It all started because my wife, Joanne, had retired from Chevron after a 14-year career. Both she and I had worked at Chevron for many years, and we were both regular blood donors at the American Red Cross drives sponsored by the company at their San Ramon headquarters. Joanne realized that after leaving the company, she no longer had a place to donate blood.
We live near the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, but like Chevron, it’s a campus closed to the public. So I said, “I’ll just start my own blood drive.” I called my contact at the Red Cross, Erica Rainwater, and she said, “No problem! Let’s get it going!” After talking with the Church Council, we got permission to hold our first blood drive in the old (tiny) Fellowship Hall on a cold December 31, 2002.
I burned up the phones calling people, and we had a respectable blood drive, collecting 34 units of blood, including one each from my wife and me. I talked to my mother that weekend, and she said, “So you’re done, right? That’s it?” I replied, “Oh no, we’re just getting started.”
We have held blood drives at the church every other month (with a short deviation to the Robert Livermore Community Center while the new Fellowship Hall was being constructed), until February 2013, when we started sponsoring a drive every month.
A Huge Milestone Reached
It’s really hard to believe, but the community blood drive being held at the church on May 20, 2016, is now our one-hundredth drive. Wow.
Here are some crazy stats:
- Up through April 2016, we’ve collected 4982 units of blood (yes, we keep track!)
- Over 2000 individuals have passed through the doors of our drive and donated blood
- We will surpass 5000 units during this drive (I’m not sure who the 5000th person will be!)
- Asbury UMC donors alone have donated well over 260 gallons of blood, and we have one donor who alone, has donated over 17 gallons of blood!
- Each unit of blood helps up to three people, so we’ve collectively helped save the lives of nearly 15,000 people in the Bay Area
- I got a call from the American Red Cross just today, that I’m one of the top 10% sponsors in the entire nation (who’d believe that?)
It’s ironic that this has turned out the way it has. My wife, Joanne, and I just wanted to give back to the community. Giving blood is easy to do, it helps save lives, and the church has been an amazing supporter of this mission for nearly 14 years now.
But Joanne ended up being the recipient of that life-saving elixir in 2014 when she was hospitalized with a then-unknown ailment. She nearly died, but as part of her treatment, she received over 4 gallons of plasma, which can only come from blood donors. She is now my “poster child” for why we continue this mission to give back to people who need our life-saving blood.
This milestone of 100 community blood drives and 5000 units of blood is not about me. It’s about the more than 2000 people who keep coming back every other month, stick out their arm, and selflessly donate a pint of their life-blood to help a nameless and faceless stranger. Without them, my wife’s life wouldn’t have been saved. Without them, this could not have happened at all.
I am humbled that we’ve gotten to this place together. Thank you all.
Please sign up at www.redcrossblood.org and find a drive near you or use ASBURY925 to sign up for the next Asbury drive.