Supporting Katrina victims: Carson City residents volunteer with Red Cross |

Supporting Katrina victims: Carson City residents volunteer with Red Cross

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/NEVADA APPEAL Tina Baldassare, from left clockwise, Ginger Elsner, Gary Blake and Liz Wingfield talk to the media during a break in the Red Cross training in Reno on Saturday. Baldassare and Wingfield are sisters. The four volunteers live in the Carson City area.

RENO – Sisters Tina Baldassare and Liz Wingfield are already planning what to pack if they are called to join the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

“About 20 pairs of underwear,” said Baldassare, of Dayton.

“And baby wipes and baby powder and hand sanitizer,” said Wingfield, of Carson city. “No make-up.”

The women were part of a group of 100 Northern Nevadans receiving emergency response training Saturday by the American Red Cross at the Public Safety Regional Training Center.

If these volunteers make it through the selection process, they could be sent to the Gulf Coast as soon as Sept. 12.

And this is something that fills Baldassare and Wingfield with excitement. They call themselves the “sister act.” But after peeling away the layer of exuberance, what’s left is anxiousness buoyed by their commitment to the Christian doctrines of service and sacrifice.

“We’ll be singing praise music while we’re there,” said Wingfield, 47, who wore a tie-dyed shirt and peace symbol earrings.

She’s retired and has the mandatory three weeks of time available to volunteer.

“We can’t give a lot of money but we can give time,” said Baldassare, 40, before they headed back to class.

She has permission to take the time off from her job with the State Commission on Economic Development.

Carson City general contractor Steve Koch is also hoping to help out with the relief effort.

“It looks like there’s a real need for people to help and I’ve always liked to do this kind of stuff,” he said.

Carissa Snedeker, a Silver Springs woman who works with the Nevada State Democratic Party, said her husband, Brad, is very supportive of her desire to help Katrina victims.

“I’m holding strong to my Christian faith, which says, ‘whatsoever you do for the least of these, you do for me,’ that’s what Jesus said,” Snedeker said.

Minden resident Dan Kaffer, a conservationist, is still unsure if he can take the three weeks off work. But the devastation he’s seen on the news compelled him to check out the class.

Today another 100 people will take this class, said Red Cross spokeswoman Randi Thompson. Another 30 nurses have signed up for the medical training class on Tuesday.

Thompson said the next stop for these new volunteers is the one-on-one interview. Red Cross staff will make sure each person is physically and mentally prepared to go. Then the volunteers will be placed where most needed.

The Red Cross has 275 shelters set up in the Gulf Coast, serving 76,000 victims.

— Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

You can help

Northern Nevada Chapter of the Red Cross, 1090 Corporate Dr.

For information about the classes or to pledge money, call 856-1000 or go online at