Luncheon Ends Great School Year

LuncheonAt the end of each school year, Houchin Community Blood Bank hosts an elegant luncheon to recognize  high schools contributing the most blood.  This year the theme of the High School Appreciation Luncheon on May 15th was “Leading The Way”.

The schools in our High School Challenge are divided into four categories: Petite, Small, Medium and Large, based on their senior class size. The Petite school winner was Immanuel Christian High School which collected an average of 35 units with a class size of 8.  Small school winner was Frazier Mountain High School  with 121% of their class size participating, collecting a total of 61 units. The Medium school winner was North High School which collected 406 units or 122% of their class size. Our Large school winner was West High School  collecting 99% of their class size with a total of 508 units.

Extra Mile Award

The new Extra Mile Award for the school sending the most students to the donor centers was presented to Liberty by sponor Kern Schools Federal Credit Union.

This year a new award was unveiled at the luncheon sponsored by Kern Schools Federal Credit Union.  This “Extra Mile Award”. This was presented to Liberty High School, for bringing in 115 donors into our donor centers. Stockdale High School  was recognized for bringing in the most units during the crucial months of Summer. 94 donors came into either donor center crediting Stockdale High.   In all, high schools came together to hold 53 blood drives,and collecting 6,617 units of blood, which was an increase of 570 units over last school year.  These donations possibly saved as many 19,851 lives. High school blood drives represent over 20% of our total blood supply. More photos are available in our Facebook Photo Album.

The Leading the Way trophies lined up for presentation along with The Extra Mile Award.

Each participating school, received a “Leading the Way” award plus a signature Houchin Community Blood Bank license plate frame featuring the number of gallons of blood each school has collected in total during their years of participation. The Houchin Ambassadors in each school, who organize the drives to gain leadership experience and community service, were recognized for their hard work, as were the principals and advisors who make the program so successful.  Brian Serrano, a senior from Golden Valley High School was one of the speakers as was Gaby Rios, a junior from Arvin High School who also served as a Houchin high school ambassador. They both received a $250.00 scholarship, sponsored by Kern Schools Federal Credit Union.

2015 High School Luncheon

Stephanie Gibbons, Account Manager for the High School Program, served recognized all the sponsors and winners.

Other award presentations were made to community volunteers who assist with the high school mobiles and local businesses who support the high school program including:  Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Yogurtland, McDonald’s, Rusty’s Pizza, Wall Street Imprintables,  Sonic Drive In and Tutti Frutti Yogurt @ Hageman.

It was announced that the Gallon Grad Club, welcomed in 145 students,who met this challenge by donating 8 times to reach the one gallon mark.  Each received their own one gallon license plate frame, a custom blood type key chain, and a letter of recognition from our President and CEO, Greg Gallion, at the time their achievement was reached.

Nurses: Essential Pieces of Our Team

Nurse Picture

Our Nurses: Valerie, Robynn, Bronny, Amy, Amanda, Katie, Jeri, Carlena, and Cindy.

Our nurses are an essential piece of our team. By California State Law, a registered nurse must be present when blood, platelets or plasma are drawn for human transfusion.  That means there has to be an RN at each donor center and on each mobile drive, day in and day out.  They supervise our blood collection methods to make sure we follow all the regulations guiding our industry completely. In addition, one of our nurses, Amanda Mason, serves as Chief Operating Officer, overseeing many aspects of day-to-day operation.

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Nurse Katie helps President and CEO Greg Gallion with a platelet donation.

According to Greg Gallion, President and CEO: “The professional contributions that our nurses provide to our staff and donors is crucial to our operation. We value their leadership and sound decision-making every day to provide our donors with exceptional customer service and ensure a safe, pleasant environment for all. We also rely on their sensitive work counseling with donors, their leadership and training of staff, and that special care they show to both our donors and the blood collection process at every location.”

Our nurses are also willing to donate blood products themselves, and personally serve as training subjects as new staff members learn to check iron and blood pressure or draw blood. We thank our new nurses, Amy and Robynn, for joining Carlena, Jeri, Amanda, Valerie, Cindy, Bronny and Katie in service to our community.

Every year we join the American Nurses Association in commemorating National Nurses Week from May 6 through May 12. The celebration ends on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. The purpose of the celebration is to raise awareness about the value of nursing, and educate the public about the role nurses play in meeting the health care needs of all.

We are honored to celebrate the 3.1 million registered nurses in our nation this week, especially the 9 nurses working with us. Thanks ladies!

Summer Pledge Drive

The annual “Twice as Nice Pledge 2 Give” has a new name and face! This year we are introducing the Summer Pledge Drive. To simplify the pledge and prize drawings, donors will get one entry for each donation between May 1 and September 30, 2015.  A blood donor can donate three times during that period, and a platelet or plasma donor could get in many more entries.  All you need to get started is to pledge online here.

Instead of just one prize at the end of the drive, there will be numerous prize drawings. We will track donations for all those who have pledged and conduct prize drawings on June 5th, August 5th, and September 30th. We are still collecting awesome prizes, so check back to see what’s been added!  How many entries will you have for these fine prizes?

June 5th Prize Drawing

  1. Stanley Black And Decker Tool Package
  2. Angels VIP Package: 4 Tickets Behind Home Plate to the July 21st Game and an Angels Swag Bag! Compliments of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

August 5th Prize Drawing

  1. Stanley Black And Decker Tool Package
  2. To Be Announced

September 30th Prize Drawing

  1. To Be Announced

Freedom Week Honors the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War

Freedom week 1From Saturday, May 16th through Saturday, May 23rd, 2015 donors will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite branch of the Armed Services during Freedom Week, our annual week-long celebration of our military. One lucky donor will win an amazing trip for two to the east coast to share in the commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. The winner will have the opportunity to visit the site of the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania or the Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston, South Carolina where the Civil War first began. The winner gets to design their own trip! The trip is sponsored by Setton Farms, the local producer of “America’s Best Tasting Pistachios”.

Freedom week 2Donors can enjoy a free kick-off BBQ on Saturday, May 16th from 11 am to 2 pm, sponsored by the Bread of Life BBQ Ministry at the Truxtun Donor Center. We hope to see both regular and new volunteers in to donate throughout Freedom Week to celebrate the men and women who currently serve, or have served, our country in the military. What a great way to personally serve our community between Armed Forces day and Memorial Day each year as well as recognize a veteran! Be sure to vote for your favorite branch of the service when you enter to win our fabulous prize.  Last year’s winner was the Marines.  Will they win again?

Setton Farms - America's Favorite Pistachios - California PistachiosWe appreciate the ongoing support of Setton Farms for our Freedom Week Blood DriveSetton Farms learned long ago that producing the best pistachio nuts starts with the growing process. Their orchards follow the most strict cultivation standards and maintain one of the most sophisticated food safety programs. As a family owned and operated pistachio company since the mid 1980s, they attend to each detail of the pistachio growing process. Setton Farms’ continuous improvement and perfection of that growing process has made them the industry leader in the development of this important local crop. We appreciate their ongoing recognition of the valuable contributions of our local blood, platelet and plasma donors through the sponsorship of our annual Freedom Week through a fabulous donor prize drawing.

May Prize Opens New Door

April showers bring May flowers… and what better way to enjoy those flowers than through your new retractable screen door! The May Executives’ Association of Kern County (EAKC) Monthly Prize drawing is $500 towards a retractable screen door installed by Sorci Construction Services. There’s nothing like being able to leave your door wide open to enjoy the breeze. Retractable door screens disappear out of sight into an almost invisible housing, giving you fresh air without the bugs, without spoiling the look of your home. Don’t just take our word for it, check out a video of this great prize!

Sorci Construction Services is a full service design build General Contractor specializing in residential and commercial custom remodeling. With a focus on craftsmanship and design innovation, quality and top-notch performance are trade marks of any Sorci Construction Services project. Brian Sorci is  the President of Sorci Construction and has been at the forefront of building and construction trends for over 25 years. His staff has over 250 years of experience and is the absolute best in the business. The Sorci name is synonymous with quality custom cabinetry in Bakersfield, and the firm prides itself on being “Bakersfield’s Custom Remodeling Specialist”. Sorci Construction Services has been recognized numerous years as “Bakersfield’s Favorite Remodeling Contractor” in the Bakersfield Californian’s “Best of Bakersfield”.

Brian Sorci is a member not only of the EAKC, but of the Kern County Builders Exchange, Western Regional Master Builder’s Association, and Bakersfield East Rotary Club.  He would be happy to discuss any commercial or residential remodel of any size with you, or provide some fantastic Phantom retractable screen doors for your home or office! He can be reached at 661-324-8464.

Local Battle of the Bay Drive Returns

The Bakersfield Black Hole Club
is organizing their 3rd annual blood drive along with the Kern County Niner Empire, Bakersfield Raider Booster Club,Thee Empire Faithful SF 49er Booster Club. We call it Kern County’s Battle of The Bay. These clubs are all coming together for a common goal: to save lives in their community! Support your favorite team by donating blood, platelets or plasma, beginning Thursday, May 7 through Saturday, May 9, 2015. Donate during the drive and you’ll be entered to win a 32″ LED DVD Combo TV! Socialize and save lives with other Raider and 49er fanatics at the kick-off social event on Thursday, May 7 at the Truxtun Donor Center, 5901 Truxtun Avenue, from 4-7 pm.

10251984_10152177623749582_5524475859871411377_nPaul Ocampo, President of The Bakersfield Black Hole Raiders Club, wanted their club to take part in a third blood drive to make a positive impact in the community. “The Black Hole Raiders Club members believe in spreading our message of positive fanaticism through solidarity as we promote team spirit, community outreach, and civic pride. We are proud supporters of our local Bakersfield community and feel honored to be able to donate blood, help save lives and encourage all others to do the same, he said.”

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Karina and Deisy are holding up the 32′ Flat Screen TV that one lucky donor will win!

There will be a Tailgate Party at the Truxtun Donor Center on Saturday, May 9th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm featuring delicious tailgate food for donors and fans.  Live music is planned and donors will have one last chance to score the flat screen TV! For more information about Kern County’s Battle of The Bay Blood Drive, or an appointment, call us at 661-616-2505. You can also make an appointment online.

Awesome New Gold Club Dinner

Gold Club DinnerAlmost 300 donors and guests were in attendance at our inaugural Gold Club Dinner. This annual event was called the Platelet Dinner in the past, but the new name takes into account that plasma donors are now part of the club.  Plasma only donations began in April 2014.

Guests enjoyed Hodel’s famous buffet, raffle prizes, and snack gifts compliments of platelet donor Michael Mayo of Frito-Lay, and platelet donor Gary Ketchell who provided pistachios for his fellow donors. TerumoBCT, Inc, maker of our automated donation machines, made a monetary donation and Ballooniverse by Jennifer made a contribution to the decorations that night. The theme this year was “Go for the Gold,” in keeping with the name change. Director of Community Development, Carola Enriquez, explained to the audience that the new Gold Club designation reflects the color of these specialized products: “not only does this sound exclusive, it helps us explain the club to donors we want to ‘convert’ from donating red or whole blood to platelets and plasma,” she explained.

1743639_10152843847294582_4001421973234486907_nPresident and CEO Greg Gallion updated the audience on the state of the blood bank and applauded our platelet and plasma donors for their significant contributions to our successes. He reported that we are proud of having the lowest “out date rate” in the nation. He was very happy to report that our nonprofit’s outdate rate is only 2.5% meaning that 97.5% of our platelet collections make it to a patient. The national average is more than 4 times that figure! In 2014, 73.2% of products from automated collection were platelets and we collected 2,391 units of plasma which was up 1.3% over the year before. He explained the increasing need for platelets and plasma, and a decrease in the need for red cells, due to new treatment protocols.


Pictured are Harold, Nurse Cindy, and Randy, all Houchin staff members. Harold had just finished a plasma only donation. Nurse Cindy was our featured survivor speaker at the Gold Club dinner earlier this month. Randy is in the middle of a triple platelet donation.

Cindy Fisher, RN was the featured survivor speaker at this years dinner. Cindy is one of our Charge Nurses, known to many donors. Cindy is a cancer survivor and needed blood, platelets and plasma in her fight for life. At one point she was only given 2 weeks to live. Her story of shock at the diagnosis, agonizing treatments, rehab, debilitating setbacks, and ultimately kicking cancer drew a standing ovation from the audience. Her story was truly an inspiration to all who attended.

To be invited to the 2016 dinner, all you have to do is donate platelets or plasma through automated donation at least 6 times during 2015. For more information, please call 661-323-4222 and ask for the Trima Desk.



April 2015 Donor of the Month

photo 2 (14)Just a month after Reagan Wanner turned 16, she was in line to donate blood at North High School. Reagan was inspired by her father, David to donate because, “I watched my dad be someone else’s Superhero, which made me want to follow in his footsteps,” said Reagan. It took Reagan only 15 months to hit her gallon milestone and so far she is the youngest donor to reach her gallon this year, as well as our first new member of the Gallon Grad Club.

Reagan’s first donation experience might have stopped others from donating again, “my veins weren’t as plumped and the phlebotomist was having a hard time finding my veins and so, my first donation was unsuccessful and my arm was even bruised for a couple of weeks,” explained Reagan. But, this incident did not stop her from donating, “my first try was just a small hiccup;  just thinking about other people who are sick in the hospital who have it worse, made me want to donate as soon as possible.” Reagan’s second attempt was a complete success!  On January 15, 2015 Reagan achieved her first gallon! “I am inspired to continue my mission of saving lives because of my dad, the 10 gallon achievement wall, and of course the people that need blood products,” Reagan added.

Besides being a dedicated donor and a busy high school student, Reagan enjoys being part of the Youth Group at Parkside Church, volunteering at the League of Dreams and she takes extra classes at CSUB. Reagan encourages others to donate, ” if you have a fear of needles, well, it isn’t as bad as it seems and it only takes about 35 minutes of your time to save at least 3 lives!”



