Loved one in need brings home the need for blood donations
Scholarly work meets real-world challenges
Katrina Coble is a woman on a mission.
Everyone who knows Coble, chair of the Carolina Blood Drive
Committee, knows her unwavering dedication to blood donation.
With Carolina’s summer blood drive fast approaching on June
2, Coble is even more fired up than usual. UNC lost its title last fall as the
largest single-day blood drive on the East Coast – to one of the
UNC-system schools: Appalachian State. The goal of 1,100 units of blood is now
personal for Coble: to beat ASU and reclaim bragging rights.
But blood donation for Coble has always been personal.
The computer science department business manager, Coble grew
up close by her maternal grandparents “Granddaddy Ira” Braxton and “Granny
Gray.” Their attachment was so strong that Coble was always kidded about being
“a third daughter” to them.
Braxton lived a life filled with challenges from the time he
was a toddler, Coble wrote in an essay in honor of her grandfather. Thought to
have polio, he was diagnosed years later with a form of muscular dystrophy, but
still led a full and productive life. “Grandaddy Ira never won any races
against his brothers and sisters,” Coble wrote, “but determination always got
him to the finish line.”
He always wore leg braces that attached to his shoes. “He
worked tirelessly in the garden to produce fruits and vegetables and thoroughly
enjoyed keeping a beautiful lawn. Those leg braces enabled him to get around
many years to do the things he loved,” Coble said. And when day turned to night
and Grandaddy Ira took off the braces, Coble “tried to walk in them, to
be like him.”
The Carolina Blood Drive needs you
Register now to give blood on June 2 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
at the Smith Center and help UNC recapture bragging rights from ASU. Make
appointments by calling 96BLOOD or 962-5663, or visit the Carolina Blood Drive
Web site: www.unc.edu/blood. Walk-in donations also are welcome. Donors receive
refreshments, a 21st anniversary blood drive T-shirt and the satisfaction of
knowing they helped to save a life. Other incentives include hourly door
prizes, the opportunity to register for a cruise for two and the chance to win
football or basketball tickets.
When Coble married in 1984, Braxton was still walking with
his leg braces plus arm crutches, but by 1989, he progressed to a walker and
then to a wheelchair. He could no longer garden, but lovingly tended his
“People often asked how in the world he could mow the yard
with the riding lawn mower,” she wrote. “He couldn’t lift his legs to use the
pedals and did not have hand controls. He learned how to make do with his cane,
using it to push the pedals. He continued to mow his yard until the end of
That year, at the age of 79, he was diagnosed with
sideroblastic anemia and began requiring units of blood. The next year he was
diagnosed with multiple myeloma – cancer of the white blood cells.
Through blood donations – 64 units in all – Ira
Braxton lived another 18 months.
Coble’s grandfather knew the value of blood donation, both
as a recipient and as a donor himself. “He too decided to give someone the gift
of life through blood donations when he was younger and in better health,” she
wrote. “He knew then how important it was to
This year’s blood drive slogan is “Living the Carolina Way,”
and Coble personally encourages faculty and staff to give the gift of life to
the patients who so desperately need their help. “My family will certainly
thank you as will countless others,” she said.
Read the rest of Coble’s story at www.unc.edu/blood/katrina.htm.
Scholarly work meets real-world challenges
||Photo top left, Diane Berry, assistant professor in the
School of Nursing, works with a potential participant at El Centro Latino to complete the
consent form for a health education study.Photo top right, children “take the car on vacation” on El Centro Latino playground as one
of the childcare sitters supervises. (Photos: Don Evans/NC Tracs Institute)
Everyone knows what happens when you toss a pebble into a
pond: The ripples start out small and grow larger, reaching farther. That’s how
Diane Berry, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, describes her work
with Carrboro’s El Centro Latino – a nonprofit organization that provides
educational and social services and cultural activities to help improve the
quality of life for Latinos living in and around Orange County.
Hispanics or Latinos now represent 12 percent of the
population of Carborro and almost 6 percent of Orange County.
