Joining Hands to Help Save Lives


Hassan Khan, has lived in the United States for 15 years and is an active member in the Muslims for Life Campaign. “I don’t want to be a silent spectator. I want to play my role and help people. I want to save lives, we can do that with our own blood.”

“I wanted to jump in because I have two sons who have survived cancer and there have been countless units of blood needed for their treatment,” said Aisha Sial, who recently assisted with a Red Cross blood drive in Seattle.  For Aisha, ensuring a secure blood supply is very personal matter.

“I couldn’t donate blood for my own sons, but as a mom, I want to do everything I can to help,” she explained.


Morgan Beach, corporate partnerships office for the Red Cross, does her part in a recent blood drive.

Every two seconds, someone needs blood. And donating blood can help save a life. Yet ensuring a consistent blood supply is a constant challenge. Knowing this, Aisha joined the campaign called Muslims for Life within her own religious community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Recently, the Muslims for Life campaign joined forces with the local Red Cross to support blood donation events. Partners from Muslims for Life provide administrative back-up and help facilitate the donation process for blood donors.

“It’s yet another example of increasing our reach and impact through strong community partnerships,” said Morgan Beach. “In addition to the ongoing blood needs related to illness, we’ve experienced a series of tragedies in our own backyard that serve as compelling reminders of how precious a blood donation can be.”

On the most recent blood drive in at the Red Cross Northwest Regional headquarter, 25 units of blood were collected which is enough to save up to 75 lives. The next event will be held on December 18, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Those who live outside the Seattle area can find local blood donation events on

The Seattle chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community feel this year’s Muslims for Life Campaign was highly successful. More than 400 units of blood, enough to save up to 1,200 lives, were collected in the Seattle metro area. “We are excited about helping our brothers and sisters in need and being part of the community,” said Kashif Zafar. “‘Love for All, Hatred for None'” are words we not only say but we believe and passionately act on.”

The Muslims for Life campaign launched in 2010, borne out of the 9/11 tragedy, with an initial goal to collect 10,000 units of blood. In the first four years, the campaign spearheaded and supported 1,074 blood drives and collected enough to help save more than 118,000 lives. Active and engaged in promoting blood drives, Aisha has helped establish an annual event on her sons’ high school calendar. As a Muslim she added, mobilizing around the blood donation campaign has great purpose: “It’s a way to demonstrate our respect for peace and show our love for life.”

Safer at Home: Volunteers Install Smoke Alarms in a Wenatchee Neighborhood

By Nancy Thai, American Red Cross


On Friday September 11th, a team of AmeriCorps from the Seattle Red Cross and Intermountain group, led by Olivia MacMaster, partnered together for a Home Fire Preparedness Campaign event in Wenatchee, WA. The Intermountain AmeriCorps team connected with the Red Cross to plan and execute a smoke alarm installation at the Brookside mobile home park. With the support of regional Red Cross headquarters in Seattle, this team was able to visit every unit in the primarily Spanish-speaking community and complete 11 smoke alarm installs.

Nancy Thai, Red Cross disaster preparedness specialist, and Abby Walthall, disaster and response AmeriCorps, traveled to Wenatchee to conduct a training and orientation for the Intermountain AmeriCorps group. None of the members of Intermountain had any previous experience with the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign and were excited for this new opportunity. Armed with installation supplies, training and messaging on home fire preparedness, the team of 10 set off for the mobile home park on the sunny afternoon.

At the site, the team immediately went to work knocking on doors and engaging with the community. The teams were welcomed by residents who were home. One resident, who was not at home when the team stopped by, went as far as to track them down for an installation.

“It felt really great to be invited into people’s home and see the gratitude on their faces after we installed the free smoke alarms for them,” said one AmeriCorps member. “Even though we didn’t speak the same language, a smile has the same meaning in every culture!”

Boeing ECF Strengthens Red Cross Wildfire Response: Mobilizing Help and Hot Meals to Fire-Impacted Communities

Power outages, coupled with damaged cell towers, severely limited phone services and communications amid last summer’s wildfire disaster. Infrastructure was crippled and left communities across large swathes of Central, Northern and Eastern Washington in a state of confusion as residents were surrounded by fierce firestorms that moved quickly across the landscape.

The Red Cross responded with key communications assistance, shelter and immediate emergency relief for hundreds of people facing a terrifying crisis. How did the Red Cross do it? With the support of partners who donated to the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound and provided the Red Cross with a critical resource: a disaster telecommunications emergency vehicle.

With this vehicle, the Red Cross is able to overcome considerable logistical challenges on the ground, said Sharon Andrews. “The Communications trailer was an invaluable solution when cell service in the area failed.”

The communications trailer was a critical tool in relaying evacuation and power outage information to hundreds of people. It was also essential to coordinate a large-scale mobile feeding operation. Red Cross mass care, logistical and technical support personnel worked together, with the communications trailer as a hub, to cook up hot lunch and dinner to fire-impacted communities. All told, they delivered 1,000 meals a day across the region to families and residents who had been displaced or impacted by the blazes.

“We started at 4 a.m. to roll out the first round of hot meals for delivery by 10 a.m.,” said Dan Cenis, a long-time Red Cross volunteer who led the mobile feeding effort. “We are fortunate to have the tools and partners we need to get the job done. There is a lot of ground to cover, both on the logistics side, as well as out in the field, where we are reaching people who need help.”

The challenge was daunting yet the need was great. It was a relief to Sharon Andrews and her fellow Red Cross volunteers to know that they had the means to communicate with people in need of help or at risk. “Everything we do requires considerable human resources and technical support,” s

Red Cross mass care teams coordinate the delivery of 1,000 meals per day.

With the critical support of a Emergency Response Support Unit, Red Cross mass care teams coordinate the delivery of 1,000 meals per day.

With the resources in place to coordinate a large-scale feeding operation, Red Cross partners at the Southern Baptist Convention prepare a hot lunch for delivery.

With the resources in place to coordinate a large-scale feeding operation, Red Cross partners at the Southern Baptist Convention prepare a hot lunch for delivery.

he added. “On behalf of myself and the many Red Cross disaster workers who are serving here from all over the country, the generosity of Boeing employees has given us a vital tool to help clients during at an important time.”

Fixing the Unseen Damage: The Story of a Disaster Mental Health Volunteer

By C.J. Jones

The unyielding, destructive force of the recent Washington wildfires has undoubtedly changed the landscape of the north-central Washington area. From a distance, it can be hard for some to fathom the extent of the damage. Brett Wenger, a Red Cross volunteer of 17 years, recently finished his deployment at the area and has insight to the impact of these wildfires.

“A wildfire creates utter destruction in its sometimes vast and often capricious path,” Brett said, “leaving behind an alien landscape of black and grey seemingly devoid of life.”

Brett has seen the multiple ways a disaster can change the physical landscape. In past years, he has been deployed to assist in the aftermath of hurricanes in Louisiana and New York in addition to previous Washington wildfires. He is experienced in how a disaster can affect the mental and emotional welfare of those involved.

With a master’s degree in counseling psychology, Brett primarily works as a disaster mental health volunteer. His 25 years of experience has provided useful in assisting victims of the recent wildfires. During his 10-day deployment in August, one of Brett’s main responsibilities included reaching out to people impacted by the fires.

“I reached out to the property owners living in the nearby and remote surrounding canyon lands burned by the fires,” Brett said. “I attended a fire briefing each morning to learn the status of the fire’s growth and which areas of the burn were being re-opened for property owners to check on their homes.”

Brett worked with a team of Red Cross volunteers that also provided clean-up supplies in addition to emotional support. Some local residents he met were returning to the area for the first time since evacuating, and only to find burnt remnants of their homes. One family’s story stuck with him.

“They were horse owners and they were far more impacted by the loss of their animals than their buildings,” Brett explained. “They spoke of the loss as one might [speak] of losing a beloved friend or family member.”

One family lost seven of eight horses. Brett and other Red Cross volunteers provided a space for the family to honor the memory of their horses, which is helpful for the grieving process. Brett added that the family was thankful they still had one of their horses and ready to start cleaning up with the help of new tools. “We offer various ways to help to families as they navigate the complex, emotional landscape of dealing with disaster,” Brett said, adding the most important skill: “We just asked the questions

Red Cross and Premera Blue Cross Team Up to Host Save-A-Life Saturday 2015

Brett Wenger joined this team of volunteers near Chelan, WA to provide emotional support to residents impacted by the wildfires.

and then listened.”

So, What’s Your Plan? Going Home and Lessons Learned

The Red Cross responded to the Chelan Area Wildfire, August 2015. This is a 4-part personal account of volunteer service by Carlin Comm.

Carlin Comm, based in Austin, Texas, was visiting his parents in central Washington when a fierce firestorm struck nearby in the small, resort town of Chelan. He joined his father, Garth Comm, a local Red Cross volunteer, to deploy with a recovery team to distribute supplies and provide emotional support to residents that were impacted by the devastating wildfires.

The Pacific Northwest—like Texas where I live and like every part of the country—has its own kind of disaster threats. Fire, flood, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes, volcanoes – each brings its own unique challenges. The wildfires in Washington state reminded me of some pretty important lessons. At the top of the list: make a plan, ahead of time.

Sometimes you can shelter in place, others you’ll need to evacuate. Don’t wait to evacuate. Make a 72-hour plan. Have a kit packed, and ready supplies to survive comfortably on your own for the first three days. Clothes, snacks and food, water. Work gloves and boots. It might be a few days before any help gets to you. The power will probably go out, so have batteries for flashlights, radio, etc. And remember, gas stations can only pump gas when there’s power, so it’s a smart plan to refill your tanks when you’re down to half a tank. If you store gas, do it safely, and away from your house!

Don’t expect services like water, power, phones and cell phones to be available. They probably won’t be. Make a communications plan. If you are separated from your family, you’ll want some way to get word to each other of the situation. This may include a relative in a different part of the country, who could relay messages. And designate a meeting point, an agreed upon landmark, such as a fire station or police station that would be manned.

When possible, having some kind of alternate power, such as a solar panel and battery or a generator, could keep your cell phone charged, and emergency radio working in an extended power outage.

So, what’s your plan? Mine will be not only to prepare, but to join my local Red Cross, back here in Austin.

Looking Beyond the Backburns and Bizarre Scenes: After Response, Recovery

The Red Cross responded to the Chelan Area Wildfire, August 2015. This is a 4-part personal account of volunteer service by Carlin Comm.

Carlin Comm, based in Austin, Texas, was visiting his parents in central Washington when a fierce firestorm struck nearby in the small, resort town of Chelan. He joined his father, Garth Comm, a local Red Cross volunteer, to deploy with a recovery team to distribute supplies and provide emotional support to residents that were impacted by the devastating wildfires.

Friday  – 21 August 2015

Together, Brett, my dad and I visited an area that was even more isolated and remote, tucked away in very narrow canyons. Late last night the utility crews had restored power, so most residents we met had well water available again.

We saw such a bizarre scene: house after house, where the fire had burned right up to the edge of the property. There was a visible line maybe 50 feet in some cases, and charred black and ash beyond that. This was the work of a fire crew and truck that had reached every accessible residence for a “backburn,” which is intended to burn the fuel away from the houses. A very surreal sight emerged beyond the house. Cars, storage buildings, all burned to the ground.

The fire was very unpredictable. In a completely burned area, we found a meadow that was utterly untouched. Further up the road, we saw a pair of deer, walking up a blackened hill, between smoldering trees.

Even with all the loss and damage, the residents we met were surprisingly upbeat and positive. They appreciated us stopping by to check on them. While they were out cleaning up, they were also looking ahead, making plans to rebuild or replace what had been lost.

Part 3 coming Thursday, September 24

Red Cross Continues to Assist Wildfire-Impacted Residents: Contact Hotline 509-670-5331

The American Red Cross continues to help those affected by the recent wildfires in Okanogan and Chelan Counties. For anyone with urgent needs caused by the wildfires, we ask that you please call our hotline at 509-670-5331 by Wednesday, September 30.

Over the past five weeks since major wildfires began in Central, Northern and Eastern Washington, more than 400 Red Cross workers operated 17 evacuation shelters, resulting in more than 1,000 overnight stays. Our nurses and mental health professionals worked directly with people impacted by the fires to provide access to health services and emotional support on more than 2,300 occasions and we have provided more than 26,000 meals and snacks.

The Red Cross responds to emergencies to help provide for the urgent needs of disaster victims. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, we focus on providing safe shelter, feeding and trained emergency workers to offer first aid and health services, mental health and emotional support, and to distribute emergency relief supplies such as comfort kits and cleaning supplies.

The Red Cross also plays a critical role in helping families and communities get back on their feet in the weeks and months after a disaster. Trained Red Cross caseworkers meet one-on-one with people to help them navigate what often can be a confusing and complicated world of disaster recovery. Red Cross caseworkers can help people create tailored, individual recovery plans, complete paperwork and find help from other agencies. To help communities recover, the Red Cross often brings together groups and agencies so they can coordinate recovery efforts and plan activities together.

Jacqueline M. Koch
Regional Communications Program Manager

American Red Cross

Office: 206.726.3520

Mobile:  206.799.3194