Blood is a Gift of Life
Started by Garland's very own, the late Jack Patterson, and now run by Past GSR Club President, Joe French, the Gift of Life Program is one of the most exciting and beneficial programs sponsored by the Masons of Texas. Masons are focused on providing the one resource essential to patient-care in the fraternal hospitals and in all health care facilities – and for which there is no substitute. It is human blood.
Every 90 seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion. Blood transfusions are never given without a prescription from a doctor; and without volunteer blood donors, patients cannot receive life-saving transfusions. Volunteer blood donors are the essential link between the ordering physician and the transfusion-dependent patient.
The Gift of Life Program’s emphasis is on hosting frequent blood drives so patients receive the lifesaving gift they need. Gift of Life benefits the three fraternal hospitals: Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, the Shrine Burn Center in Galveston and the Shrine Orthopedic Hospital in Houston, as well as community hospitals throughout the state. The program encourages the Masonic Lodges of Texas to hold community blood drives and to direct the blood and blood products from these drives for the benefit of the three fraternal hospitals or a local community healthcare facility.
Masons’ blood drives benefiting Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas raised more than 5,100 units of blood in 2009. That action allowed physicians to provide needed surgery and other treatments to the children and resulted in a cost-savings to the hospital.
Texas Masons began the Gift of Life Program 15 years ago in the North Texas area, and today, regional committees have expanded to Houston, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. The program sponsors blood drives, mostly held within Masonic Lodges. Any annual surplus collected can be used in emergencies, both public and fraternal. The Gift of Life Program is part of a rich Masonic tradition of helping to meet healthcare needs.
History of Caring
Freemasonry and Masons historically demonstrate a commitment to relief services for anyone who needs it – Masons and non-Masons – and especially for children through the treatments provided in our fraternal hospitals.
The hospitals epitomize the extended hand of fraternal kindness by providing crucial medical care without billing patients and their families for the treatment received. Masons step in when a hospital need occurs – even special needs. Texas Masons have provided new equipment, additional space, upgraded facilities, volunteer workers and much more. Texas Masons contributed to the success of these hospitals and each of us shared in that success.
Blood Drives Boost Masonic Image
Not only does the Gift of Life Program meet an essential need for our hospitals and help our communities maintain a quality and sufficient blood supply, but it also makes giving blood convenient for the community to participate. In almost every community, large and small, urban and rural, there is a Masonic Lodge nearby. By holding a blood drive in a Masonic Lodge, the public is introduced to the Lodge facilities, learns who Masons are, and hears about the variety of community oriented projects that Masonry supports. When provided with the opportunity and a convenient location, like a Lodge, experience tells us people will donate blood – especially when children can benefit.
In some areas, local Lodges have held highly effective Gift of Life blood drives in shopping malls, local Wal-Mart stores, and in parking lots of local employers. The Gift of Life Program is also designed to secure donations from people other than members of our fraternity. Potential donors include:
Masons and their families
Employees of corporate sponsors
Involving the Community in Blood Donation
Corporate sponsors can be asked to help offset the cost of blood drives and encourage participation by their employees. In the North Texas area, several sponsors donated money for T-shirts, with the sponsors’ logos and names on the back, which are given to each donor. The shirts made a great advertising tool in promoting blood donation. Some Lodges say their membership is too old to give blood. In truth, there is no upper age limit for blood donation. However, if members cannot donate, they can give an hour or two once a year to help with a blood drive to ensure the success of the program in a particular Lodge.
Younger members who have limited time can participate on an infrequent basis to help. In addition, women have provided data processing support for registration and record-keeping, making an immeasurable contribution to the Gift of Life Program.
Gift of Life Program Results
Thousands of units of blood have been collected.
Our Masonic Lodges have been visited by many non-Masons.
Lodge members have come together in fraternal fellowship for a worthwhile cause.
Numerous petitions for membership have been received by local Lodges.
Local communities have witnessed the viability and involvement of the Masonic fraternity, thus enhancing the presence of Masonry in those cities and towns.
Why Participate in the Program?
By unifying all of the Masonic Lodges in Texas under the common Gift of Life banner, the Masons of Texas can accomplish extraordinary results, and our fraternity will receive community and state-wide goodwill.
For this to happen, your Lodge’s involvement is needed. Together we can change the future for our hospitals and improve the lives of the children while demonstrating the positive message of Masonry. You and your Lodge can take pride in being a part of this worthwhile program. Again, we can all win.
Why not sponsor a Gift of Life Blood Drive this coming year? If you need further assistance or explanation, call Joe French (214-394-6121) or George Coon (817-925-0902). Literature, including a Blood Drive Manual, is available upon request. The members of the State Committee and the regional committees are available to visit your Lodge, meet with your members and provide support.
The need is immediate, the rewards are life-changing and the time to act is now.