By David Strom
What makes any of us become an American Red Cross volunteer? Does it happen because of a change in our life circumstances, or because of a particular crisis or other event?
Stan Brasch recalls the moment it began for him: it was about three years ago when he retired from federal government service. He had returned to St. Louis after many years in Kansas City where he served with the Kansas National Guard and later the U.S. Army Reserves for a total of over 30 years.
“I wanted to help with the disaster recovery efforts,” he said. Brasch had already had extensive training for the U.S. Department of Transportation in delivering their own rapid response to emergencies.
“The training was very similar,” he said. “You learned how to plan ahead, how to manage things, how to help people and keep them safe after the event. I was helping individuals with obtaining shelter and getting food, with their basic needs. It is very close to the mission of the Red Cross.”
Brasch has had a long career with various federal agencies, including stints with the Department of Transportation as a Computer Project Manager, the Department of Defense as a civilian Special Project Manager, and various administrative roles as an Officer in the Army Reserves. Being a Red Cross volunteer was a natural extension of his work experience.
Brasch has been on one Red Cross deployment so far. It was for hurricane Irma relief in Florida, in the fall of 2017. That wasn’t his only volunteer work for the Red Cross: he has long been a blood donor, who has donated gallons. From that became familiar with the mission and the types of volunteer opportunities available. Since then, he had widened his volunteer portfolio to be a liaison between the Red Cross and the Armed Forces, helping military families in times of need in a number of roles.
Another aspect of volunteering with the Red Cross appealed to Brasch: that of being a life-long learner.
“When I was 21, I got my undergraduate degree at Mizzou, and I thought that was all the education that I needed. That thought didn’t last long, because soon thereafter I applied to Lindenwood University. I was in its first MBA class, and was the youngest graduate of my class.”
After getting his business degree, Brasch went on to obtain numerous other credentials, including becoming a certified military Master Fitness Trainer and a licensed mediator. He later obtained a second master’s degree in computer management from Webster University, a project management certification from St. Louis University and took specialized computer language courses at Washington University.
“An important part of volunteer work – indeed all work – is to learn new things,” he said. “That helps you know what to expect in a job and learn how to deal with and manage people appropriately. Training is essential.”
Now he is a managing several hundred people for the U.S. Census Bureau. Originally, he applied, not really thinking it would happen, along with one of his neighbors, but he was quickly hired and jumped into the position. Always expanding his portfolio, he is helping to coordinate the effort to get Missourians to file their census forms, all the while continuing to serve the Red Cross.