By: Anna Hiatt
Edited by: Nancy Waddell
On December 31, 2015, a catastrophic apartment fire broke out in South Everett in an older, World War II era building. One person died and 15 were injured, but many more were left in need of help.
The Red Cross responded to the Casino Road fire, but so did another organization called Hand in Hand. Their mission is to help children in the foster care system and low-income families in the greater Snohomish County region. Since that night, the Red Cross and Hand in Hand have maintained contact and continued to partner on efforts to support the local community.
Jorge Galindo, a volunteer with Hand in Hand Kids, remembers the night of the fire.
“I showed up at the Red Cross shelter because I was bilingual, and could help be a translator for people who spoke limited English.” Galindo recalls that “The Red Cross embraced the families we work with at Hand in Hand, and we in turn were able to partner with them and coordinate for their needs.”
The Red Cross provided shelter and disaster services for the displaced residents, while Hand in Hand Kids helped with food, clothing and translating for families with bilingual needs. “By working together, we were able to partner and support those who needed help,” said Galindo.
Hand in Hand’s Angela Edwards and her counterpart at the Red Cross, Eddie Williams, both agree that having these partnerships in the community strengthens the impact each can make. Edwards adds that “There are many family support networks out in the community to partner with. When we all partner together, we make sure we meet the needs of the community but don’t duplicate services. If there are more resources for the community, it will make a big difference.”
A big reason why Hand in Hand Kids partners with the Red Cross Serving Snohomish County is because of residential fires. Edwards explains that at Hand in Hand, “We can’t do the sheltering and emergency response. In return, we get calls from the Red Cross looking for resources and can point them where to go.”
The two organizations extended their partnership to include training for future fire prevention. “We had someone from the Red Cross come and educate our Hand in Hand Kids community on the importance of smoke alarms,” said Edwards. “We got about 20 people in the community to sign up for this Red Cross training. That was definitely a need and a fear because many of the people we serve are living in quarters that aren’t always adequately equipped for fire prevention.”
Next, the organizations will expand the beneficial relationship by offering Red Cross CPR and Emergency Preparedness classes in Spanish this summer to the bilingual and Spanish-speaking clients of Hand in Hand Kids. Galindo commented that “We are hoping that there aren’t more disasters in the future. We aren’t an agency that is used to working with crisis like that! We want to remind people the importance of being prepared in a way they can understand best. Let’s not wait until fires start, before we try to prevent them.”
To help with the Spanish language classes or other aspects of emergency preparedness, contact the Snohomish County Red Cross at (425) 252-4103.