Red Cross volunteer looks back

March 5, 2012

Tulsa, Okla. — Leonard Brehm has been a volunteer transport driver for the American Red Cross in Tulsa, Okla., for nearly 25 years. And he’ll never forget what drove him there.

In 1951, Brehm was in the U.S. Navy for the second time. He was stationed in San Diego with his brother when their father, who was hundreds of miles away in Clinton, Okla., suffered a stroke. Brehm’s commanding officer reached out to the Red Cross, which immediately agreed to furnish them with plane tickets both home and back.

“If the Red Cross hadn’t stepped in, we would’ve been stuck in California worrying ourselves to death because we just couldn’t have afforded the trip,” he said.

But, instead, they took off in no time and as a result were able to be with family during their father’s time of need.

A few years after he retired from Public Service Co. of Oklahoma in 1986, Brehm realized how he wanted to spend his time. He started volunteering with the Red Cross, an organization that had lent him comfort so many years ago. He had always felt indebted to the Red Cross.

Originally from the Oklahoma City area, Brehm now resides in Sand Springs, Okla., and looks forward to every Thursday, when he drives boxes of blood and blood products to hospitals throughout eastern Oklahoma and, of course, spends time with his “second family.”

“It’s the same group every Thursday,” he said. “These volunteers are like family. If I don’t go to work on Thursday, I feel out of place. Thursday is Red Cross day.”

About 150 volunteers from the Tulsa area donate their time to the local donation center, 10151 E. 11th St., and transport drivers are sometimes on the road for hours at a time, going beyond the Oklahoma border into Missouri and Arkansas.

Just like the Red Cross constantly needs blood to help patients in need, it also needs longtime volunteers like Brehm to be successful in its mission.