One Man’s Dedication: The Joseph DeRosa Legacy

By Sue Wilson, Red Cross Community Volunteer

The lifeblood of the Red Cross is its volunteers, and in particular, its blood donors. Joseph DeRosa was the definition of lifeblood, having donated an astounding 165 pints of blood in his lifetime. 

Joseph DeRosa, lifelong blood donor

Valerie Stanley shared the story of her grandpa and his dedication to the American Red Cross and its blood donor program last month. She and her children, Joseph’s great grandchildren, Eva and Isaac delivered a check to the Red Cross for $1,860 in his name. 

Joseph DeRosa was a dedicated high school math/psychics/chemistry teacher for over 30 years. After retirement, Valerie said she and her brother spent their summers at their grandparent’s house. One day, years before he passed, her grandpa told her he had something very important to share with her. He opened a cupboard and took a white box from the shelf. It was filled with pins from the Red Cross honoring his many blood donations over the years. “Here are all my Red Cross pins,” he said. “I want you to make sure that when I die, they are buried with me.”   

It was not something Valerie wanted to think about at the time. “My grandpa was one of those people who went through so much in his life, faced health challenges and got through them, and to me he was invincible,” she said. When he passed on March 5, 2021, the first thing that came to her mind was her grandpa’s request. She went straight to his house to get that box of pins, which had continued to grow in number. 

The Red Cross recommends donors wait 56 days between blood donations. Joseph kept a calendar for the year, with the first day he could donate again marked, and he always went right away to make his donation. Valerie said she never knew exactly when her grandpa’s commitment to blood donation began, or if there was a particular reason behind it. “He knew it was something he could give, to help others in need. If he could convince the world to donate blood, he would!”

Valeria, Isaac, and Eva

If there was a word to describe her grandpa, Valerie said it would be: dedicated.  “He was passionate in everything he did in life, from his dedication to his family, to the students he taught in his many years as a teacher, to his volunteering for the Special Olympics for over 35 years, to the Red Cross.”   

Joseph DeRosa is survived by his wife of 66 years, Patti DeRosa, his 2 sons, Joe DeRosa and Bob DeRosa and his legacy of grand and great grandkids. 

“I want to make sure that when I die, they are buried with me.” – Joseph DeRosa

“After his passing, I remember reading comments on his online obit and saw so many of his former students commenting how he changed their lives. So many have successful careers that they attribute to him and I know he would be so proud of that legacy.” 

Every blood donation can help save up to three lives. Blood donations are used for patients in need of surgery, cancer treatment and transfusions for blood loss from traumatic injuries. The lives Joseph DeRosa has saved are in the thousands. Can you imagine, if everyone had such dedication to blood donation?

Learn more about blood donation and where you can donate HERE.

Platelet donor sets a new goal

600 units not enough for Painesville Township man

Richard and Carol Gundelach – Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Richard Gundelach donates platelets every two weeks, and on March 11, 2022, he reached a milestone: 600 platelet units donated.

His wife Carol baked a carrot cake to mark the occasion.

“Compared to giving (whole) blood, it’s easier,” Richard said after the donation. “People need it.”

Platelets are cell fragments in our blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding. They can be essential to helping patients survive surgeries such as organ transplants, and to fight cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.

During the platelet donation, the blood clotting portion of whole blood is “spun” out and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor; typically, the body replaces its platelets in 24-36 hours.

Platelets are always in short supply because they only have a shelf life of five days. Every 15 seconds, someone needs platelets.

Richard Gundelach – Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Encouraged by a friend, Richard began donating platelets during a time of unemployment 27 years ago. He’s retired now, and he wants to continue giving regularly.

His new goal: to donate 1,000 units of platelets.

When he achieves that goal, Carol may need to bake a bigger cake!

Donors can make an appointment to give platelets, whole blood or plasma by visiting redcrossblood.org, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or by installing the Red Cross blood app on their smartphones.

