Jack Higley has been volunteering for more than 60 years
By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer
Still looking for a last-minute gift in honor of that hard-to-please person? Or thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution that will really mean something?
How about something only you can give? How about the gift of your time?
American Red Cross volunteers give their precious time every time they help a family displaced by a home fire, donate blood or take a Red Cross first aid/CPR/AED course so they can save a life in an emergency.
Jack Higley of Aurora, Ohio, has racked up an uncountable number of hours over the span of 60-some years of volunteering with the Red Cross. He first stepped up when a fraternity brother was in a serious accident and urgently needed blood. “Back then, it was direct donation,” he recalled. “They took it out of my arm and right into him.” The experience inspired his fraternity to start scheduling regular blood drives.
Four years later, he started teaching Red Cross life guarding classes at a YMCA. Then, he went to donate blood in Madison, where he taught high school government. W; when the staff learned he had experience organizing blood drives, they asked for his help. He’s been at it ever since: he’s credited with donating just shy of 40 gallons of life-saving blood and for organizing countless drives.
“It makes me feel good,” he said, adding, “There’s always a need. My dad had 17 heart attacks and he used a lot of blood for the surgeries he had – stents, by-passes.
“People live because somebody donated.”
Although Jack can no longer donate because of health conditions, he enjoys staffing blood drives as a blood donor ambassador. “I like to be around the canteen (the refreshment area where blood donors are invited to enjoy juice, water and cookies immediately following their donation). I can relate to the people, talk to them. Some of them donate faithfully every two months. They’re my people.
“Jack’s Red Cross experience is an example of the generosity of spirit our volunteers show every day,” said Susan Gordos, who coordinates volunteers in support of blood drives and blood services across Ohio. “We have so many opportunities for people to give the gift of their time, to be sure life-saving blood is there when it’s needed.”
So, how about giving the gift of your time? The Red Cross of northern Ohio is always looking for blood donor ambassadors and blood transportation specialists.
As an ambassador, you’re the friendly face that greets donors, helps them sign in , and answers questions. You might even staff the canteen, like Jack, to chat with donors after they give blood.
Watch this video to hear from others about why they’ve volunteered in this role. Training is free, but the hospitality you provide is priceless.
Or you might find that being a blood transportation specialist is a good fit. These folks are a critical link, driving blood products to hospitals.
If you have a valid state driver’s license and at least three years of licensed driving experience, you are eligible to volunteer as a blood transportation specialist. You can choose regular routes, stand-by emergency deliveries or both. It’s a great opportunity for couples, friends or family members.
As Jack said, “Many of us are going to need blood, unfortunately. If you need it, the Red Cross has it, but everybody has to work together to make it happen.”
To take the first step of giving the gift of time, visit www.redcross.org/volunteertoday.
Have a happy, healthy holiday season. And may you have a rewarding 2023 – perhaps as a new Red Cross volunteer.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer
Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer