March Featured Donor of the Month

photo 1 (16)Growing up, Kevin Mulhause was like any typical teenager where everything was about him. Until one life changing incident triggered him to make a change. Now, Kevin is the 8th highest platelet donor at Houchin.

In the early 1990s, Kevin received a call from his aunt that her son needed blood products because he had leukemia. Without any hesitation, Kevin stopped by the blood bank to make a lifesaving donation. “At the time I wanted to help, but I was little naive about the process. But, Houchin staff educated me on the importance of donating, which made me commit,” said Kevin.

photo 2 (11)Kevin donated whole blood every 8 weeks until one day, one of our staff members asked him if he could donate platelets because of his great veins! “If I can maximize my donation with one visit then why not, especially knowing, platelets only have a 5 day shelf life,” said Kevin. Now, Kevin has donated 545 platelets and 10 pints of whole blood!

Kevin continues to donate in honor of his mom who died 10 years ago from cancer, and for all the survivor stories he has witnessed at each platelet dinner he attends. Besides being an avid donor, he enjoys racing remote control cars in his spare time. Kevin encourages others to donate because, “someone will always need blood products and without donors, we won’t be giving patients a fighting chance to survive.”


Condor’s Out for Blood in 2015

_2MN9705One lucky donor will score a great prize during this year’s Condors Out for Blood Drive: the use of the Condors Legends Suite with a great view of all the game action for 18 people, AND the opportunity to drop the puck before the game! Everyone will really be impressed with the luxurious accommodations, including a ride up the private elevator and no-host waiter/waitress service. Optional catering is also available in the suite. Truly a “suite deal”!

The Condors have been treating families to a great night out for 17 years, and have just become the Official ECHL Affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.  This is really a move up in the standings which promises to step up the action to an all new high!

BakersfieldCondors LogoFor your chance to win this fabulous night out in Condorstown, donate during this year’s Condors Out for Blood Drive which takes place from Thursday, March 5 to Thursday, March 19, 2015.  During the drive, every donor will receive a voucher good for a $1 lower level ticket to the game on March 24th against the rival Alaska Aces. That leaves extra cash to enjoy your choice of refreshments while watching an action-packed game! The grand prize winner will be drawn at 12:00 noon on Friday, March 20 so the lucky donor can plan their guest list for the Legends Suite.

There will also be a blood drive social at the Bolthouse Donor Center on Wednesday, March 18 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm with Condors players and mascots.  Come save some lives, meet the guys, and enjoy Shred the Competition Sandwiches. The KUZZ Prize wheel will be here with a live remote broadcast too. We hope to see you then!

The Bakersfield Condors are very active in the community sponsoring such annual favorites as the Teddy Bear Toss for less fortunate children, and making public appearances at special events all over town.  The Condors have become internationally know for their promotions, including the infamous escaping condor video on YouTube, which now has well over a million views! The Condors obviously like to show their fans a great time, and we hope all our donors who are not yet into this exciting sport will give a game a try with their voucher.

February Donor Julian Bernard

JB - gallon clubThrough hard work and dedication, Julian Bernard has achieved his one gallon milestone. Julian has been donating blood every chance he could since he was old enough. Julian has been in the Air Force Reserves for three years and he knows how critical it is to have a safe and reliable blood supply. “Every time there was a blood drive, he was there”, said his wife Tenina. So, far Julian has only missed one blood drive because he was in Mississippi with the Air Force.

Julian donated regularly while serving in the Air Force, and first donated with Houchin at Rio Tinto Minerals, while working there.  He now donates at Mojave Air and Spaceport, where he works for Scaled Composites.  “He knows how critical his O- blood is for our blood supply and comes in with a smile on his face and brings along a group of his coworkers”, said Christina Scrivner, our East Kern Community Development Account Manager. Julian hopes his example and encouragement will help others understand the importance of donating blood since the need never ends. He is proud to be in our one gallon club and plans to reach more milestones. He has already signed up for the next blood drive in Mojave to get started on gallon number two!

Second Annual Hearts United Blood Drive

Heart LogoNothing beats a healthy heart, the American Heart Association – Kern County Chapter (AHA) are joining us for our second annual Hearts United Blood Drive in celebration of American Heart Month. One out of every four deaths is heart related, and the surgeries which prevent those deaths often require blood products. You can help by donating blood, platelets or plasma this month!

Blood, platelet and plasma donors help save the lives of cardiac patients before, during, sometimes after surgery, so each week in February, we will be featuring a heart surgery survivor and their “story from the heart.”  For each pint of blood donated during the month-long drive, we will donate $5.00 to AHA, up to $5,000. This partnersGo Red Logohip between the two nonprofits highlights the need for blood every day to serve heart patients.  In addition, one lucky blood donor will win two tickets to the Go Red for Women Luncheon, Fashion Show and Conference on Friday, February 27 organized by our local AHA chapter.

