that I donate to local organizations, as well.
    My 2 cents,
    Gypsey
    Last edited by Barry; 09-25-2015 at 04:00 PM.
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  33. TopTop #21
    gypsey's Avatar
    gypsey
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    Thanks, Jessica.
    The bottom line is that random though well intentioned donations create labor and time commitments whereas a well financed and organized effort by relief professionals works more efficiently.
    Yes, people are in immediate need...but who is going to manage the pipeline after the drop-off of all these goods?
    This is where volunteers can help.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-25-2015 at 04:01 PM.
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  34. TopTop #22
    gypsey's Avatar
    gypsey
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross

    I'd like to add that I understand from the PD article how serious the relief issues/conflicts are. I am so grateful to the Red Cross, but it seems clear that it needs to learn from this situation and improve its first responder program, as well. Let's work together to create transparency without blaming and improve our first response to Katrina, the Lake County Wildfires, and so many worldwide tragedies where the Red Cross is first on the ground..
    Last edited by Barry; 09-25-2015 at 04:01 PM.
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  35. TopTop #23
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross

    I don't think that most of us expect perfection. Personally I don't believe it in. Also, I don't think many people question how their donations, are really used. They just trust, which is why many large organizations and churches pay marketing experts to develop campaigns that pull in millions, and even billions of dollars. One TV church is suggested that people can "buy" a piece of heaven for an obscene amount of money, and they're getting it.

    I only just discovered that the Red Cross only gives 8 cents of every dollar to help disaster victims. I don't know about you, but I'd never contribute to them, now that I know this. I also didn't know that they received half a billion dollar for Haiti relief, and built 6 homes.

    Did you see the chart of Red Cross salaries? This is where the rest of the 82 cents goes, along with marketing and other necessities of running this large organization. Are you really o.k. with this? Still want to contribute?

    There's been on ongoing investigation for the past 18 months, and I really hope that the hidden truth will be visible for all to see. They've gotten away with it for too long, and are no better than any mafia organization, in my opinion.

    In my lifetime, I've found that giving directly to those in need makes sure that they are helped. I've been doing that most of my life. I feed, clothe, provide transportation, and emotional support, even now when my own resources have shrunk. If I wasn't disabled, I would have been there, standing shoulder to shoulder with those volunteers. I wonder how many Wacco members did go and volunteer. Maybe they will for Harbin.....
    Last edited by Barry; 09-25-2015 at 04:03 PM.
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  36. Gratitude expressed by 4 members:

  37. TopTop #24
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Red Cross wants MONEY, even though there is still need for items. PLEASE READ!

    The Red Cross volunteers wouldn't touch those donations, but stood by watching, and then ate the food that the resident volunteers made. Yes, they are well organized and trained to do certain things, and no more. That's the beauty of a well financed and organized relief system, which helps things work more efficiently, while programmed to ask for money every chance they get. It's really a beautiful racket, that's working very well for those at the top of the food chain.

    Quote gypsey wrote: View Post
    ...but who is going to manage the pipeline after the drop-off of all these goods?
    This is where volunteers can help.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-25-2015 at 04:39 PM.
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  39. TopTop #25
    arthunter's Avatar
    arthunter
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross

    I was just talking to a volunteer fireman who had an unbelievable tale to tell ... he said that he went up to Lake County to help with the fires and he was told to leave ... he also said that a few veterinarians went up to help injured animals and they too were told to leave ... he also said that the Red Cross were staying in top rated accommodations and that he knew for a fact that they were throwing donations away ... he put this down to them wanting money more than anything else ...

    I hate second hand info so when I speak to him again I'll try to get him to post here ....
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  41. TopTop #26
    Stargazer's Avatar
    Stargazer
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross ( Beware of Imposters)

    This story sounds way over the top. The people that are presenting themselves as Red Cross volunteers could be imposters. Unless these volunteers are just power hungry and not mentally healthy, this story sounds far fetched. Disasters can and do attract predators that prey on the weak when they are in crisis. Whoever the people may be that are blocking genuine rescue efforts appear to be representing their own interests. This is my interpretation of a story that does not seem to make much sense.

    I would suggest having real authority figures intervene immediately. There are remedies for this kind of behavior. Why would any dedicated fireman just walk away from a disaster site? Is he really a fireman? This does not sound like fireman behavior. Within the last week, five people have been arrested in Lake County who were charlatans (imposter) cops. I have to wonder why many people are of so afraid to stand up and push through difficult situations when they can clearly see a great need. Now if their judgement is way off and they are exhausted or otherwise, that could be a valid reason. When people or animals are in harms way, by all means get them the help they need. Do not tolerate bullies or imposters who are blocking and benefiting from any tragedy. I suggest pushing through these barriers when important tasks must occur. One cannot just have a badge or a uniform. Proper ID must be proved if one is representing the Red Cross or the fire or police dept.
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  43. TopTop #27
    Thad's Avatar
    Thad
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross

    Isn't this just the way America is now? All the certified people and their organizations needing way more than what it really takes, and doing so poorly with the vast amounts of money's they have have become used to. Clarion call, where are the legal hounds?

    I find Rebecca Rowan's words to be a reasonable truth

    Sue the Red Cross for Ineptitude!
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  45. TopTop #28
    arthunter's Avatar
    arthunter
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross ( Beware of Imposters)

    I agree ... I don't know this person very well and I thought that this sounded a bit off ... I will try to verify ....

    Quote Stargazer wrote: View Post
    This story sounds way over the top. The people that are presenting themselves as Red Cross volunteers could be imposters. Unless these volunteers are just power hungry and not mentally healthy, this story sounds far fetched. Disasters can and do attract predators that prey on the weak when they are in crisis. Whoever the people may be that are blocking genuine rescue efforts appear to be representing their own interests. This is my interpretation of a story that does not seem to make much sense.

    I would suggest having real authority figures intervene immediately. There are remedies for this kind of behavior. Why would any dedicated fireman just walk away from a disaster site? Is he really a fireman? This does not sound like fireman behavior. Within the last week, five people have been arrested in Lake County who were charlatans (imposter) cops. I have to wonder why many people are of so afraid to stand up and push through difficult situations when they can clearly see a great need. Now if their judgement is way off and they are exhausted or otherwise, that could be a valid reason. When people or animals are in harms way, by all means get them the help they need. Do not tolerate bullies or imposters who are blocking and benefiting from any tragedy. I suggest pushing through these barriers when important tasks must occur. One cannot just have a badge or a uniform. Proper ID must be proved if one is representing the Red Cross or the fire or police dept.
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  46. TopTop #29
    Thad's Avatar
    Thad
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross ( Beware of Imposters)

    Are you saying you doubt Rebecca Rowan's words?

    Quote arthunter wrote: View Post
    I agree ... I don't know this person very well and I thought that this sounded a bit off ... I will try to verify ....
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  47. TopTop #30
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Issues with Red Cross ( Beware of Imposters)


    I think she was talking about the "volunteer fireman" she spoke about.


    Quote Thad wrote: View Post
    Are you saying you doubt Rebecca Rowan's words?
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