Los Banos needs your blood, your love of reading and your vote

Giving blood takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish, but can mean extending a lifetime for those who receive it.
Giving blood takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish, but can mean extending a lifetime for those who receive it. McClatchy News Service

Over the next four weeks, Los Banos residents will have three opportunities to give a little and achieve a lot. These opportunities involve blood, books and votes.

On Oct. 18, the regular, every-other-month Los Banos blood drive will be at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Center Street from 3 to 6 p.m. That same Thursday, from 5 to 7:30 the Art, Books and Bytes fundraiser will take place a few blocks away at the library. And on Nov. 6, Measure H will be on the Los Banos ballot.

Some readers might not see similarities among these three opportunities, but I do. In each case, individuals can give something (blood, money and a vote) that will require some sacrifice but pay significant dividends.

The blood drive desperately needs donors. While the need for blood remains high, recent donations have been significantly lower. At the last blood drive, only eight people donated. Since I’ve been giving blood over the past 40-plus years, this is the lowest turnout I’ve seen. There have been many times when well over 50 donated.

I’m puzzled. The 10 minutes it takes to give blood is painless and takes place while the donor is relaxed in a chaise lounge. It takes only 20 additional minutes to fill out forms and take some tests to insure blood pressure, temperature and iron levels are appropriate.

The investment of a half hour pays a wonderful dividend in saving lives. I can think of hundreds of Los Banos residents whose lives were immeasurably helped or saved by “locally sourced” Los Banos blood donors.

Donating $20 on Oct. 18 to the Friends of the Library as the admission to Art, Books and Bytes will pay immediate dividends in wine and freshly made hors d’oeuvres and desserts, as well as a chance to view and buy local art. It will pay long-lasting dividends by supporting a local library that serves all community members.

Tickets are still available at the Phoenix Bookstore (936 6th St.) or at the door.

Voting yes on Measure H will also involve some sacrifice. If it passes, local residents will need to pay an extra half-cent in sales tax. But the results will make our community safer and stronger.

Like most Los Banosans, I have a great respect for our first responders. But with Los Banos growing, the numbers of police officers and firefighters is not sufficient to keep up with increasing population.

I have watched both Police Chief Gary Brizzee and Fire Chief Mason Hurley grow up in Los Banos and devote their lives to serving their community. Both need sufficient staff to do their jobs.

I especially want enough police offers to maintain and increase patrols and prevention programs in the face of gang activities. Part of prevention includes having opportunities that encourage young people to get involved in programs rather than gangs.

I don’t like paying taxes any more than other Los Banos residents. But I appreciate the wise use of tax dollars. The best, most beneficial use are those tax dollars that are spent locally. Money raised through Measure H can’t be siphoned off by state or federal governments.

I’ve heard some people say that future city councils might use Measure H dollars for purposes not identified by the current council – which included maintaining and improving crime control and prevention and supporting firefighters, with smaller allotments for funding parks, recreation and youth activities, cleaning up graffiti and blight, and maintaining long-term financial stability.

I don’t see spending on these items from Measure H changing, because this is a local measure, under the oversight of an independent local committee and ultimately the voters. I believe Los Banos voters are smart enough to vote anyone out of office who doesn’t abide by the measure’s intent.

The opportunities to give a little and get a lot are upon us. I hope everyone able to give blood thinks seriously about giving on Oct. 18. I hope everyone who value books and reading comes to the library fundraiser that same day.

And I hope between now and Nov. 6, voters think carefully about Measure H and how it can benefit their safety and security.

John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email john.spevak@gmail.com.