Thursday, April 19, 2012

From Mother to Daughter - Brenda Bliss

Brenda Bliss accepts the Bill Hartz Volunteer of the Year Award for Blood Services at the 2011 Red Cross Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.
When Brenda Bliss is out and about in her local community of Harrison County Indiana, she often runs into people who want to share the fond memories they have of her mother.

“If the community needed something, she was there,” Brenda said of her mother, Savilla Bliss who was a 4H Leader and an active member of the church. Savilla was also a Red Cross volunteer for 43 years, serving as the Harrison County Bloodmobile Coordinator. Her dedication to the organization earned her the Virginia T. Keeney Volunteer of the Year Award for Humanitarian Services in 1996.

In 1995, Savilla was diagnosed with leukemia. While undergoing acute leukemia treatments, she used more than 50 pints of blood and 110 pints of platelets over 11 months. She was unable to overcome the cancer. Still, Brenda says, she and her family learned the importance of blood and platelet donations.

“When any of us can give, we do,” said Brenda who also has a brother that has been on the receiving end of blood donations due to cancer. “We appreciate the fact that the blood is there when we need it.”

The constant need for blood donors and volunteers inspired Brenda to take over her mom’s job of scheduling volunteers for blood drives and bloodmobiles. While that remains her chief role at the Red Cross, Brenda also works many blood drives to help register donors and occasionally assists neighboring Crawford County with volunteer schedules.

“About the only time you don’t see Brenda at the blood drives is when there are two drives on the same day, and she hasn’t figured out how to be at both places at the same time,” said Buffalo Trace Service Center Manager Karen Cook. “It doesn’t matter what day or what time of day the bloodmobile is scheduled, we can rest assured that Brenda will get the event covered.”

It has now been more than 15 years since Brenda began volunteering, and she has made a name for herself within the organization. In 2011, she received the Louisville Area Chapter’s Bill Hartz Volunteer of the Year Award for Blood Services. She was surprised by the honor since she knows there are many others that dedicate their time to helping the Red Cross collect blood and deliver other humanitarian services.

“I think the Red Cross is a wonderful organization that helps people in many ways,” Brenda said. “Few organizations cover the same spectrum of services.”

“What keeps me volunteering is knowing that somebody always needs something that I can help provide. The Red Cross has always been there for everybody that I know, so I like to be there for it.”