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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

At 91, Iowa Volunteer Always Answers the Call

By Ashley Peterson-DeLuca

Virginia Shimpach of Cedar Falls, Iowa, is someone you can depend on. She shows up 15 minutes early to every shift. She’s always willing to lend a helping hand. In fact, she got involved in the Red Cross almost 30 years ago when a friend told her they needed more volunteers. Without hesitation, she said: “Okay! I’ll try that.”

She hasn’t stopped volunteering since. Today, at 91 years old, she not only volunteers with the Red Cross, but also with her church, the local hospital, a non-profit store, the community museum and the downtown playhouse. Her weekly schedule is filled with 4-5 days of volunteering shifts.

“I can’t be retired and just stay home watching TV,” she says. “You have to keep moving. If you don’t, you can get stagnant and not feel good about yourself.”

Shimpach volunteers at Red Cross blood drives by checking in donors. She is very passionate about blood donation: “When my husband was sick, he received a lot of blood. I’m so thankful for the donors who give. There’s a lot of need for blood donations.”

She loves to talk with the donors and the crews who are working during blood drives. She especially admires the work ethic and friendliness of the staff.

“No matter where I am, no matter who they are, the staff are happy to have me,” she says. “Newer staff, older people who have been doing blood drives for years — even the trainees — it’s like I’ve known them forever.”

When she’s not supporting the blood drive events, Shimpach takes Red Cross tasks home. She assists the transport drivers who take the blood to hospitals across the region by logging their volunteer time for them.

“There’s always someone who needs help and there’s so much variety in how you can help,” she says. “The Red Cross is a good place to volunteer and a good place to work.”

Even when she isn’t scheduled to volunteer, she is always busy with taking care of her home, yard and garden. During the late summer season, her garden is bursting with juicy watermelons and tomatoes that she shares with her tight-knit community.

She’s not planning on slowing down anytime soon: “The number 91 doesn’t mean a lot. It is just a number.”

To learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities, visit

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