By Rhonda Owen-Smith, Recruitment Volunteer
Transporting donated blood for processing or delivery to a local hospital may not sound exciting or rousing. However, this is one of the most critical components of completing the mission of providing blood to those in need.
Initially, people think of donating blood or giving money as a way to help the American Red Cross. And yes, both of these acts are important and needed. But one of the often overlooked volunteer needs is for Blood Services Transportation Drivers. When there are not enough drivers available, the Red Cross contracts with companies to transport the blood. Of course, this is costly. Also, they have to ensure that pickup and delivery meet regulatory standards to assure a good, safe blood supply.
In the Greater Chesapeake Region, we currently have a group of dedicated blood service drivers. But, honestly, we need more. People like the ones you will learn about in this, the first in a series of volunteer profiles.
We hope you will be inspired by their stories, then take steps to join our ranks as we drive so others may thrive.
Red Cross blood services transportation driver Deb Peak has worked every day since she turned 18. Peak’s life has centered on service.
Her connection to the Red Cross began in western Illinois when she and her mother donated blood in her younger years.
When she graduated from high school in the 1970s, she had no idea what she would do next. By chance or destiny, an Air Force brochure arrived by mail. Although she had never seen a person in an Air Force uniform, she filled out the application and took the tests. She excelled.
Things progressed quickly and she was ultimately enlisted. She started as a supply specialist. Six years later when it was time to reenlist, she liked to take pictures, so accepted a photo interpreter assignment, a position she held for 24 years. In total, she called 15 different air bases home during 30 years of service to the United States. For a year or so the former chief master sergeant worked as a contractual web-based training program developer for the federal government.
It was in retirement the Peak began looking for volunteer work. “I knew I could not sit around and do nothing,” the Anne Arundel resident said. “I checked out a volunteer site and saw this job as a transportation specialist, and it seemed perfect.”
“Some people are passengers and others are drivers,” she added. “I am a driver. I think I inherited driving from my dad because he worked as a tractor-trailer driver for many years. I have driven by myself from Alaska, and I have driven right sided cars in England.”
She is not allowed to donate blood any longer. So, she sees driving blood as a way to help the American Red Cross in another way.
Peak chooses to drive two to three times a week throughout Southern Maryland in a Red Cross issued van. “I have seen a lot of Maryland, and it is beautiful,” she explains. “For me, this volunteer position is a win, win, win because I love to drive and read -- I listen to science fiction and military thriller books on tape while I am driving. And I know I am making a difference in the lives of others.”
She encourages others to consider being a Blood Transportation Services Driver because “it just seems like the right thing to do. I am sure that there are others I believe can fill in the gap,” she said.
For this specific volunteer position description and an application visit: www.redcross.org/deliver. For additional information, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (410) 913-9154.