Volunteers help blood center’s operations flow smoothly

By Jeff Zdrale

Sue is a community volunteer who provides office support at The Community Blood Center.

Jessica Klingberg hit the road running in her new position as volunteer services manager at The Community Blood Center, 4406 W. Spencer in Appleton.

Klingberg already had worked for The Community Blood Center (CBC) in several capacities before starting in her current role.

I had visited with Klingberg’s predecessor, Heather Duvall, for an RSVP site visit last April, but Klingberg  shared some updates with me.

The CBC now transports donors’ whole blood, platelets and plasma to 40 hospitals in six states. The center’s Appleton site also is expanding. Starting May 16 the current address will become the headquarters, and the property next door will serve as the donor and processing center.

The CBC’s territory and its scope of services are vast. In addition to the Appleton location, the center operates donor sites in Rhinelander, Woodruff, Little Chute, Merrill and Oshkosh. It also sponsors mobile blood drives all over the state in schools, churches, service clubs and business settings. Klingberg  said that, over its whole service area, the CBC runs about 100 blood drives a week.

 I learned that all revenue comes from fees that are charged to the receiving hospitals for the transport and the processing of the blood. Klingberg said that there can be no payment for blood donors.

My primary interest was how volunteers and, more specifically, RSVP volunteers, help support the CBC. Klingberg said that now a pool of 235 volunteers covers all of the center’s sites.

“Could you use more?” I asked Klingberg. She said, “Of course, it would be great to have more, especially in the mobile drives we have.”

The CBC offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Volunteers can serve as registration attendants at the center’s Little Chute, Rhinelander and Woodruff sites as well as at the mobile drives in other locations. They also can serve as blood couriers to hospitals, with reimbursement for their travel expenses. They can work at the cafes serving donors with snacks and drinks, and also can stock donors’ snack bags.

Additionally, volunteers can assist during the CBC’s special events, such as their MASH blood drives in community locations. The next one is scheduled for June 29at the Appleton Expo Center.

Klingberg wants to be flexible in working with volunteers’ schedules, but volunteers are expected to serve at least one shift (ranging from 2 to 8 hours) per month.

“With such a large territory to cover, volunteer assistance is a must,” Klingberg said.

People can apply to volunteer via the center’s website. Klingberg also receives referrals from groups such as United Way and RSVP.

After reviewing applications and conducting background checks, Klingberg sends individuals a short video describing the work of CBC. Then she tries to have a face-to-face meeting with each prospective volunteer. Sometimes the distance involved makes this difficult, so the visits can be done remotely or with people currently serving the outlying sites.

After that, Klingberg will have applicants view the various opportunities open to CBC volunteers.

“We are usually able to make a good match between what we need and what the volunteers feel comfortable doing,” she said.

Volunteers may not be the lifeblood of the CBC, but they’re close!

Prospective volunteers can contact Klingberg directly by calling 920-560-6630 or by e-mailing her at jklingberg@communityblood.org. For additional information, go online at www.communityblood.org.

Jeff Zdrale is an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer with RSVP.