Featured October Donor of the Month

1-IMG_0102Claire Frisch is well-known for her upbeat personality and selflessness. No matter how small the task maybe, Claire never skips a beat when it comes to her philanthropic responsibilities in our community. Although turning 85 this October, Claire is an active volunteer in our community. Claire has been an avid blood donor and volunteer for many years, but at one point, she needed to put a pause on donating because she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Even at a young age, Claire always had compassion to help others. She started donating in the 1970s during nurse’s training, “I knew first-hand how it’s important to donate especially, because my blood type is O-,” explains Claire. When Claire moved to Bakersfield from Whitter, CA she started donating at Houchin every 8 weeks. When her husband passed away in 2006, Claire noticed we were seeking a volunteer to assist with our high school mobiles and thought it would be a good opportunity to provide a bit of happiness back into her life. “I always look forward to chatting with the eager students and it’s an honor giving them their badge of courage for donating.” Claire believes that volunteering in your community is a necessity, “I have done lots of things in my life, but making a difference is a fulfillment in itself.”


Claire giving a first time donor their “badge of courage” at West High School.

As everything was returning to normal in her life, Claire found out she had breast cancer during a regular self-exam in 2009. Claire was relieved that she discovered her cancer when it was just at stage one. “Not many people are as fortunate as I was, the only thing that changed in my life is that I had to stop donating for 5 years,” said Claire. On February 23, 2015, Claire donated her first pint after being cancer free for a little over 5 years. Now, Claire is working towards her 12 gallon milestone!

Besides being a dedicated donor and volunteer at Houchin, Claire keeps busy volunteering with numerous organizations, including the Guild House, St. Philip the Apostle Church, and putting meals together for the homeless. She also enjoys knitting and catching up with her children and grandchildren. Claire encourages others to donate saying, “donated blood products are used for numerous purposes and of course save lives!”

A Week of Remembrance

imagesThe anniversary of 9/11 is a great time to ask if there is enough blood on the shelf right now to save lives in Kern County.This year marks the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and we are organizing a Week of Remembrance blood drive beginning Tuesday, September 8th through Friday, September 11th. This blood drive is to honor all first responders, including those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Donors donating during the Week of Remembrance blood drive will be entered to win a $100 Target gift card sponsored by Alert Disaster Restoration. The winner will be picked at 6 PM on Friday, September 11. Plus, the first 150 donors on September 11 will receive a 9/11 memorial lapel pin compliments of John Rodgers, Wells Fargo Advisors.  Donors will also receive a free adult admission to the Great Kern County Fair while supplies last.

9elevenSeptember 11, 2001 started normally at Houchin Community Blood Bank, but as the attack on our nation in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC began to unfold, a shocked public began to line up to help in the first way they could think of: to donate blood. Staff members worked practically around the clock doing whatever they could to cope with the outpouring of donors; some even came in on their vacations to help. People waited for hours in the heat to donate. More than 25 volunteers helped with donor care. Local businesses brought in free food and water for donors and staff. Radio and television stations reported live on the efforts.

539628_10151297327079582_1714310845_nToday blood banks stress that the blood on the shelves is what saves lives. After the Boston Marathon Bombing and the explosions in Waco, Texas willing donors were told to make appointments to replenish the tested and approved blood immediately available to help victims. In each case, more than enough blood was easily obtained to meet the needs of those injured from blood banks regionally. When you stop to think about it, blood donors are really part of the first responder team in any emergency requiring blood products.

Chp gives“Giving blood, platelets and or plasma is a fitting way for people to commemorate those who lost their lives on 9/11 and especially to honor the first responders who responded to the attacks and those who serve and protect communities every day,” said Joy Invina, Community Development Account Manager. The blood types most needed are: O+, O-, B- and A- blood.  Donors with those types are urged to come in to either donor center to ensure that there is enough tested and approved blood on the shelves to serve all patients.  The universal O- blood is particularly crucial to serve O- patients, newborns and those most critically ill and injured.


Featured September Donor of the Month

FullSizeRenderAlan Pippert is not your average 18 year old. Besides being an avid volunteer at the CALM zoo, and maintaining a part-time job, he is working towards obtaining his pilot’s license, and aspiring to be an aerospace engineer.  Alan is also a dedicated blood donor.

