The below is a Q&A with Blood Drive Coordinator Jim Gardner of Good Karma Bikes.
Q: How long have you been holding blood drives with SBC, and what first made you become a Blood Drive Coordinator (BDC)?
A: I’ve been a BDC since 2016 with Good Karma Bikes. I’ve also been a donor myself for a long time and realize how important blood donation is, which was a big reason I wanted to be a BDC. With an organization like Good Karma, we look for these kinds of opportunities to support the community. In fact, Good Karma just won “Nonprofit of the Year” for California Senate District 15! Clearly, we take the “karma” in our name seriously.
Q: What are your usual responsibilities as a BDC?
A: All my work as a BDC is really on the front end, before the drive happens. Most of this is simply advertising, making people aware of the opportunity to donate. We have a bike shop that is public-facing, so, for us, this involves having conversations with people who come in, posting flyers and making sure people leave with that physical reminder in hand, posting on social media, etc. On the day of the drive, all we really have to do is make sure there is space for the bus and that the donors feel welcomed and appreciated.
Q: How have your responsibilities as a BDC changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: During the COVID-era, my job involves a lot more of answering donors’ and potential donors’ questions. People are, understandably, very cautious, so I get a lot of “Is it safe?”, “Will our waiting area and canteen be socially distanced?”, “What about close contact with nurses or phlebotomists?” I talk often about the highly regulated industry of blood collection and all the safety measures we have in place during these drives, including masking, social distancing and frequent cleaning of donor areas.
Q: Have you seen any impact to donor turnout during your drives?
A: We hosted our first drive since the pandemic started last summer. Our rep, Elisa, called and I said, “Absolutely, I’ll do whatever you need, whenever you need it.” While this certainly isn’t the case for every drive or for SBC’s center collections, we at Good Karma have consistently seen an even better turnout since the start of the pandemic; at that first drive, we were nearly 200% over our goal! I think it’s because the customers we have at Good Karma are very socially conscious and they understand what a challenge it is right now to get donations and what limited ability blood centers have to host blood drives, given social distancing and closures of workplaces and high school and college campuses. We are really thankful to have such an amazing support system!
Q: Why was it important to you to keep holding drives, even during a pandemic?
A: In times of need, as we are in right now, it’s important to step up with everything you can reasonably do to support the community. If you’re like me and can donate, you should donate, especially since a lot of the people who would normally give blood can’t or don’t feel safe doing so, be that related to personal illness, COVID-19 exposure, limiting personal outings due to a donor being high risk or even lack of ability to get to the more limited number of blood drives in the community. To me, it’s this spirit of “We are all in this together.” We’ve got to help each other, and when one person can’t donate, the rest of us have to help out. It’s that simple.
Thank you to Jim, Good Karma Bikes and all of our blood drive partners throughout the community! Your support is invaluable in saving lives!
Interested in hosting a blood drive? We’d love to hear from you! Learn about the program and how to get in contact with us by visiting this link.
Read more of winter 2021 PULSE at stanfordbloodcenter.org/pulse.