Edited by Glenda Bogar. American Red Cross volunteer

March 23rd is Giving Day, and the need for Red Cross services is critical

By Tim Poe, Red Cross volunteer

March 23rd is the eighth annual American Red Cross Giving Day, when communities come together to raise awareness about our critical disaster relief mission and fund our lifesaving work across the country. As recent events show, the Red Cross mission and services are critically needed, as #HelpCantWait.

As I reported earlier this month, Disaster Action Team (DAT) responses in our region increased by over 30% in February, mainly due to home fires, and March has continued to be exceptionally busy. Nationally, the Red Cross responded to more than 15,900 home fires since January 1, providing help to almost 60,000.

Please see this video for a behind-the-scenes look at the work Giving Day makes possible.

The blood supply is vulnerable, and help is greatly needed, from blood donors, volunteers, and those providing financial support.

In addition, climate change, global instability, and the effects of the pandemic will continue to pose challenges for all humanitarian services. Challenges that, with your help, the Red Cross will rise to meet. 

On a personal note, as a disaster responder I have seen the benefits of Red Cross services. I often saw the relief on people’s faces when we arrived after a home fire, knowing they would have help recovering. And, as assistance was provided, I also frequently saw human resiliency and signs of hope returning. Such moments occur, on average, more than three times a day in Northern Ohio and are made possible by donors and volunteers.

Here are some examples of what a financial gift can provide:

  • $3: one comfort kit containing hygiene items.
  • $15: one smoke alarm installation with fire safety education.
  • $50: a full day of food and shelter for one person.
  • $135: one smoke alarm and fire safety education for a hearing-impaired person.
  • $150: travel, meals, and shelter for one day for a deployed Red Cross disaster relief, health, or mental health worker.
  • $200: a full day of food and shelter to a family of four. Includes the cost of Red Cross workers to provide this service.
  • $350: the daily cost to deploy an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV).
  • $605: financial assistance for a family impacted by a local disaster, like a home fire. This helps the family purchase food, lodging, clothing, and other critical needs.
  • $4,000: a Sound the Alarm event. Includes installing smoke alarms and providing a fire safety package, deploying an ERV for the day, and lunch for volunteers. Average events install around 200 alarms.

To participate in Giving Day, please visit redcross.org/GivingDay. A gift of any size makes a difference.

For Northern Ohio volunteer opportunities, please visit this link..

To donate blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org.

To learn lifesaving skills like CPR and First Aid, consider taking a class at redcross.org/TakeAClass.

Video streamers can also help. See here if interested.

Down, but not out – Blood supplies are still vulnerable

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Last month the blood supply was in “crisis.” This month it’s rated “vulnerable.” Neither of those are optimal – the latter being only incrementally better. Bottom line = we still need everyone to donate if they are able.

Photo Credit: Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

With relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, doctors are once again allowing elective surgery. Don’t associate “elective” with just things as tummy tucks and facelifts.

Elective means it can be scheduled in advance instead of being scheduled as an emergency. Some heart surgeries, including bypass and valve surgeries, as well as some cancer surgeries or biopsies are scheduled electively. When elective surgeries are delayed for too long, life-threatening emergencies can occur.

Since issuing its first-ever blood crisis alert, severe winter weather has further complicated efforts to rebuild the Red Cross blood supply. So far in 2022, approximately 600 blood drives have been canceled across the country due to winter storms, forcing nearly 20,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

Photo Credit: Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Don’t let the supply go back to “crisis” mode – make and keep those appointments. It’s quick and easy to find a location and time near you at redcrossblood.org.

If you have either type O positive or O negative – you are needed most urgently:
o Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.
o Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.

Platelet donations are also urgently needed. Platelets are the clotting portion of blood, which must be transfused within five days of donation. Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments.

Need more motivation???

For drives March 1-31: All who come to give blood or platelets will get a $10 e-gift card, thanks to Fanatics, world’s largest collection of officially licensed sports gear.

