Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Profile: Bill Downard

When people think of the Red Cross, chances are that they think of blood services, disaster relief, or the services to the military and their families that the Red Cross provides.

Bill Downard thinks about these things, too. He has to; as fleet manager for the Kentucky Region, Bill is responsible for managing all vehicles the Red Cross uses and making sure they are deployed during its operations.

After retiring two years ago from a long career in insurance, Bill became interested in volunteering for the Red Cross through his mother-in-law, who worked in Blood Operations. At first, Bill started out working in Blood Operations himself by picking up and transporting blood from donation sites. In April 2015, Bill shifted gears. Instead of driving, he became the manager for the Kentucky Region’s vehicle fleet.

Bill took the reins and rebuilt the position from the ground up. It opened up his eyes to areas of disaster response that he had never really envisioned before, so the true scope of Bill’s responsibilities comes at little surprise. Bill had to compile and build all of the data files he now uses to keep track of the fleet from scratch. Vehicles had to be located from where they had been placed across the state, and their maintenance had to be assessed.

When it comes to preparing and responding to disasters, Bill has to make sure that the proper paperwork is filed in order to meet the needs of operations. Not only is Bill responsible for sending vehicles to operations sites and reassigning vehicles all across Kentucky, but also making sure they are all in working order.

It was a learning process, and Bill doubts that his job is ever going to fully stop evolving. He finds all of it to be rewarding, though: Volunteering at the Red Cross has given him the opportunity to do something he enjoys that was totally different than in his working career. It gives him a sense of reward, and he loves getting to meet people who come together from all parts of the country to offer their time and help to the Red Cross. The ability to apply his skills in ways that give back to the Red Cross is important to Bill, and he encourages others to consider volunteering as well.

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