March Donor of the Month

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Joan Clark, Sandy Young, Tonie Siedschlag and Mary Ann

Stallion Springs is a close-knit community where everyone cares about each other. So it’s no surprise that their blood drives average 30 or more donors. The success of the blood drives is due to the unquestionably hard work of the Stallion Springs CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). They have helped organized the Stallion Springs community blood drives since 2012. The CERT program is designed to alleviate some of the pressure on first responders during a major disaster such as fire, flood or even a major spill on the highway. Just like blood donors, CERT is comprised of volunteers working together to help make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to any disaster situation.

Stallion Springs CERT has a great commitment to their community. Sandy Young, team leader of Stallion Springs CERT says: ” we always find any kind of opportunity to help, and being part of the blood drives allows us to be a part of this life-changing moment.” The Stallion Springs blood drive began in 2011 when Marybeth Garrison, former General Manager of the Stallion Springs Community District, offered to host mobile blood drives in the Stallion Springs area. Marybeth is a dedicated donor and a strong advocate for blood donations, who got the program off the ground in Stallion Springs then passed organization on to the Stallion Springs CERT.

We recognize Stallion Springs CERT as our donors for the month of March in recognition of their ongoing work to support our joint mission to make sure the blood bank has a safe and reliable blood supply before and after an emergency.

Thanks a Gallon Recognition Event

Phlebotomist Beatrice congratulating donor, Yessica on her 3 gallon milestone!

Without blood donors, many patients simply would not be alive today. Some donors have made it their mission to help save lives repeatedly. Year after year, we have donors committed to doing their part to help patients in need, with an amazing dedication that never waivers.

As a special thank you to our dedicated donors reaching milestones on Friday, November 27, 2015, we will be hosting a special event in their honor. Join us at either donor center for our Thanks a Gallon social event. Donors will enjoy free delicious tacos from 11- 2 pm from Taco Fusion and a coupon for a buy one of their well known Fatboy Fries and get one half off! Taco Fusion is honored to have an opportunity to help thank our lifesaving donors. Taco Fusion owner, Jeanny Kamphan is enthusiastic about our partnership, “we believe what makes a living is what we get, however we make life by what we give. Setting your heart to do good will be filled with joy,” expressed Jeanny.  Plus, Curbside Kitchen is joining the fun by providing a voucher for free garlic fries! Also, take selfies in front of our fun photo booth from Ballooniverse by Jennifer . We will also have other goodies and fun as we celebrate that next gallon milestone!

Giving-Thanks-for-Giving“Thanksgiving is a time for thanks, so what better way to show how much we appreciate the giving spirit of our dedicated donors than by celebrating their milestones,” said Joy Invina, Community Development Account Manager. Each gallon milestone takes 8 pints, which takes at least 16 months. A small percentage of the population gives blood at all, and fewer still reach incredible milestones, so each gallon really is a great achievement worth shouting about!

If you are not sure where you stand on your next gallon achievement, call Peggy at 616-2540 for more information.  If you know you have a milestone coming up make an appointment to give during the Thanks a Gallon social event by calling Peggy or filling in a request here. We look forward to recognizing your efforts during this special day.



Great Event at Souza Family Vineyards!


Tehachapi platelet donor Loree Gracey, and Houchin Account Manager Christina Scrivner assist Celebrity Bartender AbbyNormal in keeping up with the demand for tastes at Souza Family Vineyards.

Thanks to our tiny four-legged celebrity bartender, AbbeNormal, her amazing owner Loree Gracey and Souza Family Vineyards, we launched an outreach campaign to raise awareness about our need for more platelet donors. On October 4, 2015, Abbe, Loree, plus Bob and Patty Souza hosted a wonderful Celebrity Bartender Event to raise financial support and awareness for the increasing need for platelets by patients nationwide. Platelets are used to counteract the effects of chemotherapy, to help ready a patient for surgery, and with any clotting disorder or trauma situation. The process to collect that component of the blood is a little more involved and done exclusively at our two locations in Bakersfield.

12140609_10153295587619582_6277524614566365055_nLoree began donating platelets after she learned of their life saving properties and has been very passionate about encouraging others to consider joining this team of lifesavers! Once a month she travels to Bakersfield and spends a couple of hours at the donor center of her choice to impact the most lives with her donation. While whole blood is still in constant demand, new protocols have reduced the need for red cell transfusions. This is not the case with platelets. Platelets are in constant and increasing demand, have an exceptionally short shelf life of only 5 days after testing, and can only be collected via state-of-the-art automated donation equipment available only in Bakersfield.

With the funds raised by Abbe and Loree at Souza Family Vineyards, we have developed a special winter program for Tehachapi area donors who travel to Bakersfield to make automated donations. From November 1, 2015 to January 30, 2016, each Tehachapi area donor who donates through our Gold Club, will be entered to win a $250 gift card. To learn more about our Gold Club or for qualifications please contact Peggy Smith at  661-616-2540.

Local Business Supporting Our Veterans

logoBlood drive sponsors play a vital role by hosting drives in our community. We appreciate local family-owned Vacusweep for sponsoring our Veterans Day Blood Drive for a second year. Vacusweep supports our troops in many ways: by sending packages overseas to our soldiers, honoring them by wearing red shirts on Fridays, and partnering with us on Veterans Day.


Captain Ranger Jeff Jones

A family member’s story is what spurred Owner/Operator JR Jones to sponsor two $100 VISA gift cards that two lucky Veterans Day donors will win on Wednesday, November 11th. JR’s son Jeff, proudly serves in United States Army. During a 15 month tour in Afghanistan, Jeff lost his friend and fellow soldier, his father-in-law, a grandparent and his little sister. These losses made the tour of duty just that much harder. His mother Susie says: “What a price to pay for our freedom!” They are forever grateful for their soldier and hero Jeff.

Jeff Jones pictured with his mom, Susie and JR.

Jeff Jones pictured with his mother, Susie and father JR.

Vacusweep is a division of JOSCO Construction, Inc. which has served Kern County for the past 26 years as a commercial & residential sweeping company. Both JOSCO Construction, Inc. and Vacusweep are located in Bakersfield, California and serve all Kern County, including rural areas such as Tehachapi, Delano, Wasco, Buttonwillow, Shafter, Arvin. Visit their website to learn more about their commercial sweeping, building maintenance and other services.



Military Moms to the Rescue!

In honor of Veterans Day, Kern River Blue Star Moms will be hosting their third annual blood drive from November 9 through November 14, 2015. Both donor centers will serve as collection points for goods to go into care packages for our troops currently serving overseas. These care packages symbolizes “a taste of home” to sons and daughters serving around the world.

According to Candace Macias, President of the Kern River Blue Star Moms, ” the Kern River Blue Star Moms are committed to serving our community, and supporting a blood drive is a great way to raise awareness about the need for donors.”  Blue Star Moms are the mothers of current service members of all branches of the Armed Forces of the United States, or mothers of veterans.

There will be boxes at each donor center to collect personal care and snack items. Print the full shopping list here. Just bring your contributions during the drive to either donor center to honor all those serving our nation today. There will be an evening social at our Bolthouse Donor center on Thursday, November 12 from 5 pm to 7 pm featuring mini sandwiches from Jersey Mike’s. Plus, the first 50 donors will receive a free chips and drink coupon from Jersey Mike’s.

People donating on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11 can enter to win one of two $100 VISA gift cards sponsored by JOSCO/VacuSweep.

On Feb 28th the Blue Star Team, Generous volunteers, family and friends showed up to help get hundreds of pounds of donations into boxes, taped, labeled, and ready for the mail. They packaged over 200 boxes and shipped to 14 countries!

Kern River Blue Star Moms is our local chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. The purpose of the organization and its chapters is to share pride, devotion and the worries associated with having sons and daughters serving in the military. Not only does Blue Star Moms provide support for active duty service personnel, they promote patriotism, assist veterans organizations, and are available to assist in homeland volunteer efforts to help our country remain strong. To sign up for the blood drive, or for more information please contact Candace Macias at 661-706-4265.

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”.