Partners for Life program connects RBC employees across Canada
Together, RBC teams made more than 1000 donations last year, and they’re recruiting new donors all the time
Every year, thousands of blood donors take part in group donations as part of the Partners for Life program. Champions such as RBC employees Amanda Moore, Graeme Green, Vineet Verghese and Kulvit Chapman, have gathered together colleagues in their communities to donate blood as a team to support Canada’s Lifeline.
At the age of 17, Amanda Moore decided to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather, father and older siblings and became a blood donor.
“I’m a third-generation blood donor,” says Amanda. “My dad’s dad set the example for him, and he did the same for all of his kids.”
Amanda’s effort to follow the example of her father, grandfather and three older siblings was no passing fad. She stuck with it. And today, she’s inspiring many of her colleagues at RBC, one of Canada’s largest banks, to become blood donors as well.
“We started small with a team of three of us in Toronto,” she says. The three RBC blood donors formed a Partners for Life group at their location and quickly discovered fellow blood donor Champions, people who promote blood donation through work and social channels across Canada. “We’ve used an internal networking tool to find Champions and build a program. We do small things, and we try to build a little bit each year,” she explains. Canadian Blood Services Champions are people who support blood donation in various ways such as organizing blood donor events within their organization, sharing their story as a donor or recipient to inspire others, or sharing information on how to support Canada’s Lifeline.
The Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life program includes teams and groups of all sizes. Between them, they make more than 225,000 donations every year. Supporters can donate together, through group donations, or simply have their individual donations counted toward their team’s goal. RBC has teams around the country, and together they share ideas and set goals. “Last November, we passed our 2021 goal of 1,000 donations,” says Amanda. “We were really excited about that!” Last year Amanda also hit an impressive milestone with 100 blood donations of her own.
RBC Employee and Partners for Life Champion Amanda Moore makes her 100th blood donation, along with Beth Frise, Canadian Blood Services’ manager of national partnerships and Kristie Upton, a regional program manager in Toronto.
Beth Frise, Canadian Blood Services’ manager of national partnerships, has been working with Amanda to support the RBC Partners for Life team for nearly ten years. “Amanda is the orchestrator with the RBC Partners for Life initiative, and others are leveling up into something she’s driving,” says Beth. “RBC, through Amanda, has leveraged its network of Partners for Life Champions to really build this groundswell of support.”
In her role, Beth has the opportunity to speak with Champions and hear about their motivations. “These are fantastically selfless people who want to do nothing more than help community.”
Importance of blood donation hits close to home for some RBC employees
RBC employee and Partners for Life Champion Graeme Green donates blood in Manitoba.
In Manitoba, fellow RBC employee Graeme Green has been a blood donor since university. “I wanted a free doughnut,” he says, laughing. “There was a mobile clinic set up at the University of Manitoba. I wanted to give it a try. I got the awesome doughnut afterwards and kind of got hooked. I know that donating blood has a real impact on people's lives.”
Graeme has been working with RBC for more than 20 years and has been encouraging others to join Canada’s Lifeline during much of that time. Earlier in his career, when he worked at an RBC call centre, Graeme would arrange to have “What’s Your Type?” events come to his workplace to engage people by testing for their blood type and educating them on the importance of blood donation. Eventually he moved on to other positions and changed his approach to engage new donors.
“I got a team together and said, ‘hey let's go donate — it would be great if we could do this for my birthday.’ I got a few people to go out, and now some of those people are recruiting their coworkers. It’s a wonderful snowball effect!”
Since then, the importance of blood donation has hit close to home for Graeme as family members have required blood and blood products.
“My father-in-law, who passed away close to two years ago, was in hospice and he received platelets,” he said. “Those platelets gave us an extra 12 hours with him. It was enough time for people to be able to say their goodbyes.”
More recently, Graeme’s mother has been a recipient. “My mom receives iron and whole blood transfusions on a regular basis. She's battling cancer. Donating blood makes me feel good, to know that I am making a difference. Maybe not for my mom, but for someone else’s mom.”
‘Donating blood brings us together as human beings’
RBC employee and Partners for Life Champion Kulvit Chapman donates blood.
In 2019, Kulvit Chapman visited a donor centre in Guildford, B.C. with her husband to learn about blood donation as she had never donated before. She scheduled a meeting with Canadian Blood Services employee Nancy Bryan, and knew she wanted to get involved and motivate work colleagues to donate as well. After making her own first blood donation, Kulvit started working to recruit RBC colleagues.
“What I decided to do was organize an event,” says Kulvit. “I wanted to reach out to my RBC family and then see if I could get them to come out. That's how it all kind of blossomed in 2019.”
Since then, Kulvit has worked with senior leadership within RBC across British Columbia and has engaged employees in multiple cities to become blood donors. “I wanted to start getting the word out, so we started coordinating and doing donor events in Chilliwack, Hope, on Vancouver Island, and in the Nanaimo area. Now we've started doing some in Vancouver and in Kelowna. We’ve continued to expand.”
In addition to being a wonderful team-building exercise for her colleagues, While Kulvit enjoys the team-building benefits of donating blood, she’s also motivated by her firsthand knowledge of the benefit to patients.
“My girlfriend’s son calls me Mama Bear. When he was born, you could hold him in your palm. He was less than two pounds,” she says. “I've seen him go through a multitude of surgeries. He’s now 11 years old and the amount of blood transfusions he's received in such a short time span is remarkable.”
Kulvit has also seen how blood helped a friend going through cancer surgery.
“Those are the immediate close examples I have, and it's individuals like that. We don't know when or if we are going to need blood. So, if we can give back and make a difference, we should. Everything that goes around, comes around.”
Kulvit is happy to continue donating through the pandemic because she recognizes the importance of maintaining Canada’s Lifeline.
“Based on what’s been going on in the world with so much craziness that we can't control, donating blood brings us together as human beings.”
Blood donation is about ‘giving life’
RBC employee and Partners for Life Champion Vineet Verghese sits comfortably while making a plasma donation.
Growing up in India, Vineet Verghese’s early experience of blood donation was much different from that of people in Canada.
“I just turned 18. I was visiting a family member at a hospital” explains Vineet. “We were just going to visit them, but unfortunately something happened, and he needed blood urgently. They were asking around and he had the same blood group as me, AB positive. There was no concept of a blood bank there, so they usually asked family members to bring two or three people to come and help out. They needed a few units, so my uncle and I donated blood for him. His life was saved at that moment. I have been hooked on donating blood ever since.”
While blood donation doesn’t work like that in Canada, Vineet is happy to be part of the RBC Partners for Life group, helping to save lives through Canada’s Lifeline. He has made nearly 30 blood donations with Canadian Blood Services and has also donated plasma and platelets. Vineet understood the importance of giving back from an early age, and that spirit of giving has fueled his passion for donating blood ever since he moved to Canada 12 years ago. “We can't all be doctors and nurses and help out directly, but this is an indirect way of giving life.”
Vineet is also excited to have inspired colleagues at RBC to become blood donors. “I'm now glad to see that three or four of my staff are doing it, and it's exciting because I think they see the value in it,” he says. “We've got RBC blood donor groups all over the B.C.’s Lower Mainland. We get them together by booking space and time at the donor centre. One of our colleagues organizes the entire crew and we come together.”
The Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life program includes teams and groups of all sizes, who contribute to more than 225,000 donations every year. Donors like Amanda, Graeme, Kulvit and Vineet work with colleagues to set donation goals and inspire others to join Canada’s Lifeline.
Learn more about the Partners for Life program here or call 1 888 2 DONATE.