RUSSIA — St. Remy’s Hall in Russia is known for hosting stellar blood drives in Shelby County where, for so many, giving blood is a way of life.
St. Remy’s is a Hometown Hero for continuing to hold blood drives in the darkness of the pandemic and for adding “Crisis Warrior” COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma drives, spearheaded by donor and coronavirus survivor Barb Cordonnier.
Community Blood Center account representative Dana Puterbaugh nominated St. Remy’s Hall.
“That is awesome for our town to get that,” Cordonnier said.
Carl and Betty York coordinate the April and August blood drives at St. Remy, which rank among the largest in Shelby County. April arrived during the pandemic with nearly half of all blood drives cancelled.
The St. Remy’s Hall April 21 blood drive proceeded with precautions and totaled 132 whole blood donors. St. Remy’s then hosted back-to-back blood drives Aug. 18 and 19 for social distancing measures, and in two days totaled 206 whole blood donors.
Cordonnier knew her family was among many in the Russia community exposed to COVID-19 after an outbreak in early fall. After her 90-year-old mother Suzanne “Boots” Groff survived the coronavirus with the help of convalescent plasma, Cordonnier was inspired to organize Shelby County’s first COVID-19 plasma drive Nov. 23 at St. Remy’s Hall and filled all appointments with eight CCP donations.
St. Remy’s Hall hosted its second COVID-19 plasma drive on Dec. 21 and totaled 15 donations.
“It was really good,” Cordonnier said. “We had a full one again. I had three reach out on Sunday (saying) they were ill and could not donate, but I found replacements. We had repeats and some new ones. Everybody is reaching out and saying we want to help, what can I do? When I had three cancel, all I did was post it on my Facebook page and within three hours I had another – I ended up with two extra people as back-ups.
“I was hoping it could fill back up. On Sunday we were having our Christmas with my mom. I said to her, I’ll put my phone down, but I want to get this filled back up,” Cordonnier said.
Cordonnier’s family was hit hard by COVID-19, but they have answered by becoming donors. Her oldest daughter Tonya Hammonds donated CCP at both St. Remy’s Hall drives. Her daughter Abby Bixler came from Troy and tried to donate.
Cordonnier was unable to donate because of skin sores possibly related to COVID-19. She was finally eligible to donate at the Dec. 21 CCP drive.
“I got to donate Monday,” she said. “I’ve been getting everybody else to, but I wanted to! So, I finally did.”
She has set up CCP appointments for herself for Jan. 12 in Fort Loramie, Jan. 28 in Versailles and Feb. 4 at St. Remy.
The St. Remy’s Hall 2021 schedule has full blood drives for whole blood, platelet and CCP set for Jan. 5, May 18, and Nov. 15. The next CCP drive is Feb. 4.
The growth and success of the CCP drives has new urgency for Cordonnier after the recent loss of three Russia community members to COVID-19. Monday’s CCP drive came a day after the funeral for one victim.
“People hear that, and if they can do this, it’s something they want to do,” she said. “I enjoy doing this and Dana is great to work with. I worked for the schools for over 30 years and volunteered at the blood drive before the pandemic. I hated when we had to stop (because of COVID-19 restrictions). I understood how we couldn’t be there. This gives me something else to do.”