Life Blood of a Community: Where we gather


The blood is flowing, coffee is brewing and people are talking.

The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.

No, it’s not a coffee shop. I am talking about the Memorial Blood Centers in Coon Rapids.

It sounds like a strange place to catch up on the latest gossip and discuss the latest economic downturn, but consider this: Most donors are there an hour or more to donate and go through vitals and questions. Throw in some coffee and juice, as well as cookies, and its an environment ripe for discussion.

The people that come in are very diverse, even while sharing a common goal. There are students, young and old. Professors, teachers, retirees, businesspeople, and more. And many of these people come in once every 56 days, time after time, so the rapport builds. In addition, most of the people come from a similar area or within a few local cities nearby.

If you want to get opinions about the so-called “Octo-Mom”, look no further. While clutching battered copies of _People Magazine_, donors are none too afraid to open up on their views. A man that came in yesterday works in the same building as our office, in a realty company. If you want to know about the housing business as well as the various stimulus plans and rebates for new homeowners, “Dan” is the man to listen to. He was very eager to offer me advice, saying “Now is the time”.

Most of the people that come in seem to be optimistic about the future (and the weather too, surprisingly!). Although there are a large number of donors who are now coming during the day as they have been laid off, “It could be worse” can be heard echoing through the room.

To me it seems, these “friends” that I know these people as, are concerned about the state of the economy and family these days. They are worried about jobs and their kids and making sure crime goes down and incomes go up. This community cares about others though and even in hard times of their own, most seem very caring and compassionate about the trials of others, as they sit around the table sharing a newspaper and a cup of coffee.

_When she’s not at Memorial Blood Centers, Stephanie Sharpe is enrolled at Anoka-Ramsey Community College_