Honoring Your Hero Could Help Save a Life

“Statistics show everybody will know somebody who received blood once in their lifetime. We never know what can happen, and the blood need doesn’t stop – patients still have cancer, burn victims are still in the hospital. The only way we can source blood is through volunteer donors.”
-Ellen Emerick

Ellen Emerick is a district manager for the American Red Cross biomedical team in the Illinois region. She is also a member of Heart of Illinois Blue Star Mothers. Her son, Joe Mickels, is a gas turbine systems technician for the U.S. Navy, and he has served our country for six years.

“If we have a new mom who has one of her children that just got deployed, what a great resource to have other moms who have been there and understand and can give them resources, or point them to the Red Cross. It’s a fantastic group of moms who understand,” she says. “I’m really proud to be a Blue Star Mother and to work for the Red Cross.”

Blue Star Mothers and the U.S. Coast Guard are teaming up to host the “Hometown Heroes” blood drive at 101 Holiday St in East Peoria from 1-6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 in an effort to help bolster the blood supply, and show support to military, emergency services, hospital staff or even neighbors who are there to lend a hand.

Click here to sign up to donate blood at this event.

Ellen says, “This is just another way we can support and honor our local hometown heroes. It’s vital to donate blood.”

Karen Frazier is the Heart of Illinois Blue Star Mothers chapter president. Her son, Christopher served as a specialist in the U.S. Army for four years, including nine months in Afghanistan.

Karen says, “It was my worst nine months, and I needed to find something for camaraderie. No one knows what you go through like another mother. It’s nice to have somebody you can lean on and show you it’s going to be ok. We support each other.”

In addition to supporting each other, her organization supports the mission of the Red Cross.

“I’ve been a blood donor since 1984. It just makes sense – there’s no reason for us not to do it, because we’re moms and this is a way to give back to our community in a bigger, broader aspect. If you can save a life through blood, why wouldn’t you do that?”
-Karen Frazier

Thank you for rolling up a sleeve in honor of your hero. Each blood donation could save a life!

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Employee Spotlight: Shaquetta Booker

I love my job, because I love the fact we are saving lives. I definitely enjoy being on the front line. I like to serve people and make people feel great.”
-Shaquetta Booker

Shaquetta Booker is a team supervisor at the American Red Cross blood donation center in Bloomington, Illinois.

Shaquetta started working for the Red Cross five years ago, and it was family that led her to go into this career. Her mother passed away due to cancer and needed blood during her battle with the disease.

Shaquetta learned how the Red Cross works to help provide that blood, while caring for her mother. She wanted to be a part of this process and help others.

“There is definitely a need for blood every day. Someone needs blood all the time. I love that people come out to help others,” she says. “When we are out here helping people, that’s a great thing to do. If that’s something you are willing to do, it doesn’t take much, it doesn’t cost anything and it’s definitely something that is needed.”

When she is not working, Shaquetta enjoys spending time with her children and family in Decatur. Thank you, Shaquetta for being an important part of our biomedical team!

Please visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood donation appointment opening near you.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Celebrating Black History Month: Employee Spotlight on Tommy Nevitt

“It’s a very important job and there’s some very important stuff in these boxes.”

– Tommy Nevitt, American Red Cross Biomedical Services Employee

Tommy Nevitt is originally from Mississippi but came to Chicago in 1979. After working various different jobs, he found a great fit at the American Red Cross as a Blood Services Transportation Specialist; basically the driver who makes sure blood products get where they need to go.

Tommy has been with the Red Cross for over 11 years now and has developed good relationships with the hospitals in his comings and goings. He says they’re usually happy to see him and in a single 8 hour shift he may visit up to 10 hospitals.

Being a biomedical driver means being organized, efficient and flexible while representing the Red Cross. Blood is vital for so many things: surgeries, therapies, cancer treatments and more, and being a part of the process comes with responsibility and respect. Drivers like Tommy work alongside a team of volunteer drivers to deliver blood products in large boxes to hospital blood banks regularly as the need for blood is constant.

“It kind of makes you feel important, and when people see you they show you a lot of respect. Makes you feel like you’re really doing something special.”

– Tommy Nevitt

Between deliveries Tommy says the driving gives him a chance to think and stay clear-headed. He says its a good job for people who like to drive and can focus on something.

As the Red Cross celebrates men and women of color who contribute to our humanitarian service, we’re proud to recognize Tommy and his many years of service to the Red Cross and our mission.

“I back that up 100% and have respect for the Red Cross for celebrating all we’re representing. It’s a very important job and there’s some very important stuff in these boxes”

– Tommy Nevitt

As a Transportation Specialist volunteer, you will be the critical link between blood donors and blood recipients by delivering blood, platelets or other blood products to a hospital.

Click here to apply to be a volunteer with the American Red Cross.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Holly Baker