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People Taking Action: Volunteer goes above and beyond as the smiling face that greets blood donors

Posted at 6:07 PM, Sep 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-25 18:07:26-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Giving blood and platelets - it's a life saver. And if you do it at the American Red Cross Donation Center in Norfolk, there's a chance you may run into a certain volunteer.

Marion Sawyer is one of the faces that greets you when you walk in to donate. She's been volunteering with the Red Cross since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005. She says it was the images on the news that sparked her to take action.

"The devastation, the things that people did and lost and the lives lost and it just makes you just have the hunger to help - to do something - and that's what I wanted to do," she said.

Marion helped with some of the Katrina victims who were relocated to Hampton Roads in need of disaster relief services.

"Just helping someone get back on their feet... I've been so blessed. I've never been without food. I've never had to think about where I'm going to sleep," she said.

Bernadette Jay, the External Communications Manager for the Red Cross, says volunteers are critical to their mission.

"Volunteers represent about 90 percent of our workforce, and so we simply cannot do what we do as an organization in the community without volunteers and particularly, volunteers like Miss Marion," Jay said.

In addition to her work with the Red Cross, Marion also volunteers with the Foodbank [of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore] and the Salvation Army, and she supports fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Parkinson's disease, Multiple sclerosis and the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters.

Erika Dillard, a Red Cross volunteer coordinator, says Marion is her go-to person.

"And she goes out and does a phenomenal job for us, so we're always happy. Anytime I'm in a pinch, Lord I'm like, 'I'm just going to call Marion,'" Dillard said.

For all those reasons, News 3 presented Marion with a People Taking Action award, along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.

Marion was very grateful.

"Oh my goodness!" she exclaimed. "Thank you, thank you."

And she was genuinely touched by the recognition.

"Well, when you give from your heart and you're helping people, that's reward enough, but when people appreciate what you do, it really touches your heart and it's good to be appreciated and I thank you," Marion said.

And if you would to donate blood, the Red Cross would be so thankful. Due to Hurricane Florence, 200 blood drives were cancelled in the southeast. If you'd like to give, click here.