Todd Blecha, Board Chair of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys Chapter
What is your current professional role? This is a little difficult as I was laid off almost a year ago. I’m transitioning into a different career path. With that background, I think this may be a good way of saying it, which keeps it simple: I’ve been an internal auditor for large financial institutions for more than 30 years.
What was your first job?
When I was about 13 or 14, I was a paper boy. I took on the route from my older brothers. We had the largest route in the small city, with about 100-120 customers that I delivered to each weekday. My first real job with a paycheck was working at a movie theater in high school. My first real job after college was as a staff internal auditor at First Interstate Bank in downtown Los Angeles.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Ridgecrest where the 7.1 earthquake happened about two years ago in the middle of T1’s area at the time. I even went up there to help out my dad [after the earthquake] and was able to provide situational awareness to those working [on the disaster operation]. I grew up with earthquakes and remember watching the earth roll across the quad in junior high school. It truly does look like a wave. It was so cool to see. I probably should have been terrified to see the earth move like that, but I was young.
What is a fun fact about you or secret skill you have?
My secret skill may not be as much of a secret anymore: I crochet. I found a pattern I modified a bit a couple of years ago and [crochet] Red Cross pillows. I also cross stitch, but not as often.
What is your personal connection to the Red Cross?
I’ve been involved in the Red Cross for more than 25 years. I started with the Red Cross back with my first job out of college. I worked in one of the high-rise buildings in downtown LA. They required at least one person on each floor to be trained in first aid and CPR. My manager volunteered me. I enjoyed it a lot and asked the instructor how I could do more with first aid. She suggested joining a local chapter and also becoming an instructor and helping her. So I did.
That’s just one story, I have other stories of how I ended up in the different aspects of the Red Cross, including the Rose Parade, shelter supervisor, finance manager, DAT and whole blood and platelet donations.
Editor’s note: One thing Todd forgot to mention is that he is also the recipient of the Red Cross Pacific Division’s Spirit of Pacific Award that recognizes a volunteer or paid staff member, who acts with a sense of purpose, has a passion for service and willingness to go above and beyond. This award could not have gone to a more deserving volunteer.
In December 2020, Todd took part in the “Close to the Vest: Alone/Together” livestream event. He shared a moving story about responding to a home fire and the team of volunteers who virtuall helped him.