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Volunteer Road Warriors Help Save Lives

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The gratification of this job comes from knowing you are helping others in their time of need ...

It’s 7 a.m. on a Sunday, and Lori Amodio is headed to Central Washington Hospital to deliver blood to their clinical lab. She sits behind the wheel of a white Dodge Caravan and goes over her checklist, making note of routine vehicle maintenance that is needed and writing down her list of codes for the hospital. Today she is transporting two large boxes. One is plasma, the other is blood.

As lead driver, Amodio, Yakima County Transportation Specialist for the Red Cross, delivers blood to hospitals, keeps track of vehicle maintenance and gives new drivers orientation on the procedures for driving Red Cross vehicles.

Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S. The needs of patients in hospitals throughout Central and Southeastern Washington and throughout the Northwest are taken care of because of volunteers like Lori who make sure blood donations are delivered.

Lori has driven for the Red Cross for two years and drives routes to Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Yakima, Tri Cities, Ellensburg and even Hermiston, Oregon.

“I decided to become a volunteer because I love to drive and I get to help save lives,” said Amodio. “I am inspired by all the lives I help save by getting the much needed blood to the hospital for surgeries and emergencies.”

It’s no small feat. Especially considering this year’s winter weather. With temperatures hovering around zero degrees for several months, Red Cross blood transportation specialists have had to brave icy road conditions and compact snow. Even so, these volunteers made sure every hospital shift was filled.

Volunteers collectively drive approximately 20,000 miles per month. Most runs are on an average of 5 hours. “These drivers keep our schedule of approximately 70 shifts per month filled at 100 percent,” says Lynne Calmus, Volunteer Engagement Representative for the American Red Cross serving the Pacific Northwest Region. “They are ready to hit the road at a moment’s notice.”

These volunteers give more than just their time. Ron Rockstrom helped finance the purchase of two vehicles for the transportation team. “We had a fleet of six vehicles, but looking down the road, I knew it would be needed,” said Rockstrom. His donation helped the Red Cross purchase two Ford Escape SUVs. “My mom was a 30-year veteran volunteer for the Red Cross, and I thought it was a fitting way to honor her service.”

Many volunteers have a long history with the Red Cross. Red Cross driver David Rodriguez has such a history, going back to 1970.

“In May I lost my older brother in Vietnam. Both of us had enlisted in the Marine Corps and with him in Vietnam I was stationed in Hawaii. ARC was there for our family in this time of need.” says Rodriguez.

A volunteer for over four years now, Rodriguez enjoys being a part of the work the Red Cross and says, “the gratification of this job comes from knowing you are helping others in their time of need and that we are making a difference.”

Fellow driver Peter De Keles agrees. “It’s a tangible reward,” he said. De Keles has also volunteered as a driver for over four years.

These drivers do amazing work. Without them, the Red Cross could not continue to supply 40 percent of the nation’s blood to hospitals.

The need for more volunteer drivers still exists all over Washington and Oregon.

“If you like to drive, being a courier is a lot of fun. Go out there and make a difference in other people’s lives. The Red Cross does that every day. You can be a part of that, if you volunteer some of your spare time,” says Amodio.

If you like to drive and would like to be a part of this life saving Volunteer Transportation Team in your local area, call 503-528-5430.

When you do, Amodio and her team will show you how to be a Road Warrior.