On Saturday December, 7th, AARBF welcomed survivors and their family members to our annual Central Valley Holiday Party! The event was filled with different fun activities for the family. We saw many hugs, silly faces and big smiles at our photo booth, great holiday crafts and yummy cookies! The most exciting part of the day was seeing Santa come in in the lit, very loud big red Fire truck!! Only the cool Santa’s arrive on a fire Truck! Following Santa’s arrival, families proceeded to take their family picture and then they were able to pick out a toy! It was a very fun filled time, we are always glad and excited to see everyone every year! We wish you all very happy and safe holidays!
A huge thank you to our beloved “Teddy” for leading the crafts table where everyone was able to create different Christmas beaded crafts. Our very own, “Bubbles” led the cookie decorating table on top of helping bake many of the cookies we had for decorating. Thank you to the local Clovis Fire Department Crew on duty at station #1, as they were able to escort our Santa to the Rodeo Grounds! We are very appreciative of our Reedley explorers and firefighters who donate their time year after year! We also wanted to give a big shout out to Fresno Chaffee Zoo for donating tickets to gift to our families so that they may enjoy a day out together throughout the year!
Last but not least, to all of our amazing volunteers, we cannot express enough how much we appreciate you all. So many of our events could not happen without you all! Thank you for Hydra, Jessica and Isabel for doing an amazing job at the registration table. Thank you to Sprout, Gerald, Poindexter, D, Bear and Alfonso for helping with cookies, presents, pictures and so much more!
AARBF Hosts Holiday Party at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
On December 7, 2019 the annual Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Holiday Party in San Jose, CA got off to a great start with arts and crafts, entertainment and lots of joy in the Santa Store! As families arrived, children were able to decorate cookies, make ornaments and make beaded jewelry. One by one, kids were also able to go shopping in the Santa Store so that they could get gifts for their parents – a little way to say “I love you!” After enjoying some hot dogs and pizza, everyone was able to enjoy some live music entertainment until the big event… the arrival of Santa Claus!
A special thank you to Linda Carrier who, year after year, works tirelessly to make this holiday party so special for the San Jose Burn Community. We’d also like to thank Santa Clara County Firefighters and Santa Clara County Fire Department for volunteering and Bank of the West for their staff volunteers and generous donations every year!
AARBF Welcomes Burn Survivors (and Super Heroes) to the Southern California Holiday Party
On Sunday, December 8, 2019, AARBF hosted the So Cal Holiday Party for burn survivors and their families at the Montebello Senior Center. One hundred and twenty burn survivors and their families were in attendance for this fun filled day! There were photos with Santa, a holiday-themed Photo booth, lunch, cookie decorating, coloring contest and a special visit from the Montebello Fire Department and the Avengers!
A great big thanks to the Avenger Initiative for providing visits with Spiderman, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Winter Solider. Also special thanks to Fabiola “ Hamster Velazquez,” Eunice Villa, Lynne Gjertson the Montebello Fire Department, Bob Rebbe, Jose and Gina Rodriguez and Russ and Linda Charvonia for making this holiday party so special!
Santa Arrives to the East Bay Holiday Party Thanks to the Berkeley Fire Department
On December 8, 2019, more than 100 burn survivors and their family members gathered at the Frances Albrier Community Center in Berkeley for an afternoon of entertainment, food and fun! The East Bay Holiday Party included tons of arts and crafts, great food and sweet treats! The Berkeley Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 1227 provided a delicious barbeque lunch and the Berkeley firefighters also helped a special guest arrive… Santa Claus! Santa brought joy to everyone as guests were able to take a photo with him and then receive a toy. Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers and donors who made this special day possible!
Clovis Dinner Firefighters and Dance Raises More than $55,000 for AARBF
On December 14, 2019, Chris “Rocks” Bridger from the Clovis Firefighters Emerald Society along with his wife Heather “Willow” Bridger, spearheaded AARBF’s largest annual fundraiser, the Clovis Firefighters Dinner and Dance. This annual event, held at the Clovis Rodeo and Fairgrounds, included a silent auction, live auction, dinner, dessert auction, dancing and more! There were a number of familiar faces including Rocks, Willow, Chuckles, Shakespeare, Jem, Apollo, Scooter, Kika, Bubbles, Cobra, Sunflower, Hydra, Redvine, Chip Suey, Brooklyn, Kitty, Flamingo, Pine Cone and more!! It was a great evening of fun and fundraising, raising more than $55,000 for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation!
Thank you to the Clovis Firefighters Emerald Society, Rocks, Willow, Chuckles, Kiwanis Club of Clovis and all of the generous donors, burn survivors and guests in attendance! We are so grateful for this event and cannot wait until December 2020 for the next one!
AARBF Welcomes Meagan Downey and McKenzie Dern to the AARBF Team!
The first of the year brought some exciting new changes for AARBF! AARBF welcomed McKenzie Dern as its Regional Manager- Central California and Meagan Downey as its Development Director. We are also proud to announce that AARBF’s former Regional Manager- Central California, Erika Mendoza, has transitioned into AARBF’s Resource Development Manager position!
