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First-ever Red Cross Experience was a success

Bainbridge Island resident Norma Smith, 82, has been involved with the Red Cross for more than 50 years. - Kevan Moore
Bainbridge Island resident Norma Smith, 82, has been involved with the Red Cross for more than 50 years.
— image credit: Kevan Moore

Bremerton’s first ever Red Cross Experience coincided with  the June 6 First Friday Arts Walk and dozens of volunteers donning red t-shirts and reflective vests got a chance to meet and mingle with residents strolling along Pacific Avenue.

As part of the event, residents were able to see what an emergency shelter looks like and try a free meal. Folks could also go home with a free emergency kit that included a blanket, light stick, water pouch, whistle and mask. Several youngsters enjoyed the chance to climb into a pair of fire trucks since the Bremerton Fire Department, along with the Bremerton Rotary, were event co-sponsors.

“It really was intended to be a community open house to educate people about the Red Cross, showcase our amazing volunteers and spread the word about emergency preparedness,” said Red Cross West Sound Director Karen McKay Bevers.

McKay Bevers said it’s Red Cross volunteers that really make the organization tick.

“Our volunteers are not only critical to us as an organization, but they are the best people to help promote the Red Cross,” she said. “They are passionate about what they do. We have people who are on disaster action teams that get up in the middle of the night to help people. This event was a celebration of all our volunteers and gave them some recognition for the work they do.”

One of those volunteers that was on hand at the event was 82-year-old Bainbridge Island resident Norma Smith. She’s been with the Red Cross for more than 50 years. She first started with the Red Cross as a student nurse and is licensed as an RN through 2017.

“I’m not sure I’ll renew it after that,” Smith said, noting that she’s at the Bremerton Red Cross office at least once a week, sometimes twice. “When I retired, I went back to teaching CPR, now I just come to play.”

It’s clear that Smith is a big presence at the Red Cross.

“You can always count on Norma,” McKay Bevers said. “Plus, she makes awesome cookies and delicious pickles.”

McKay Bevers said there about 200 West Sound Red Cross volunteers. The Bremerton office is part of the Seattle Chapter, serving King, Kitsap and Mason counties. In all, there are about 2,200 volunteers.

“People often see us on TV after a large scale disaster, but don’t have reason to give much thought about what we do 40 to 50 times a year, with most of those being house fires,”  McKay Bevers said.

Last year alone, the local Red Cross chapter responded to more than 200 disasters; reached more than 24,000 youth and adults with safety and preparedness training; assisted 734 military families and individuals with emergency communications, welfare inquiries and other services; and brought together 2,175 local volunteers who gave 116,843 service hours of time and expertise.

As part of the event, residents were able to see what an emergency shelter looks like and try a free meal. Folks could also go home with a free emergency kit that included a blanket, light stick, water pouch, whistle and mask. Several youngsters enjoyed the chance to climb into a pair of fire trucks since the Bremerton Fire Department, along with the Bremerton Rotary, were event co-sponsors.

“It really was intended to be a community open house to educate people about the Red Cross, showcase our amazing volunteers and spread the word about emergency preparedness,” said Red Cross West Sound Director Karen McKay Bevers.

McKay Bevers said it’s Red Cross volunteers that really make the organization tick.

“Our volunteers are not only critical to us as an organization, but they are the best people to help promote the Red Cross,” she said. “They are passionate about what they do. We have people who are on disaster action teams that get up in the middle of the night to help people. This event was a celebration of all our volunteers and gave them some recognition for the work they do.”

One of those volunteers that was on hand at the event was 82-year-old Bainbridge Island resident Norma Smith. She’s been with the Red Cross for more than 50 years. She first started with the Red Cross as a student nurse and is licensed as an RN through 2017.

“I’m not sure I’ll renew it after that,” Smith said, noting that she’s at the Bremerton Red Cross office at least once a week, sometimes twice. “When I retired, I went back to teaching CPR, now I just come to play.”

It’s clear that Smith is a big presence at the Red Cross.

“You can always count on Norma,” McKay Bevers said. “Plus, she makes awesome cookies and delicious pickles.”

McKay Bevers said there about 200 West Sound Red Cross volunteers. The Bremerton office is part of the Seattle Chapter, serving King, Kitsap and Mason counties. In all, there are about 2,200 volunteers.

“People often see us on TV after a large scale disaster, but don’t have reason to give much thought about what we do 40 to 50 times a year, with most of those being house fires,”  McKay Bevers said.

Last year alone, the local Red Cross chapter responded to more than 200 disasters; reached more than 24,000 youth and adults with safety and preparedness training; assisted 734 military families and individuals with emergency communications, welfare inquiries and other services; and brought together 2,175 local volunteers who gave 116,843 service hours of time and expertise.

 

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