Silver Falls Instructor Receives Prestigious Red Cross Award

Kirsten Barnes providing flood assessment work as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.

Kirsten Barnes providing flood assessment work as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.

Congratulations to Silver Falls teacher Kirsten Barnes who won the Presidential Award for Excellence from the American Red Cross. Barnes, a social studies and multi-media teacher at Silverton High School, was recognized for her work to design a Red Cross training institute for disaster workers. She shared the award with two other Oregon women who worked with her on the project.

The highly prestigious award is presented annually by the Red Cross to an employee or volunteer who demonstrates superior job performance aligning with Red Cross strategic priorities and initiatives. Barnes will travel to Washington, D.C. in March to collect the award at the Red Cross’ national awards dinner and ceremony.

Barnes is an avid Red Cross volunteer. She joined the organization in 2010 in order to help the Silverton community during disasters. She has since completed more than 20 training classes and participated in disaster relief operations all over the country.

“I believe strongly in the mission of the Red Cross to ‘prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,’” she said.

The disaster worker training program that Barnes helped design was initially intended to train qualified disaster workers in one weekend and have them ready to serve on a disaster operation. The day after the initial training program, the Moore, Oklahoma tornado struck and many of the individuals who had completed the training went to Oklahoma to assist with the disaster recovery efforts.

“We had thought the event was a success, but the job performance of the individuals who deployed to serve proved it to be even greater than we had thought,” said Barnes.  “Last year the events grew and we coordinated 11 major training events across Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the Marianas Islands. This year it is nationwide.”