Plus, donors will also automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2022 MLB® All-Star Game® in Los Angeles, California, when you come to give March 1-31. The package includes two tickets to 2022 MLB® All-Star Saturday, the 2022 Home Run Derby and the 2022 MLB® All-Star Game®, round-trip airfare to Los Angeles, four-night hotel accommodations (July 16-20, 2022), plus a $750 gift card for expenses. Details available at rcblood.org/team.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross celebrates community heroes during Red Cross Month in March

Please help celebrate the month and Red Cross Giving Day, March 23, by volunteering, donating blood or providing financial support, as #HelpCantWait

By Tim Poe, Red Cross volunteer

As busy and challenging as 2021 was for the American Red Cross’ Northern Ohio region, 2022 may be even more so. Disaster Action Team (DAT) responses in our region increased by over 30% in February, and we continue to face a national blood crisis.

Red Cross volunteer Ben Weisbrod responds to a hotel fire in Parma

As always, volunteers, staff and donors have been stepping up, but we could use your help. Throughout March, the Red Cross honors those who make its mission possible during the annual Red Cross Month celebration—a national tradition started nearly 80 years ago when Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the first national Red Cross Month proclamation. Each U.S. president since has also issued a proclamation.

“When emergencies strike, our community rallies together to help families and individuals when it matters most,” said Tim O’Toole, the Regional Disaster Officer for the Northern Ohio Region. “We honor this dedication during our Red Cross Month celebration, and we invite everyone to join us by turning their compassion into action by joining our response teams. We need help both here locally and to also send teams across the nation to major disasters.”

Help can’t wait during emergencies. Over the last 12 months—between 2/23/2021 and 2/23/2022—Northern Ohio Disaster Action Teams responded over 1,100 times to help families in need in our region, the vast majority of them victims of home fires. Just this past week our teams were in Harrison County assisting victims of flooding as shown in this video.

Nationally, the Red Cross has responded to more than 10,000 home fires, helping more than 37,000 people, since January 1, 2022.

My experience as a Red Cross volunteer has been exceptionally rewarding, whether in communications, disaster response or assisting in another capacity. It is an honor to work alongside so many compassionate, capable people, helping those in need and seeing the appreciation and relief of those we assist.

Please consider joining the Red Cross Month celebration by volunteering. You can also provide financial support on Giving Day or any time.

Jessica Voorheis donates blood at the Emerald Event Center in Avon

Blood donors are needed. The American Red Cross blood supply remains incredibly vulnerable – especially as doctors begin to resume elective surgeries previously delayed by the Omicron variant. It’s critical that individuals schedule a blood or platelet donation immediately to help ensure patients get the care they need as soon as possible.

To make an appointment to give blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or download the Red Cross Blood Donor App. As a thank you, all who give in March will receive a $10 e-gift card, thanks to Fanatics. March blood donors will also have a chance to win a trip for two to the 2022 MLB® All-Star Game® in Los Angeles (terms apply; visit rcblood.org/team for details).

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Blood donations: Who benefits?

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

We’ve all seen the American Red Cross logo at one time or another in our lives. Many of us have seen it promoting a local blood donation drive being held that day as we drove down the road. We all know that blood is needed for us to live–but we may not always think of how many different individuals rely on blood donations, until we or someone we know needs it. In fact, in Northern Ohio the Red Cross provides blood for patients in more than 70 local hospitals in Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Toledo.

Platelet donors Al Whitney of Avon Lake and Vinton Smith of Gettysburg, PA

Who are some of the people who rely on blood donations? Below are just a few:

Cancer Patients

Cancer patients may need blood transfusions to implement platelets back into the body after treatments such as chemo or radiation therapy. Certain cancers can also affect a patient’s ability to produce their own platelets.

