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County’s Red Cross in jeopardy

In 1898, western Nevada County citizens made bandages and sent them to the Presidio in San Francisco to help the American Red Cross in its efforts for the Spanish American War.

Now, after more than 107 years of service, the western Nevada County chapter of the American Red Cross is in danger of closing its doors and needs local dollars to survive.

“We’re not 30 days from closing, but we’re extremely close,” said local board Chairman Jeff Dunning.



County Red Cross officials said Wednesday that residents have been generous in recent years, but many donors do not understand that money they gave for 9/11 or Indian Ocean tsunami victims does not trickle back down to the county chapter.

“The local chapters are only funded by the communities they serve,” said Susan King, manager of the local office. “The national organization does not send money to us. If we don’t have donations from folks in the community, we don’t have a chapter.”




Dunning said donors tend to get tapped out by helping with national and international disaster aid and often forget about community needs. Problems were compounded when Executive Director John Zwerver left a few months ago for health and personal reasons, Dunning said.

Without a director, fund-raising efforts are handled by local volunteers, who can get burned out, Dunning said. Overall, there has been a loss of funding for local programs such as:

• Disaster preparedness, including supplies in place for large wildfires.

• A database to locate seniors and the disabled in time of disaster.

• Training to get people ready for disasters.

• Emergency funding and housing for local house fire victims.

• First Aid and CPR classes.

• Lifeguard training.

• Special communications with locals in the military.

“The assumption is things are fine because we’re always there,” said Jim O’Brien, local board vice chairman. “The whole idea is to be prepared for disaster, but we can’t be if we can’t keep the doors open.”

For years, “small donations have been our lifeblood, but we need a major transfusion,” O’Brien said.

The chapter will have a meeting at 6 p.m. tonight to discuss its plight, Dunning said. The office is at 144 Hughes Road, Suite G, in Grass Valley.

How to help

To help the American Red Cross, Western Nevada County Chapter:

• Call in credit card donations Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 272-3265.

• Drop in at the local office at 144 Hughes Road, Suite G, Grass Valley.

• Make a check out to American Red Cross, Western Nevada County Chapter. Mail it to American Red Cross, Western Nevada County Chapter, P.O. Box 250, Grass Valley 95945. Make sure it is made out to the local chapter as listed in the sentence above.


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