Honoring Our Heroes: Fredrick Garrasi III

March 1st, 2015

Garrasi-police

Fredrick Garrasi III became an eye donor upon his passing on May 3, 2013.

This remembrance was shared by his parents, Fred and Renee.

Freddy was a proud big brother, the oldest of three children. While of course he and his sisters had the typical sibling fights and rivalries, they were incredibly close and the best of friends. Freddy would do anything for his family and friends.

He grew up in a family that taught him the importance of kindness and compassion. Freddy carried those traits of kindness and compassion into his work at Claddagh Commission, Inc, working in group homes for the developmentally disabled. The individuals that Freddy worked with grew to love him as family, as no matter what their ability level, they were able to sense his love and compassionate understanding for all people.

Garrasi combo

While working for Claddagh Commission, Freddy pursued his dream of becoming a police officer. At only 23 years old, Freddy became a full-time police officer for the Evans Police Department, realizing a long time dream. In his short career as a police officer, Freddy was recognized as a strength to the department, and commended for his compassionate completion of his police duties.

Garrasi-soccerOutside of work, Freddy’s passions involved athletic thrill seeking. He loved soccer and physical fitness. He took sixth place in the men’s decathlon his first year of college, having never competed in many of the events before. He also loved his motorcycle. Freddy also obtained the honor of being an Eagle Scout.

Freddy was a fun loving guy, and could easily be described as the life of every party. He was a loyal friend, and was always there for his family and friends whenever he said he would be. He was someone people could turn to at any time, and was really there for those that needed him. After he passed away, many people described Freddy as their “best friend” and that is because he truly treated everyone with the love and respect of a best friend. He really made everyone feel as though they were important to him.

Freddy could also be described as a goofball, always ready to lighten the mood with a joke or some silly antics. Of course he was serious when he needed to be, but he never failed to bring a smile to someone’s face when he could.

His kindness and his giving nature were not limited to his friends and family. As a teenager, Freddy sponsored children from Compassion International, for schooling, food and medical expenses.

Garrasi-friendsThe Frederick Garrasi III Memorial Fund has been established to provide two scholarships in Freddy’s honor to graduates of Lake Shore High School, which Freddy attended. One scholarship is awarded to a student pursuing Freddy’s passion of law enforcement. The other, the Compassionate Mentor award, is given to a student who exhibits Freddy’s traits of kindness and compassion for others, and makes an impact in the local community with those traits.

In honor of Freddy, Nick Charlap’s ice cream stand of Angola has named his favorite sundae after him, called the “Freddy Rocks.” With each purchase of a “Freddy Rocks” sundae, a portion of the profit goes toward the scholarship fund in memory of him.

Not only did Fred love soccer, swimming and diving, he loved track and field. Therefore, we hold an annual 5K run in his memory. All proceeds made at this event also go into the Scholarship Fund at Lake Shore High School. In the town of Evans on Route 5, we’ve adopted a highway in his name.

Garrasi-car

Each month, Unyts pays tribute to organ, eye and tissue donors. It seemed fitting to call this feature “Honoring our Heroes” as these donors are heroes to their families and to the people who have received transplants.

HonorYourHero_Button

If you would like to nominate a loved one who gave the gift of life, please click the button above. Unyts will contact you when your loved one is chosen for the Hero of the Month.

 

 

National Eye Donor Month

February 24th, 2015

2015 NEDM Banner

Every March, we at Unyts celebrate National Eye Donor Month. During this month, we honor donors and celebrate the gift of sight they give to others. The cornea, the dome-shaped outer layer of the eye, is the most commonly transplanted eye tissue.

Since 1961, more than 1,390,143 men, women, and children ranging in age from nine days to 100+ years, have had their sight restored through corneal transplant. In 2013 alone, there were 48,229 corneal transplants performed in the U.S. Amazingly, over 95 percent of all corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient’s vision.

ChrisSpadaQuote

When Chris Spadafora was a teenager, he was diagnosed with keratoconus, a degenerative eye disorder that causes the cornea to thin and become cone-shaped. Keratoconus causes vision distortion and sensitivity to light. Chris has worn hard contact lenses since his diagnosis, but even then he has never had 20/20 vision.

Over the past few years, Chris noticed that his symptoms were getting worse. His eyes were so sensitive to light that he had trouble driving at night due to the glare from other drivers’ headlights. It was getting harder to see far away, too. Chris called one of his golfing buddies his “seeing-eye dog” because without his help, he couldn’t see where his ball landed.

