By Lucca Lorenzi, Public Affairs Volunteer
Mary Bastos has served the Central California Red Cross Region for over four years, but her propensity to help others began long before she became a Red Cross volunteer. At a young age, Bastos’ parents instilled in her the importance of dedicating their time to helping others; her father was a firefighter while her mother volunteered throughout their home community in Caracas, Venezuela.
Bastos’ compassion became her compass. Bastos’ volunteer work has led her to travel to several communities across the world, such as India, Peru, Dubia, and the United States, meet her husband, and find her home as the Spanish Media Relations Leader and Disaster Action Team volunteer for Red Cross’s Central California Region.
Bastos first moved to the United States on a missionary trip in Miami, Florida, for the Food for Life organization. It was in Florida where she met her husband, Mark Myers. After 12 years in Florida, Bastos and her husband moved to Austin, Texas. There, Bastos opened a dance studio and volunteered as an ambassador for both the Diabetes Association and Heart Association. She also worked as a part-time community health worker.
After 10 years in Texas, Bastos’ husband received a job opportunity at Fresno’s Veterans Administration Hospital as a doctor/pharmacist. The couple eagerly moved to Fresno, California where Bastos would discover and begin her volunteer journey with the Red Cross.
Bastos began distributing pamphlets and informational flyers for a Red Cross home fire preparedness campaign. Since then, she has gone on to be a Red Cross spokesperson, a disaster recovery caseworker, and an expert at Zoom presentations with community organizations. Most importantly, she’s one of the most compassionate humanitarians you’ll ever meet. “Being a part of this organization and helping your community is the best way to spend your time,” Bastos stated.
Bastos’ volunteer work has led to her meeting with the Mexican Consulate, local elected officials, and Governor Newsom and then Senator Kamala Harris (now Vice President) during last year’s Creek Fire relief efforts. However, for Bastos, meeting families from various disaster-stricken communities has been the most rewarding of interactions and humbling experiences. “It doesn’t matter who you are,” she said, “the Red Cross treats every human with respect.”
One of the greatest things I have learned from the Red Cross is the importance of being prepared. When you have all of the tools, the recovery process is less challenging. It’s very simple to prepare a kit, have a plan, and be informed about what is happening in your community.”Mary Bastos
The month of September is recognized as National Preparedness Month. Mary goes above and beyond to ensure her local community has the resources they need before, during and after a disaster. As a Disaster Services volunteer, Bastos stated, “The Red Cross has taught me to be prepared in life.”