Special Delivery: Driving Blood to Seattle Hospitals

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By Betsy Robertson

Bob Tykulsker has been a Red Cross volunteer since December of 1997. It’s one of two ways the retired software developer now spends what used to be his “work” hours. The other is as a fill-in bus driver for the Mercer Island school district.

When his Red Cross supervisor noticed a Commercial Driver’s License on Bob’s application, bells went off, and a match was made with Northwest Region’s Blood Services division. Blood Services utilizes an intricate network of volunteers to drive blood from collection sites around our region to the nearest processing lab in Portland, OR.

Bob has made that trek down I-5 and back multiple times, but now has a more regular route closer to home. 

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A few months ago, the Red Cross created a volunteer position just for making deliveries to Seattle hospitals. Volunteers now deliver blood to three local hospitals, and pick up the empty boxes while they are there. The regular interaction provides a higher level of service to the hospitals and reinforces the Red Cross relationship with them.

It’s been a popular position with new and existing volunteer workforce members.

“We are lucky,” said Jennifer Richardson, Biomedical Volunteer Engagement Representative. “Red Cross volunteers are well-versed in delivering amazing service, and that is a quality we look for when recruiting new ones. We get to work with individuals who make the choice every day about how to help their communities.”

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And that’s how we would describe Bob Tykulsker. He now does both Hospital Deliveries and Component Pick-Ups for the Red Cross (the aforementioned trek to Portland and back). Each time he does a component pick up, he volunteers between 8-10 hours that day.

Why does he do it? Bob knows his volunteer time saves the organization money it would otherwise have to spend on couriers and transportation. He says blood collections “raise money for an organization whose mission I support. My time helps fund what I believe is important, so this is great.”

The Red Cross is always recruiting new volunteers, for blood and humanitarian services. Find out what positions are currently available and get your application started by visiting: RedCross.org.

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