Trauma Patients

When a patient comes into an emergency department with a trauma injury and there’s no time to check the patient’s blood type, emergency providers use type O negative red blood cells and type AB plasma. O negative blood cells and AB plasma can be transfused into any patient, regardless of blood type. However, less than 7 percent of the population has type O negative blood, and only about 4 percent have type AB Blood. A constant flow of blood donors who have these blood types are critical to keep up with hospital demand, and to help emergency providers save lives.

Glinda Dames-Fincher, of Mayfield Heights has lived with sickle cell disease for more than 60 years and receives regular red cell exchanges as part of her treatment.

Sickle Cell Patients

Sickle cell disease affects about 100,000 people in the United States, and causes red blood cells to harden and form a C-shape. When these cells harden, they can get caught in blood vessels and cause serious complications like respiratory conditions, organ failure, stroke or severe pain. While there is no cure for the disease, there is a critical treatment—blood transfusions. 

Burn Patients

Burn patients may experience blood loss through surgery or anemia. These individuals may need blood transfusion to replace the blood or red blood cells lost. 

Patients Who Have Major Surgeries

Patients who have a major surgical procedure may need a blood transfusion to replace any blood loss that occurred during their surgery.

Patients with Chronic Diseases

Patient with certain chronic diseases or disorders may require blood transfusions. Some may need blood transfusions throughout their lives. 

The next time you see one of those signs, one of our advertisements or think about the Red Cross, take the next step. Schedule an appointment to donate blood. Your donation helps people in your community – and you never know if that person could be standing right beside you. To take that next step now, visit www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive to find an upcoming blood drive or donation site near you.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Pennsylvania platelet donor visits Northern Ohio on quest to donate in 50 states

Vinton Smith has now donated blood in 45 states, and while he indeed plans to donate in the five states remaining (Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii), he has begun yet another quest: To donate platelets in all 50 states.

Vinton Smith at the Warzel Donation Center in Cleveland

“I’m inspired by recalling my dad’s work ethic and his dedication to donate, and by my mom’s compassion to help others,” said the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania man as he donated platelets at the American Red Cross Warzel Donor Center in Cleveland on Jan. 31.

He is also inspired by Al Whitney of Avon Lake, Ohio. Al has donated platelets in all 50 states twice. Vinton made a point of meeting Al after they connected through a donor website. 

Al Whitney, making his 1016th platelet donation on January 31, 2022

“It’s remarkable, how dedicated he is,” Vinton said of Al. 

His donation comes at a critical time for patients in hospitals who are counting on blood and blood products like platelets for their treatment. The Red Cross is in the midst of a national blood emergency – it’s worst shortage in more than a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care. The Red Cross has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood products in recent weeks – well below the ideal five-day supply.

Platelets are cell fragments in our blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding. They can be essential to helping patients survive surgeries such as organ transplants, and to fight cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.

Al Whitney and Vinton Smith

“Donating blood or platelets is doing something good to help someone else,” Vinton said.

He appears to be an inspiration to his children, both students at Penn State, as his father was an inspiration to him. Even at their young age, they have both donated blood many times.

Ohio is now the fifth state where Vinton has donated platelets.

When told his story would be shared by the Red Cross, he said, “I’m hopeful that it will inspire others, even just one more person, to take the time to donate life through blood or platelets.”

First-time blood donor gives to meet nationwide shortage, more donors needed

By Eilene Guy – Red Cross Volunteer

Last Saturday was a red-letter day for me: My husband donated blood for the first time.

Don Guy – First-time blood donor

I’ve nagged the poor man for years to join me, but he always deferred. That seemed odd: He’s generous with his time and talents, he’s a compassionate person and he’s not needle-phobic (that I know of).

“It just wasn’t my thing, but after the years of incessant bugging, the nationwide blood shortage finally tipped the scales,” he admitted with a grin.

Fortunately, the phlebotomist we had at the American Red Cross blood drive was really skillful. I know, because she “stuck” me too.

