By Anica Tillu
Many people see retirement as a time to kick back, recline on a comfy sofa and unwind. But not Ron Brav, a man who has spent his retirement serving as an invaluable asset to the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties.
Working for the organization in Disaster Services and Logistics since the 1970s, Ron has done everything from being deployed to large disasters to taking care of everyday tasks in the warehouse. Although he no longer deploys, he continues to work in Logistics, maintaining a fleet of Red Cross vehicles, stocking the warehouse, pulling supplies for shelters and more. However, through the years, his favorite job has always remained the same: teaching. At the Red Cross he teaches many classes, including the Vehicle Workshop, Forklift, New Gen ERV, and Ready Set Roll classes. As a retired high school teacher, Ron’s passion lies in collaboration and working with others. He lives for it. Even as a child, he always had a desire to work with people. “Just interacting with people has always been my goal in life,” says Ron.
Ron originally gravitated to the Red Cross because of their focus on health and safety. When the Red Cross first approached him with the opportunity to do what he loved – teaching – it was impossible to say no. He started out instructing Red Cross health and safety classes during his prep periods while teaching high school. He then became a Red Cross instructor-trainer, teaching other instructors how to perform CPR, first aid and other emergency medical treatments.
His time with the Red Cross has not only furthered Ron’s commitment to education, but also deepened his resolve to help those in need and prepare people during disasters. Shortly after he became an instructor, he got an opportunity to deliver food to flood victims. Little did he know that serving food out of the back of a station wagon would begin his journey into the world of Red Cross disaster response, during which he would deploy all over the country to assist with sheltering and damage assessment after floods, fires, earthquakes and more.
One thing Ron didn’t enjoy was the 24/7 nature of disaster response and the middle-of-the-night phone calls that often came with it. Even so, it was all worth it to Ron. He loved being needed when disaster struck, and also getting the chance to connect with people from all walks of life. “I really enjoyed interacting with different people in different communities…I loved getting to see a lot of different communities and people and how folks interact in different parts of the country.”
Over the years, Ron has been the recipient of many accolades, volunteer awards, certificates of appreciation and now the distinction of September 2018 Volunteer of the Month.
Ron encourages people to volunteer in various areas within the organization, from working at the front desk to the installing smoke alarms in the community, to see where their interests lie. “People in the Red Cross work to help society get through traumatic experiences as well as good experiences,” says Ron.
When asked what being a volunteer means to him, Ron says: “To me, volunteering means the opportunity to assist people. I get to meet people from different walks of life. Unfortunately, sometimes it's in the worst of times for them, but people are people and we all need help at some point.”
For more information on volunteering with the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer.