Thanks for the Gift of Life!

June 25, 2017


To the Editor:


On Saturday, June 17, Roosevelt Island turned out for a busy day of eating, planting, learning, and donating in many different ways. 


This letter is a big, wet “Thank-You” kiss to all who signed up and came into the Senior Center Saturday, offering your lifesaving pints of blood, while also weathering the rainstorm. Bravo! 


Our efforts paid off big-time with a total of 50 pints donated, resulting from approximately 90 donor cards completed over four Saturdays, and with 72 actual walk-ins!  


That is a very, very good number indeed. The Island has many hurdles to clear before we get a viable donor: we have many elderly, a lot of world travelers, people on various medications, and those who have conditions which prevent them from being allowed to donate – either temporarily or permanently. So, again, Bravo! Magnifico! 


For our new neighbors, a little history: this is the Roosevelt Island Blood Drive’s 16th year in existence. The first drive, started by then-RIRA President, Matthew Katz, was held in the deep winter of 2002, just after – and in response to – the 9/11 attacks. It was very cold. After that experience, we decided we’d rather stand outside for four Saturdays in the spring to hawk for donors, and so, the next year we tied our project to Roosevelt Island Day, serendipitous for all! 


The blood drive became and remained a “good habit” for RIRA, and for the community. While serving on RIRA’s Common Council, I trained several past (and one current) RIRA members to serve as the project’s lead, but none were available this year. So, we made a small change: as a Roosevelt Island Seniors Association board member, I organized the drive through RISA, and asked RIRA to serve as our partner. They agreed. 


I want to recognize all of the volunteers from RIRA and RISA in this worthy four-weekend effort to get our residents, and even some off-Island visitors passing by, to sign up for the drive in advance at our table located at the Farmers Market: 


From RIRA: Scott Piro, Laura Hussey, Melissa Wade, Aaron Hamburger, and Shirley Coley. From RISA (general members and board members): Matthew Katz, Dick Lutz, Anna Doumnova and her husband James, Ellen Polivy, Barbara Parker, Nita Advani, Lorraine Altman, Donna Chenkin, and a very soggy Alan Siegel. 


I also want to thank RISA board member Woody Deas and RISA member David Kolakoski for getting the table and chairs back to Westview in spite of the deluge.


Sherie Helstien

Secretary, RISA


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