Jeanie Coppola gives back to her community with the gift of life. She was nominated to be Dr. Pan's Unsung Hero because she "has helped hundreds upon hundreds of patients with her blood donations. She is always enthusiastic about donating, smiling and joking with staff and other donors. BloodSource and patients in need are so lucky to have Jeanie," said Andrea Dye, RN, BloodSource Elk Grove, Donor Center Manager. Donations are always needed! You can help too and save a life by going to www.bloodsource.org.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My husband and I live in Elk Grove with our three cats. We have four children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Almost all of our family lives in the area and we see each other often. Traveling is one of my greatest pleasures. I spent three weeks in Africa with my daughter and volunteered a week during that trip with a HIV/AIDS clinic in Uganda. It was a wonderful experience. I've been to Bangkok, Beijing, Seoul, South America, New Zealand and other places - it has been great fun and I am grateful for the opportunity.
How are you making a difference in your community?
I donate blood at BloodSource in Elk Grove regularly. My goal is to reach 50 gallons which would be about 100 more blood donations! If I stay healthy, I think I can reach my goal. I have been volunteering at Elk Grove Food Bank Services (EGFBS) for ten years. You can tell I like to keep busy!
Why is volunteering important to you?
It's hard for me to be specific. I like helping others and I get to meet so many nice people through my community volunteering, both at BloodSource and the food bank. They're the best! Even though I haven't met a lot of blood recipients, I know my donations are helping. I do see clients at the Food Bank, mostly families, who need help in supplementing their groceries. I feel fortunate to be able to help in these ways.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud to have served as a Registered Nurse in local high schools for 30 years: first in Sacramento at McClatchy High School, then at Elk Grove High School and the last 12 years at Florin High School. At one of the first mobile high school drives, I helped organize in the early 1970s, I was told I could pick any day so I chose Halloween. The staff came dressed in costumes; of course, one was a vampire! I was very proud to serve as a blood drive chairperson for 25 years! I worked with students, teachers, and the blood drive staff to make sure the drive went smoothly.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
I haven't had a lot of struggles but one that stands out is going from a small high school in Upland, Indiana (a very small rural community) to Indiana University in Indianapolis. It was a huge change for me and quite overwhelming. I was studying nursing and wasn't as academically prepared as other students. Although the experience was difficult at times, I earned a Bachelor's degree in Nursing with an RN Certification, which opened doors for me. It was worth the struggle!
If there was one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
There are a lot of issues but I think homelessness is one I would like to see solved. I think Elk Grove is making great strides with this in recent years but there is still more to be done. At the Food Bank, we serve mostly families, but many homeless people too which has opened my eyes to this issue.
How do you decompress?
Volunteering is a pleasure for me. I exercise every day with the same girlfriends I've had for years and then we have coffee afterwards. We have a lot of history! I like to keep busy but don't stop to relax very much except maybe when we travel.
How might you encourage others to volunteer, either at BloodSource or at Elk Grove Food Bank Services?
I would encourage people to give it a try - it's needed. It's not that time-consuming and easier than you think! You don't need special skills and everyone fits in. You meet great people! There are so many different ways to help at these places. There are different types of blood donations. I donate source plasma which is a blood component needed for medicines. My travel doesn't impact my ability to give plasma. At the food bank, I work in the warehouse area where we organize, distribute and do other tasks that serve clients.