By: Amy McCray
Edited by: Nancy Waddell
When Ron Rockstrom retired, he was looking for ways to give back to his community in Yakima, Washington. He volunteered at local hospitals and senior centers before he joined the Red Cross in February 2016, when he became a driver for the biomedical division in south central Washington.
Ron delivers blood to 22 hospitals ranging from Pendleton, Oregon to Wenatchee, Washington and the hospitals in between. He says that the delivery runs can be a quick thirty minute drive, or they can take five hours or more.
When Ron was growing up, his mother, Emma Rockstrom, was a nurse and volunteered for Red Cross blood drives in Yakima and Grandview, Washington. She began her service in the late 1950s, and volunteered with the Red Cross for over thirty years. Emma was honored as Volunteer of the Month in the late 1980s.
It was after Ron began his service, he says, that he started “thinking about how much my Mother would have liked to see any of her three kids doing something like this. That thought solidified my love of what I am doing now.”
As a demonstration of his commitment, he donated money to help purchase new delivery vehicles for the blood services division. Although the vehicles used for these routes were only a few years old, they had already covered over 200,000 miles. He says, “those miles add up fast!”
In December 2016, he and his wife decided to donate $40,000 to the Red Cross toward the purchase of two new SUVs from a local Yakima dealer. As a thank you for this donation and for his service, the Red Cross put plaques inside the vehicles dedicated to the service of his mother. This year, Ron donated an additional $15,000 toward the purchase of another vehicle.
Ron also works to help train new volunteers for this program. He says that he takes “most new drivers on a ‘dry run’ to a local hospital” and that “it is fun and I get the privilege of meeting the new drivers before anyone else.”
Ron says, “we have a great team” and that “it is just enjoyable time we spend with the Red Cross.” He feels that the work his team does is vital to the daily operations of the program, and that their work plays a large role in preserving lives. “We all know that we are providing what can literally be a life-saving service to someone in the area.”
To learn more about American Red Cross Blood Services, visit: http://redcrossblood.org/