By J.D. Brink, American Red Cross volunteer
Pauline Skaff first volunteered for the Red Cross the week of 9/11.
Like many people after that tragically fateful day, she felt the need to do something. And she has been doing it for 22 years now. More impressive than that, she is 94 years old.
“People were lined up around the block,” Pauline said, describing the scene at the Red Cross the week following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Obviously, she wasn’t the only person motivated to help her fellow Americans. “But I didn’t know if they were going to let me do it. She really put me through the ringer,” Pauline said of the then manager of Toledo’s Executive Parkway location.
Volunteering is not an automatic process. The Red Cross vigorously screens their volunteers. Being trusted with the public’s blood and private information is a high bar to pass.
Five more volunteers started at the same time she did. And Pauline is the only one still there every week, like clockwork. “I’ve outlasted them all,” she said proudly.
Pauline Skaff works the reception desk every Tuesday, checking people in to donate blood. She gave up her usual Thursday shift to make room for University of Toledo medical students who wanted to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic. She stands ready to pick up that slack again, though, whenever they may need her.
And she hasn’t just worked the desk these many years.
“I don’t know how many gallons I’ve given all together.” But Pauline does know that she has pins marking her 2 gallon, 4 gallon, and 8 gallon accomplishments. “My doctor doesn’t want me to give anymore though. I guess being 94, that’s a good idea,” she laughed.
She also had to think about how many jobs she’s retired from. Before becoming a dedicated Red Cross volunteer, she worked at the University of Toledo bookstore for eight years. One day after that, her daughter asked her to temp for one day as a receptionist at the WLQR radio station. She worked there for seven more years. “The last job I retired from was at the Board of Elections,” she said, where she oversaw absentee ballots, especially for overseas military voters. It seems service has always been a part of Pauline Skaff’s life.
Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer