Blood donors were greeted with a friendly smile from Staff Sgt. Julia Wolf who organized and managed the March 3, 2016, American Red Cross blood drive at Michigan National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing. Wolf, who works full time at JFHQ as the Guard’s assistant state enlisted promotion and reductions manager, was moved when she learned how low blood donations were in Mid-Michigan.
“Jeff Smith, an American Red Cross donor recruitment representative, reported that they were 1,500 units down from last year,” Wolf said. “And the recent bad weather led to several drives being canceled which resulted in even fewer donations. I approached my chain of command about hosting a drive at JFHQ and received support, giving me the go-ahead to begin preparations.”
Any Michigan National Guard facility can host a blood drive as long as the location meets ARC requirements and is approved by the Guard Chief of Staff. Almost all of the details can be arranged right from the ARC website – except for donor coordination which is the responsibility of the host point of contact, in this case Staff Sgt. Wolf.
State Command Chief Warrant Officer, Chief Warrant 5 Gabriel Ambrozaitis prepares to donate blood during the March 3, 2016, American Red Cross blood drive held at the Michigan National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing. More than 40 units of blood were collected from 55 donors. (Michigan National Guard photo by Sgt. Charles Stefan/Released)
“Fifty appointments were scheduled as of the day before the drive,” Wolf said. “Nine canceled and 14 donors were walk-ins, for a total of 55 donors. Forty-four units of blood were collected, which is three more than the Red Cross goal for the day and just six shy of my goal of collecting 50. We would have easily reached 50 but I was not aware that the ARC team packs up at 3 p.m. so they can return to station and get donations logged and stored. I turned several donors away after 3 p.m. which is unfortunate but there has to be a cut-off at some point, so now I know and can plan even better for the next one.”
Wolf said there had not been a blood drive at JFHQ since 2010 but already has another scheduled for July 16, 2016 under the guidance of Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Sonday. Wolf will coordinate a third drive in 2016 sometime around Veteran’s Day.
Spc. Zane Neitzka donates blood to the American Red Cross during the March 3, 2016, blood drive at the Michigan National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing. More than 40 units of blood were collected from 55 donors. (Michigan National Guard photo by Sgt. Charles Stefan/Released)
When asked for a comment to summarize the experience Wolf said, “To the men and women who set up an appointment, walked-in, and those that were turned away, I am honored to have served you – you are my heroes!”