Friday, April 23, 2010

Meet the Griffins!

Happy Friday! Today we'd like to bring you the story of Annaliese and Bill Griffin. This interview was conducted by Shelby Fill.

Tell me what you do for the Red Cross.

Years ago, I (Annaliese) started with WSYL (We Speak Your Language) as a German translator and then Bill and I were disaster volunteers and helped out at other big American Red Cross events like the golf scramble and the Gatsby Ball. Now we volunteer at the blood mobiles and the Donoramas, and I volunteer about twice a week at the East End fixed site. I work in the refreshment area and Bill works as the greeter.

What is the most interesting aspect of your job duties with the Red Cross?

I enjoy meeting all of the wonderful people. All of the volunteers and employees at the East End feel like an extended family and I would say that 99.9% of all of the donors are absolutely wonderful! The happiness you get out of volunteering is incredible, although I’ve always said if you go in happy, you will come out happy.

Why do you volunteer?

When I first moved to Louisville, I got very ill and spent 30 days in the hospital. We had wonderful neighbors that helped take care of my family and me, and I volunteer now to give back to the community what the community gave me in that time of crisis.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for the Red Cross?

We volunteer at a nursing home once a week. I make cupcakes to celebrate the birthdays and we play bingo. We help out at the church as ushers and greeters. Every Tuesday Bill volunteers at a prison, he brings them magazines and talks to the prisoners. And we enjoy our family—we have three children and two grandchildren.

What does it mean to you to be a Red Cross volunteer?

It means happiness and the joy we get from helping out and meeting new people.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Red Cross, and how long you have been a volunteer?

I will be volunteering with the Red Cross for 25 years this summer and for Bill it will be 21 years. Soon after I came to America, Bill’s mother was seriously ill and dying. The doctor only gave her a few days to live and her only wish during this time was to see her youngest son, who was deployed in Germany during WWII, one last time. I was telling my neighbor this story and I didn’t know then that he was a high-ranking employee with the American Red Cross. He was able to call Washington and get my brother-in-law home in just 24 hours to see his mother and spend that time with our family. We were so appreciative of what the Red Cross did for us then, that’s why we volunteer with the Red Cross now.

What has been the most memorable thing you have seen working with the Red Cross?

Every 8 weeks we have a donor who brings his 10 year old son The little boy is severely handicapped and in a wheelchair. It took him a long time, but now he knows who I am, smiles when I say hello to him, and we are able to play around when the site isn’t too busy. I am so thankful that he is able to respond to me and I am able to spread a little joy.

Thank you Annaliese and Bill; we're lucky to have you as Red Cross volunteers! Are you interested in volunteering on blood drives in Kentuckiana? Visit
to find the volunteer opportunities closest to you!