About the organization: Dedicated to meeting the needs of the community, Bakersfield-based Houchin Community Blood Bank is a nonprofit service organization that has been serving Kern County since 1951. Houchin is committed to being the provider of a safe and adequate blood supply for area hospitals. The available supply is dependent on volunteer donors who walk into Houchin’s two donor centers or participate in mobile drives conducted in communities or at companies and organizations across the county. Houchin employs about 100 employees in two locations.
What I do: I am the president and chief executive officer of Houchin Community Blood Bank.
Where I grew up: I was born in Bakersfield and was raised in the northeast.
Education: I went to Washington Middle School, East Bakersfield High School, Bakersfield College and Marymount College in Salina, Kansas.
Family: I’ve been married to my wonderful wife, Sheryl, for 39 years.
Hobbies: I like to ride horses and work cattle. I am one of 500 Rancheros Visitadores, or visiting cowboys. I joined in 1996 and participate in two annual events — one in Poso Flat in April and one in Lake Cachuma in May at Rancheros Ranch — where I work with other cowboys to gather, brand and work cattle. I’ve also done extensive travelling on the continent of Africa, including Madagascar. Sheryl and I have also travelled to Italy, Spain, Ireland, France and Great Britain. I like to cook. And I’m constantly working on developing expertise in the art of doing nothing.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it? When I was 15 years old, I was driven to Three Rivers, California, where I spent the summer working long, hard hours as a fry cook and maintenance guy at the Three Rivers Inn. I lived on the premises and fished on the river. I learned the value of being responsible for myself and others. When I returned home, I was 16. My dad told me he would provide food, housing and medical, but I was on my own for anything beyond that.
Not long afterward, I scraped the side of the family car on a pole at the drive-in movies. When I got home, I set the keys on the kitchen counter. I figured I wouldn’t be allowed to drive anymore. Instead, my dad told me I had to pay to fix the car. It took all of my savings. It was a hard lesson in responsibility.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received? Don’t read your own press clippings. In other words, don’t get so impressed with who you are. You aren’t half of what you think you are.
What is the most challenging part of your job? It is keeping Houchin Community Blood Bank profitable and debt-free so it remains viable and sustainable for the community. One of the biggest hurdles is trying to get people to care about becoming blood donors and convincing them to make donations on a regular basis.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Knowing I am part of a team that saves and directly affects other people’s lives. Doing this job is much bigger than any one person. That’s the most gratifying aspect of the job and at the heart of what we do.
What is the most memorable part of your career? Putting a team of people together and creating a sustainable business model for Houchin so that it has a long and prosperous future in our community. That is the most important and memorable work I’ve ever done.