Words and Photos by Naomi Schwimmer, Red Cross volunteer
In January 2000, Bob Busch was a recent retiree from ExxonMobil looking for something to do with his spare time. He came upon a newspaper article about the Red Cross Transportation Services program and was instantly inspired. Fast-forward 11 years later, Busch still volunteers his time every Friday, serving Red Cross clients in the Charlotte community.
“I may look like a couch potato, but I’m not one,” Busch said. “I like to be active.”
Busch is quite active when it comes to the Red Cross. Last year he logged more than 5,000 miles as a Transportation Services driver. As a requirement of our program, he stays up-to-date on life saving skills like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defensive driving certifications. He also trains other Red Cross drivers.
The Red Cross Transportation Services program gives rides to people who can’t make it to medical appointments on their own. For one reason or another, they are unable to drive themselves. Sometimes they can’t afford a car; sometimes they have a medical condition that prevents them from driving.
Many of Busch’s clients are dialysis patients who generally need treatment three days a week for about three hours at a time. For every client, Busch picks them up at home, takes them to their medical appointment, and then brings them back home when they are finished. Along the way, he chats with clients, always mindful of patient confidentiality.
“We don’t get into their business and we don’t talk about their medical condition,” he said.
Robert Brooks is one of Busch’s regular clients. Brooks, a retired university administrator and an ordained Episcopalian minister, moved to Charlotte in 2008 to be near his daughters. Brooks has been declared legally blind, is critically disabled and requires dialysis every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Prior to moving here, Brooks lived in New York where his church was able to transport him to dialysis treatments. His daughters wanted him to be closer, but because of work and kids, they could not transport him to every treatment. His daughter, Amy, vigilantly scouted for options until she discovered the Red Cross program.
“The Red Cross Transportation Services program is what makes it possible for me to live near my family,” Brooks said.
Another one of Busch’s clients (who wishes to remain anonymous) has relied on the Transportation Services program for the past six years to take him to dialysis. He can’t afford a car.
“If it wasn’t for the Red Cross, I couldn’t get to the doctor,” he said. “I depend on them, and they are right there for me.”
Totaling more than 17,000 trips last year, the Transportation Services program is a lifeline for many. Thankfully, we have volunteers like Busch, who selflessly devote their time. With 11 years of service to the program, it is clear he truly enjoys making a difference in the lives of others… though if you were to ask him, you may get a modest response.
“I wouldn’t call myself a people-person. But I like helping people,” he said.