On May 29, 2013, the day of Alan’s 16th birthday, he walked into the blood bank with his family to donate blood, “because of my mom, I grew up with the idea of the importance of donating, that it’s just a small sacrifice of time and mild pain, which is not comparable to a patient in the hospital,” explained Alan. Alan’s mom, Josie, is the Director of Donor Services at Houchin and had instilled in Alan the importance of being a blood donor. Alan is also a huge advocate for our high school’s Give it Up and Gallon Grad programs. “Once you are at an age to donate, people should give it a shot. Friends and other activities will be there tomorrow, but the person in the hospital might not be, and so this program helps instill the importance of the need for donors,” said Alan.

IMG_9685After reaching his 1 gallon milestone on August 14, 2014, Alan wanted to maximize his donation and so he started donating platelets,“ I always wanted to try it out and I know that platelets only have a 5 day shelf life.” Even, when he went through his first unsuccessful TRIMA donation, Alan want’s to keep trying, “ the process is easy and it’s a great act of kindness possible for you to do.”

Besides being a dedicated donor, Alan enjoys playing video games, hanging out with his girlfriend and his family. He encourages others to donate, “why not just try? If you’re healthy and able, what is your excuse for not donating? What is so important that you can’t spare 30 minutes of your time to donate?”.

Houchin Miracle: Christina Jackson

Christina Jackson

Christina Jackson with her mother, Stephanie Jackson.

Christina Jackson has defeated the odds against her for 27 years. At the age of 1, Christina became ill and had severe pain throughout her body. At first, doctors thought she had pneumonia however, tests and her symptoms indicated she had sickle cell anemia. Doctors told her multiple times she wouldn’t survive, she wouldn’t be able to live a normal life, nor have a family of her own, but she continues to prove them wrong. Watch our latest Houchin Miracle video at the bottom of this story to find out how in her own words.

Sickle CellsSickle cell disease is inherited. It causes red blood cells to form an abnormal crescent shape. It is estimated that sickle cell disease affects as many as 100,000 people in the U.S. Many of these patients face a lifetime of blood transfusions to help reduce the risk of stroke, damage to major organs and other complications that can arise as a result of sickle cell disease.

Christina’s well-being is dependent on blood products. Ever since her diagnosis, and depending on her crisis, Christina receives blood transfusions every 2 weeks. Each session, Christina  receives at least 2 units of blood. Christina estimates she has received at least 1,000 units of blood over the span of 26 years.

Fullscreen capture 832015 43419 PMThere is never a moment where Christina is not in pain. Just last year, Christina suffered a severe crisis where her spleen was swollen and doctors compared it to be the size of a newborn baby. She received a total of 7 blood transfusions and 8 units of platelets. She was confined to a bed at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital for 40 days. Christina’s complications don’t stop there. Due to the amount of blood transfusions she receives on a regular basis, her liver can grow as a result of too much iron. This reaction occurred five times just last year. Christina takes about 20 different types of medication on top of her bi-weekly blood transfusions to help her survive.

Christina and Aaron

Christina with her son, Aaron.

Christina is happy to report she has a healthy, active 6-year-old boy named Aaron. Doctors declared Aaron a miracle baby because Christina was told she could not have children, and if she did, there was a possibility of birth defects. Even while in tremendous pain, and while receiving blood transfusions, Christina kept fighting for not only her life, but her son’s life as well. Although Aaron was born prematurely, he is doing just fine!

Christina volunteers as a teacher at her church, the Greater Bakersfield Ministry. She also works with Bhavana Patel, President and Chairman of the Board of the HIna Patel Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease, to brainstorm ideas on how to increase awareness in Kern County about sickle cell disease. Bhavana lost her daughter, Hina, 5 years ago to the disease she was diagnosed with as an infant. Christina is thankful to blood donors for keeping her alive and calls them her blessing in disguise. She plans to attend the Hina Patel Foundation Walk Run on September 12 to support sickle cell awareness thanks to the transfusions she receives from our donors.

A Joint Effort to Save Evelyn’s Life

Evelyn LealWe are proud to partner with Kaiser Permanente and San Joaquin Community Hospital in presenting our 9th Annual Community Wide Blood Drive. This drive helps us keep donations coming in at the end of summer, because the need for blood products never takes a vacation, even though our donors do!

Our collaboration goes far beyond this blood drive partnership, as we all share a joint mission of saving lives in our community. Here is the story of one life jointly saved.

Evelyn Leal, is a local Kaiser Permanente patient. She has resided in Bakersfield for three years after relocating from the Bay Area. In her late teens, Evelyn started working in the fields picking cotton in Wasco, CA. The physical nature of working in the fields, as well as positions in retail and manufacturing, has taken a toll on her body.

