PALMDALE – After three-and-a-half years, American Red Cross Executive Director, Jeff Baumgartner will return to a place close to his heart as the newly appointed Community Chapter Executive for the Florida Keys. Jeff will continue to work with the American Red Cross in the South Florida Region.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Baumgartner. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with the Red Cross in the Antelope Valley. Thanks to so many supporters, partners, volunteers and donors, the AV Chapter of the American Red Cross is in great shape, and with a strong foundation is poised to continue growing and delivering much needed services to the community.”
The Antelope Valley Chapter (a jurisdiction of 4300sq miles and population of 500,000) joined the Los Angeles Region in 2010, a move to consolidate back office functions for operating efficiency.
“We are much stronger working together as part of the Los Angeles Region,” Baumgartner said, “and still able to maintain our unique local identity.”
In 2010, the local Red Cross worked closely with LA Region Disaster Services to establish Antelope Valley’s first Disaster Action Team (DAT) and preparedness education cadre, increasing capacity to prepare and respond to disasters. Since inception, volunteers have responded to more than 120 local incidents, a train derailment and multiple wildfires, most recently the Powerhouse Wildfire, during which the Red Cross sheltered 160 community members evacuated from their homes.
“What first comes to mind, are the volunteers we train, and the clients whom they serve. Many people probably don’t realize that we have trained, background checked volunteers on call 24/7 to respond to local emergencies,” Baumgartner points out. “I’m reminded of a family we assisted on Christmas night in 2011. That family returned to their house to find it destroyed by fire; Red Cross volunteers responded when called to provide immediate emergency assistance for their basic needs.” The family has since joined with the Red Cross at events to share their story.
Working with a compassionate and dedicated Board of Directors, the local chapter successfully engaged the media to tell the Red Cross story, creating awareness and support for the local Red Cross unit.
From 2010 to 2013, a new fundraising infrastructure yielded a 200 percent increase in revenue. In addition, growth included a new Youth and Young Adult program, and state certified Nurse Assistant Training classes, while maintaining strong blood collections, CPR & First Aid training and a positive relationship with Edward’s Air Force Base.
The Antelope Valley Chapter, American Red Cross is currently recruiting a new Executive Director; interested candidates can apply at Redcross.org.
There are many other ways to get involved. Please consider volunteering, giving blood, taking a class or making a donation to your local Red Cross.