When Debbie Merchant finds something she likes, she sticks with it.
She’s worked at V.C. Summer for 30 years, a dedicated career that has led her to something else she’s now equally devoted to – helping others.
“My sister used to laugh at me,” she laughed herself, “because if I missed a blood drive here at the plant, I’d go find one in town. She said I’m probably the only person to track down a blood drive.”
For more than 20 years, Merchant, a plant support engineering administrative assistant, has given over 71 pints of blood to the American Red Cross. For the last seven, she’s also given her time as a volunteer, coordinating company blood drives at the nuclear station.
“It feels good to give and makes me feel guilty when I don’t,” she said.
These days, though, there’s a more personal reason why giving blood means so much to her. Both her sister and mother passed away from cancer and needed blood transfusions.
“I call them my angels,” Merchant said. “Knowing firsthand how much my loved ones depended on donated blood, is what motivates me to do whatever I can to help others.”
Merchant now schedules several drives a year at the plant with the help of her co-workers. The drives have been so successful that, at least three times in recent memory, she’s had to turn people away.
In September of 2007, the Red Cross honored Merchant with a certificate recognizing her contributions. As grateful as she was, though, she knew that she hadn’t done it alone. Her fellow employees had helped coordinate drives and recruit donors, so with them in mind, she asked that the certificate have the plant’s name instead of her own.
“It didn’t feel right having just my name, because I wasn’t just accepting it for me,” Merchant said. “I was accepting it for my VC Summer family.”
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