“Chapel Hill/Carrboro as well as areas in and around Orange
County have seen significant growth in their Hispanic populations, particularly
among migrant workers and other laborers and their families, who tend to be
vulnerable to isolating factors,” Berry said.
“The transitory lifestyle, limited education, language
barriers and challenges to accessing services create a sort of ‘silence’ among
these populations. My goal is to help give them a voice and access to support
both from the community and Carolina.”
Berry has worked with El Centro Latino directors, community
health educators and a core group of Spanish-speaking women in the area from
Mexico to implement health education classes focused on topics they select.
Berry and her team have examined the women’s concerns regarding immigration,
weight gain, nutrition and decreased physical activity in themselves and their
Using Community-Based Participatory Research and working
with this core group of women during a three-year period, they refined,
adapted, translated and tested a weight management intervention designed for
Spanish-speaking women and their young children.
They delivered a feasibility study in the community and
included 12 weekly two-hour classes followed by three monthly two-hour classes,
after which the women and children had three months on their own to see how
Overall, results were positive. These women lost weight and
decreased their body fat percentage, improved nutrition and physical activity
knowledge, and developed eating and exercise self-efficacy. The children
stabilized their weight gain.
Berry’s efforts contributed significantly to her selection
by the University as one of eight 2009–10 Faculty Engaged Scholars
(FESP), an initiative launched in October 2007 by the Carolina Center for
Public Service and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Service and
The two-year program enables scholars to connect their
faculty work with the needs of a community and apply their skills to make a
difference. Scholars receive an annual stipend of $7,500, have opportunities to
interact with like-minded faculty from a variety of disciplines to address
relevant issues through service and engaged scholarship, and participate in
workshops, panels and case studies by experts to help scholars get the most
from their experiences.
A grant from Strowd Roses Inc. of Chapel Hill to the Center
for Public Service is helping fund Berry’s stipend, which she is using to
further the partnership she has developed with El Centro Latino and community
health educators and expand it to other communities with large Spanish-speaking
In only its second year, the FESP is gaining local and
national recognition as an innovative, effective program to further faculty
involvement in the scholarship of engagement.
Lynn Blanchard, the center’s director, has presented FESP to
more than 20 universities through the national project Faculty for Engaged
Campus supported by Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, with a grant from
the Fund for Post-Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education.
There has also been Canadian interest in learning how this program fosters
faculty and community partnerships to create positive change.
Berry has partnered with El Centro Latino for several years
to help bring the University’s knowledge and resources to bear on critical
issues in the community.
Berry’s weight-management intervention is helping community
health educators and Latina participants improve nutrition and physical
activity within their families. The goal is to reduce the incidence of
overweight and obesity, and slow the development of type 2 (non-insulin
“Many of the women and children we work with are uninsured
and have limited access to health-promotion programs,” Berry said. “Preventing
type 2 diabetes will ultimately decrease health-care costs in the long-term,
but more importantly will empower families to take charge of their health. “
Berry said her involvement with El Centro Latino has added
dimension to her work, inspired her teaching and enriched her perspective.
“I have always had a passion for public service, and to be
able to directly apply my scholarly work in the field is tremendously rewarding
to me, my team, and beneficial to my students,” she said. “It is extremely
exciting when you start with a clinical problem, like type 2 diabetes, and
begin to address it at the core, and maybe even prevent it, long before we have
to intervene clinically.”
As a Faculty Engaged Scholar, Berry said she has learned as
much or more from her experience as those she is working to serve.
“I have gained so much more than just advancing my research
or collaborating with scholars outside the confines of our campus,” she
said. “I have seen firsthand that
Carolina, or any institution, can and should partner equally with its
surrounding community to bring contributions to the table that will ultimately
affect positive change.”
Through the FESP, Berry and Carolina have set the ripples in
motion. Their partnership with El Centro Latino is broadening horizons and
For more information about the Faculty Engaged
Scholars Program, refer to www.unc.edu/cp.