A Family’s Longtime Mission to Give Back

By Jocelyn Hillard, American Red Cross

There is a saying in the American Red Cross world: “Once a Red Crosser, always a Red Crosser”. Kris and Sarah Yeager of Monroe, Connecticut, are all too familiar. They have dedicated their time to helping others through the Red Cross mission for nearly two decades, recently finding a special way to give back after COVID-19.

Kris and Sarah Yeager dressed to the nines for the Red Cross Ball, an annual event to raise money for the Red Cross mission. Photo submitted by Kris Yeager.

Sarah joined the Red Cross in March of 2002 as the Director of Communications and Financial Development for the Stamford Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“I had worked for a PR/Advertising agency during September 11 and following that tragic event I wanted to work for an organization that was more community focused and came across this position at the Red Cross,” Sarah said. “Part of my role was organizing special events for the Chapter. Thankfully Kris was my best volunteer and worked all of my events!”

A few years later, Sarah accepted a position outside of the Red Cross, but that wasn’t the end of the Yeager family’s Red Cross story. In fact, it was just the beginning.

“A few years later, the leadership at the Stamford Chapter saw a lot of value in Kris and asked him to consider joining their board as treasurer and really the rest is history. He has been a board member ever since,” Sarah said.

Kris has been an influential board member for what is now the Connecticut Chapter Board of Directors, currently serving on the Executive Committee as Secretary. He is a regular blood and platelet donor. Known for his kind heart and pit master skills, Kris is always ready to lend a hand. He even carries on the tradition of supporting special events like the Red Cross Ball and gathering silent auction items, a nod to his Red Cross roots planted all those years ago.

“The Red Cross means so much to me because of its mission,” Kris said. “The humanitarian services they provide from blood services to disaster response to serving the members of the Armed Forces, the Red Cross touches so many lives around the world when they need it the most. How could I not support that?”

Giving Back After COVID-19: A Family Affair

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating effect on the country and the world. Both blood donors, Kris and Sarah planned to continue to donate during a time when we continue to see a need for blood donation. After their family fell ill with COVID-19, they were presented with another unique, lifesaving opportunity to help others once they recovered. They signed up to donate convalescent plasma with the Red Cross.

Convalescent plasma is plasma taken people who have recovered from COVID-19. Their plasma contains antibodies that may help patients actively fighting the virus.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic playing out this last year, it was very hard at times to hear about people we know and love getting sick with COVID-19 and not being able to help them,” Sarah said. “When our family got sick, one silver lining was that we now had convalescent plasma and by donating we might be able to help save someone who was sick.”

“I figured if my plasma could help those who had it worse than I did, it was the very least I could do,” Kris said. “Once I was able to get a negative COVID-19 test as well as a positive antibody test, I signed up to donate.”

Not only did they sign up, they were able to give convalescent plasma four times between December 2020 and March 2021.

“These few plasma and blood donations I have given pale in comparison to the thousands of donors, volunteers and staff members around the world that give so much more. I am grateful and thankful for all they do and it is my privilege to be in their company,” Kris said.

Sarah followed, “The Red Cross to me means helping others – that is what comes to mind. A community of people helping others in times of hardship, whatever that might be.” 

Volunteers are the Lifeline of the American Red Cross

During Volunteer Appreciation Month we thank dedicated volunteers and blood donors like Kris and Sarah for their continued commitment to help families in need. Volunteers constitute about 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce. In Connecticut, more than 2,000 people volunteer with the Red Cross by responding to home fires and other disasters, supporting blood collections, providing emergency assistance to military families, and much more.

Congratulations, Kris and Sarah, on your 19 years of service…and here’s to many more!

Become a Red Cross volunteer at www.redcross.org/VolunteerToday and, if you’re healthy and feeling well, making an appointment to donate blood at RedCrossBlood.org.

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