by Erica Steen, director of the Morris Cafritz Center for Community Service at the Washington DCJCC
Have you ever had an experience that at the time didn’t seem like much but afterwards you were flabbergasted by it? That’s what last week’s Bone Marrow Drive was like.
At 4:00pm 8 volunteers arrived. They discussed the plan for the evening and how they would organize themselves along with the supplies. They hung up a banner, set out fliers and questionnaires and took the time to register themselves.
I got nervous, it was pouring rain. Would anyone really come out of their way to swab their cheek with an extra large cotton swab? Gift of Life had sent us 100 kits to register donors and after 150 people registered in-advance to stop-by we called and asked for more. Our contact giggled and said we were very ambitious and that 100 would be plenty. In fact he reminded us to send back the unused kits along with those that had been filled out. To ease our minds a bit, one of the volunteers had an extra 25 kits from a drive she’d run. She brought them just in case.
The evening ran like clockwork. A stead flow of community members came in, asked the front desk where to go and then headed over to the J café area to fill out their paperwork and swab. Some people asked what motivated the drive and many of the volunteers spoke of their friend Elissa, a vibrant 26 year old living in our community. Everyone was cheerful, feeling good about being a part of this effort and to be out of the torrential rain outside.
There was steady flow of registrants from throughout the DC area. We even had a VIP guest, Congresswoman Donna Edwards stopped by to add her name to the Bone Marrow Registry. It was nice to know the word spread!
And believe it or not, by 7:00 pm, 125 kits had been completed and we were having to turn people away. OK, we didn’t actually turn them away; we invited them back on September 15 for our Patriot’s Day event that will include among other things, a bone marrow registration.
After leaving the event, it hit me. What a wonderful thing our community did. In a matter of 2 hours we added 125 names to the National Bone Marrow Registry. Without batting an eye! Through word of mouth, the Washington DCJCC website and Facebook we may have saved a life. My fingers are crossed; let’s hope we’ve found a match for Elissa and maybe someone else. You never know!