When Chris started seeing a new optometrist, he found out that he was a good candidate for a cornea transplant. He didn’t exactly jump at the chance, though. Chris had never had surgery before, and it took some thought to decide that the procedure was worth it to improvehis vision.

Unfortunately, the cornea transplant didn’t work. Despite this huge disappointment, Chris was undeterred. Six months later, he underwent a second cornea transplant and this time it was a success. The second transplant may have been more effective because Chris’ second donor was close to his age. Chris plans to undergo a third transplant in the next few years to improve the vision in his other eye.

If Chris had the chance to talk to the people who donated their corneas to him, he would say, “Thank you so much. The concept of seeing clearly has been totally foreign to me, and it’s miraculous that I might have 20/20 vision in a few years because people like you chose to be donors.”

eyedonormonth

Anyone can be an eye donor. The great thing about corneal tissue is that everyone is a universal donor. Your blood type does not have to match and it doesn’t matter how old you are, what color your eyes are or how good your eyesight is. Aside from those suffering from infections or a few highly communicable diseases such as HIV or hepatitis, most people are suitable donors.

Would you like to become an organ and tissue donor? It’s easy! Visit this page to find out how.

 

1907398_10153034590806893_305801143878208057_n

Unyts Scores Big With the Buffalo Sabres

February 23rd, 2015

Thank you blood donors!

What a successful campaign! The Buffalo Sabres teamed up with Unyts last week for their annual Sabres blood drive, and every donor who made an appointment and kept it received a pair of tickets to an upcoming game. The campaign kicked off on President’s Day at the First Niagara Center where donors stopped by to give blood and enjoy some special activities. Buffalo Sabres fans love their alumni, and Danny Gare, Darryl Shannon and Craig Muni, to name just a few, were on hand to sign autographs and pose for pictures. New Era donated exclusive caps for the event, and fans got to enjoy an open practice with the Sabres. The Kid’s Zone kept the little ones busy and Sabretooth even stopped by to play video games and bubble hockey.

The campaign continued throughout the week at our Neighborhood Blood Donation Centers, and in total we had 549 presenting donors. Thanks to everyone who came out to donate and helped to save lives right here in Western New York!

sabresblooddrive

See more photos from the drive on Facebook.

 

Ali’s Rally 2015

February 20th, 2015

AlisRally

Thank you to everyone who came out to support the 9th Annual Ali’s Rally Bowling Tournament!

The event, in memory of Alison Gerlach promotes awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation and raises money for Unyts and the Ali’s Rally Foundation.
We had great participation from Unyts Staff, Donate Life Club Schools and the WNY community. It was a huge success!

National Donor Day

February 11th, 2015

On Valentine’s Day, we’re all thinking about how we can show our loved ones that we care. February 14th is also National Donor Day, so why not share the love by giving the gift of life?

On National Donor Day, we focus on all five points of life: organs, tissue, marrow, platelets, and blood. Take a look at these donation facts:

  • Over 120,000 people are on the national organ transplant waiting list.
  • Someone in the U.S. needs blood about every two seconds; that’s 44,000 donations needed every day!
  • Platelets are often in very short supply due to their high demand and short shelf life.
  • 70% of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in their family.
  • A bone marrow transplant can save the lives of people battling leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood cancers.
  • One tissue donor can save and/or enhance the lives of up to 50 people.
  • Each day, 18 people die while waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.


Here’s how you can share the love and give the gift of life today:

  • Donate with your date at one of our community blood donation centers.
  • Take time to talk to your loved ones about becoming a donor.
  • Register as an organ and tissue donor.

National Donor Day was started in 1998 by the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers partners with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and many nonprofit health organizations.

“Blood donors saved my and my daughter’s life.”

February 10th, 2015

SYS540x226

Whether you once needed someone’s blood or you’re just a giving person, we want our blood donors to know how much they’re appreciated. That’s what “Share Your Story” is all about, and we’re highlighting a different donor, recipient or supporter each month.

Dawn Caltagirone

Fourteen years ago, Customs and Border Protection officer Dawn Caltagirone was expecting her fourth child. It was a difficult pregnancy, and at 28 weeks she had to be rushed to the hospital with complications. Her baby had separated and she needed an emergency C-section.

Dawn suffered so much internal damage during the surgery that she bled out and her doctor lost her blood pressure. Thankfully, further surgery and a transfusion of eight units of blood brought Dawn back.

Dawn and Grace Caltagirone

Dawn and Grace Caltagirone

Meanwhile, Dawn’s newborn daughter Grace was taken to Women and Children’s Hospital. She was three months premature and only weighed 2 lbs, 7 ounces. She was struggling to hold on, too. Grace eventually needed a transfusion of one unit of blood to save her life; Dawn says they were lucky to find a donor with a matching AB- blood type.  Dawn’s tiny daughter stayed at the hospital for another four months, and today she is a healthy 14-year-old.

“If it wasn’t for the people who donated blood, both of our lives would have been lost,” says Dawn. After she and Grace survived their harrowing experience, it became very important for Dawn to give back and donate her own blood. She made the decision to donate through Unyts because all of our blood stays local, and a Unyts donor may have helped save her or her daughter’s life.

Dawn takes all of her children to the Unyts blood drives at Customs and Border Protection to educate them about the importance of donating blood.

When asked what she would say to the people who donated the blood that saved her and Grace’s lives, Dawn said, “ Thank you so much. The minutes you put into donating really make a true difference. My kids still have a mother because you donated blood.”

For more information about becoming a blood donor and a list of our Neighborhood Blood Donation Centers, please visit this page.

If you have been touched by the Gift of Life through blood donation, or donate for a reason you feel passionate about, we’d love for you to:

ShareYourStory_Button

Honoring Our Heroes: Kevin Ryan Hickey

February 1st, 2015

Hickey-KKevin Ryan Hickey became an eye donor upon his passing on January 31, 2014. 

This remembrance was shared by his mother, Michelle Hickey.

Kevin was an amazing young man whose life was ended way too early. He was born with a damaged autonomic system that affected many parts of his body. He could not walk or talk and suffered seizures on a daily basis. But he loved life and had such a contagious smile that could make anyone’s day a little better. He touched many people’s lives…I myself did not realize how much until the last twelve days of his life, when a family member set up a prayer page for him on Facebook and I began to really understand all that my son did for all of us. He loved everyone… family members, his pets and his friends. He loved paying with toys, being with people and seeing the start of a new day… He was an inspiration to everyone that knew him.

Hickey-FamilyParty

Though Kevin had many disabilities and some days were very tough for him, he had a smile every day when he got up and every night before he went to bed. His last 12 days of his life were very difficult but he handled it with grace and dignity. He did not want to see his family suffer and he held on for quite a while. He was a fighter and truly is my hero.

Hickey-combo

I was not sure about donation at first. It was not a decision that I could ask Kevin. But I did know watching him struggle throughout his life, I wanted to be able to help others. I know that is what Kevin would have wanted. He had the most beautiful blue eyes in the world that sparkled with life and love, knowing that someone is know looking through the world through his eyes is such an amazing tribute.

I honor Kevin’s memory in many ways. I light candles in church, I go to Masses for him, but I also talk to him, hoping for a sign that he is watching over me and his sister. He is not suffering anymore…for the first time in his life he can walk, he can talk, he can do all the things he was not able to do.

Hickey-Fourth

Each month, Unyts pays tribute to organ, eye and tissue donors. It seemed fitting to call this feature “Honoring our Heroes” as these donors are heroes to their families and to the people who have received transplants.

HonorYourHero_Button

If you would like to nominate a loved one who gave the gift of life, please click the button above. Unyts will contact you when your loved one is chosen for the Hero of the Month.

 

 

Milestone Blood Donors

January 28th, 2015

MilestoneDonors

We would like to recognize and congratulate those who have given the Gift of Life through blood donation with Unyts. Unyts is the primary supplier of blood products for Kaleida Health, ECMC, and all the hospitals in Niagara & Wyoming Counties. When you donate through our community blood bank, you ensure that your friends and family have the blood products available when they need them. This is why we feel it is so important to thank those who have been loyal donors and heroes to the Western New York community!

These Unyts donors have reached a 1 gallon donation or more in 2014!

