So you’ve decided to give blood. Maybe this is your first time, or maybe you’ve given blood all your life and this is just another Monday afternoon. In any case, you’re going to be greeted by a smiling face at the American Red Cross.
This is precisely the job of Red Cross volunteer Ms. Dorothy Demby-Paige and has been for 35 years since 1979 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Ms. Demby-Paige, 79 years young, started the first high school blood drive in the area at Sanderson High School. As a science teacher, she was also the sponsor of the health career club. She had volunteered at the Red Cross in the past and saw the opportunity to put on a blood drive with the club.
“Our school was the first high school to form a blood drive,” she said. “They wanted a project and since I worked at the Red Cross as a volunteer, I asked if they had any blood drives in high schools and they told me no. I asked if they would come to my high school and they did.”
She stated that this was one of her best memories of volunteering at the Red Cross.
“It was, to me, really phenomenal,” she said. “I just wish now I could remember some of the names of those club members, see how that affected them and where they are now.”
Ms. Demby-Paige says that for anything to succeed there is a necessity for community involvement.
“Volunteering keeps me aware of the necessity for community involvement. It’s filled that gap for me, although that’s not the only volunteer work that I’ve done, I’ve enjoyed the Red Cross,” she said.
She also noted how nice everyone was that comes in to give blood. “I meet some nice people out here, and I’ve worked with some nice people.” She said that the people are one of her favorite things about working at the Red Cross — the donors, the paid workers and other volunteers.
Her commitment to the job was very apparent as she continued to work throughout the interview, smiling and greeting each donor as they arrived.
“I don’t have any plans to quit,” she said. “There’s been a couple of times I’ve had to wait because I’ve had health problems, but I always want to give back, and I guess I will.”
Ms. Demby-Paige has also given blood in the past and has her 18-gallon pin. She now suffers from MDS, myelodysplastic syndrome, a first stage leukemia and receives blood transfusions every six weeks. She says treatments are limited, but the transfusions help boost her red blood cells.
“This is a life giving endeavor and if anyone wants to help in that regard, here’s a good place to do it. This is what the Red Cross does.”
By: Adam Cheek
American Red Cross Intern, NCSU