Pixel Tracker

Monday, November 19 , 2018, 3:40 am | Fair 48º


Lompoc Man Driven to Provide ‘A Little Help’ To Those In Need

After taking financially disadvantaged people to assorted appointments, the Rev. Thomas Brandenberg seeks help with gas costs

The Rev. Thomas Brandenberg drives Lompoc residents to medical appointments, grocery shopping, schools and other locations through A Little Help. He could use a little help — in the form of gas money — to keep up the effort Click to view larger
The Rev. Thomas Brandenberg drives Lompoc residents to medical appointments, grocery shopping, schools and other locations through A Little Help. He could use a little help — in the form of gas money — to keep up the effort (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Rev. Thomas Brandenberg knows people sometimes need a little help, so he provides it the form of free transportation. 

At no cost to his passengers, Brandenberg drives Lompoc residents to medical appointments, grocery shopping, schools and other locations through A Little Help.

The goal of A Little Help is “to provide safe, efficient, accessible transportation for the financially challenged.” 

“I give you a ride whenever you need it,” said Brandenberg, 62, adding he had such faith his program would start that he printed cards before purchasing a van.

One customer is a 92-year-old man who needed groceries, and Brandenberg has picked them up from the store and delivered the items to the man's house.

He doesn’t keep his trips just in Lompoc — traveling to Santa Maria for Social Security Administration appointments, surgeries and doctor’s appointment or the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara for assorted purposes. 

Brandenberg estimated he spends between $10 and $20 a day in gasoline. 

Some customers leave a tip, with one lady giving 65 cents. 

“I know she was giving me her all,” he said, adding the Walmart worker would have had to walk home at the end of her night-time shift without his help.

He generally had tried to keep his driving before 5 p.m. to ensure he is well rested.

“I feel good when I get home,” he said. “I’m tired.”

Asked what type of help he needs to continue fulfilling his mission, he answered, “Just gas.” 

He primarily has spent his own money to purchase the minivan and buy insurance, getting a few donations to help cover fuel costs, but needs more.

For information about sending gas cards, call Brandenberg at 305.397.9398, a cell phone number he kept after moving from Florida.

When his van needed tires, Camarena's Tires in Lompoc assisted Brandenberg.

His efforts have earned Brandenberg a certificate of recognition from California Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, noting his “incredible generosity and selfless service to Lompoc’s less fortunate.”

“I think that it’s absolutely fantastic,” Mayor Bob Lingl said. “It’s a need that he’s fulfilling in the community where he takes people around.”

Talk has started about forming a nonprofit organization to help with donations.

“He’s an amazing gentleman doing some amazing things for our community,” Lingl said.

The mayor noted that A Little Help is just one way Brandenberg has aided the community. He also hosted a barbecue locally trying to attract youths from different groups together to form friendships, instead of rivalries.

“Quite an amazing guy,” Lingl added.

Each rider gets a piece of Brandenberg’s heart, as he cheers for and counsels those who are dealing with huge hurdles to get their lives back on track. 

“I’m proud of all the people who have overcome the circumstances, the situations and move into their houses,” Brandenberg said, adding that he checks up on those who have struggled to get out of trouble.

He knows because he was once there. Asked about his past, he said simply, “It’s bad.”

“But you know what I did have? I had a grandmother that never stopped caring for me. The day I got baptized and the day that I really changed my life,” he said. 

His past included drug abuse, jail time, gambling and being a self-described thug. 

“All those things that seem like they were bad have become the things and tools I can use that are good, because I can tell a person really what is going down,” he said, adding it opens the door for him to talk to young men about where their lives are going.

He also credits the help retired firefighter John Kennedy gave while he struggled with homelessness in Santa Barbara, providing the boost Brandenberg needed for his independence.

“I love what I’m doing because someone did what they did for me,” he said “I would never be where I am spiritually, financially as a person if that person hadn’t given me a little help. That’s the thing that makes me do what I do.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.