Houchin Miracle Kathy Agapiou

We are starting a new program to connect our donors to people who have survived a variety of life threatening situations and illnesses thanks to blood donors.  We are calling these people our Houchin Miracles, and they want to thank the anonymous donors who provided the blood, platelets and plasma which helped save their lives.

Our first miracle is Kathy Agapiou of Tehachapi who has survived numerous heart surgeries and cancer with the help of blood products.  This video tells her story and allows her to say thanks.

We are looking for more patient stories to feature this year.  If you, or someone you know, might want to be recognized as a Houchin Miracle, please send an e-mail to info@hcbb.com with contact information and the basic story to share so we can follow-up with you.  We look forward to sharing these stories through social media and other means to help remind us all why we are here each day to provide lifesaving products to people we will never know.  Thanks for helping us put a face to the patients blood donation helps!

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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Resolve to Get Fit and Save Lives

Alma checks Justin's blood pressure.

Alma checks Justin’s blood pressure.

Donating blood can be an ongoing part of a healthy lifestyle.  Not only do the blood products save lives every day in hospitals county wide, but volunteer blood donors get a “mini physical” each time they donate.  From the blood pressure check to the finger stick to the cholesterol results, each of these tests helps ensure a healthy person is donating for others.

To encourage blood donation during National Blood Donor Month, Kern Family Health Care is offering a great, health-enhancing donor prize as we Resolve to Get Fit and Save Lives together in January 2015.  Throughout the month, all donors can enter to win a Wii U Family Fit,  2 player bundle which includes the console, balance board, game software and controllers, PLUS a new TV!

Kern Family LogoAccording to CEO Doug Hayward: “Kern Family Health Care recognizes the importance of donating blood.  As the largest health plan in Kern County, we know that our members rely on blood products being available when they are needed.  We are proud to partner with Houchin Community Blood Bank to promote blood donations to ensure an adequate supply of blood and blood products in our community.”

Kern Family Health Care is dedicated to improving the health status of its members through an integrated managed health care delivery system. We are pleased to join with the organization to celebrate our donors with this great month-long prize drawing, which will provide a new way to increased health for one lucky donor.



EAKC January Prize

Night on the Town photoHow about a vacation without leaving home?  That’s what the EAKC Monthly Drawing prize is for January. Thanks to all our friends at the Executives’ Association of Kern County, a monthly prize will be awarded to one lucky blood donor drawn from all donors each month.  January’s prize is a Night on the Town, sponsored by Cathi Guerrero, Executive Director of EAKC, and EAKC’s official hotel, the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center. The prize includes a one night stay at the Marriott with a welcome champagne basket, and dinner for two at The Nines! Just think, you could couple this with a concert at the Rabobank or Fox, a film at the Maya, or a First Friday downtown – whatever you wish to make a truly memorable staycation.

The NinesCathi Guerrero has been the Executive Director of the 75 member EAKC since 1987. She is the principal of Black & Sterling Management, which also manages the Junior League Building in downtown Bakersfield. Cathi wanted to personally kick-off another year of the EAKC Monthly Drawing with her own contribution. She is just thrilled that member businesses sponsored all twelve months of the 30/30 blood donor drawing in just a matter of weeks in 2014 and now for 2015.

The Bakersfield Marriott, has helped the blood bank with many drives and promotions. “The Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center applauds all Houchin’s hard work and dedication. We are proud to support their efforts and value their “Spirit to Serve” our community,” says Vanessa Arellano Emo, Director of Sales.

Information about all the prizes in EAKC’s monthly drawing will be unveiled all year.


A Resolution We Love: 4 in 2015

Erica and VictoriaJanuary is a great month to resolve to give blood four times during 2015. Once in the winter, twice in the summer, and one other time convenient to you, would really help us maintain the right type of blood products for the patients we serve all year. Can we count on you?

Because January is a challenging time of year for blood donation, it has been celebrated as National Blood Donor Month since 1970, to recognize the importance of giving blood and platelets while honoring those who roll up a sleeve to help patients in need. Blood is traditionally in short supply during the winter season for a number of reasons: regular donors are hit by illnesses, people are traveling or on vacation, and in many parts of the country and our own mountain communities bad weather can keep people from venturing out even to donate blood. When high schools are not in session 20% of the nation’s donors are not where they can be easily reached. January in particular, is a difficult month for blood centers like ours to collect donations.

blood donation yearDonors of all types are needed, especially those with O-, A-, and O+ blood. With a shelf life of only 42 days, red blood cells must be constantly replenished to maintain an adequate supply for patients. Since platelets only last 5 days on the shelf, we can never take a vacation from collecting those from any blood type.

All month long donors at the blood bank and on mobile drives will receive a free Rusty’s Pizza coupon for an individual cheese or pepperoni pizza. Reasons to Give t-shirts will also be available while supplies last.