Regulars at the American Red Cross blood drive held periodically at the Logansport Mall may recognize Don Conrad, the floating, smiling volunteer whose longtime dedication to Red Cross service earned him a regional award this year.
The Indiana-Ohio region of Red Cross’s blood services gave Conrad one of its Outstanding Volunteer Service Awards at the annual recognition dinner this fall in Fort Wayne.
Galveston United Methodist Church received a regional Creative Genius Award for a promotion that doubled its blood drive yields. Logansport Memorial Hospital was named a Faithful Friend for dependability and dedication, and the Twelve Mile Community Building was recognized for being a first-time sponsor.
“We had quite a nice representation from Cass County this year,” said Sarah Moss, a Red Cross donor recruitment representative who works extensively in Cass County and the surrounding area.
“Don has been one of our greatest volunteers,” she added. “He’s very, very dedicated to the cause. He makes sure that all the volunteers are scheduled, makes sure that we’ve got people scheduled in the various areas.”
But Conrad, a retired machinist and Air Force instructor from Walton, is quick to point out the work of other volunteers, like Tri Kappa members who serve sandwiches at the mall blood drives.
“I was surprised” to receive his award, Conrad said. “You know, I think that other people are the ones who make it happen.”
“No, you’re the one who makes it happen,” responded fellow volunteer Pat Lefebure, a Logansport nurse who has helped out at Red Cross blood drives for more than 40 years.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” she said, “but he has an interaction. He can approach people and they accept it. And he’s always willing to answer their questions.”
Conrad started donating blood in 1958, soon after exiting the Air Force. He was a 1951 Metea High School graduate working at Jackson-Kitchell International Harvester farm implements store.
He didn’t get started volunteering for the Red Cross until nearing retirement about 15 to 20 years ago. Since then, Conrad has done everything from organize blood drives, volunteer on drive days, attend regional meetings and serve about a decade on the local board of directors.
And at 79 years old, he still donates regularly. He’s up to at least 17 gallons.
“It gets you kind of hooked,” Conrad said about donating blood.
That’s exactly the kind of donor other organizations hope to recruit.
Ed “Corky” Cordell, the blood drive coordinator at Galveston United Methodist Church, suggested the most prominent creative recruiting tool the church has implemented this year has been a simple foot-tall trophy that fosters “very friendly” competition among three Galveston-area churches.
“We have a sign-up for each church,” explained Cordell, “and the one that gets the most donors keeps the trophy until the next time.”
The trophy was the brainchild of Cordell’s wife, Jane, and their friend Jeff Merrell. Upper Deer Creek Church, where Merrell attends, and Galveston First Baptist Church are the two other churches that participate in the trophy exchange.
Members at the three churches converge on Galveston UMC for its regular blood drives.
“We’ve been able to almost double our donations,” said Cordell. Usable pints of blood drawn at the drives average 32 to 35 now, although the drive has peaked as high as 45.
The church also serves a southern Cass County favorite at the blood drives — peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.
“There are a few that go for it,” said Cordell, chuckling.
While the Galveston UMC blood drives have been going on for more than a decade, regular drives just started up at the Twelve Mile Community Building last year.
Bonnie Moss, mother to Sarah Moss, the Red Cross coordinator, coordinates a drive every other month at the community building. The Mosses worked with the Red Cross to start the Twelve Mile drives to allow locals a chance to donate somewhere convenient, Sarah said.
“We had never done anything in Twelve Mile before,” Sarah said. And now, the regular blood drives yield and average 25 to 30 units of blood, “which, for a small community such as Twelve Mile, that’s actually really good.”
It’s just slightly below the usual yield at a blood drive hosted by Logansport Memorial Hospital, where donors supply 30 to 35 units on average.
The Red Cross Faithful Friends award recognized the hospital’s consistent willingness to host blood drives even on short notice, helping the organization fill critical needs at times.
Their partnership goes both ways. The Red Cross supplies all of the blood the hospital needs for its medical procedures.
The Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region tries to collect about 500 units of blood a day to meet patient need in 60 hospitals across northern and central Indiana and northwestern Ohio.
“I think it’s really an accomplishment that we get the public to come up and donate for us,” said Deb Williamson, the hospital’s lab director and coordinator for the blood drives. And the Red Cross has been “outstanding as far as getting our needs and doing it in a timely manner.”
Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.
GET INVOLVED: Interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross? Call Sarah Moss, a Red Cross donor recruitment representative, at 260-450-7636.