Helping Our Local Community in Grand Rapids — One Blood Donation at a Time
Every month, a team member at LaFleur chooses a way for our organization to give back to the community and make a positive impact. In June, our content director Dave VandeWaa had a big ask for the team: donating blood with the Red Cross.
People were nervous.
Most had never given blood before. Some had not been able to give in the past because of their iron levels. And honestly, no one enjoys being poked with needles. On the morning of the drive, someone said, “I’m more nervous than when we were about to have our first child.”
But 11 people on our growing team of 15 marketing professionals signed up and donated blood on June 15, one day after World Blood Donor Day. That’s almost 75% of our entire organization, and over 90% of our local employees. Considering only 38% of adults can give blood, we had an awesome turnout!
Here are some cool facts about our team’s donation:
- The 11 pints of blood we donated could potentially save up to 33 lives!
- The average adult has approximately 10 pints of blood in their circulatory system, which means the LaFleur team donated more than a person’s-worth of blood!
- All the donations from the drive went to a local healthcare facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which means someone waiting in line with us at the grocery store could have benefitted from our donation!
Our team experienced a few common post-donation symptoms, but with a little bit of rest (and a few snacks) everyone recovered between about 24 minutes to 24 hours later. And a few of us will even be donating a few months from now when we’re eligible again.
Donating in Memory of a Friend and Colleague: Joel Boomsma
June 14 is World Blood Donor Day, and CareLinc (a local medical equipment supplier) was hosting a blood drive in honor of Joel Boomsma, a longtime employee who tragically died of a heart attack in 2017. June 15, the day of the drive, would have been his 58th birthday, and he was an avid blood donor throughout his life.
Dave got a chance to sit down with Kirby Shotwell, the marketing manager at CareLinc who helped organize the blood drive, as well as Joel’s daughter Brooke, who recently became a nurse. Kirby had fond memories of working with Joel: “he would whistle, he was funny and sarcastic, and he was incredible.”
She mentioned that “he didn’t feel good for a couple days and ended up having a heart attack at his desk… he thought he would be fine, thought he just had indigestion or an upset stomach.” June is Men’s Health Month, where individuals and organizations across the United States work to raise awareness about preventable health problems and encourage men and boys to get regular medical advice and seek early treatment for diseases and injuries. The week of the blood drive was also Men’s Health Week, which shares similar goals. Both Kirby and Brooke hoped hosting the blood drive in honor of Joel would help raise awareness about the importance of listening to your body and seeking prompt medical treatment.
Kirby also mentioned why she was donating:
“We have an internal hashtag, #AllTheFeelsFriday. This is one that has given me a lot of the feels… I’m actually donating myself today, too. Even though it makes me a little bit nervous, Joel can’t donate anymore, so I think that I should try and give back in some way, somehow. A little caring goes a long way.”
Why Donate Blood With the Red Cross?
Every 2 seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. And blood cannot be manufactured — it needs to be donated. Without donors, there is no life-saving blood supply.
Learn More: Blood Needs & Blood Supply
Since every donation has the potential to save 3 lives, donating feels like a no-brainer, even if you’re nervous. Volunteer donors who give blood with the Red Cross provide about 40% of the nation’s supply of blood and blood components.
Unfortunately, only 10% of eligible donors give blood once a year even though you can donate every 56 days.
Donations don’t just go to trauma patients, though. Many individuals benefit from blood donations:
- Cancer patients often need platelets because certain cancers and treatments prevent them from producing these critical cells.
- Sickle cell patients require multiple transfusions and need to be closely matched to the donor blood type.
- Burn victims require plasma donations to maintain blood pressure and other functions.
- Patients with other chronic diseases need all types of blood to treat and manage their conditions.
The blood drive hosted by CareLinc generated 42 donations — and counting. Thanks to the Red Cross’ SleevesUp campaigns, anyone who donates at any location over the course of 3 months can contribute to CareLinc’s total units and help our local community.
This was Kirby’s first time organizing a blood drive, and she was grateful to be working with the Red Cross: “Working with the Red Cross has been super great. I’d highly recommend that if anyone else is interested in doing a blood drive. They were super easy and efficient and very helpful.”
In addition to helping to collect and distribute much-needed blood, the American Red Cross performs a wide range of services — both in the United States and abroad. They help:
- Families and communities recover from disasters
- Individuals and companies with health and safety training and certifications
- Deliver aid and operate support programs across the globe
- Support and serve active duty military members, military families, and veterans
LaFleur: A Community-Focused Digital Marketing Agency
LaFleur serves as a marketing partner with law firms, healthcare organizations, and growing businesses throughout the United States, but our organization is also deeply committed to making a meaningful difference in our community, whether that be at the local, state, or even national level.
We hope to serve as a positive example to businesses of all sizes and in any industry to prove that profitability and paying it forward are not mutually exclusive.
CareLinc provides medical equipment for neo-natal care, post-surgery mobility assistance devices, in-home hospital beds, and everything in-between. Respiratory therapists and other medical professionals on staff are certified and trained to offer advice to patients and help equipment get covered by insurances. With over 400 employees across 22 locations in Michigan and Ohio, “care” isn’t just part of their name, they really care about helping people get medical necessities.