The American Heart Association is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to defeating heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Their  mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke the nation’s No.1 and No.4 killers. Transfusion of red blood cells is required in 40%-90% of patients undergoing cardiac surgery, depending on the surgery type. On average, a heart surgery patient needs up to 6 units of red blood cells and 1 platelet transfusion.

  • Find our more about our featured heart surgery survivors who needed blood products here.
  • February is American Heat Month. Schedule a blood donation in honor of someone you know and other cardiac patients in need. Schedule Now. 

Stories from the Heart

Heart LogoIn February we think of the heart. Blood, platelet and plasma donors are everyday heroes whose donations save and enhance the lives of patients in need. Health organizations estimate a heart transplant requires 4-6 units of red blood cells; adult open heart surgery, 2-6 units of red blood cells, 2-4 units of plasma and 1-10 units of platelets; newborn open heart surgery, 1-4 units of red blood cells, 1-2 units of plasma, and 1-4 units of platelets; and abdominal aortic aneurysm, 4-6 units of red blood cells.

Each week in February during the Hearts United Blood Drive, we will be featuring a heart surgery survivor from the American Heart Association-Kern County Chapter and their “story from the heart.” Each survivor will be hosting a group donation during their featured week at the Bolthouse Donor Center as well.

Week one: Lori Gibbons
Lori GibbonsIn August 2013, Lori Gibbons was at work when she felt pain in her back and chest and couldn’t catch her breath. She knew something wasn’t right and tried to dismiss it, but decided to have her colleague take her to the hospital. Lori subconsciously remembered the AHA “Just A Little Heart Attack” video that her fellow State Farm coworker and friend, Brandi Dawlatly, had recently shared, and that’s when she realized she was having a heart attack. Before Lori was put in the ambulance she told her 20 year old son by text to come over to the hospital after his college final. “They brought him back to the ER room as they working on me I told him how proud I was of him, how he cannot let this affect him and he’ll be so successful in life and have a beautiful family, I made him promise whatever happens, make me proud,” said Lori.  Lori underwent surgery, survived and went home to recover. Only one day later, she had a second heart attack due to a blood clot, and underwent another surgery. Her severe wake-up call has led her to change her lifestyle by eating well, exercising, and losing weight. Lori is grateful to her friends for saving her life, and she hopes her story is a testament to the power of heart health education. In April 2014, Lori had another surgery and two more stents were put in her heart. With 3 surgeries under her belt, Lori received numerous blood products, so she is forever thankful to our blood donors. Not only did they save her life, but that of her sister as well as she battled cancer twice.

Lori will be hosting her group donation on Thursday, February 12 at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 4 pm – 7 pm.

Week two: Nikki West
Nikki WestNikki was an active college athlete at California State University Bakersfield (CSUB)  until a cardiomyopathy nearly took her life on April 15, 2009. It triggered a sudden cardiac arrest while she was swimming at school. Nikki’s heart had stopped beating. Passing students pulled her out of the water, and CPR was performed. An ambulance took her to the hospital where she remained unconscious for days. A long and slow rehabilitation process followed. The loss of oxygen to her brain resulted in memory loss. It was very difficult for her to go back to school, but after much hard work and dedication, Nikki began to slowly regain her memory and was able to graduate and now she is pursuing her masters at CSUB. Nikki’s story is one of perseverance, and she is extremely grateful for the friends, family and professors who supported her through her recovery. She is also grateful to all the blood donors who made it possible for her to have a second chance.

Nikki will be hosting her group donation on Saturday, February 7 at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 11 am – 2 pm.

Week three: Cindy Steel
cindy steelCindy was out working in her garden in late 2011 when she experienced what she thought was heartburn at the time. Then as the weeks went by, Cindy continued to have this same feeling. Sleeping at night became very uncomfortable, as she started having a deep burning sensation in her chest and the pain would move to her shoulders and into her jaw. After a month of many tests and medications, no problems were found with Cindy’s digestive system, so she was referred to a cardiologist.  Her cardiologist immediately scheduled an angiogram at 11:30 a.m., by 4:00 p.m. that same day she was having open heart surgery, which turned out to be a quadruple bypass. Cindy had 95% blockage, yet prior to this health emergency, Cindy had never been diagnosed with any major medical conditions. Cindy had always been a very active person throughout her life. She loved to garden, and go camping and fishing with her husband, David. Cindy was not going to let this heart condition get her down. Cindy prevailed in her surgery and since then, has learned to cook healthier.  Lifestyle changes have been critical: “having a supportive husband and family is very crucial to making changes to your lifestyle too,” says Cindy. Cindy is happy to share her experience with others in hope to raise awareness about the #1 killer of women. Cindy also understands the importantance of blood donors, “a constant supply of donors is necessary to ensure the blood donor center has blood every day and I am thankful that they helped saved my life.”

