Free show, entrance by Donation… @itsinyoutogive @YOWCityStyle

Katie Hession My presentation on Monday night in Gatineau was hosted by Canadian Blood Services as part of their events honouring the staff, volunteers, partners and donors who make the whole system work. So the organizers wondered if maybe I'd like to actually witness that system at work for myself at Ottawa's Carling Avenue clinic and maybe do a little show-and-tell at the same time. I just love opportunities to meet people like this so I jumped at the chance. At the same time, Ontario Regional Resource Manager Sarah Feldberg had enlisted the help of her old friend Katie Hession (pictured) - Ottawa's Instagram style maven - to...shall we say....inject some new blood into the clinic's social media outreach efforts. Sarah also recruited her musical friend John Julian to come and play as the opportunity presented itself in the juice and cookies area. John had met Voyageur years ago at a Lynn Miles house concert down the road in Manotick and this was his first chance to re-encounter the guitar properly. He opted for an all-Canadian repertoire including songs by Bruce Cockburn, Fred Eaglesmith and others, with his wife Joan occasionally singing some sweet harmonies.

The clinic set up is simple and welcoming. Donors enter the main door and basically complete a counter-clockwise circle. First there's the info, registration and intake area, then a little waiting area, then the donation area, then the juice and cookies area and back out the main door. It all happens in a short window of time so that all the blood and blood products collected on the day go out the back door behind the donation areas on a single pick up to the local processing and distribution centre. It's all quite high tech and yet the atmosphere was friendly and breezy - lots of smiles and conversations among donors, staff and volunteers.

We didn't do any formal presentation there. Either John would be playing some music or I'd walk around with the guitar and chat with people and hear their stories and find links in the guitar. Dennis Milling was one of the donors. He was most compelled by the Montreal Forum and Rocket Richard pieces in Voyageur as he'd had an association with the Molson family and the late great gentleman of hockey, M. Jean Béliveau. And, as we soon discovered, we also had a personal connection: his uncle and aunt Gord and Joan Milling were dear friends of my own parents. I always say that this project finds connections with everyone it encounters and for the millionth time I was not proven wrong!

Thanks to all the staff, volunteers and donors who made the clinic such a great place to be on Monday and every day of operation.

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