Westlock Nurses Chapter
More than 50 years ago, Lily Silverthorn started a group that has become legendary in the small northern Alberta town of Westlock, gathering her fellow nurses to volunteer at blood donor clinics. As nurses, they saw firsthand the need for blood, and saw their involvement in the clinic as a way to educate the public about the importance of the blood system.
In the early days of the Westlock Nurses Chapter, the members focused on recruiting donors. Communities around Westlock were plastered with posters and local Hutterite colonies were invited to attend via a personal letter. Because of their work, blood donor clinics in Westlock have grown from semi-annual events to regular bi-monthly clinics. Every clinic collects more than 100 units each visit. In a town of just over 4,800 people, that’s an impressive number.
Beyond recruitment and education, the Westlock Nurses Chapter’s excellent customer service throughout the donation process is another major factor that keeps donors coming back. Donors are greeted with an enthusiastic smile at each part of the process, and at the end a crew is dedicated solely to making sandwiches from scratch for each donor.
Fun is never far away with this group either. They choose a theme for each clinic and wear hats and outfits to match — from “Back to School” to “Queen Victoria”. There is always a contagious smile on their faces to put first-time donors at ease and welcome back those returning.
The Westlock Nurses Chapter does more than just promote the need for blood. It also supports many community initiatives, including diabetic testing clinics, fundraising to purchase a kidney dialysis machine, support of local fire awareness campaigns for children, and an annual nursing scholarship. While its efforts cover many areas, the group still proudly says its annual scholarship and support of Canadian Blood Services are at the centre of its work.
More than 50 years of service with Canadian Blood Services is not only admirable but also a rare achievement. The Westlock Nurses Chapter is an inspiration not only to other Canadian Blood Services volunteers but also to anyone who wants to make a difference in their community.