The American Red Cross of Santa Barbara County hosted its annual Volunteer Recognition Event at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott on Sunday, Oct. 7 to honor and celebrate the hard work of its volunteers.

Red Cross volunteers go above and beyond to help others every day from responding to a family home fire at 2 a.m., to welcoming home soldiers from deployment, to teaching preparedness classes and more.

“Every hour of the day over 400 Red Cross volunteers serving the Santa Barbara County Chapter work to prevent and alleviate suffering in response to emergencies and disasters. This is an opportunity to recognize and thank them for their commitment and dedication,” said Julie McGovern, executive director.

The highest award given at a chapter level went to Marion Cozort who received the Clara Barton Award. Cozort’s leadership and expertise have enabled the Red Cross to contribute valuable service to the community in both local and national responses, as well as behind the scenes administrative, training, and client follow-up roles.

Additionally, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) was presented with the Good Neighbor Award for its generous support and corporate sponsorship of the Red Cross Ready Neighborhoods program. The program is a disaster preparedness initiative focused on ensuring that Central Coast residents and organizations that serve them are equipped with the training, resources and networks necessary to be prepared for a variety of disasters. Natalie Schaefer, community relations representative for PG&E, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

The following awards were also presented during the event:

• The Partnership Award: Tom Walton, Buellton; Jim Caesar, Santa Barbara; Yoli McGlinchey, Santa Barbara; and Roy Dugger, Lompoc

• The Good Neighbor Award: Wayne Roth, Solvang, and Ken Warkentin, Solvang

• The Disaster Services Award: Chuck Dion, Lompoc, and Rebecca Anderson, Santa Barbara

• The Health & Safety Services Award: Romeo Gonzalez, Santa Barbara

• The Rookie of the Year Award: Joey Hoecherl, Vandenberg Air Force Base

• The Unsung Hero Award: Efigenia Banales, Santa Barbara

• The Service to Armed Forces Award: Sharon Eames, Santa Maria

• The Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award: Connor Kampff, Santa Barbara

Years of service pins were also distributed with one volunteer having achieved the remarkable 50 year mark in her Red Cross volunteer career. Karen McKillip of Lompoc started with the Red Cross in 1962 at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico where she trained and worked as a nurse’s aide.

McKillip first joined the Santa Barbara County Chapter in 1977 and worked in the aquatics program teaching swimming, lifeguarding, and water safety instruction classes. Over the past several decades, she has taught at Vandenberg Air Force Base, and in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and Lompoc, training both children and adults to be competent and safe as swimmers, lifeguards, and swimming instructors.

“Volunteers are the heart of the American Red Cross as they give of themselves and ask for nothing in return,” said Anne Kratz, director of community services. “It was a joyous occasion to celebrate our volunteers and their accomplishments, which have strengthened our community.”

For more information on disaster preparedness, health and safety classes, volunteer opportunities, and financial contributions, visit www.redcross.org /santabarbara or call 687-1331.

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