By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
When Jim Kissinger, December 2022 Volunteer of the Month, joined the American Red Cross, he came with a personal understanding of the important work that blood donors do for their communities. Several years earlier, Jim’s sister had been diagnosed with leukemia and Jim became a regular blood donor to support her and other patients. When Jim joined the Red Cross as a Blood Donor Ambassador he had already made more than 100 blood donations. His commitment to making regular blood donations continues today.
A lifelong educator in the Riverside School District, Jim retired as a middle school principal 10 years ago. When he joined the Red Cross, Jim’s experience in education and blood donation came together perfectly for the Blood Donor Ambassador role. “I work with the high schools in Orange County, with the schools’ Red Cross Clubs,” Jim said. “Most of the donors at these blood drives are high school students.” As a Blood Donor Ambassador, Jim welcomes and checks in the students, makes sure they, or their parents - depending on the student’s age - have read and understand the pre-donation materials, and ensures every donor has a positive experience. Jim believes that a positive experience is the critical element. “I want these students to become lifelong donors.”
When he is not volunteering with the Red Cross, Jim volunteers as the Membership and Data Operations Chair for the 3,000 member Sea and Sage Audubon Society. When asked if his volunteer calendar sometimes gets too full, Jim replies, “It’s easy with the Red Cross. You can pick the days and hours you want to volunteer. You have flexibility in when you can work, where you work, and what you want to do.”
Jim explains his commitment to the Red Cross in what he calls simple terms, “I just feel that I’ve had a blessed life and I want to give back. That’s my motivation.” It is a motivation that he shares with many other Red Cross volunteers. “Being around people with a lot of energy and enthusiasm – you can’t help but be enthusiastic yourself.”