Harvey & Irma Silver Lining: the HERF
The recent hurricanes more than earned their status as disasters from the despair, death, and destruction they left in their wakes. For us blood bankers the successful launch of an industry-wide, grassroots relief program has, at least, proven to be a positive outcome. The Hurricane Emergency Relief Fund (HERF), launched August 31st by Blood Centers of America, Inc. (BCA) using online giving tools and tracking supplied by Global Blood Fund (GBF), raised $27,571 over the subsequent six weeks. ABC, BCA, Cerus Corp., and a half dozen blood centers deserve special recognition for actively promoting this campaign.
Under the aegis of a BCA steering committee chaired by Billy Weales, CEO of The Blood Center (New Orleans), these contributions will go via their employers to a total of forty-six, adversely impacted employees identified by Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, LifeShare Blood Center, and SunCoast Blood Bank. To please savvy non-profit executives, the overhead allocation was an unbeatable 0 percent thanks to GBF covering the 0.5 percent telecommunications fees/commissions.
Some organizations offered matching funds as an inducement; these dollars essentially represent a new stream of personal generosity deployed to the benefit of fellow blood bankers in economic distress. It is gratifying that over 100 identifiable individuals gave money, with sixteen hitting a beneficence level of $250 or greater. The exact roster count is unknown as a couple of blood centers aggregated their employee’s gifts into lump sums. Personal HERF deposits ranged from $2 to $600. At the suggestion of Scott Bush, CEO of SunCoast Blood Bank, our center, Oklahoma Blood Institute, also allowed employees to convert (w/o “constructive receipt”) paid time off hours into HERF contributions. This mechanism yielded over $2,250 from 11 good souls, many of whom would otherwise not have been able to participate.
We, blood bankers, are familiar with the compassionate outpouring that comes in the wake of natural disasters and manmade tragedies. Blood center employees are essentially frontline responders who staff community healing centers (a.k.a. blood drives) for people gathering to process events and heal psychologically. Through the HERF, our industry has pioneered an additional way to assist some of those same helpers when they are struck by misfortune. It is essentially a team-based, self-help resource for blood bankers that brings grassroots power to relief work that has usually been generated bilaterally between institutions (centers, suppliers, associations, etc.
John Armitage, MD, Board Member; ABC & CEO; Oklahoma Blood Institute