Monday, April 30, 2012

Blood Drive

Sometimes helping others requires an actual physical cost. Samaritan House and the Red Cross are sponsoring a blood drive at the Samaritan House Administrative Center on Thursday, May 10th, from 10am until 3 pm. Currently, there is still an opportunity to come and donate blood between 11:15 am- 2:15 pm. If you are interested in helping, please call 257-5801 and make an appointment.

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. (2006).
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
The Samaritan House Administration Center is located at 1110 2nd Street West. It is the former armory across the street from Peterson Elementary School. Please remember to call and make an appointment. 

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, April 27, 2012

From the Mouths of Babes...

I recently had the pleasure of speaking in a second grade classroom at one of the Valley’s fine elementary schools. The greatest attribute of an 8 year old is their inability to not not tell the truth when you ask them a question. They had been learning about community service and the difference between wants and needs. This is pretty heady stuff because I’m sure that when I was in the second grade I was simply trying to figure out which way my desk was supposed to face and why my lunch box was always missing.

The plan was to arrive a few minutes early so I could survey the scene and hopefully figure out which kids needed to be bribed with candy and which ones would be the future leaders of the free world and look back on this day (and my wonderful talk) as the pivotal moment in their life that inspired them on to a life of greatness instead of reality show stardom. My time slot was 2:30 in the afternoon so I feared they would be mentally checked out and ready for the final bell. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea. I mean, how do you explain homelessness to elementary students, anyway? It’s a multilayered issue that is way too complex for a bunch of kids who have no appreciation for Star Wars: Episodes 4-6, let alone the human condition.

Their teacher introduced me and the class was surprisingly alert and dialed in. After only a few minutes I realized I would be the one who received the education that afternoon. To a second grader, politics and religion and the social climate don’t matter as much as simply being a nice person does. I was able to talk with them in a way that was refreshing because their answers weren’t rehearsed and they genuinely couldn’t understand why we should not help others in need. They weren’t trying to impress me or tell me what I wanted to hear. They simply told the truth.

After 20 minutes we ended the discussion on the difference between a “want” and a “need.” I was humbled to hear them elaborate on how sad it was if people didn’t have the basics of life: shelter, food, and clothing. These kids understood some very fundamental truths. Ideas that many adults can’t (or don’t want to) grasp. For a person to become successful and achieve some amenities that they want, they must first be in a position where their needs are met. Needs are met when people help one another without expecting anything in return.

We didn’t talk about policies and tax deductions and who volunteered more than anyone else. This forum of second graders wanted things to change because they felt compassion and were motivated by a desire to help others simply because it seemed like the right thing to do.

I left the meeting trying to remember what grade we taught common sense. I hope these kids skip it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cowboy Up Auction: A View from the Back Table.

I now understand why cowboys wore guns and were prone to shoot one another with a greater regularity than we see today: it’s the boots.

After donning a fine pair of boots for our Samaritan House Cowboy Up auction that was held over the weekend, I experienced foot pain I never imagined could exist. Is it possible that some of the conflicts generated in the Old West were simple misunderstandings spurred on by agonizing foot pain? Anyway… I digress. On to the important information!

The actual event was Saturday evening, the 21st, but we began setting up the day before. Upon arrival, the ball room at the White Oak Best Western was an empty shell of potential. Previously, the auction had taken place at Gardners but this year necessitated a change. Thematic events always sound great in theory, but often the reality of transforming a large nondescript room into a themed wonderland can be quite the daunting task. Tables and chairs had to be set up to serve more than 200 people. Arrangements and decorations were situated to give the room a western flair. Auction items from around the Valley were brought in and displayed. Food and supplies were lugged back and forth from various stores, kitchens, eateries, and homes to all converge at the White Oak. After several hours of work that included Samaritan House staff, board members, residents, and assorted community volunteers, Friday drew to a close and I drove home with a sense of accomplishment.

If Friday was the calm before the storm, then Saturday saw Hurricane Cowboy Up hit the Flathead with full force! Staff and more helpers arrived hours before the 5pm kick-off to finalize any last glitches and prepare for the food service. If you have never filled uncountable pitchers of ice water or cooked enough potato salad to feed a small cowboy army, then I suggest you are really missing out on some of the finer activities life has to offer. Suffice it to say, there was still plenty of work to be done on Saturday, prior to the start of the auction. The goal was to push oneself as hard as possible without inducing perspiration. I think we all achieved that level of effort and by 5 pm everything was good to go.

Eventually I made my way to one of the tables toward the back of the ballroom. I like these seats because they give me a chance to peruse the room and watch people respond to what is unfolding. Cowboy Up is a multilayered event that serves as a fundraiser, dinner, auction, dance, and general opportunity to raise awareness regarding the issue of homelessness in the Flathead. As I ate my dinner and the evening began to play out, I was humbled to see how many people came to support Samaritan House and what we are trying to accomplish. I am not going to give any numbers or dollar amounts in this blog… I will soon, once we have everything tabulated. But for now, I wanted to simply present a small picture of what happens during this event. We could not have done it without numerous helping hands and volunteers who gave a great deal of time, effort, and energy.

My view from the back table was one of thanksgiving and humility.