Volunteering the Life Blood of the American Red Cross

By Staci DaSilva | sdasilva@nexstar.tv

Published 03/11 2014 03:56PM

Updated 03/11 2014 04:27PM

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Volunteers are literally the life blood of the American Red Cross.

"You just feel good that you're helping someone else who may be in a fairly desperate situation," Dorothy Bartlett, Volunteer, said. 

At donor centers, they're most likely the first people you see when you walk through the door.

They take care of the housekeeping duties while technicians focus elsewhere. Some have been on the receiving end of someone else's giving.

"Years ago, I had the occasion to need a lot of blood. I have family members who have used a lot. And it just seemed like a neat thing to do," said Bartlett. 

Other volunteers just want to give. While blood is what the Red Cross wants the most, Waterbury Center's David Myette has found a different way to give back.

"I can't donate blood. I'm married to a man and it's an FDA policy that any man who has slept with another man since 1977 can't donate blood," Myette, American Red Cross volunteer, said. "I don't view it as a Red Cross policy. I think they'd be more than willing to have gay men donate blood."

Instead, Myette spends 10.5 hours a week here at Burlington's donor center since he retired in December.

"Retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be," Myette said. "I found myself being really bored and I didn't want to sit at home and watch TV all day so I decided to volunteer."

Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers across the Vermont area, help technicians extract tens of thousands of pints every year. One pint of donated blood can save up to three lives.

 "We collect over 50,000 pints a year out of our Burlington, VT operations throughout Vermont and the portions of New Hampshire that we cover," David Carmichael, of the American Red Cross Blood Services, said. 

Volunteers like David Myette and Dorothy Bartlett are a big part of that success.

"The people, particularly the other volunteers. We're a close knit group," Myette said. 

Volunteering is one way to help the Red Cross saves lives.

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