By Patricia Smith, American Red Cross volunteer
In 2013, Patricia Ybarra retired from Southern California Edison after a 30-year career with the company. In 2014, less than a year after her retirement, Patricia started volunteering with the American Red Cross.
Patricia gives credit to one of her cousins, who is a firefighter in the San Diego area. She said, “He asked me what I was going to do after retirement, and he suggested that I volunteer with the American Red Cross. I asked him, ‘What can I do for the Red Cross?’ He suggested the blood drive. He knows firsthand how the Red Cross is there during house fires helping the fire victims with their immediate needs, and not only disasters but with blood drives.”
Patricia volunteers as a Blood Donor Ambassador and volunteers between three and four times a month in the Riverside area. She has a heartfelt reason for what she does with the Red Cross because she personally experienced help from the Red Cross - not for herself, but for her son.
When Patricia's four and a half-year-old son needed open heart surgery, blood donations from family members were insufficient for her son’s needs. In desperation, she asked for advice from the doctors who gave her hope that the Red Cross would be able to help her with the needed blood supply. What she heard was encouraging and promising for her son.
Patricia said, “I will never forget that blood donation at a time when my son desperately needed it.” Paul, her husband, shares the same sentiment.
As a Blood Donor Ambassador, Patricia greets and genuinely thanks every blood donor for helping to save lives. She ensures that blood donors have a pleasant and fulfilling experience, from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. She knows personally how important it is to donate blood to the Red Cross because people will never know when they may benefit from blood donation.
While volunteering at a local blood drive, Patricia met another Red Cross volunteer, Susan Hinrichs, who also shares a personal tie to the need for blood donations. They soon became good friends and frequently volunteer together. Two years ago, they traveled to China on a 10-day journey of a lifetime. Patricia said, “You never know who you are going to meet on your journey while volunteering with the Red Cross.”
To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer. To make an appointment to donate blood to help hospital patients, visit RedCrossBlood.org.