Caring donors make Santa Cruz blood drive a special success


Zoë Brouillet is following in her father’s footsteps as a regular Red Cross blood donor.

You could almost say that helping others is in Zoë Brouillet‘s blood.

That’s why the 19-year-old Santa Cruz resident shifted gears halfway through a “Gap Year” program last year, deciding that her time between finishing high school and beginning college would be better spent in Asia helping the disadvantaged, rather than in Italy studying opera. “I decided part way through the year that I wanted to change locations so the experience could be about something greater than me,” Zoë said. “I ended up helping build water-filtration systems in Cambodia, treat Agent Orange victims in Vietnam, and conserve elephants in Thailand.”

That’s also why Zoë was one of the first people in the Santa Cruz office of the American Red Cross yesterday morning for a blood drive event.

“I have just started to give blood, and this is only my second time doing it,” Zoë said enthusiastically. While talking to her, it quickly became apparent that her natural tendency to help others is only one of the reasons Zoë signed up to give at yesterday’s blood drive. “My father was a longtime donor, but he can’t give blood anymore because of medicine he’s now taking. So I have decided that I’m going to fill in for him and do this regularly on behalf of our family.”

If case you need more insight into this civil engineering student’s character, Zoë is also training to be a member of the Central Coast Chapter’s Disaster Action Team (DAT) in her spare time. “I’m figuring out that helping people is a great concept for me,” she said.



John Crepeau is assisted by Christina Casner, a Donor Technician for the American Red Cross.

Unlike Zoe, John Crepeau has already completed his career in engineering. However, like Zoë, John also came early to the Santa Cruz office to give blood yesterday morning.

“I just really believe in the Red Cross mission,” John said. “It didn’t take me that long to drive here from my home in Hollister, and it just felt like the right thing to do.”

Talking with John, one gets the impression that he’d step forward to help with almost any Red Cross need. He’s a regular in Disaster Cycle Services, having deployed seven times in 2 1/2 years of volunteering; he’s now the Fleet Lead for the local chapter; and he’s learning the ropes in Logistics.

“I really admire the Red Cross as an organization for all that it does,” he said. “And I like that the Red Cross works in such an impartial and non-discriminatory way. Our efforts have just one goal: to help people in need.”



Sue Gochis says she’s a favorite at Red Cross blood drives because she is “Be Positive.”

Sue Gochis is the Vice President of Student Services at Cabrillo College in nearby Aptos. So — like Zoe and John — helping people comes naturally to her.

“I give blood regularly, and this local drive seemed like an easy way for me to donate,” she said. Sue also said she had a second reason for signing up to give at the Santa Cruz office yesterday: She is an active member of a local Rotary International club, and giving blood is a priority of that organization as well.

“We have a blood drive challenge going on right now in Rotary, and I’m a competitive person,” she said, laughing.

Turning serious, Sue said she volunteered for the Red Cross during some of the years she and her family lived in Kansas. “That state still feels like home to me, and they have some very serious tornadoes there, so I have had a longtime appreciation for the Red Cross.”

Sue apologizes for having to cut the conversation short, saying she is expected back on campus for a 1 o’clock meeting. However, before leaving, she shares a light-hearted — but revealing — joke that comes as quickly to her as does helping others: “The Red Cross likes it when I donate at these drives because I’m ‘Be Positive.'”


Being positive while helping others — it’s a practice that Zoe, John, and Sue share in spades. In fact, the same “helping gene” was present in all 36 of the people who completely filled the schedule for yesterday’s blood drive in the Central Coast Chapter.

“Every one of the people who came to our office to make a blood donation may have his or her own unique reason for being here,” said Michele Averill, CEO for the Central Coast Chapter. “But each one of their stories also has a common theme: Giving blood is just one of the many ways they make helping others a priority in their lives.”

“We couldn’t be more thankful for the effort that they all made to get here to make our blood drive so successful,” she added.

You too can help: Right now, the Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood shortage. So you too can join Zoe, John, and Sue as blood donors. Schedule your next blood donation today by using the Blood Donor App, by visiting, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at or use the Blood Donor App.