Red Cross Seeks Oakland-Area Volunteers
Northern California Blood Services Region
Red Cross volunteer Jeanette Klumb (left) serves juice to blood donor Jeanine Ishii at the blood donation center in Rockridge.
On most days, Piedmont resident Jeanette Klumb can be found playing tennis at her neighborhood court. But every Friday for the past two years, Klumb spends the day volunteering at the American Red Cross blood donation center in Rockridge.
“I enjoy meeting people and I think it’s important to thank them for coming in to donate,” Klumb said. “I get to meet people from all walks of life, and I enjoy giving back to the community.”
The American Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region, headquartered in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, is seeking more volunteers like Klumb to assist blood donors as they arrive and before they leave following their donations.
Volunteer Blood Donor Ambassadors are needed at mobile blood drives in Piedmont, Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda, and at the Red Cross center in Rockridge. Blood drives are held at high schools, churches and businesses throughout the area.
Volunteer ambassadors serve many functions. They welcome donors, assist them with signing in, inform them about any special programs and provide them with reading materials about donor eligibility and testing. Ambassadors also thank donors, provide snacks and drinks, and register donors for their next donation.
These volunteers help ensure that the donation experience is a positive one and, most importantly, that donors will want to return and continue to help save lives.
Cindy Follick, a Piedmont resident, has been a regular volunteer ambassador at Oakland blood drives for more than a year.
“As with many Piedmont parents, my volunteer activities were focused around my children and their interests,” Follick said. “Now that they are grown, I look for a way to contribute to the broader community.”
Follick has also found that volunteering with the Red Cross fits her travel schedule because she is able to choose her schedule on a monthly basis and blood drives are often held near her home.
“Going to different local businesses, organizations and schools gives me a chance to interact with other members of our community,” Follick said.
In addition to benefitting the community, volunteering can also provide a benefit to those taking part.
A survey released earlier this year by UnitedHealthcare and VolunteerMatch draws a link between volunteering and physical health. The survey of more than 4,500 American adults found that 68 percent of those who volunteered in the past year report that the charitable work has made them feel physically healthier.
Len Saltzman of Oakland has welcomed blood donors with his friendly smile and kind demeanor every Monday at the blood center in Rockridge for the past four years.
“I wanted to give back to the community and I heard good things about the Red Cross from my neighbors,” Saltzman said. “Everyone who comes in is so nice and interesting. The donors get to know you, they depend on you and you develop a mutual trust.”
People who cannot donate blood often volunteer their time instead.
“For years I donated blood; considered it my moral responsibility. Then 10 years ago, days after I buried my husband, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia rendering me unable to donate blood,” Oakland resident Diane Longfield said. “Today, instead of donating blood, I proudly serve donors in the canteen. What a pleasure!”
Patients in Oakland hospitals need approximately 6,500 pints of blood every month. The Red Cross collects some of that blood at 10 to 12 mobile blood drives in the Oakland area each month, as well as at the blood center in Rockridge. Mobile blood drives usually start at 9 a.m., but the hours vary. The Rockridge center is open Monday through Saturday.
“Volunteers are central and essential to our operations and to fulfilling the Red Cross mission. We could not accomplish what we do without them,” said Anne Blackstone, Red Cross Volunteer Coordinator. “They go a long way in helping make every donor feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated.”
As many as 80 three-hour volunteer shifts support this process each month. The Red Cross is actively seeking more volunteers to support these local blood drives and the blood center in Rockridge. Please contact Blackstone at (510) 594-5165 or BlackstoneA@usa.redcross.org for more information or to sign up to attend a volunteer orientation.