Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Eddie Zamora and His Red Cross Journey

Eddie Zamora has worn many hats since his Red Cross career began in November 2015. Zamora first joined the Red Cross as the Disaster Preparedness Manager for seven counties of the Central California Region where he led a team of volunteers that educated youth, adults and organizations how to be prepared for emergencies. After several years, he then returned to the Banking industry; however, his dedication to humanitarian services work with the Red Cross didn’t end there. He continued to serve as a member of the Central Valley Chapter Board of Directors where he would go on to become the Vice Chair and eventually the Chair of the Board.

A Red Cross Volunteer educates a student during a Pillowcase Project presentation that teaches students grades 3-5 about personal and family preparedness and safety skills. Photo by Eddie Zamora.

Eddie returned as an employee at the end of December 2019 and then moved to Bakersfield in February of 2020 to take on the role as the Executive Director of the Kern County & Eastern Sierra Chapter. He leads a fantastic team of Board Members and Community Volunteer Leaders that help accomplish the mission of the Red Cross.

Eddie Zamora and Kern County & Eastern Sierras Board Members and Community Volunteer Leaders at the French Fire shelter in Lake Isabella, CA.

One key aspect of the Red Cross mission is ensuring that everyone has access to the services and assistance that the Red Cross provides. In February of 2021, Eddie was selected to lead the Latino Engagement Team for the Central California Region. Latino engagement team members perform core community engagement activities for the Red Cross with a focus on Spanish speaking communities. There are several challenges that these vulnerable populations can face including lack of trust or inclusion within the broader community. The goal of the Latino Engagement Team is to build greater trust in their respective chapters, to help create awareness of programs and assistance that are available to them by partnering with key community leaders and organizations with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and government entities to ensure that everyone is receiving equitable services from the Red Cross.

A sign thanking first responders during the Detwiler Fire in 2016. Photo by Eddie Zamora.

Over the last few weeks, Zamora has reflected on his own experiences that motivate him in daily life and work. I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but adopted as an infant. The paternal and maternal sides of my adopted family have roots that go back to Zacatecas & Jalisco, México, and in my mother’s case, Korea as well. Both my parents shared a culture influenced by their Mexican roots as first-generation Chicanos in Los Angeles and Selma, California. Some of my fondest memories incorporate the sight, sound, taste, and smell of my mom grinding comino (cumin) in her molcajete, fresh homemade tortillas hot off the comal, and the overpowering scent of toasting chile de árbol. Even more vivid is the memory of my father’s rough hands, a result of working in the vineyards. My culture and family history serves as inspiration and reminders of what it took to create the life that other generations of my family and I have enjoyed here in California.”

Throughout his life, Zamora benefited from the impact of caring individuals and mentors who helped influence him in his personal life and professional career. “Growing up there were times that we were helped by organizations such as the Community Food Bank of Fresno County or by our church for basic needs such as food. My first pair of glasses was the result of a teacher who noticed that I was always squinting in class. My mom made arrangements to have an eye exam and I most definitely needed glasses. The cost of glasses was difficult for my mother to cover so the optometrist mentioned that the local Lion’s Club in Reedley may be able to help cover the cost of my first pair of glasses which they did. For me, these stories, experiences, and memories are the filters that color my view of the world and I can see what a difference an individual or organization can have on the lives of people. My work with the Red Cross and with other organizations is a way to ensure that I am also making a difference in the life of someone else who needs assistance.” 

Sharing stories is a powerful way to help people become engaged. Since 2015, Zamora has taken hundreds of photos of Red Crossers in action. He partnered with volunteers and staff such as Cindy Huge, Debbie Dailey, Taylor Poisall, Jessica Piffero and others, on various disaster responses and day to day activities to show the work that is happening in our region. Taylor Poisall, Regional Communications Director shared, “throughout the years, many of the photos we share come from Eddie’s camera. He has a way of capturing the humanity of the Red Cross at work and the feelings that our volunteers inspire in the those we serve. At the Central California Region, we are grateful Eddie shares his extraordinary photography talents with us to help tell the all Red Cross stories.”

“Over the years, my favorite photos are those that show the emotion and impact of what is happening. Each time I look at a photo the emotions and memories come flooding back and helps to remind me of the critical work that our dedicated volunteers and staff are involved in.” 

Eddie Zamora

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month and the American Red Cross is celebrating by recognizing the many Hispanic employees, volunteers and donors who give their talent, time and treasure to the Red Cross humanitarian mission. The Red Cross is proud to be a part of the rich Spanish heritage and tradition in the United States and even more proud of the extraordinary people who mirror the diverse community we proudly serve.

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