April Prize Celebrates Spring

We are celebrating spring in April with an Executives Association of Kern County (EAKC) Monthly Prize drawing that could truly make you a family favorite. All, this month, donors will automatically be entered to win a fabulous floral arrangement by Log Cabin Florist and great night out at Cafe Med, with a total value of $500. The winner can have their Mother’s Day shopping done early, celebrate some other upcoming special event, or even use it to get out of the dog house!

Established in 1938,  Log-Cabin-logo-v1-300x158Log Cabin Florist  has been voted “Bakersfield’s Best Florist” for more than 18 years. Because it is a Real Local Florist, customers can send a personalized greeting card by uploading their own photo and writing, drawing or doodling on it, and have it delivered with a flower order the same day! With its 100% satisfaction guarantee, family owned Log Cabin Florist has been serving generations with each of life’s events.  From new baby bouquets to prom flowers, wedding days to funeral services, customers can rest assured they will get the best service and flowers in the business.The shop also offers attractive and long-lasting plants, beautiful pots and vases, and accessories and balloons that can make any occasion special, so plan a visit!

60264-logo-newOffering the finest cuisine from around the globe, an award-winning wine list, and an elegant atmosphere, Cafe Med has become a staple in fine dining. Cafe Med has foods ranging from Italian to Mediterranean with an extensive wine list that will cater to any taste. With a welcoming atmosphere and great service, you are sure to find something on the menu that will keep you coming back. Cafe Med also has a deli department, unique gifts and wines by the bottle, a fantastic happy hour and reasonably priced weeknight dinners-to-go for the family. Stop by sometime to grab a special bottle of wine or a hostess gift.

We thank these wonderful EAKC members for sponsoring the April gift for our donors!

Donate Life Day Honors Brayden’s Brave Heart

Brayden waits for a new heart.

Brayden waits for a new heart.

April is National Donate Life Month, encouraging organ donation, so JJ’s Legacy is joining us to co-sponsor Donate Life Day on Saturday, April 18 from 9 -1 pm at the Bolthouse Donor Center, 11515 Bolthouse Drive in Bakersfield. The day will feature information and activities on organ donation, organ and tissue transplants, and the need for blood products to support transplant patients.  JJ’s Legacy has provided an iPad Mini for a Donate Life Month drawing prize to encourage donation, and refreshments will be served.

Brayden has a good day.

Brayden dreams of playing like other children.

The day will honor 7-year-old Brayden Eidenshink, a local boy who has been waiting more than 220 days for a heart transplant. Brayden and his family have sponsored blood drives with us in the past, in recognition of all the blood he needed with prior surgeries. He has been on IVIG to help prepare his body for a transplant, and that medicine is made from plasma. Now, with his urgent need for a heart transplant, we want to show Brayden and his family that we are pulling for them all the way as he awaits his new heart.  You can learn more about this family’s journey on Facebook at Brayden’s Brave Heart. Donations can be made at any time to honor Brayden using Account Code 616.

If he is well enough to attend the event, Brayden and his mom, Brenda, will stop by to meet his friends.  Brayden’s Brave Heart has more than 2,200 friends on Facebook and we hope you will become one as well so you can follow his progress. The public is encouraged to attend Donate Life Day and sign a banner of hope and good wishes for Brayden as he continues his journey to a new heart.

PrintIt is particularly poignant that our Donate Life Day co-sponsor, JJ’s Legacy, is named for Jeffery Johns, a young man who tragically lost his life, but was able to serve others through organ donation. “His young and strong heart will continue to beat” through the organization, as well as the patient who received his heart.  We hope someone else will be as kind as Jeffery’s parents were in the face of extreme tragedy, so that Brayden gets his new heart.

Pink DotOn Donate Life Day, the public will be able to sign up for a Pink Dot on their license signifying intention to be an organ donor; donate blood, platelets and plasma; and join the bone marrow registry.  Members of the following organizations will be on hand with informational booths: JJ’s Legacy, American Heart Association, San Joaquin Community Hospital’s Grossman Burn Center, Advanced Center for Eyecare, National Kidney Foundation , Suggs Memorial Renal Fund, and Hina Patel Foundation. Transplant patients will be available to meet donors and the general public.

TheWish_logo_rgb_tag1We will also show the short film The Wish: A story of Hope, Faith & Generosity, at 9am, 10am, 11am and noon on Donate Life Day. This 45 minute film from Donate Life America tells the story of one woman’s difficult wait for a kidney transplant.  The film explores the dire situation for Black and Hispanic patients who need transplants because they are less likely to find a match due to a lack of donated organs coming from those communities.   A trailer from the film is available at the link.

We hope you will join us for this day honoring a special little boy waiting for his new heart.