September 23, 2018

Community Comes Out in Force to Support Blood Drive Honoring Lyme-Old Lyme HS Grad Lisa Russell

Mike Russell gives blood at the Blood Drive held yesterday in honor his older sister, Lisa.  All photos by Catherine Frank.

“A grand success,” was how Pam Russell described the response to the Blood Drive held yesterday in Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall, which was organized by her elder daughter Kimberly Russell Thompson (a member of the Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) Class of 2005) in honor of her younger daughter (Kim’s sister), Lisa, who graduated with the LOLHS Class of 2007.  Lisa was seriously injured in the spring by an out-of-control car in Boston and received a significant amount of blood in the immediate aftermath of the accident.

Volunteers help keep hunger and thirst at bay.

More than 120 members of the community including a local legislator, as well as friends and family members showed up and, in fact, so many came that the American Red Cross administrators had to start turning people away in the afternoon.  Some came to donate blood while others were helping out in a variety of ways at the event and still more people  — Pam said “dozens” — donated food and snacks, which were served during the Drive.

Andy Russell chats with State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) at the Blood Drive.

At the end of the day, some 77 pints of urgently needed blood had been donated and some, who were unable to give blood at this event due to the large numbers, signed up to donate at the Blood Drive to be held at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme Sept. 11 .

Attorney Tom McGarry (pictured at the head of the table) joined Jean Wilczynski to serve as Notaries, who volunteered their time to assist with the effort to encourage attendees to consider setting up a Durable Power of Attorney. Rayna and Richard Dakin (seated to right of McGarry) were also volunteers at the event.

During the Blood Drive, Russell Thompson campaigned for people to complete Durable Power of Attorney paperwork — this allows a family member to pay bills and the like, when someone is incapacitated for any reason. It is a document that would have helped Lisa’s family take care of some essentials for Lisa without causing them great difficulty when Lisa was unable to sign anything for herself .

Russell Thompson explained, “We had Notaries available all day … there were several people who completed their important documents at the drive,” adding, “Mostly everyone started having conversations about why these documents are so important.”  She said there was also, “Discussion about continuing to educate [more people] about how important these documents can be and to urge people to start having those tough “what if” conversations with loved ones.”

Event volunteers Pam Russell (left) and Mary Stone sit while Andy Russell stands behind them.

Pam, who is head of the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Language Arts Department, said that she and her husband, Andy, who serves as chairman of the Old Lyme Board of Finance, ” … were moved by the numbers and the friends who came even from as far as New Hartford to show support. There were coworkers, parents of my students, former students, classmates of Lisa’s, friends of friends.”  She summed up the whole event in just three words, ”  It was amazing!”

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