By Gordon Williams

The Central Area Youth Association (CAYA) has played host to thousands of events in its 55-year history as a venerated gathering place for Seattle’s African-American community. Until now, though, it has never played host to a blood drive.

Dr. Charles Drew, an African-American doctor and scientist whose research in the mid-20th century led to the collection and storage of human blood and won him the title of “father of the blood bank.”

That all changes on February 21st when CAYA will host the first-ever Dr. Charles Drew Red Cross blood drive in Seattle, an event that will be memorable on multiple counts, honoring a significant figure in Red Cross history, within Black History Month.

The event also hopes to attract new and diverse blood donors, who may have the ability to help patients with illnesses or inherited diseases – like sickle cell anemia. 

When approached about hosting the February 21st drive, Chettie McAfee, CAYA’s consultant focused on health issues in the African-American community, recalls “It didn’t take us long to say ‘yes.’”

“What a great way for us to continue serving our community. We are very excited.”

Joseph Staton, CAYA president

CAYA itself has played a huge role in African-American life in Seattle since it was founded in 1964. The 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization’s initial emphasis was on sports and CAYA grew out of what had been the Capitol Hill Junior Football Assn. But its stated mission at the start was “to provide education, recreation and social development activities for youths between the ages of 9 and 18.”

In its long history, CAYA has served whole generations of community members. “We have kids here whose parents and even grandparents came through these doors,” says Joseph Staton, president of CAYA.

If CAYA’s initial focus was on football, it has evolved over the years. “We have added programs to keep up with the times,” says Staton. Beyond collecting blood, the Dr. Charles Drew blood drive promises to make CAYA an important source of health information for Seattle’s African-American community.

“Awareness is a big, big thing,” Staton says. “We are passionate about making our community more aware of the health issues it faces.” He is counting on the high visibility of the Dr. Charles Drew blood drive to help spread that awareness of health issues throughout the community that CAYA serves.



Huge thanks to our event sponsors:

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