McKenzie Dern joined the team in January 2020 as the Regional Manager- Central California. Her journey with AARBF started years prior to her coming on board fulltime. She became part of AARBF three years ago as a Champ Camp Counselor. Since then, she has participated in various regional trips such as Monterey Bay Aquarium Sleepover and the Outdoor Trip and assisted in the Clovis Dinner and Dance Fundraiser. McKenzie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from the California State University, Fresno.
McKenzie brings a unique perspective to our team by being the daughter of a burn survivor. Her experiences as family member of a survivor allow her to be able to connect to not just the survivor but their family members and friends as well. She understands just how much a burn injury can impact a family. She is also well versed in the ways of her local fire departments and considers them to be a big part of her family. McKenzie believes that a burn survivor is a symbol of strength, perseverance, and motivation. She wholeheartedly believes that family members, friends, and first responders associated with that patient are survivors too. For McKenzie it is important to her to make sure that no survivor or their family feels alone through the process of healing, surviving and ultimately thriving.
Meagan Downey first became involved with AARBF in 2013, when she was hired as a Development Consultant for AARBF. She started her engagement with the organization, training the Board on fundraising, and has been with the organization ever since! She has helped nonprofits of various sizes and mission areas realize aggressive growth and diversification in their fundraising programs for over two decades. She started her career as a “one-woman development shop,” leading fundraising and external affairs for human services organizations in the Chicago area. In her role as Vice President of Development and Marketing for two large federated health care organizations, she built and led teams focused on major gifts, capital campaigns, grant writing and annual fundraising.
Meagan holds a Masters in Business Administration from Champlain College and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from DePaul University. She obtained a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis in 2006 and has been a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) since 2009. She is honored to bring her passion for human services, health and education to her role as Resource Development Director for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. In addition to serving as Resource Development Director for AARBF, Meagan provides counsel to nonprofit clients across the country in her role as Senior Vice President of Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt, one of the nation’s top fundraising consulting firms. She also lectures at the undergraduate and graduate levels on nonprofit management, communications, and building a culture of philanthropy.
Giving Tuesday refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It is a movement to create an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday). This year Giving Tuesday was held on December 3, 2019, and our donors and supporters showed up in a BIG way! More than $11,000 was raised within 24 hours on Giving Tuesday! Special thanks to our Board Members and Bad Fish Beer for your support of this day of giving!
• Northern California Volunteer Opportunities
- Volunteers Needed for the Santa Clara Firefighters Crab Feed on 2/15/20! AARBF is looking for volunteers interested in setting up and manning an AARBF for this fun-filled event. Volunteers should be comfortable with speaking with the public and willing to teach burn prevention messages. Please contact Erika “Kika” Mendoza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-286-0710 ext. 17 for more details.
- Each year, AARBF partners with the San Francisco Fire Department to educate thousands of kids in fire and burn prevention. This program also entails pre- and post- tests to track learning. We need help pairing students’ pre- and post- tests and scanning them so that they can be graded by a computer program and analyzed by a statistician.
- General office administrative tasks such as printing, filing, mailings, data entry, organization, etc. Please contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at email@example.com or 415-495-7223 x19 for more details.
- Central California Volunteer Opportunities
- Please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 if you have interest in volunteering for the following:
- We are always looking for volunteers to help spread burn prevention education in their local community at outreach events!
- Southern California Volunteer Opportunities
- Please contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at email@example.com or 818-848-0223 x16 if you have interest in any of the following:
- We are always looking for volunteers to help spread burn prevention education in their local community at outreach events!
- Please contact Jan “Tabby” Share at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-848-0223 if you have interest in any of the following:
- We have an opportunity to assist as a volunteer in our Pasadena office with administrative duties such as filing.
- Statewide Volunteer Opportunities
- Do you enjoy data management, input and/or making calls to our amazing volunteers and community partners? We are in need of a volunteer to assist us in staying up to date with contact information for volunteers, donors, and community partners (such as fire departments). Please contact Erika “Kika” Mendoza at email@example.com or 559-286-0710 ext. 17 for more details.
- February 2-8: National Burn Awareness Week
- February 2: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 with any questions.
- February 4: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Santa Clara Valley Medical Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at email@example.com or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.
- February 5: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), East Bay Burn Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.
- February 6: Central Valley Firefighters Burn Relay, contact Erika “Kika” Mendoza at email@example.com or 559-286-0710 ext. 17 for more details.
- February 11: (6:00pm-7:30pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 with any questions.
- February 12: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), Santa Rosa Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at email@example.com or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.
- February 13: (6:00pm – 7:30pm), Modesto Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 with any questions.
- February 15: Santa Clara City Firefighters Crab Feed, contact Erika “Kika” Mendoza at email@example.com or 559-286-0710 ext. 17 for more details.
- February 14-17: Young Adult Summit, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.
- February 14-17, The Retreat, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at email@example.com or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 with any questions.
- February 20: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Online Video Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to RSVP.
- February 27: (11:30am – 1:00pm), Saint Francis Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at email@example.com or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.
- February 29: Champ Camp Counselor Applications Deadline, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to RSVP.