JOHN WILCOX
MARY CLANCY
DAVID ROGERS
EDMUND SHAW
URSULA BORCZYNSKI
WILLIAM LARKIN
LOUIS BOBSEIN
JAMES CYRAN
JEAN ALDINGER
JOHN DEMARCO
DAVID THOMAS
KIM COWLING
ANN RICHARDSON
GERALD OLIVIERI
DARLA KELLY
STACY GREEN
NAIDA DEJESUS
HERBERT WILBER
DIANE BLAIR
NOEL DILL
WALLACE COATES
PAUL NEUNER
LINDA PAWENSKI
ALFRED SCHRADER
JAMES CASSENTI
JOHN HASLAM
RENE OSTOLSKI
JOHN WRONA
PHILIP CAMPANELLA
MARYANN NADOLINSKI
JULIE SENKO
SANDRA CHIAMPOU
LORRAINE RICHARDSON
DARLENE BECKETT
GREGORY ILLIG
PHYLLIS MASSINO
JAMES ANTONIK
WILLIAM SCHAAB
SCOTT CASSATT
MATTHEW PETROSKI
AMY GROSSMAN
ALFONSO ODDO
MARY DRESCHER
PETER WYDYSH
CHRISTINE PYZYNSKI
JILAINE JONES
ELLEN STAYGELEN
MONICA ROLAND
TREVOR WILSON
ROBERT ZAK
DAVID HELLMANN
DEBORAH REASE
BRIGID MONICA
JOSEPH PIRRONE
DEBRA FENNELL
WENDY MITCHELL
MEGAN PLUNKETT
CHELSEA SHARPE
APRIL WOODCOCK
SARAH MUNELLA
EMILY SCOTT
HEATHER SCRIPP
MICHELE DARLING
CASSANDRA VICTOR
RONALD HOFFMAN
MEG DENNY
RHONDA FEDERSPIEL
COLLEEN CORCORAN
EDDY HAIDAR
LARRY SCINTA
SARAH MURPHY
BRIAN BECKER
MARTHA HICKEY
TIFFANY KWIATKOWSKI
JACOB HILDEBRAND
SHERRLYN BROOME
JAMES VANOSS
CAROL SZALACH
KAREN RIKER
JAY SCHWARTZ
MEGHAN KADELL
LAUREN TEMPENY
PATRICK BEITER
FRANCINE MODICAMORE
MICHAEL JOLY
KRISTEN CASSIDY
BRIAN ROSS
JOAN AQUILA
EMMETT HENRY
MARILYN FAZIO
PAULA HALLADAYTRAVIS
JANET PYSZCZYNSKI
MARIE FEELEY
SUSAN BENOIT
ANDREA CURTIS
LOIS BATEMAN
MARY BENGART
DOUGLAS SNYDER
JAMES MCANDREW
YOLANDA CHAMBLISS
EILEEN WEKENMANN
SHARON STEVENS
CORY REHO
PAULA WASSINK
DAWN DARCY
BRADLEY EGAN
MALLORY EHLERS
DUANE TRAPANI
PETER MARTH
JOSEPH NEMEROWICZ
MATHEW VEGA
JOSEPH PAUL
DONALD DAVIS
CHRISTINA NOWICKI
JAMES ROBBINS
KRISTINA PHELAN
AMANDA GAGNON
RONALD CLARK
AYOUB YAZBECK
SETH RUEGER
CARMEN MARRA
WARREN KRUTCHICK
MICHELLE EASTMER
BRITTANY PIVARSI
RENEE MERTZ
JENNIFER GIGLIA
SHARI WYPIJ
ADAM SHAVER
JAMES KREY
PHILIP SERAFINI
CRAIG LEHNER
ANNE BRONSON
CHRISTINA LOTEMPIO
STEPHANIE JONES
ALLISON SULKOWSKI
BARBARA GOULD
TYLER KRUTCHICK
AMANDA RIPSON
ADAM STEPHANY
JUDITH MURCKO
TERRANCE ZIUKO
ELIZABETH GILBERT
RICHARD REIFSNYDER
DIANA BIRKMAN
ANGELA HERRICK
