By Mark Walker
Cecilia Gutierrez wanted to play a role in her community’s preparedness, that’s what first drew her to the American Red Cross – a commitment to help protect the lives of her friends and neighbors.
Gutierrez, 60, submitted her application online, hoping to join the Disaster Cycle Services team for her home chapter. Today, she is serving Kitsap, Clallam and Jefferson County as well as a portion of North Mason County as a member of the board of directors.
It’s not her only role in the community. She also volunteers with the Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center and is active with her Port Orchard neighborhood association. The former Californian is primarily focused on supporting outreach to and connectivity with underrepresented populations.
“Sometimes people are suspicious of our efforts,” she said, “but as a Spanish speaker I can help establish that trust.” Gutierrez has a background in facility management and fundraising. She currently works for CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, and oversees the Kaiser Permanente account throughout Northwest Washington.
She has particular interest in community preparedness and the annual Red Cross smoke alarm installation program, Sound the Alarm (STA). She took part recently in a daylong installation effort in Poulsbo, and is already talking about her involvement in 2020 STA events. She wants to bring the campaign to communities with Spanish-speaking individuals, allowing her to break down language barriers between Red Cross volunteers and residents.
As the Red Cross places greater emphasis on diversity throughout its ranks nationally and locally, Leigh Kamasz said Gutierrez is part of a “reboot” effort for the board.
“She’s a definite asset to our board and brings a focus and background to help our outreach efforts,” said Kamasz, executive director of the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsula Red Cross office. “She brings a lot of enthusiasm.”
“The Red Cross is absolutely wonderful, and I think we’re doing a good job showing our volunteers that they are valued,” she said. Although Gutierrez is also interested in one very specific recruitment effort… “we could use more board members!”
For more information and local Red Cross services, contact the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsula office in Bremerton at (360) 377-3761 or visit RedCross.org.