Retired engineer continues to help give back through Red Cross

HARLINGEN — For more than 25 years, Andy Treat has given much of his life to helping victims of disaster.

As a national member of the American Red Cross, Treat has traveled across the country in the wake of catastrophic hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods and mudslides.

“I love it,” said Treat, a retired engineer whose career included work with Boeing, the Boy Scouts of America and AT&T. “I’ve been a person who volunteered my entire life.”

Today, he is the Red Cross South Texas Regional Engagement Coordinator, based in Harlingen.

From the day he was born, he seemed destined to help others.

Born the son of homesteaders on Oklahoma’s Osage reservation, the tribe named him Helping Hand.

At age 12, he joined America’s first Boy Scout troop in Pawhuska, Okla., he said.

Around 1950, Treat took his first job with Boeing to work his way through college at the University of Wichita, where he was studying electrical engineering.

But when Boeing laid off employees, Treat enlisted in the Army, serving three years in Korea.

When he returned, Treat went back to the University of Wichita, earning a degree in electrical engineering in 1953.

But he still heard the Boy Scouts’ call.

So by 1957, Treat was working for the Boy Scouts, taking a job as a district scout executive in Wichita.

After six years with the Boy Scouts, Treat took a job with AT&T, where he worked as an engineer until his retirement.

By 1989, Treat was living near Table Rock Lake in southern Missouri’s Ozark Mountains when he took a job as Barry County’s emergency management coordinator.

As the county struggled to pull itself out of a deep financial hole, Treat took the job at a salary of $1 a year.

That’s when he met up with the Red Cross.

“I fell in love with the Red Cross,” Treat said.

In the mountains, the Red Cross came to help victims of fire.

“I saw them doing all this great work,” he said.

In 1993, Treat was named a national member of the organization.

Every year, he travels to the site of three or four disasters.

Last October, he helped flood victims in Willacy and Hidalgo counties.

This year, he’s traveled to Houston, to help flood victims.

Now, he’s ready to help flood victims in Louisiana.

“My entire life I’ve reached out to people,” he said.