The owner of a Woodhaven neighborhood saloon has a profound reason for participating in the New York Blood Centers second annual “Pint for Pint” campaign that began on Aug. 1.
George Robinson, the owner and operator of Geordie’s Joint located at 79-19 Jamaica Ave., is a true believer in the necessity of blood drives like “Pint for Pint,” in which all presenting blood donors will receive a voucher to redeem a free or discounted beverage at their local participating establishment through Sunday, Sept. 10.
“There is always something to give; even when you don’t have a cent in your pocket you can help. That is the way I have always thought and that is why I donated blood,” Robinson said. “Whenever a local blood drive popped up, if I was eligible, I rolled up my sleeve and gave a pint. Time and time again I donated; even sitting a little longer to donate plasma at local drives when asked.”
In 2015, the script was flipped for Robinson.
“Never did it cross my mind that, one day, the pints of blood and plasma I freely gave would be given back to me,” he recalled. “When I was waiting for a life-saving liver transplant, besides my faith and love of family, the one thing that kept me alive was blood transfusions. My blood, the blood that saved others for decades, was now being poisoned by my liver. It was the transfusions of blood, blood from perfect strangers who gave 20 minutes of their day never knowing who it would go to, that was now saving my life.”
The life-saving transfusions kept Robinson going until an organ donor was found.
“In a few close calls, it was the freezing plasma transferred into my veins that kept me alive long enough to hear the news that an angel on earth was willing to be a living organ donor and a transplant surgery was a go. Eight years later, my donor and I are healthy and I am making the most of my second lease on life.”
Several years after he had the transplant surgery, Robinson was working as a bartender at Mike’s Pub when a business opportunity presented itself. He took over the pub, did some renovations, and reopened it as Geordie’s Joint in 2019 with the motto: “There are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met yet.”
“From opening our bar Geordie’s Joint with my loving wife of 40 years, Tricia, to enjoying vacations with our grandsons, it was a stranger’s blood that kept me alive long enough to become healthy again to live my best years yet,” Robinson said. “While I am no longer able to donate blood myself, hosting a blood drive at our bar — and potentially helping to bring in numerous pints of precious, life-saving blood to people we will never meet — is a full circle moment for me and my family that I am grateful for beyond words.”
The campaign seeks to motivate blood donors to come out in the summer months as August is a historically challenging time for the blood supply as schools are closed and families go on vacation. Unfortunately, blood donations in the region have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels as fewer schools, businesses and organizations are hosting blood drives. Currently, the blood supply stands at a three to four-day level, with type O- especially needed.
“The ‘Pint for Pint’ campaign began when New York’s restaurant industry was suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic and despite their hardships, breweries supported New York Blood Center by donating beverages to get more New Yorkers to donate blood,” New York Blood Center Senior VP Andrea Cefarelli said. “We are grateful for their support then and we continue to be in awe of their generosity today. We urge donors to take advantage of this fun summer campaign that allows them to save lives and support local businesses.”
The program has doubled in size and more than 60 establishments are participating in the initiative across the region; a full list of NYBC’s partners can be found at nybc.org. All donor centers and most blood drives are participating in the campaign. Blood donors cannot redeem their vouchers on the day of their donation. In addition to Geordie’s Joint, the newly renovated SingleCut Beersmiths in Astoria and Rivercrest on Ditmars Boulevard are participating.
Rivercrest is operated by Stout NYC Hospitality Group which has locations at Bryant Park, Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and the Financial Center.
“We think it’s such a great cause tha we offer a Pint for a Pint all year long,” said Martin Whelan, owner of Stout NYC Hospitality.