Cindy will be hosting her group donation on Saturday, February 21 at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 9 am – 12 pm.

Charlie and JoslynnWeek four: Joslynn and Charlie Skelton
Joslynn Skelton and her husband Andrew were joyfully expecting their third daughter due July 1, 2014. However, unlike their first two children, this baby girl brought with her a whole new journey for their family — a journey full of fears and unknowns. At 22 weeks gestation, they were told that their daughter Charlotte “Charlie” Skelton had Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome, meaning she was missing the left side of her heart and her aorta was completely closed off.
“Knowing that our little girl had a broken heart absolutely broke our hearts in turn,” recalls Joslynn, who since has learned that congenital heart disease kills more babies and children than all childhood cancers combined. She also learned that their child was not alone, since 1 in every 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect (CHD). Although the statistics were daunting, Andrew and Joslynn received a ray of hope knowing that through life-saving surgeries and treatments, Charlie would have a real chance to thrive. Charlie is the epitome of courage, determination and hope as she has survived two open heart surgeries, implantation of a pacemaker, numerous procedures in the catheterization laboratory, several blood transfusions and countless needle pokes.

Charlie’s latest open heart surgery was on December 5, 2014. During this operation her surgeons worked to reconfigure her heart to function in a way where her right side does all of the work. It will oxygenate the blood and pump it throughout her body. Charlie will have a minimum of one more surgery to complete this process, sometime between the ages of 2 and 4. “There are no words to explain what you go through as a parent when you watch your child literally fight to live,” says Joslynn Skelton. Joslynn and Andrew are thankful to all the blood donors who volunteer to give their lifesaving products. Between Charlie’s two open heart surgeries, she had received 4-5 units of blood along with 5 other blood transfusions.

The Skelton family soon became advocates for the heart community and took action to spread awareness; they truly embraced the heart community and life as a heart family.  “We all found our roles. Even our oldest daughter has taken action by starting a social media campaign to find a cure for Charlie, donating the proceeds to the American Heart Association”. They started a Facebook page documenting their journey as a heart family named “Hearts For Charlie” and one day they hope to see a cure for all children fighting CHD.

Charlie will be hosting her group donation on Saturday, February 28 at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 11 pm – 2 pm.

February is American Heart Month. Schedule a blood donation in honor of someone you know who has heart problems or other cardiac patients in need. Schedule Now. 



January Donor of the Month

IMG_0831On December 12, 2014 Charles “Chuck” Zwartendyk received his 25 gallon license plate, a moment he thought would not be possible because of his current circumstance. He was recently disappointed to hear from his doctor that he had to go on a blood thinner medication, just prior to earning his 25 gallon license plate.

But through the season of giving, Chuck was able to achieve this great milestone. Chuck’s son-in law, Mic Hall and other family members surprised him for his birthday and brought Chuck to our Truxtun Donor Center to give blood in an effort to make up the remaining 4 pints shy of achieving his goal. “We all wanted to do something special for Chuck because he has been giving back to the community for many decades now and so we thought this would be the perfect gift to give him,” expressed Mic. 23 members of his family, including grandchildren and great grandchildren showed up for this special day. Eight family members attempted to donate, resulting in 7 actual donations!  Chuck was so proud to celebrate this achievement today with the people he love and care about.

IMG_0830Chuck has been a dedicated donor ever since he got drafted in the Navy. When he got out of the service in 1945, he continued giving blood at Houchin’s first building before the G street Blood Center ever opened. He has been donating for more than 50 years with the exception of taking time off for knee and hip surgery. Chuck is motivated to give blood because “somebody has to do it.  It might as well be me.”

Chuck spent his career in welding, pipe fitting and pump repair working in the Oil and Agriculture Industry. Chuck is a Past Master and former Secretary for the local Masonic Lodge and was instrumental with initiating the Masons Group of blood donors years ago. Now, he enjoys spending time with family and on November 18, 2014 Chuck celebrated his 90th birthday!

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CSUB Give N Go is Back!

csubCalifornia State University Bakersfield’s Athletics Department sponsors the annual CSUB Give n Go Blood Drive to celebrate their Division I basketball season. This year’s drive will be held from January 12-24, 2014. CSUB students are really behind this year’s Give n Go Blood Drive which falls between two on-campus blood drives.

Donors will receive a voucher to attend one of the four basketball games at the Icardo Center on campus during the event.

CSUB Frat 2

Juan, Alex, Devon, and Daniel from the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at CSUB.

The Lady Runners play Missouri-Kansas City at 7:00 pm on January 16 and Chicago State on January 18 at 1:00 pm.  Runner Men play New Mexico State on the 15th at 7:00 pm and Texas-Pan American on the 17th of January at 7:00 pm. All games will be played in the Icardo Center at CSUB.

