Turning Pandemic Downtime into Lifesaving Time

By Presley Dailey, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas

Linda Bianchi
Photo Courtesy of Linda Bianchi

Today we are spotlighting volunteer Linda Bianchi, who has served in biomedical services for just over a year. Linda first began volunteering at Red Cross when she took a leave from her company after the pandemic hit, and wanted to fill her time with making an impact on other lives.

In late April of 2020, she joined the blood-drive team and has since had multiple experiences to build her understanding of the department’s crucial role in saving and maintaining lives. Since volunteering, Linda has discovered the human impact of the services, seeing firsthand how it has benefitted the health and well-being of thousands of people across the country, as well as the hard work behind the scenes to make that possible.

“I’ve learned so much about the importance of blood and things I wouldn’t have known, such as blood has a limited shelf life,” she said. “There’s a huge misconception that it can be always on the shelf, and that is something I try to share with donors as they come in.”

Linda’s main role is helping set up, clean up and make the drives run smoothly by interacting with clients and donors of all backgrounds, some who have been giving blood and volunteering for years, and others who are new.

As she meets new people every day, Linda sees a special opportunity when it comes to helping and encouraging first-time donors and volunteers. She recalls an experience she had with a young man at a large blood drive in Collin County who was new to the process. She introduced him to the idea of giving blood to give back. After, he expressed surprise at how much he enjoyed the experience.

“It’s about making that person feel comfortable and encouraging it to be a lifelong thing; it’s like they’ve started a new path on something they can do their whole life–something that’s really easy to do. I love helping those people,” Linda said.

Linda thoroughly enjoys serving others in many capacities, and it is something she has done with a willing heart most of her life. Having had previous experience as a volunteer coordinator herself, Linda understands the importance of having a team who not only want to be there and are willing to work as needed, but also making sure everyone involved is given an important task and that their time is valued.

The objective of ensuring that everyone plays an important role and feels valued by their colleagues contributes to the overall morale and high spirits of the operation, influencing the way new donors or volunteers feel upon entering the blood drive. It creates a better experience and atmosphere for everyone involved, which is part of the reason Linda has enjoyed her service so much.

“It feels like a family; it’s such a lovely experience and it’s important for donors to see that, too,” Linda explained about working with the biomed team.

“It makes them feel like Red Cross has got their back.”

After she began volunteering with blood drives, Linda decided to contribute to the mission further by giving blood herself, which is highly valued because of her O-negative type.

“It is a wonderful feeling to know how our donated blood is used. Last time it went to a Kansas City hospital to save someone’s life,” she explained. “It goes to the heart of Red Cross and to us as human beings. It was a such a little thing to sit on the table for five minutes and give blood, and that in turn can change someone’s life forever.”

At the Red Cross, we appreciate the hard work and dedication of our volunteers as they are the backbone of our organization and help us carry out the humanitarian mission. Whether it’s serving in the biomedical department for blood drives, aiding communities who have suffered a disaster, or working internationally to help developing nations, all our volunteers demonstrate a unique sense of generosity and awareness to the human condition and have been a light to many people in otherwise uncertain times.

At the Red Cross, we cannot stress enough the need for volunteers like Linda across all lines of service, especially one so crucial to saving lives and bringing aid to those who face life-altering injuries or illnesses and need transformative care. Every member of a team who helps manage blood drives–from the volunteers to the health care professionals to the donors themselves–play a vital role in providing a sense of hope to people and communities across the country.

We thank them for their dedication to the cause.

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