AFTER A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL MUSIC-CENTERED CAMPAIGN last fall, Bloodworks Northwest, a non-profit and sole provider of blood to over 95% of hospitals in the Pacific Northwest, is now teaming up with local culinary industry voices at a time when the demand for blood has never been greater. The nation’s supply sits at one of its lowest levels in recent years, and the Pacific Northwest is experiencing dangerously low levels, too. In order to spread awareness on the topic, Bloodworks Northwest turns to this foodie-centric market’s passionate leaders for a new community campaign: SAVOR LIFE. SAVE A LIFE.
For this initiative, running from March 3 through the end of June, Bloodworks Northwest is partnering with Washington and Oregon chefs, restaurant and food brand owners, wineries, breweries, and culinary personalities to educate and inspire community members to donate blood. Their ultimate goal? To recruit 10,000 new and re-engaged blood donors to support local patients.
Co-Chief Medical Officer Kirsten Watson Alcorn, MD, explains that blood donations have been running about the same as transfusions, meaning hospitals typically have only a one-day supply on hand. “To know we can treat anyone who needs it, at any time, with the blood they need, we need to have more on the shelf!” she says. “We never know what day might bring an increased need for transfusion in our community, such as multiple trauma patients, obstetrical patients, bleeding patients, and cancer patients needing blood all at the same time.”
Campaigns like this help raise awareness, Dr. Alcorn explains, since the more we can share about the importance of blood as a medical therapy and the fact that it only comes from other humans who are blood donors, the better. “We’re all fascinated by the many facets of blood,” she says, “so there’s always more to learn.” (Only 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, due to health and age requirements and other key factors; currently, only 10 percent of eligible donors give blood.)
The initial culinary campaign coalition includes critically-acclaimed chefs, restaurants, food, wine and brewery brands, Pike Place Market, Seattle Restaurant Week, Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets and Uber Eats. Some partners will focus on simple, digital methods of sharing the information (like social posts and e-newsletters); others will distribute handbills when diners receive their meal checks, and still others will create unique collaborations and events to support the initiative.
Coalition team captain Jason Wilson, the chef and owner of The Lakehouse Bellevue, became involved through community connections with like-minded professionals who prioritize doing great work for great causes. “More than ever,” he says, “I’m on the lookout for ways in which I can support organizations in our region that are making an impact, and the team at Bloodworks Northwest was the perfect fit.”
Wilson’s role is to help build the campaign’s community of industry professionals willing to sound the alarm, to empower everyone who dines out in coming months to pledge to donate blood, and to support Bloodworks Northwest in any other capacity needed. “First and foremost, however, I’ll be donating blood as often as I can!” he says. “I’m really excited to further support the campaign by donating to the monthly sweepstakes in March: The Lakehouse Bellevue is offering an exclusive dinner for eight featuring a custom menu, a case of wine from Woodinville Wine Country, and a case of DRY Botanical Bubbly along with a selection of really fun mocktails created by Sharelle Klaus, founder and CEO of DRY Botanical Bubbly.”
When Angela Shen, founder of Savor Seattle and DOMO Collective, was approached about this campaign, she felt strongly that food would be a way to galvanize the community. “I’ve enjoyed helping the team to brainstorm and shape the events,” she says. “And I am looking forward to spreading the word through my network and channels.”
Laura Clise, founder and CEO of Intentionalist, explains that her organization has developed relationships with small business owners in neighborhoods throughout the Greater Seattle area and beyond, helping to spotlight the women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals, families, and disabled people who are the lifeblood of our communities. “By extending the culinary coalition to include a diversity of small business owners who are also leaders in their local neighborhoods,” she says, “people throughout the region will hear a consistent call to action.”
“In addition, we will be curating a list of Main Street small business promotions and incentives that encourage people to donate blood,” Clise says. “Diverse small business owners recognize the importance of blood donation, and we are proud to work with them to reward community members for the life-saving act of donating blood.” Intentionalist will also debut a special-edition digital gift card, used as a reward to thank people for donating blood.
Why do all these busy folks care to get involved? “This pandemic has wreaked havoc on blood donation,” Shen says. “We need your help now more than ever!”
Chef Wilson adds, “The data is staggering: 1,000 donors per day are needed in our region to maintain the blood supply. Every two seconds, someone requires blood! It’s such an easy thing for those of us who are eligible to take a few minutes out of our schedules to donate blood and literally save a life.”
The coalition, which will continue to expand throughout the four-month initiative, encourages everyone in the culinary space to participate by visiting bloodworksnw.org/savorlife. It's simple for first-time donors to get involved, too. “Check the donation criteria online, make an appointment, be sure to eat and drink lots of fluids before and after the donation,” Dr. Alcorn advises. “Invite a friend to do the same, and come together!”