April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. In celebration of our wonderful and generous volunteers, we’ll be featuring a cross-section of the hundreds of volunteers who contribute time to the SW Washington American Red Cross.
Claire Finkel has served as a volunteer for the Southwest Washington American Red Cross for 38 years. However, her involvement with the Red Cross goes further back than that. As a Gresham High School student, Claire joined the Junior Red Cross and participated in fundraising efforts for members of the United States Armed Forces. She also became a blood donor.
Later, after marriage and children, Claire was involved in several volunteer activities: Cub Scout Den Mother, Little League, and Hazel Dell Elementary School PTA and Health-Room Mother. She credits Lois Fletcher, Hazel Dell Elementary School Secretary, who later served as Red Cross Chapter Secretary, as instrumental in facilitating Claire’s becoming a Red Cross volunteer.
Initially, Claire’s assignment was to maintain donor records. When Red Cross personnel learned she had strong secretarial skills, she was asked to take dictation for a letter to the chairman of the Red Cross Board. Claire found it quite amusing that the letter was going to her boss, John Priel, who led Equitable Savings and Loan (Claire’s employer) and who also served as chairman of the Southwest Washington Red Cross Board.
During her career as a Red Cross volunteer, Claire served four terms (a total of 12 years) as a SWWARC board member. She also spent 20 years as a Volunteer Coordinator and was responsible for scheduling other volunteers to cover blood drives in Clark County.
When she began in 1983, blood services had grown rapidly, but the pool of available volunteers hadn’t kept pace with the increase in blood drives. Finding people to fill the positions became somewhat challenging and time consuming since all contact was done by phone. Claire derives a great deal of satisfaction from the growth of the blood donor program and the building of the new Clark County Blood Donor Center during her tenure with SWWARC.
Claire also knows the importance of maintaining an adequate blood supply, since her sister’s life was threatened by a worsening medical condition when she was a young mother with a baby and she needed blood.
Claire’s sister had to have a colostomy, and required many units of blood during surgery and stay in the hospital. Claire said that her sister weighed only 70 pounds when she was released from the hospital. However, today that same sister is a grandmother with five grandchildren.
Claire said that wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of local blood donors.
SW Washington Red Cross Media Team
Filed under: Volunteer Appreciation Month Tagged: | American Red Cross, Blood donation, Claire Finkel, Clark County Blood Donation Center, Equitable Savings and Loan, Gresham High School, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, John Priel, Red Cross, SW Washington Region, SWWARC, United States Armed Forces, Vancouver, Volunteer Coordinator, WA