From The Courier-Gazette Newspaper
Rockland Rotary hits donation milestone

The Rockland Rotary club hit a major donation milestone Friday, Feb. 17 in Owls Head.

From left: Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell shakes hands with Rockland Rotary member Fred Newcomb after Luttrell donated the club’s 1,000th unit of blood for the American Red Cross at the Owls Head Community Center, Friday, Feb. 17. Photo by Christine Simmonds

OWLS HEAD — The anticipation was palpable in the Owls Head Community Building on Friday, Feb. 17 as members of the Rockland Rotary wondered amongst themselves who it would be. They knew it would happen any moment now. After all, they had been carefully counting down for an hour and a half.

Someone in the room was about to donate Rockland Rotary’s 1,000th unit of blood to the American Red Cross of Northern New England.

At almost exactly 1 p.m. the phlebotomist informed club members that she had the lucky person right there. It was none other than Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell.

While club President Tena Wallace played celebratory music, Luttrell received a poster and candy to commemorate the occasion and was invited to attend the next Rockland Rotary meeting.

Rockland Rotary member Fred Newcomb has been organizing these blood drives in conjunction with the American Red Cross since 2015, when he saw an advertisement to sponsor a drive while he was donating.

Newcomb said it is easy to host the drives. The town of Owls Head allows them to use the community room at no cost, other Rotary members assist, and the Red Cross does the rest.


Newcomb said the club has been collecting more than 30 units per blood drive, and thought perhaps they would reach the 1,000 milestone in December at the last drive. When the drive ended they were only seven units away.

Newcomb has personal experience with the importance of blood donors, which he says is why he is a faithful donor as well as organizing these drives every other month.

In 1968, Newcomb and his sister were in a car crash on their way to the Union Fair. His sister suffered severe internal injuries, he said. She was taken to Knox County General Hospital and required extensive surgeries.

Newcomb said during this, the hospital ran out of blood. Knox County General Hospital put out a call for local donors with her blood type, and the community answered the call.

“They came and saved her life,” Newcomb said. He is so grateful, and he has never forgotten this.

Someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds according to the Red Cross, and one in every seven patients entering a hospital will need a blood transfusion.


Jennifer Costa, Regional Communications Director for the American Red Cross of Northern New England said these people are completely reliant on the kindness of strangers. There is no substitute for blood, Costa said; it is only available thanks to donors and the volunteers at blood drives.

“Our community partners are great,” Costa said. “We couldn’t do this without them. They are the boots on the ground.”

Donated blood has a limited shelf life, too. It is only good for 42 days. Costa said blood donations meet the need locally first within Maine, and are then moved out of state so they can be used within that time period.

Donors can track their blood donation through the American Red Cross Blood Donor app, Costa said, and find out its final destination. Donors who do not have the app will get an email when someone receives their blood.

Also on the app, users can make a donation appointment, see local blood drive locations and check on things like their iron levels.

For more information about the American Red Cross of Norther New England, visit

Rockland Rotary meets every Wednesday at noon at the Rockland Elks Lodge. The hold a blood drive at Owls Head Community Building the third Friday of even numbered months. The next blood drive will be in April.

For more information about Rockland Rotary, visit or

Rockland Rotary members celebrate collecting the 1,000th unit of donated blood Feb. 17. From left: David Theriault, Fred Newcomb, 1,000th donor Tom Luttrell, Rockland Rotary President Tena Wallace, Gene Reil. Photo by Christine Simmonds