Partners for Life program connects employees across Canada

Every year, thousands of blood donors take part in group donations as part of the Partners for Life program. Champions such as RBC employees Amanda Moore, Graeme Green, Vineet Verghese and Kulvit Chapman, have gathered together colleagues in their community to donate blood as a team to support Canada’s Lifeline.  

At the age of 17, Amanda Moore decided to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather, father and older siblings and became a blood donor. “I’m a third-generation blood donor,” says Amanda. “My dad’s dad set the example for him, and he did the same for all of his kids.” While her earlier motivations might have been driven by wanting to shadow her older siblings, donating blood was not a passing fad for Amanda. “I was the 4th child so it was more of wanting to do what my older siblings could do. I've kept it up pretty consistently since then.” 

What is the process to donate blood? 

While Amanda was inspired by her father and grandfather, she has played a key role in inspiring many other blood donors through her employer, RBC, one of Canada’s largest banks. “We started small with a team of three of us in Toronto,” she says of her fellow RBC blood donors. Initially they formed a Partners for Life group at their location and quickly discovered blood donor Champions within RBC across Canada. “We’ve used an internal networking tool to find Champions and build a program. We do small things, and we try to build a little bit each year,” she explains. 

The Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life program includes teams and groups of all sizes, who contribute more than 225, 000 donations every year. Supporters can donate together, through group donations, or contribute towards the teams' goal by donating as an individual. RBC has teams around the country, and together they share ideas and set goals. “Last November, we passed our 2021 goal of 1,000 donations,” says Amanda. “We were really excited about that!” Last year Amanda also hit an impressive milestone with 100 blood donations. 

RBC Employee Amanda Moore donating blood holding up a 100 donation sign

RBC Employee and Partners for Life Champion Amanda Moore makes her 100th blood donation, along with Beth Frise, Manager National Partnerships, and Kristie Upton, Regional Program Manager for Toronto.

How to join the Partners for Life program 

Beth Frise, Manager National Partnerships with Canadian Blood Services has been working with Amanda to support the RBC Partners for Life team for nearly ten years. “Amada has done a terrific job creating and chairing a dynamic leadership committee to spearhead RBC’s Partners for Life initiatives. The committee members are from a wide cross section of the bank in terms of both geography and business units.  They each promote Partners for Life in their region and line of business; looking for new Champions to organize team events.  These are fantastically selfless people who want to do nothing more than help their community.”   

In Manitoba, fellow RBC employee Graeme Green has been a blood donor since university. “I wanted a free donut,” he says, laughing. “There was a mobile clinic set up at the University of Manitoba. I wanted to give it a try. I got the awesome donut afterwards and kind of got hooked. I know that donating blood has a real impact on people's lives.”  

Graeme has been working with RBC for over 20 years and has been encouraging others to join Canada’s Lifeline during much of that time. Earlier in his career when he worked at an RBC call centre, Graeme would arrange to have “What’s Your Type?” events come to his workplace to engage people by testing for their blood type and educating them on the importance of blood donation. Eventually he moved on to other positions and changed his approach to engage new donors. “I got a team together and said, ‘hey let's go donate - it would be great if we could do this for my birthday’. I got a few people to go out and now some of those people are recruiting their coworkers.  It’s a wonderful snowball effect!” 

Since then, the importance of blood donation has hit close to home for Graeme as family members have required blood and blood products. “My father-in-law, who passed away close to two years ago, was in hospice and he received platelets,” he said. “Those platelets gave us an extra 12 hours with him. It was enough time for people to be able to say their goodbyes. Without receiving that they wouldn't have had that opportunity.” More recently his mother has been a recipient. “My mom receives iron and whole blood transfusions on a regular basis. She's battling cancer. Donating blood makes me feel good, to know that I am making a difference. Maybe not for my mom, but for someone else’s mom.” 

RBC Employee Graeme Green donating blood

RBC employee and Partners for Life Champion Graeme Green donates blood.

In 2019, Kulvit Chapman visited a donor centre in Guilford, BC with her husband to learn about blood donation as she had never donated before. She scheduled a meeting with Territory Manager Nancy Brian, and knew she wanted to get involved and motivate work colleagues to donate as well. After making her first blood donation, Kulvit pitched the idea to her fellow RBC employees. “What I decided to do was organize an event,” says Kulvit. “I wanted to reach out to my RBC family and then see if I could get them to come out. That's how it all kind of blossomed in 2019.” 

Since then, Kulvit has worked with senior leadership within RBC across British Columbia and has engaged employees in multiple cities to become blood donors. “I wanted to start getting the word out, so we started coordinating and doing donor events in Chilliwack, Hope, on Vancouver Island, in Nanaimo area.  Now we've started doing some in Vancouver and in Kelowna. We’ve continued to expand.”  

In addition to being a wonderful team building exercise for her colleagues, Kulvit is inspired to give back and help the community. She has seen the importance of blood donation firsthand with close family friends who are recipients. “My girlfriend’s son calls me Mama Bear.  When he was born, you could hold him in your palm. He was less than two pounds,” she says. “I've seen him go through a multitude of surgeries. He’s now 11 years old and the amount of blood transfusions he's received in such a short time span is remarkable.” She’s also had a friend battle cancer who needed blood during surgeries. “Those are the immediate close examples I have, and it's individuals like that. We don't know when or if we are going to need blood. So, if we can give back and make a difference, we should. Everything that goes around, comes around.” 

RBC Employee Kulvit donating blood

RBC employee and Partners for Life Champion Kulvit Chapman donates blood.

Kulvit is happy to continue donating throughout the pandemic, recognizing how important it is to maintain Canada’s Lifeline. “Based on what’s been going on in the world with so much craziness that we can't control, donating blood brings us together as human beings.” 

Growing up in India, Vineet Verghese had a much different experience with blood donation than those in Canada can relate to. “I just turned 18,” explains Vineet. “I was visiting a family member at a hospital. We were just going to visit them, but unfortunately something happened, and he needed blood urgently. They were asking around and he had the same blood group as me, AB positive. There was no concept of a blood bank there, so they usually asked family members to bring two or three people to come and help out.  They needed a few units, so my uncle and I donated blood for him. His life was saved at that moment. “I’ve been hooked on donating blood ever since”  

While blood donation doesn’t work like that in Canada, Vineet is happy to be part of the RBC Partners for Life group, helping to save lives through Canada’s Lifeline. He has made nearly 30 whole blood donations with Canadian Blood Services and has also been a plasma and platelet donor.  Vineet grew up with the importance of giving back instilled at an early age. Since moving to Canada 12 years ago, he stays connected to the spirit of giving through blood donations. “We can't all be doctors and nurses and help out directly, but this is an indirect way of giving life.” 

RBC Employee Vineet Verghese donating plasma

RBC employee and Partners for Life Champion Vineet Verghese sits comfortably while making a plasma donation.