MARY WERNER
MARGARET DAVIS
MICHAEL RENZONI
BARBARA HART
ROBERT LAMONTE
PATRICIA HOOPER
JOSEPH CONSIGLIO
GERALD SMITH
JAMES BIALASIK
KAREN SWIERSKI
LEANN EGGLESTON
DIANE REYNOLDS
ERIC CARPENTER
SARA HUBER
KARL TELESCO
LORI WILLISON
HEATHER RUDERMAN
ADAM SOBIERAJ
MARIA PRYGON
PATRICIA PAULSEN
JILL KROENING
PETER MAZUROWSKI
RONALD HAMMOND
DONALD FREEDMAN
MELISSA AMOIA
JOHN CLAYTON
MOLLIE WARDCRESCENTE
ERIN POPE
KATHLEEN RICHARDSON
KIM CONGI
LISA SCHLEY
JORDAN TRIPI
VALERIYA NIKOLAYEVA
DANIEL RUSIN
MARK MONICA
SCOTT WASHBURN
ALAN DOZORETZ
VALERIE KESSINGER
GEOFFREY BURNS
WILLIAM GIAMBELLUCA
SHERYL KELLER
MEGAN TUSKES
BETH JONES
JODI ARTHUR
ROBIN MCFAYDEN
ROBERT MONROE
MICHAEL BOROWIAK
MAUREEN GUZZO
JACOB GRIFFIS
KARL ROHDE
FLORENCE LUKSCH
THOMAS SILLUZIO
DAVID COOPER
VICTORIA LANDSMAN
DAWN SHAVER
SABRINA LONDON
FRANK URBINO
CHRISTOPHER COUGHLIN
JACQUELINE KRAEMER
KATHLEEN MAISANO
JAMIE STEINWACHS
KIM MOLINARO
STACY DIEROLF
BARRY DEBBINS
JOANNE LUEDKE
WAYNE NERO
MARIE VILLARI
KAREN SMITH
PATRICIA DAYHARDING
TERESA MANGAN
DEBRA MAITLAND
MARIA RODAS
LEAH TAYLOR
DIANE DITONDO
YVONNE DEMBSKI
AMY MIRAND
DONALD SETH
BETH HARRIGER
NICHOLAS ICKOWSKI
KARAANN MOORE
SUZANNE JANOWSKY
LATASHA HOWARD
MICHAEL KOSOWSKI
DEVLYNN CHLEBOWY
JAY COLLIER
KATHLEEN HABERMAN
KATELYN GRIMM
PATRICIA LALONDE
JOSEPH SMOLEN
PEGGIE GIAMBRA
MICHAEL HINEMAN
JOSEPH KARAS
KATIE FELDMANN
ELISE WALSH
JAMES FAGAN
BETSY CAHILL
JULIE SULLIVAN
ANDREW GEWURZ
JENNIFER KOPP
KYLE WEEKS
KATHLEEN DUNWOODIEAMAN
DAVID MELI
MARY WHEATLEY
ARLIE SEARS
ANDREW KUCHARSKI
JOHN ZASTEMPOWSKI
WAYNE KROLLMAN
ROGER KIELY
LAWRENCE DUNWOODIE
RONALD STEFANSKI
BARBARA DUGAN
ANTHONY GAROFALO
RICHARD WADE
LANCE SKOWRON
JOSEPH KIRCHMYER
DAWN WOLF
BARBARA ANDERSON
NATHAN BABBITT
TIMOTHY HOWE
TERENCE DOLAN
WAYNE FRYS
SEAN FETZER
STEPHEN VUKELIC
JOHN KASKA
MARY SCAMACCA
AMY KLOPP
JOSEPH WELLS
CYNTHIA ABBOTT
JEFFREY THOMSON
REGINA WEEKS
KAREN RANDALL
BRIAN JACKSON
DEBRA CAPUTI
JOSEPH FALLETTA
BARBARA ANDRUSCHAT
FRANCES OSTEMPOWSKI
WAYNE WAZ
ROBERT ISAACS
JAMES MEAHL
ANTHONY FIGUEROA
MELINDA JONES
MARK FRANCZYK
PATRICIA GRAY
MARIE ROUGEUX

