More Than Just Blood-Experiences at a Blood Drive

On July 9th I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Six Flags Super Blood Drive at the Big E along with a fellow Youth Programs Intern, Sarah Braverman. Together, we decided to share our experiences from the drive.

Sarah Bessette: I had attended and seen a few blood drives before, but this one was very impressive. From the moment you step into the Better Living Center, a Red Cross Volunteer greets you with a smile, guides you through the process, and sends you to the next station. From the colored wrist bands, to the Looney Toon characters for each donation booth, the organization and flow of the event is incredible. The donors feel comfortable and welcomed.

Going to an event like that, you can’t help but want to give in some way. Whether it’s through actually giving blood, or sitting at the registration desk, each part of the event helps to change and save lives. It was motivating to see the people lining up to donate blood. As a volunteer you get to interact with so many of these people. Some have been giving for years, and others it’s their first time. Some are outgoing, and some hardly speak at all. One was in shock that people actually volunteer their time to help with the drive. Another had volunteered with the Red Cross before. Every donor is different, yet all unified under the same gratification that they helped to save a life. Knowing that is what makes my volunteer experience the most satisfying.

Sarah Braverman: The Big E hosted a Six Flags Super Blood Drive on July 9th, and what an experience it was! The Better Living Center was filled with Red Cross Volunteers and blood donors of all ages and all ready to donate, starting early in the morning to late at night. What I thought was most impressive was how the system was organized. A donor would walk in and be greeted by a Red Cross Volunteer and informed on our regulations and policies for donating blood. The donors were given a colored wrist band that matched a sign at each donation station with a Looney Toon character. Donors had the option to donate whole blood or just red blood cells. After a background check and their donation, each donor went to one of about eight refreshment station, relaxed and socialized with the many other donors.

I volunteered at the “Sylvester the Cat” station greeting people and recording who came in to donate. I had never seen so many donors all in one place at one time. While I was volunteering, I got to meet other volunteers and donors of various backgrounds. Everyone had a story to tell: what brought them to working for the Red Cross, what brought them there that day to donate, how long they have been volunteering or donating, the stories were never ending. What left the longest impact on me was to see all these people, no matter how hard life had been to them, taking the time out of their lives to give to someone they may never meet. Someone with stories they may never hear. Being surrounded by these good Samaritans revived my feelings of enthusiasm and optimism in the charity work I do. Every little thing you do that’s for the benefit of someone else is time well spent.

As you can see, there is so much more to a blood drive than just blood. Its about the donors you meet, the volunteer stories you hear, and the experiences made that create the difference.


My Red Cross Story: An Intern’s Perspective

A little bit more than getting coffee for the executives, these posts will feature some of my experiences with the Youth Programs Department at the Pioneer Valley Chapter.

Before I begin, since this is my first post, let me introduce myself. My name is Sarah Bessette and I am a senior at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, PA. I am studying Business Administration and have a passion for humanitarian nonprofit organizations.

During junior year, every college student faces the ultimate struggle of attempting to find their internship in order to complete their area of study. My experience was no different. I began my search in October of last year. I was determined to be different than the rest and lock down my internship before the mad dash at the end of the year. I went back and forth with various companies and got dragged around in between yesses, no’s, and maybe so’s. As the school year went on, nothing seemed to be working out. Take a guess when I finalized this internship I am in now…April. Don’t get me wrong, the best was certainly saved for last!

With all that being said, when I started the internship I had no idea what to expect. I had received information about my position before starting and was excited to begin, but I had little background knowledge about the Red Cross. I knew it was one of the largest global nonprofit organizations, and that it organized blood drives. As I’m discovering, unless you work or volunteer here, that’s the perception most people have. In my first day of volunteer training I learned that the Red Cross does so much more than that. Between blood drives, service to armed forces, international services, disaster relief, and health and safety education, the possibilities are endless.