Distribution of our free “Reasons to Give” t-shirt will be continue throughout the CSUB drive, while they last.


A Special Tribute to KRV Donors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn October 16, 2014 we celebrated our wonderful Kern River Valley donors with an appreciation evening at The Lodge at Painted Rock in Lake Isabella.  We have an ongoing and very special relationship with our donors in the Kern River Valley, where we collect an average of 70 pints a month at the community drive. The Kern River Valley blood drives have grown substantially due to the tremendous support and giving spirit of the people who live there.
Christina Scrivner, Account Manager for Eastern Kern, served as Master of Ceremonies for the event, which featured remarks from Greg Gallion, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Amanda Mason, Chief Operations Officer. Donors were treated to a delicious meal catered by the Chatterbox Cafe.  More than 75 people were in attendance. We were able to show appreciation for all our donors, and give special thanks to our previous chair people Larry and Joann Luntz, as well as our current chairperson Kathy Agapiou. Kathy is also a blood recipient and shared her amazing story at the event.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe surprise honoree was Byron “Dean” McClellan, who has donated 24 gallons and was recognized with a certificate and flag flown over the United States Capitol from Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s office, as well as certificates from State Senator Jean Fuller and Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason. “The generous blood donors in the Kern River Valley continue to make such a meaningful impact to our county’s blood supply, we were very excited to host this event as a small token of our thanks and gratitude!” said Christina Scrivner.

November 2014 Donor of the Month

photo 1 (2)When you become a donor of any sort it means that you are thinking of someone other than yourself and Ronald “Tiger” Rossi lives by this statement on a daily basis. Tiger is a blood, marrow and philanthropic donor.

Tiger began donating when a couple of his close friends were in a terrible boating accident. His friends needed blood products so the doctor asked if friends and family members could donate for them. Without any hesitation, Tiger and his friends went to our old G Street location to donate blood. “I always wanted to donate but, this incident gave me a reason to start and to keep donating,” explained Tiger.

Now, Tiger has donated 18 gallons, “as long as I am healthy, I will continue to give and hopefully I will pass the great donors, George Kimm and Emery Barnes,” said Tiger. Tiger has had many memorable moments at the blood bank. Tiger was the first donor at our first mobile at Liberty High School and also at Frontier High School. Tiger is a supportive parent and he wanted to show his children how easy it was to make a difference in someone’s life.

Golden Empire Concrete

Tiger worked for Golden Empire Concrete and this was his truck that he use to drive around town. He wanted to help promote blood donation where ever he went.

A few years ago, Tiger registered to become a bone marrow donor because he was inspired by Mikella McAuley’s story, “her grandfather was my UPS deliveryman and he was raising awareness and I wanted to help give another tomorrow for patient’s like Mikella.” Fast forward to 2013, Tiger became a bone morrow donor on Father’s Day. He helped gave a 67 year old another chance at life. “It is always a great feeling when you receive thank you letters from recipients. This proves to me that wow, I am a superhero and I do save lives,” Tiger said.

Besides being a super donor, Tiger enjoys spending time with his family and he is heavily involved with the CSU Bakersfield’s Athletic Department. Tiger encourages others to donate,” I am an every 8 week blood donor and when I can’t donate, especially knowing that a child needs help, it makes me upset. That’s why I hope that someone can take my place or cover for people that can’t donate, to give the gift of life.”

Free Dessert in November

Bull Shed FoodDonors will receive a coupon for a free dessert with entree purchase during the entire month of November at The Bull Shed Bar and Grill.  Established in Bakersfield in 2010, the business is located in The Hotel Rosedale at 2400 Camino Del Rio Ct. It  is the “home of great times”, and dedicated to the country atmosphere/lifestyle. From country line dance lessons to karaoke, monthly events, daily specials and a fun happy hour, there is something for everyone to enjoy at The Bull Shed Bar and Grill.

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Angel Gonzalez, Co-Owner of the Bull Shed Bar & Grill and Ada Denton, Public Relation Specialist of the Bull Shed Bar & Grill.

Angel Gonzalez, Co-owner of The Bull Shed Bar and Grill is enthusiastic about this new partnership, ” I always want to give back to the community in any way possible, and Houchin Community Blood Bank’s services are vital to the health of local families. So we welcome this great opportunity to partner with them,” explained Angel. Ada Denton, Public Relations Specialist for the Bull Shed Bar and Grill is grateful for the partnership because she is thankful for the lifesaving resources that the blood bank has provided to her family. “I donate with my family, because my grandma had multiple accidents that made her need platelets and blood and so without blood donors, my grandma wouldn’t have had a second chance,” said Ada.

We hope November donors will enjoy their free dessert when trying out this local restaurant and night spot, which is family friendly until 10 pm.