“If you want to look away, now would be the time,” she said. “A pinch and a little burn,” and the needle was in — – with hardly a pinch a burn. Honest.

Eilene Guy – Blood donor

I have the Red Cross Blood Donor App on my phone and I’m looking forward to seeing where my blood goes. Will it go as a whole blood transfusion? Or will it be separated into the component parts —– plasma, platelets and red blood cells —– to potentially save three lives?

In January, the Red Cross declared a national blood crisis because the blood supply had fallen to the lowest levels in more than a decade amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. And severe winter weather forced the cancellation of more than 300 blood drives that month, which added to the emergency.

The crisis is impacting health care nationwide, including right here in northern Ohio. A friend of mine’s heart surgery was delayed until there was enough blood on hand of her individual blood type. Imagine how nerve-wracking that would be.

Apparently the number one reason people don’t donate blood is that they haven’t been asked, so I’ve set myself a winter goal of asking, urging, convincing at least five people to donate blood for the first time. I hope if they do it once, they’ll become repeat donors.

If you’re reading this, consider yourself asked: Please, give donating blood a try. What have you got to lose? And think of what the recipient of that blood has to gain, be they an accident victim, surgery patient, parent undergoing a difficult childbirth, or person with an on-going need, such as someone with cancer or sickle-cell disease.

To find a blood drive near you, go to http://www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS. Be sure to make a reservation: That cuts down on the wait time for all donors and the Red Cross certainly doesn’t want to turn anyone away.

Please, give the gift that can’t be manufactured. There is no substitute for blood, and the only way to collect it is from generous donors.

More than 260 donations made at the Give from the Heart at annual blood drive

For 23 years, the Give from the Heart blood drive has been a lifesaving tradition in Northern Ohio. This year’s event was held last Tuesday, Feb. 8 at the Cleveland Marriott East in Warrensville Heights.

This blood drive came at a vital time, as the Red Cross continues to struggle with a national blood crisis. The current nationwide shortage has been further impacted by winter weather across the country, with about 600 blood drives cancelled forcing 20,000 donations to go uncollected.


Across the Northern Ohio Region, 21 blood drives were cancelled Thursday, February 3 leaving more than 730 donations uncollected.

The more than 260 donations made at the Give from the Heart blood drive will potentially help up to 800 patients.

We encourage donors to make an appointment for future blood drives by visiting redcrossblood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance.

If you are not able to give blood, the Red Cross also needs blood drive volunteers and blood transportation specialists to support critical blood collections. Blood drive volunteers play an important role by greeting, registering, answering questions and providing information to blood donors throughout the donation process. Blood transportation specialists provide a critical link between blood donors and blood recipients by delivering blood to hospitals our local communities. To learn more and sign-up, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Blood and platelet donations still critically needed amid first-ever Red Cross blood crisis

While there has been a significant and encouraging response to the dire need for blood across the nation, the American Red Cross needs more people to give in the weeks ahead to recover from its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Those interested in helping are urged to schedule the earliest-available blood or platelet donation appointment in their area to help ensure accident victims rushed to the emergency room, those being treated for cancer and others who count on blood product transfusions can receive lifesaving care without delay.

Since the Red Cross issued its first-ever blood crisis alert, severe winter weather has further complicated efforts to rebuild the blood supply. Hundreds of blood drives have been canceled across the country, including here in Northern Ohio, due to winter storms in January, forcing about 6,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

As February approaches, and the effects from the spread of the omicron variant and winter weather persist, people are urged to make an appointment now to give blood or platelets in the weeks ahead by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

As a thank-you for coming out to help save lives during this blood crisis, Krispy Kreme is offering those who come to give blood or platelets a free Original Glazed® dozen through the end of January. To receive the free Original Glazed dozen, visit a participating Krispy Kreme shop by Jan. 31 and present a donation sticker or a digital blood donor card through the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Those who come to give blood or platelets Feb. 1-28, 2022, will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, thanks to Amazon.*