Nicolette Winner, Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services
Nicolette Winner's job as Volunteer Resources Manager for Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services enables her to use her skills and interests to engage people from all over Ohio and Indiana in volunteering - and to save thousands of lives in the process.
These days, Nicolette Winner's attention is mainly focused on blood and human tissue - the life-saving kinds, that is. As the Volunteer Resources Manager for Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services in Dayton, Ohio, she's responsible for engaging hundreds of volunteers in providing critical blood and tissues to save thousands of lives.
Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services (CBC/CTS) is the largest nonprofit tissue bank in the country. The organization is the sole provider of blood donations to 25 hospitals in a 15 county region in Ohio and Indiana.
"Each blood donor has the potential to save three lives with his or her donation," says Nicolette. "Each tissue donor could save or enhance the lives of up to 50 people." So it's not surprising that CBC/CTS runs a large and dynamic volunteer program.
The Volunteer Resources Manager position is housed in the Human Resources department. Nicolette's responsibilities include recruiting, screening, interviewing, placing and supervising all volunteers within the organization. Nicolette says that they apply many of the same rules and procedures to both paid and volunteer staff members. "While the intricacies of the job may change from day to day," she says, "It is my responsibility to ensure that all volunteers within our organization realize and appreciate that they truly are our partners in saving lives."
Nicolette joined CBC/CTS in July 2012. Prior to joining the team, she ran two neighboring HandsOn Action Centers in the Dayton region. It was her work with HandsOn Network that led her to partner with Cissy Hansen, who started the volunteer program for CBC/CTS. Over eight years, Nicolette and Cissy worked on a variety of projects together. When Cissy decided to relocate, Nicolette took over. She completed her CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) credential in December 2011.
Now she uses her skills built over almost a decade of volunteer engagement to run the volunteer program at CBC/CTS. One of her flagship projects is called the Gift of Life program.
"Our Gift of Life courier program is the most amazing story of commitment to our mission!" says Nicolette. Through the program, the organization provides 100% of the blood to all 25 local hospitals in 15 counties in Ohio and Indiana.
It all began four years ago with three volunteers, trained to deliver the blood to three to five hospitals, Monday through Friday. Today, there are approximately 60 Gift of Life Couriers who retrieve blood from four branch locations every weeknight and transport tissue and special blood units to CBC/CTS centers in Indianapolis twice weekly.
Gift of Life volunteers include college students, retirees, service members and citizens affiliated with neighboring Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and even couples who are looking for a way to give back while spending quality time together. Each volunteer is thoroughly trained by a lead volunteer.
Many volunteers come to CBC/CTS because they have personally been impacted by tissue donation, either as a recipient or as a family member of a donor. They also engage a large number of life-long blood donors, some of whom can no longer donate due to health or travel restrictions.
"Creating opportunities for these passionate individuals to encourage others to donate, assist with the transport of donated blood or tissue, and to assist with our daily activities has given them an outlet for continuing their support of our mission." Nicolette says.
The educational level and professional expertise of many of the organization's volunteers might astound someone not familiar with the program. Their volunteer corps includes retired Colonels, medical students, teachers, business professionals, members of religious communities, emergency response personnel, homemakers and more.
The Gift of Life program created new opportunities for CBC/CTS to engage all of these different types of volunteers, and in larger numbers. "We hosted over 580 corporate volunteers to pack tissue support bags so we could ship 1000's of tissue to burn centers, hospitals and more for burn victim's," Nicolette relates.
She also insists that they could never have reached all of their fabulous volunteers in 15 counties without VolunteerMatch. It was a major resource, Nicolette says, as they grew the program from three regular volunteers to over 70.
"I've been utilizing VolunteerMatch since the start of my career as a volunteer coordinator for Arizona's largest homeless shelter, Central Arizona Shelter Services," says Nicolette. "Later I used the site to recruit volunteers for up to 500 local nonprofit organizations while managing two HandsOn Action Centers, driving countless prospective volunteers to our own databases."
Today Nicolette uses the site to recruit Gift of Life Couriers, Guest Relations Ambassadors, Administrative Support Heroes and Packing Party groups from corporate partners. "Whether my need has been for just one volunteer to help in a clothing bank or for hundreds of volunteers to assist with a community-wide day of service, VolunteerMatch has always been part of my recruitment equation," she says.
Nicolette has had opportunities to work with professionals at the national, regional and local levels. Her focus is never on just the organization she represents, but more on the opportunity to increase the impact she can make through critical community collaborations.
"It's amazing to know that I can affect so many people through such a small act as asking others to help," says Nicolette. "In my new role, I'm in awe of how I am playing a very real role in saving and enhancing lives."
"I have worked in the field of volunteer engagement for more than eight years," she continues. "This 'accidental' career has not only allowed me to use the public relations skills that I enjoy, but to also meet literally thousands of people who have one common goal: They want to change the world."
About Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services
CBC/CTS provides donors the extraordinary opportunity to save and enhance lives through trusted community-based resources for transfusion and transplantation.
Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services
349 S. Main Street
Check out CBC/CTS opportunities at VolunteerMatch.
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