Barbara Brandt (center) was recently honored by fellow Red Cross volunteers for her decades of service to the organization. Flanking Barbara at the party are Roxey Bowers (left) and Lillian Garcia (right).
Photo by Andy Towle.
If you have ever participated in anything related to the Red Cross in Rim Country, you’ve probably crossed paths with Barbara Brandt.
If you have ever driven through construction on our two state highways, you have most likely crossed paths with Barbara Brandt.
If you came up to the Rim Country and camped at the old KOA years ago, you most certainly have met Barbara Brandt.
Tiny, tough and full of energy, Brandt has made the Rim Country her home since 1978. She and her husband, Bill, ran the KOA Campground from 1978 to 1985, and then moved to Strawberry.
She frequently worked as a flagger during the various construction projects to improve Highways 87 and 260 and almost all the while put the full force of her considerable energies into the Red Cross.
When Brandt retired from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Red Cross, fellow volunteers threw a Feb. 27 party for her at the Payson Public Library to celebrate her amazing 28 years of service with the chapter.
Brandt first started with Red Cross in 1952 at the age of 19 while living in Philadelphia. She was a “Gray Lady” — sort of a Red Cross candy striper, she explained. “We rolled bandages and wrote letters (for patients at Frankford Hospital).”
Her mother was a Red Cross driver for the blind in the 1940s — taking them to bowling, she said.
The Red Cross recruited Brandt to serve the Rim Country in the early 1980s. Brandt, along with Lee Phillips, Joan Rockefeller and Liz Wilson, virtually founded the local chapter.
She has since organized numerous training programs for people interested in helping out with disasters.
Over the years, Brandt has been called out to work 33 national disasters. She helped victims of the Northridge earthquake in California in 1989 and more recently worked two tours to help with Superstorm Sandy. She spent a total of six weeks on the scene.
She also spent six weeks helping in New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
She worked Katrina, manned the Red Cross front lines during the Dude Fire and was the first Red Cross responder during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire.
“Anyone who has taken the basic training and disaster services training can go out on a national disaster,” she said. The volunteers also help with smaller crises, such as when a family is burned out of their home.
Depending on their training, volunteers can choose the work they do in a disaster situation — from setting up a shelter, working mass feedings, helping with logistics, communication, direct services to clients and more.
Brandt said she wants to stay involved, despite some health problems that make it more difficult to do the work. “Once you’re Red Cross, you’re always Red Cross. The skills you learn will come in handy somewhere in life. There is always a need. There is always a need.”
Brandt isn’t planning to let any moss grow on her feet. As she is putting active Red Cross service behind her, she is getting trained and certified to work with the Court Appointed Special Advocate program.