Black History Month

January 28th, 2015

In honor of Black History Month, we want to highlight the tremendous importance of and need for African American organ, tissue and blood donors.

BlackHistory_TwitterAd_Web

Organ and Tissue Donors

African Americans have a great need for organ and tissue transplantation. Why? It’s because there is a high rate of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease among African Americans, and all of these conditions can lead to organ failure. Kidney failure, for example, occurs more frequently among African Americans than any other race.

African Americans make up about 40% of the local population, but over 50% of the people in Western New York waiting for an organ transplant are African American. African Americans who receive an organ transplant from an African American donor have a lower chance of organ rejection. However, nearly 70% of the organs transplanted into African Americans come from Caucasian donors.

Blood Donors

Naliah, Blood Recipient

Naliah, Blood Recipient

About 70% of African Americans have blood type O or B, the types that are most in demand.

African American blood donors can also make a huge difference for people with sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder of the red blood cells, as well as the most common genetic disorder among African Americans. People with sickle cell anemia have an abnormal type of hemoglobin in their red blood cells. Their red blood cells are crescent-shaped rather than the normal round shape. Crescent-shaped red blood cells have difficulty passing through small blood vessels, which eventually damages both the blood vessels and surrounding tissues. This is extremely painful.

There are about 90,000 people suffering from sickle cell anemia in the United States, and almost all of them are African Americans. One in 500 African Americans suffer from sickle cell anemia, while one in 12 African Americans carry the sickle cell trait.

Patients with this disease, many of whom are children, may need 15 to 25 blood transfusions a year. They often develop antibodies to the blood they receive, which leads to potentially life-threatening complications. The risk of these complications is minimized if patients can receive blood that is more closely matched to their own; the best matches are found among other African Americans.

You can help!

Would you like to become an organ, tissue or blood donor? Click here to find out how to become an organ and tissue donor, and click here for a list of our community blood donation centers.

Almost anyone can donate blood as long as they are in good health, are at least 17 years old, and weigh at least 110 lbs. People who carry the sickle cell trait can still donate blood, too.

Catholic schools partner with Unyts to educate students on organ and blood donation

January 25th, 2015

Catholic school students at several grade levels are learning about organ and blood donation, studying the working of the human body, finding out about careers in medical and non-profit organizations, and hearing the stories of local people touched by selfless acts of donation. These learning opportunities are made possible by schools’ partnerships with Unyts, Western New York’s only organ, eye, tissue and community blood center.


Organ and blood donation are in keeping with the teachings of the church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity” when the donor or a proxy has given consent. In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II called organ donation an act of “self-giving love for others,” noting that it can offer “a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope.”

Unyts is partnering with several STREAM pilot schools in the Diocese of Buffalo, including the Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls, Nativity of Our Lord School in Orchard Park, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School in Depew, Ss. Peter & Paul School in Williamsville, St. Joseph School in Batavia, and St. Mary’s School in Swormville. Unyts’ six-module program ties in with several aspects of the STREAM model, which emphasizes science, technology, religion, engineering, art and mathematics.

Students learn about the functions performed by human organs, as well as the reasons for organ failure. They also learn about the components of blood and how they work in the body. Nutrition and creating healthy habits are another focus of the program. Unyts arranges for guest speakers to visit classrooms and talk about how they or a loved one benefitted from an organ or tissue transplant, or for family members to relate the stories of organ donors. Professionals from Unyts also speak to students regarding careers in the medical industry and the non-profit sector. The programming concludes with an opportunity for students to share their newfound knowledge by creating a public presentation or display.

“As a STREAM school, we are always seeking out different avenues to enhance the learning experience in our classrooms,” said sixth-grade teacher Mary Champoux of the Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls. “The Unyts program, under the guidance of Mrs. Tiffany Alexander-Childs has provided a link for my students to better understand the work of Unyts, as well as look ahead and consider this type of work as a career path.”

Champoux continued, “The lessons are specifically planned to enhance the required curriculum, and done so in a way that actively engages the students to fully explore the modules. My students are actively involved in discussions and demonstrations, and look forward to preparing for the next topic. The impact of this program was evident from the first meeting. This program has created a desire to learn and connect this learning to real world experiences.”

“Feedback has been fantastic, and there’s been a high level of engagement at the schools,” said Ryan Daley, Senior Manager of Community Engagement at Unyts. “We hope to expand to additional classroom-based programming in more schools next year.”IMG_20130321_122347_212

At the high school level, many students are involved with the Donate Life Club, a Unyts-sponsored program that allows students to create an educational campaign to increase awareness about donation. This club is a service and leadership club as well, and an opportunity for students to earn community service hours. Students also have opportunities to establish themselves as giving members of the community through the support of blood drives and through blood donation. All blood donated through Unyts stays in Western New York to help local patients in local hospitals.

Among the schools with Donate Life clubs are Bishop Timon-St. Jude, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, Canisius High School, Cardinal O’Hara, Immaculata Academy, Mount Mercy Academy, Mount St. Mary Academy, Niagara Catholic Junior-Senior High School, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and St. Mary’s High School.

“I believe Mount Mercy Academy’s partnership with Unyts has benefited our students, school and community,” said Assistant Principal Catherine Adair Luhr, who serves as advisor for her school’s Donate Life Club. “The program assists students in recognizing the need to give back through organ, tissue and blood donation. Through our participation in Unyts, the young women of Mercy have become more compassionate members of society by giving the gift of life.”