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Retired teacher co-chairs local bloodmobile visits

Pam Enger spent her career as a teacher.

That 31-year stint as an educator in Maryland led Enger to volunteer with the teachers association there, helping with such projects as organizing elections at the county level for the NEA (National Education Association), she said Thursday. Additionally, she was a volunteer at her church, the United Church of Christ.

Six-and-a-half years ago, she headed west with her husband, the Washington, D.C., native said. And she's now found herself volunteering again, here with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile. The bloodmobile returns next Monday from noon to 6:30 p.m. at Zion Covenant Church.

"I've got volunteerism in my blood," she said, laughing at the unintentional pun.

Enger was patronizing Curves in Ellsworth when she was approached about helping with local bloodmobile visits, she said. A successor to former Coordinator Charlotte Burt was needed; asked to assist, she agreed, providing Janet Helmer would co-chair.

Appropriately, Enger's contribution has mainly been securing other volunteers. She said they're enlisted to operate the canteen, for traffic control, to register donors, bake and do kitchen duty, recruit set-up and take-down workers, and make calls about appointments.

Although she once donated blood herself but can't anymore due to medical reasons, she said she's met a lot of nice people while serving in a different capacity. The urban transplant has been adjusting to rural life; despite long knowing her husband, Warren, one day wanted to raise beef cattle in the country, she still experienced a bit of a shock when that day arrived.

Her spouse is originally from Madison, Minn., and was involved in international development when they met in D.C., she said. He traveled for the private sector to places including Africa, Jamaica, Malaysia, Zambia, even Bosnia during the conflict in that country, focusing mostly on agricultural development.

She'd taught second grade for seven years, then piloted a Learning Disabilities program for the same Maryland school system by the time they met, she said. She was a graduate of a small teachers college, Frostburg, and later got a special education degree from the University of Northern Colorado. Her summer jobs had included employment at hotels in Estes Park and back home, establishments where she encountered such notables as Martin Luther King and Marlon Brando.

Her mate finally got the chance to pursue his cattle-raising dream and it was an ad in "Hoard's Dairyman" magazine that brought them to the Town of Ellsworth (he shunned his home state, Minnesota, as being "too flat"), she said. But she had her doubts when they first came to the land where they've settled; after a couple of obstacles with an unfinished house and no access to part of the property, it's all worked out and her initial hesitation was largely the product of her having a bad cold back then, she admits upon reflection. They ended up with Limousine and Black Angus breeds on over 500 acres, she said.

"We're hoping for 84 calves this year," she said, noting she sews in her spare time and helps make quilts at her church.

Enger, who said her own blood type is AB negative, shared information from the American Red Cross showing that, while all types are needed, O negative is especially sought. Type O blood in general is a lifesaver because it can be safely transfused to more patients than any other type. O positive can be transfused to about 85 percent of the U.S. population and O negative to patients with any blood type.

The Red Cross recommends eligible blood donors build up their blood iron by eating iron-rich foods prior to donating, the information states. Recommended foods include red meat, fish, poultry, liver, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, beans, peas, lentils, breads, cereals and dried fruit. In addition, eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, strawberries, peppers, potatoes and cabbage, helps increase iron absorption. Iron can be replenished with supplement tablets, but these should be administered only after consulting with a personal physician or pharmacist.

Call 1-800-448-3543 or visit to make an appointment to donate blood or for more information. Future local bloodmobile visits are set for Sept. 10, Nov. 12, Jan. 7, 2008, March 17, 2008, and May 12, 2008.