Red Cross blood drive coordinator recognized for helping recruit more than 2,000 donors

October 17, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  — Volunteering often sounds like an easy task: give a few hours of your time to a nonprofit or do a good deed for an organization you support. However, the American Red Cross recognizes that volunteer blood drive coordinators often spend hours of their lives organizing, recruiting and planning for each blood drive. Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Region CEO Michele Wright with Kathy Ramsey

Kathy Ramsey has certainly put in countless hours of hard work over the past six years serving as a blood drive coordinator in the Malvern, Ark., community. She has helped organize dozens of blood drives over that time, helping the Red Cross collect 2,021 donations. Considering that one donation can impact up to three lives, those donations could have helped more than 6,000 patients.

“Kathy didn’t see success overnight, because it’s difficult to recruit people to donate blood,” said Donor Recruitment Representative Randy Stribling. “But she did it, and now we know if Kathy says 100 donors will be at a drive, that’s how many will be filling the seats. We can’t thank her enough for the years of work she’s put in to helping patients in the Malvern community, the state of Arkansas and our country.”

On Oct. 16, the Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Blood Services Region honored Kathy for her dedication by presenting her with a recognition plaque and a public thanks from those who have worked with her.

“Two thousand donations in one community is not something that happens by chance,” said Michele Wright, Ph.D., CEO of the Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Region. “That shows a lot of heart and hard work. We rely on volunteers like Kathy to help us fulfill our mission of helping save lives.”

Years before becoming a Red Cross blood drive coordinator, Kathy would donate blood whenever it was convenient. But when her youngest daughter was treated at Arkansas Children’s Hospital with unexplained blood loss, that all changed.

“I couldn’t believe my child was receiving blood transfusions,” Kathy said. “She was pale and lethargic. I saw the blood going into her body, and I saw her eyes brighten back up and pink return to her cheeks. I was so grateful the blood she needed was there.”

Kathy’s daughter was eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and is now healthy and happy. After the trip to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Kathy became a regular blood donor.

“That opened my eyes to the importance of blood donations. When it’s someone in your family who ends up needing it, it’s a reality check,” she said. “It would be a while before the Red Cross approached me to be a blood drive coordinator. But when they did, I absolutely wanted to help.”

According to Kathy, organizing community blood drives does take time and effort, but she says support from her employer, family and the community has made her able to help out. Instead of volunteering taking time away from her family, Kathy’s husband and children have turned the blood drives into an opportunity to volunteer together.

“Southern Bancorp, my employer, has been so supportive. They’ve not only given me the time I needed to work on these drives, but also helped me promote them,” Kathy said. “And the people of Malvern are who really should be honored. They are the ones who continue to come out and give to help save lives. I live and work in a great place.”

Kathy is already planning her next blood drive for Malvern, Ark., to honor a community member who is battling cancer.