Found My Niche

This week has been a trying one for us all as another tragic event rattled our fleeting sense of security and threatened to take away even more of our freedom. I found out about the bombings at the Boston Marathon as I was getting ready to take my daily afternoon run. I must admit that those seven miles were more difficult than usual to get through as I watched the now all too familiar images flash across the screen during the national news coverage. I found myself tearing up more than once and trying to imagine how I would have felt if I had been one of the runners. All I could think about were the victims, their families and all of those individuals who trained so hard for that day — a day that should have been one of the happiest days in a runner’s life. I haven’t felt so vulnerable and helpless since September 11th. I envied Clara and Elyse, who slept soundly that night and awoke the next day to our brand-new world — one that they are still too little to understand.

Ironically enough, earlier in the day on Monday, before the bombings occurred, I decided Providence_Frontto change my upcoming blood donation appointment. It was originally scheduled for this Saturday, but because I didn’t want to interfere with any burgeoning plans, I decided to move my appointment to that evening. Although my blood wasn’t sent up to Boston, it was used to replenish the blood center’s reserves after they shipped most of their supply to Boston-area hospitals. I was more than happy with my decision to donate for the first time since Elyse’s birth (if you remember, because of the IVIG, I wasn’t allowed to donate blood for at least a year) on a day when I felt the need to give back in some small way.

The one downside to blood donation is that you can only give a pint every eight weeks, as it takes your body that long to replenish the lost red blood cells. Seeing that literally thousands of people had to donate blood (well, at least their blood plasma, one of the three components of blood) to supply the 33 bags of IVIG infused into my body during my pregnancy with Elyse, I am not content with only being able to donate around a gallon and a half of blood per calendar year. So, about two weeks ago, I contacted the Volunteer Coordinator at the Rhode Island Blood Center to see how I could donate something else — my time. I was willing to do anything — administrative work, greeting donors, handing out juice and cookies, you name it. I spoke to the coordinator, explained my reasons for wanting to become more involved and was invited to come in for an interview the following week. Once the coordinator found out that I was comfortable speaking in public and had a compelling story to tell, he asked if I would be interested in being a “spokesperson” for the Blood Center. Basically, I would be asked to speak to religious groups, high school students and other organizations in my community to encourage blood donation. Currently, there is an entire group of blood recipients who go around speaking in their communities and I get to join their ranks. I couldn’t believe my luck — a volunteer position that combines a cause near and dear to my heart with my current skill set. I’m stoked!

I was also asked to take part in the Blood Center’s upcoming Summer of Inspiration program, in which I’ll get the chance to speak at the Blood Center about how blood donors saved both of my daughter’s lives. And in order to get the ball rolling on these exciting opportunities, the Bloodblood center Center’s Communications Manager, Frank Prosnitz, came to our house yesterday to interview me for an upcoming story for the Center’s Community Lifeline newsletter. Once the story and photos are published, I’ll be sure to share them on the blog. So exciting!

This volunteer opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. For the past several months, I’ve felt a little out-of-place and disjointed. Ever since I left my teaching job at Bridgewater State University, I’ve been looking for an outlet and a way to connect with others, outside of the blog, of course. Although I will never be able to donate enough blood to make-up for all of that which was donated to save Elyse’s life, I am thrilled that I get the chance to try to encourage others to donate by using some of my most powerful weapons — words. I want others to see that through blood donation, they can change, as well as save, so many lives. And in a time when the dawn of a tomorrow is as uncertain as the New England weather, all we really know for sure is that the selflessness of others may be all that gets us from one sunrise to the next.

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