In it’s fifteen year history, The Milk Bank has always benefited from volunteers in our office and most notably, at the Lactation Station we host at the State Fair every summer. Our local research university, IUPUI has a strong volunteer culture and arranges for volunteer groups to go out into the community and serve. We were fortunate to host seven student leaders this year during MLK’s Week of Action. They wrote 172 thank you notes, sanitized and prepped shipping materials, made 141 new mom kits, and bundled 2,400 brochures!
In early 2020 we began to relaunch our volunteer program so that volunteers could became regular faces in the office and at outreach events around the Midwest. I don’t have to tell you what they say about “best laid plans.”
As a single-source tissue provider (did you know pasteurized donor human milk is considered a tissue donation?) serving NICUs in Indiana and across the Midwest, the COVID pandemic had a swift and strong impact on how The Milk Bank reached potential donors. Community outreach events were cancelled and milk drives hosted by hospital partners, who provided staff to draw blood, were no longer an option.
The Milk Bank team got creative, and re-imagined milk drives in a way that was convenient & safe for our donors while keeping them out of a hospital setting. This meant we needed volunteers certified to draw blood and NURSES ANSWERED THE CALL, just like they are doing all across the globe. We even had former lab technicians call and say they would look into becoming re-certified so they could help The Milk Bank at future events!
With the help of two volunteers, Heather & Becky, The Milk Bank hosted its first ever drive-up low-contact milk drive, letting pre-screened donors complete their blood test and drop off a donation all at once. The event was a success, with 18 new donors bringing an estimated 3,925 ounces of milk to feed the fragile!
Thank you sometimes doesn’t feel like enough, but it’s the right place to start. Thank you to all of our volunteers, past and present. We could not do our lifesaving work without your support.