Evelyn suffered from extreme knee pain, she says: “I went in to see my local doctor at Kaiser for a regular checkup and learned I was going to need knee surgery”. Evelyn underwent a successful knee replacement surgery at San Joaquin Community Hospital in early July 2015. However, after surgery, her doctor said she had lost a lot of blood, resulting in the need for a blood transfusion. So it was recommended she get two units of blood to help build up her hematocrit levels. The transfusion was also warranted by Evelyn’s health history of struggling with anemia.

After receiving her blood transfusion, Evelyn is now in full recovery, and she has been attending physical therapy three times a week. According to Evelyn: “I am thankful to know that there are available blood products for patients like me. I am forever grateful for the blood donors that extended my life”.

Featured August Donor of the Month

FullSizeRender (7)Blood products are a lifeline for many people needing long-term treatments and in emergencies. Hubert Rabanal can relate to this statement. Blood products helped his son, Zachary, beat cancer. That day would not have been possible without the aid of selfless donors according to Hubert.

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Hubert, his wife, Janet, daughter, Taylor and son, Zachary.

Hubert and his family moved from Hawaii to Delano in the 1960s.  He met his wife, Janet, in Delano, and they raised their son, Zachary, and ,daughter Taylor there. Twenty years ago, Hubert and Janet received the news no parents ever want to hear. They were told 8 year old Zachary had Leukemia. Upon hearing the devastating news, Hubert’s first reaction was complete shock, “so many emotions were going through my mind, but I knew I had to stay strong for my family.” Hubert and his family were in and out of Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno. “When I was working at the Delano Community Correctional Facility, my coworkers donated time for me so I could be with my family.  This act of kindness, made me want to pay it forward as well,” Hubert expressed. So, he started donating blood with us.

He wanted to give back to the community in hopes to save lives, like others had done for his son. Three and half years after his Leukemia diagnosis, Zachary beat cancer! Hubert continues to be an avid donor and donates at our community blood drives at Delano Regional Medical Center. On July 23rd, Hubert hit his 7 gallon milestone!

11014907_10153147514599582_8183303519186336590_oBesides donating blood, Hubert enjoys traveling and spending time with his family. One of his favorite family pastimes is going to Disneyland. Hubert encourages others to donate: “this simple act of kindness makes a huge difference in someone’s life. You never know who might need it, so give the gift of life that keeps on giving.”

Take a Bite Out of Shark Week

sharksSharks are out for blood and so are we, from July 6 to 11, 2015 during the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week. During Shark Week, donors can enter to win a trip to Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific featuring Shark Lagoon and a night on the Queen Mary. Donors will also receive an awesome free “Lifeguard” themed t-shirt.

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California is dedicated to instilling wonder, respect, and preservation for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants and ecosystems. It is home to 11,000 animals in over 50 exhibits. Shark Lagoon is a 10,000 square foot exhibit featuring more than 150 sharks, some you can touch, and some you can’t!

RMS_Queen_Mary_2_in_Trondheim_2007The Queen Mary is rich with history dating back into the Great Depression. She exemplifies elegance and luxury. Since taking her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936, the Queen Mary set a new benchmark in transatlantic travel. During WWII, the Queen Mary made the transition from elegant cruise ship to the largest and fastest troopship. Following the war, she returned to her former glory, but with the increase in popularity of air travel, the Queen Mary made her final transition to what we know her as today: a floating hotel, attraction and event/wedding venue, home to three world class restaurants,  and an icon in Southern California.

So dive in to one of our donor centers or mobile blood drives from July 6 to the 11 to enter to win this unforgettable Long Beach getaway. Walk-ins are welcome, but an appointment is much appreciated, so please click here to request one today.

Featured July Donor of the Month

photo (69)Humble, philanthropic and kind-hearted are a few words that sum up dedicated donor Duane Spickler. Duane has achieved 16 gallons and is also our blood drive chairperson for First United Methodist Church. Growing up, Duane always wanted to make a difference in someone’s life and every 8 weeks he gets to fulfill this mission.

