by Joe Edwards, Director, California Safe Corps
When I am asked the question “When did you start working with the Red Cross?” my reply is that I began working as a summer intern in 2012 and became a full-time staff member the following year.
However, my relationship with the American Red Cross dates back to 2004. I had just moved from Texas to Los Angeles and my then girlfriend (now wife!) encouraged me to go with her to donate blood. We donated at what is now the Red Cross L.A. Region headquarters in West L.A., and I have been a loyal donor ever since.
Donating blood was always encouraged in my family, particularly by my father. One Sunday, when I was a senior in high school, our priest announced that following the morning mass there would be a blood drive at the recreation center across the street. My father gave me a very determined look and nodded. I knew what I’d be doing directly after mass. I donated off-and-on during college whenever I saw blood drives taking place on campus, but it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that donating blood became a regular habit.
Like many Americans, at the end of every year I often reflect how I could have given back more to the community, and I find that donating blood is one of the things I proudly say is my contribution.
In terms of prospective blood donors, as a male who weighs more than 200 pounds with O+ blood-type and no history of diseases, previous blood transfusions, tattoos or piercings, there might as well be a bull’s eye on my back.
And when my professional relationship with the Red Cross Los Angeles Region started, one of my first questions surrounded Blood Services and our region’s relationship with that department. Our region and the bio-med division, it turns out, have a very loose relationship. Different org charts, different management, different offices, different service areas. However, we are still One Red Cross, and I can still give blood conveniently at the West L.A. office, where I first donated in 2004.
In fact, while giving blood on December 4, I was notified that I had become a 5-Gallon Donor (the equivalent of 40 blood donations). The Red Cross even supplied me with my own pin.
I wanted to share this story because December traditionally is one of the lowest months in terms of blood donations during the calendar year and in some regions the blood supply becomes shockingly low. Please donate this month. The Red Cross would appreciate your support. With the new official Blood Donor App, which has been downloaded close to 150,000 times, anyone can easily sign up to give.
I’m proud to work for the Red Cross, but equally proud to be a blood donor.