As my internship have unfolded I have discovered that Youth Programs really has the best of all the worlds. How many departments get to work with each of the other five all at the same time and promote every single one of them? As my first volunteer experience with the Red Cross, it is the best way for me to really learn the heart of the organization. To witness the impact the Red Cross has in so many areas through these students clubs is a privilege. We get to encourage the next generation of leaders and advocates of the Red Cross. It’s truly a very rewarding experience that will last far beyond my contributions here.

March is Red Cross Month in Pittsfield

March is Red Cross Month in Pittsfield

That’s one awesome shot! Downtown Pittsfield is marking March is Red Cross Month by flying our flag.

President declares March is Red Cross Month

Thanks, Mr. President!

Among the items noted in the proclamation:

The American Red Cross has proudly upheld a commitment to service that spans generations. Witness to the scars left by civil war, Clara Barton founded the organization in 1881 as a way to lift up the suffering — from warriors wounded in the line of duty to families displaced by damaging storms. In the years since, countless service and relief organizations have joined the American Red Cross in realizing that noble vision.

We saw the depth of their dedication just 4 months ago, when the sweeping devastation of Hurricane Sandy put millions of Americans in harm’s way. In darkness and danger, thousands of professionals and volunteers stepped up to serve. They secured supplies and shelter when our people needed them most. And when times were tough, they proved that America is tougher because we all pull together.

Be wicked careful with generators during the blizzard

As our area is slammed with extra cold and treacherous snow many may plan to utilize back-up generators if there is a power outage. While generators are handy to have during inclement weather, it is important to practice generator safety to protect your home from dangerous carbon monoxide fumes and generator misuse.

General Generator Safety

  • Near any door, window or vent.
  • Garage, basement, crawl space, living area, attic, entry way, mudroom and porch.
  • ALWAYS place portable generator downward and point the engine exhaust away from occupied spaces.
  •    Always read and follow the equipment Operator’s Manual before operating.
  •    Engine exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that could kill you in minutes. You CANNOT smell it, see it, or taste it. Even if you do not smell exhaust fumes, you could still be exposed to carbon monoxide gas.
  •    Operate the equipment ONLY outside far away from windows, doors and vents to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide gas from accumulating and potentially being drawn towards occupied spaces.
  •    Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with battery back-up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Smoke alarms cannot detect carbon monoxide gas.
  •    DO NOT run equipment inside homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, sheds, or other partially-enclosed spaces even if using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these spaces and can linger for hours, even after this product has shut off.
  •    ALWAYS place equipment downwind and point the engine exhaust away from occupied spaces.
  • If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using the portable generator, shut it off and get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. See a doctor. You may have carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Read your generator’s manual before using.

Know the warning signs of carbon monoxide

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those caused by other illnesses such as a cold, flu or food poisoning. Signs of carbon monoxide consist of:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nauseated
  • Faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

If you suspect that you are experiencing any of the symptoms to CO poisoning, get out to fresh air immediately.

To prevent CO poisoning

  • Never operate a portable generator or any other gas engine-powered tool in or near an enclosed space.
  • Install a CO alarm that meets the current UL2034 safety standard.
  • A CO alarm can provide added protection, but it is no substitute to proper use and upkeep of your generator.

For more updated information, please “like” us on Facebook by visiting us today at, or follow us on twitter @RedCrossEastMA

Vineyard shelter open

The Red Cross is operating a shelter now open on Martha’s Vineyard at the Tisbury Elementary.

The address is 40 W William Street, Vineyard Haven.

This brings the total number of shelters with Red Cross volunteers up to four: Nauset, Sandwich and Yarmouth opened earlier today.

Please note there is a public-facing app for shelters you can see on your desktop at , or you can download the shelter app on iTunes or GooglePlay.

Snow coming to Eastern Massachusetts

Winter comes back Wednesday. You ready for this?

Some of the things to do:

  • Fill up the gas tank.
  • Get the mittens/hats out. Stay dry
  • Don’t keep a space heater running all night. Turn it off to sleep.

Other wisdom lies at RedCross.Org

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