Duane began donating in 1992 while in the Sheriff’s Academy because his trainer encouraged the students to find out their blood type, “I always wanted to donate but I had a fear of needles, but since I was in the process of becoming a Sheriff I thought it would be another great way to serve the community,” said Duane. He continues to donate because it makes him feel good knowing that he is keeping hope alive for someone. But Duane always wanted to do more, so when one of the members of the church he attends fell ill and needed blood, Duane decided to host a blood drive. “I always wondered why I couldn’t have done this years ago, because my stepdad, who was a long time donor, was the chairperson for Stockdale Moose Lodge and he inspired me to dedicate myself to this cause,” explained Duane.

It’s not an easy task to be a chairperson for a blood drive, but Duane works hard to make sure his blood drives run smoothly. Even juggling his full time job as a sheriff, other volunteer work, and his family, Duane manages to find time to organize a successful blood drive at First United Methodist Church. “You just have to prioritize and organize your life and anything is possible,” Duane explains. Duane is passionate and driven to meet his blood drive goal. If he falls short, he figures out a way to improve his next blood drive.

Besides being a dedicated donor and chairperson, Duane enjoys hunting, traveling and spending time with his family. Duane encourages others to donate, “the tagline, people live when people give truly exemplifies the importance of donating blood. Don’t wait until someone you know needs it, there will always be a need.”

June 2015 Featured Donor of the Month

photo (3)This Father’s Day will be an extra special one for Stephan Maxwell because his family will be complete.It’s a moment Stephan thought wouldn’t be possible. On May 2014, Stephan’s son Brandyn, who was 12 at the time, was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, or RMS. RMS is a very rare type of cancer that affects children more often than adults. Even though this life-changing moment meant there was a chance Stephan would lose Brandyn, Stephan did not succumb to this possibility and instead, he was by Brandyn’s side fighting his cancer.

Stephan became a regular donor after Brandyn’s diagnosis. Stephan and his family were receiving so much help and support from the community, he thought the only way he could show how his thanks, was through donating. “Even though my son received his treatments in Los Angeles, the best way I could support him was through donating blood products. I wanted to start my own mission to help other people– to give them a lifesaving chance of winning their battles,” explained Stephan.

Then one day, Stephan learned he could do more than donate blood, “Phlebotomist Heather, noticed I would fill up my donation bag quickly. She convinced me to donate platelets and explained to me how platelets are used for cancer patients, which gave me a deeper connection to this cause,” said Stephan. Now, donating platelets has become a part of Stephan’s Wednesday routine, and he has donated 41 platelets.

photo (4)Stephan is the essence of a great father and selfless person. Even with a full-time job, being a dedicated platelet donor and a referee at local soccer games, he was with Brandyn every step of the way. Through the support of his fiancé, Stephan is able to find time to donate platelets. “She’s been my big support system; without her taking care of Brandyn, this might not have happened,” explained Stephan. Every day they never lost hope because they knew Brandyn is strong and a fighter. Just seven days before Stephan and his family were going to celebrate Brandyn’s 13th birthday, they learned he was cancer free on April 22, 2015.

Stephan MaxwellSo, this Father’s day will be a special one for the Maxwell household, “I am looking forward to spending time with my three kids on Father’s Day; a moment that I will cherish forever.” Stephan encourages others to donate, “what if a member in your family needed blood products, what would you do if we didn’t have it? It’s just a small sacrifice of time.”

Kicking off Summer with Ashley Furniture HomeStore Day!

10600434_10152416061399582_4648429393115175008_nWe are proud to partner with Ashley Furniture HomeStore®  on Saturday, June 6, 2015 for the third time to help kickoff summer donations! Summer vacations and travel make it harder for people to find time to give blood. Special blood drives like this one at Ashley Furniture Homestore® helps ensure a stable blood supply to offset this seasonal decline.

The Ashley Furniture HomeStore® mobile blood drive will be held at its Bakersfield location, 8915 Rosedale Highway, from 10 am – 2 pm. Donors there, or at either donor center all day, will receive a free Ashley Sleep Contour Pillow and a 25% off coupon for merchandise at the Ashley Furniture Homestore® while supplies last. Also at the mobile drive donors, will receive a coupon for a FREE Route 44 Big Drink thanks to Sonic. There’s a convenient Sonic right next to our mobile drive at the Ashley Furniture HomeStore®. For more information  or to schedule an appointment, call us at 661-616-2505. You can also make an appointment online.

HomeStoreLogoAshley Furniture has always had a proud sense of its history and the wisdom to know what made it great. Ashley Furniture continues to strive to enhance its communities by working to improve their infrastructure and community services. Locally owned Ashley Furniture HomeStore® are extremely active in their communities supporting many nonprofit organizations. Thank you for supporting ours!