By Kristin Stankus, Digital Community and Social Media Specialist
Whether acting as a friendly face for donors to interact with throughout the donation process or assisting collections staff with daily administrative responsibilities, the volunteers at Stanford Blood Center (SBC) are a vital part
of the work we do here. Volunteer Services Manager, Shaguna Wilkes, shares why: “Volunteers are important at SBC because they are avid supporters of our mission. Many of our volunteers are donors themselves and deeply believe in helping their community through blood donations. Volunteers are also our ambassadors in the community. They bring forward our mission within their circles and heighten awareness of the importance of blood donations.”
One such volunteer is David Polnaszek, a long-time donor and friend of SBC. He has been donating since 1985 and will hit his 500th milestone donation in November, an incredible achievement. When he retired from his professional career in June 2011, David knew he wanted to not only continue to donate at SBC but contribute his time to as a volunteer. David is now close to 1,000 volunteer hours. When asked why he volunteers, David explained:
It is a great way to give back to the community and Stanford Blood Center and is so rewarding, working with the donors and hearing their stories. Recently, a husband and wife came in to donate. They had a four or five-year-old son who had a heart attack and they were staying at the Ronald McDonald House while he received care. They didn’t have a lot of money to contribute so they came in to donate blood as their way of giving back to the community.
Stories like this are a big part of what motivate David to volunteer. He also likes that volunteering keeps him active during his retirement and he enjoys interacting with donors of all ages and backgrounds. “Most donors started donation because they or someone close to them needed blood at some point. I appreciate hearing their experiences and recognizing the good they are doing to help others,” he says.
David primarily volunteers as a canteen host at centers and at the label table on mobiles. Volunteers in the canteens enjoy greeting and socializing with our donors. They also interact with our medical personnel, providing feedback on donor reactions and observing the blood draw process. It is a wonderful opportunity for students or those entering the health care industry to be exposed to the medical field. Another great opportunity is assisting with special events like our Café Scientifique series, birthday drives or donor BBQs. Volunteers may help with set-up and decorating, greeting donors, or helping prepare and serve food and beverages.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer, the first step is to complete an application which can be found on the volunteer page of the SBC website. Once the application has been reviewed, potential volunteers interview with SBC staff, and then complete a training and health screening. Volunteers are required to commit to 50 hours of volunteer work over the course of a year. The hours can be spread out over time by volunteering at our community mobiles, in the fixed centers, and in the labs and offices (when available).