Parish merger brings community outreach
Blood drive first for freshly-merged Pilsen area community
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
Parishes that merge may expect some growing pains, but so far that's not the case for St. Therese Parish, the new name of the merged St. Joseph-St. John Parish, Pilsen; St. Lawrence Parish, Stangelville; and St. Hedwig Parish, West Kewaunee. Parishioners of this faith community, which merged on July 1, are uniting to give the gift of life.
St. Therese, along with St. Paul Lutheran Parish of Ellisville, will host an American Red Cross Blood Drive from 2 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 31, in Rev. John Johanek Hall at the St. Joseph-St. John Site, E860 State Hwy 29 in Pilsen.
"We thought 'why not try a blood drive among our faith community?'" said Dorothy Konop, a committee member and blood donor since 1990. "We are encouraging people to invite relatives and friends to donate blood. Our target is 45 to 50 units."
Donors at the blood drive in Pilsen will have the opportunity to give a "Gift from the Heart," a blood donation in memory or honor of someone by signing a special donor book.
The Konop family, including Dorothy, her husband, Tom, daughter, Debbie, son, Greg, and daughter-in-law, Heidi, donate blood in memory of Todd, Dorothy and Tom's youngest son who died of cancer 19 months ago at age 23.
"I saw how important it is to donate blood and am thankful for those who donated to help our son," said Dorothy. "We donate for the love of Todd. He would be proud of us."
Committee member Connie Rodrian also saw first hand the importance of donated blood. Her daughter, Heather, was born with a congenital heart defect and had seven surgeries. She died at age 11 in August of 1998.
"For the seventh surgery, they used more than 1,200 blood products," said Connie, who plans to donate blood for the first time at the Pilsen Blood Drive. "At the time, there was a blood shortage. Even though my daughter has passed away, I know there are others facing surgery and a need for blood every single day."
The American Red Cross reports a blood shortage nationwide. The numbers of donations are traditionally down in the summer months.
"People have more options on how to spend their time and take vacations," said Dave Liethen of the American Red Cross. "Also during the school year, students from high schools and colleges account for 15% of our donations. Those donations must be found elsewhere during the summer."
"We've found that the people in our region have a strong desire to help others in need, and because of this, we have one of the highest donation rates in the country," said Jo Musser, chief executive officer of the local Red Cross Blood Services. "After meeting the needs of our local hospitals, we can send any excess blood we collect to hospitals in areas that are not able to collect enough blood for patients' needs."
The entire blood donation process takes approximately an hour. All donors are asked for identification including their name, address, birthdate and social security number, and for a brief, confidential, health history. A nurse checks the donor's pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and iron count. Approximately six to eight minutes are spent giving the one pint of blood.
The blood drive is the first ever sponsored by the faith community of St. Therese.
"I've been impressed with the work of the blood drive committee," said Fr. Terry LaCombe, pastor. "They have done a fantastic job in anticipating the merger and planning ahead. It gets the new parish name out there and is a good beginning point for St. Therese."
Fr. LaCombe said the transition with the merger could not have gone more smoothly.
"I think we are in a unique position," he said. "All of these parishes had mergers and linkages in their history, so maybe it wasn't quite as tough as it may be elsewhere. The councils and trustees have done a great job."
Donors attending the Blood drive in Pilsen may make an appointment. All walk-in donors are welcome. For appointments or additional information, contact any of the following committee members: Lois Hoida at (920)845-2076, Bev Kinjerski at (920)388-3400, Voni Kinjerski at (920)388-3351, Ron and Connie Rodrian at (920)388-4406, or Tom and Dorothy Konop at (920)863-8003.
To locate your nearest Red Cross facility, organize a blood drive or find out more information about donating blood, contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE LIFE. In the Appleton area, contact Community Blood Center at (920)738-3131.