A Powerful Reminder of the Importance of Red Cross Volunteers

Story by Harriet Vanderbilt / Red Cross Cascades

Five years have done little to diminish the emotion that Jamie experienced that day.

At the time, she was a volunteer transportation specialist making an emergency delivery to Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis, Oregon.

Jamie Denbow, April 2020

“As I arrived at the entrance of the building, I noticed a group of men huddled together smoking cigarettes and chatting,” Jamie said.

As she was unloading the blood out of the back of the Red Cross vehicle, a hand came towards one of the boxes.

Jamie turned and explained, “Sir, I appreciate the help but I’m a trained volunteer and I have to do this myself.” 

His response was, “Ma’am, this blood is for my son.”

Jamie told him she would get the boxes unloaded as quickly as possible.  After delivering the boxes to the lab, she returned to her van. 

“Then I burst into tears. That incident remains a very powerful reminder of the importance of the work volunteers do at the Red Cross,” Jamie said.

Although Jamie received no follow up on the man’s son, she knew that the Red Cross made a few more emergency deliveries to the hospital for him. “I hope he was able to pull through but it’s really incredible to know that I was a small part of the process to try and keep that young man alive.”

Jamie has worked for the Red Cross since 2015. She spent over three years in the warehouse where she was a Supply Assistant for the Pacific Northwest blood drives and then in 2019 became the Transportation Specialists Supervisor, the very program she originally started in.

Jamie clearly found her life’s passion at American Red Cross Blood Services.

“Now I get to work with all of our Transportation Specialists that are continuing the life-saving mission of picking up blood at blood drives and delivering blood to hospitals every day.”

Daily blood donation shipment, 2020

There is an ongoing cry for volunteer Transportation Specialists. The need is especially great in Coos Bay and Salem.

Michael Carney has been a Transportation Specialist for four years. She was drawn to the volunteer opportunity as a way to give back when he retired. Michael reflects on the passion and commitment that Red Cross volunteers have for their work.

“My career was in healthcare so I know firsthand how valuable the products provided by the Red Cross are to those in need”. Michael was able to develop her own schedule by going online to sign up. “I was able to volunteer for several or just a few shifts every month”. 

Transportation Specialists are needed all over the region now more than ever. Please consider volunteering for this critical role within the Red Cross. For more information, please contact Katelyn Dzialowy at katelyn.dzialowy@redcross.org or 503-201-3338. You can also visit redcross.org/volunteer as well.

“Never underestimate your ability to make someone else’s life better even if you never know it” Greg Louganis