Hillsboro Resident Recognized For Years Of Service
In 1940, the U.S. government established a national blood collection program, with the Red Cross establishing their National Blood Donor Service in order to collect blood for the U.S. military. Over the years, methods of collecting, preserving, and distributing donated blood have been improved and refined, saving countless lives every year.
Here in Hillsboro, blood drives became part of the community after WWII, originally coordinated by Margaret Ann Roberts and Alesa Wernick. In those early days, donors had to be transported to the Blood Center in Madison by van in order to donate. Eventually, the American Red Cross began to hold their drives in Hillsboro, allowing community members greater access to blood donation.
Theresa Nemec began helping to coordinate blood drives in Hillsboro when she was 20 years old. At the time, Nemec was part of the Hillsboro Jaycettes, and it was at one of their meetings that then-coordinator Alice Sebranek spoke regarding the blood drives. Sebranek was resigning and had hoped that the organization would take over the position once she stepped down—however, the Jaycettes declined. Nemec and a fellow Jaycette member, Dixie Arndt, decided that they would take up the mantle themselves.
In April of 1972, Nemec and Arndt coordinated their first blood drive at the old Hillsboro High School. Several Jaycette members volunteered, recording donors and distributing snacks. Nemec and Arndt continued to coordinate regular blood drives until Arndt decided to step down as co-coordinator. Shirley Richardson took her place, joining Nemec in the coordination efforts until 1985. After Richardson, Karen Chalupecky worked alongside Nemec as co-coordinator until her death in 2016.
“I could not have continued as coordinator for the blood drives all these years without the support of my family and all the dedicated volunteers,” says Nemec.
Many of the volunteers who have been working the blood drives have been doing so for thirty or more years, and Nemec credits their continued dedication to the blood drives as a core component of the drives’ ongoing success. Nemec also credits the donors who continue to come to the drives in order to give blood, with some hitting impressive milestones such as donating 10, 13, and even 29 gallons or more of blood over their lives. The Amish community has also been a big source of support for the drives as well, which Nemec believes stems from their impression that the drives can help the community.
“That is what blood drives are all about,” explains Nemec. “Helping out a neighbor, wherever that neighbor may be."