Saturday , June 17, 2017 - 5:00 AM
EDEN — If only one person could embody the American Red Cross’s commitment to changing lives, Liz Chicado likely is the best choice.
The Clinton resident received a rare 45-year pin for her 30,000 logged hours of service Thursday at the annual celebration of the American Red Cross of Northern Utah. Chicado, 80, is retiring from the local Red Cross board of directors.
“Her humanity knows no bounds and on many occasions I was witness to her ability to inspire others through her knowledge and experience,” said Marcie Valdez, a previous Red Cross financial development director who leads community volunteers for the Northern Utah Red Cross. “She provides a tremendous example of selfless service. She is a leader who is also willing to follow as she understands what can be accomplished when we are all united.”
Chicado said it’s all because she believes in the Red Cross.
“When you really like the organization you work for and with, you just feel it’s the thing to do,” she said. “I was brought up to believe that you need to do something to make up for the space you take up on the Earth.”
Chicado got her start with the Red Cross teaching swimming classes because she wanted to improve opportunities for her own children.
Married to a serviceman, Chicado moved 18 times in 22 years. She frequently set up swimming programs in new communities and left them for others to manage when she was gone.
In 1972, she was asked to train three young, black college graduates to be lifeguards. Their only previous experience with swimming was in rivers.
“To work with somebody who has not had that experience who has no idea how to have comfort level with water, makes it quite challenging,” she said. “This recreational facility could be used by African-Americans if they could get lifeguards to man it.”
All three of her students finished the program in time with her urging, making it one of her favorite memories.
In addition to swimming, Chicado also is known for teaching other subjects.
“At one point, I don’t think there was a single health and safety trainer in the state of Utah I hadn’t had a hand in training,” Chicado said.
Besides her volunteer work, Chicado was employed at Weber State University as a swimming instructor.
Lauryn Miller, a former executive director of the Northern Utah chapter, met Chicado as a teenager learning to be a lifeguard. Passing Chicado’s certifications required preparing, practicing and understanding every aspect of the job, Miller said.
“Liz Chicado was a legend in the swimming world and at pools throughout the area,” she said. “She was known as a tough swim instructor. She had high expectations for her students and wanted them to succeed. They were never allowed to cut corners or take the easy path.”
Two decades later, Miller was working as the financial development director for the Northern Utah Red Cross chapter.
“Liz had an incredible influence on me and my career,” Miller said. “She helped me and many others develop our writing. There wasn’t a letter, grant or promotional piece that went out of the office without Liz proofreading and editing it. In fact, there were many times that Liz actually did the graphic design and layout of annual reports and promotional pieces for the American Red Cross of Northern Utah.”
As board chairwoman, Chicado was behind Miller’s promotion to executive director, Miller said.
“Even after Liz completed her term as the board chair, as a board member she found other areas to support the chapter and served in key roles with the national American Red Cross,” Miller said. “Liz was and still is one of the American Red Cross’s most important and significant members, giving thousands of hours and dollars.”
Nationally, Chicado was recognized with the prestigious Clara Barton Award three times. She also received the national presidential citation for humanitarian service in 2012.
Also honored at Thursday’s annual celebration were:
— Gary Robinson, who earned the national Clara Barton Award for rare dedication to service.
— Roger Dickson, Karla Woodward and Barbara Hanlin, who all received certificates of appreciation.
— Jamal Braxton, who was named military child of the year.
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