Gift of Life Michigan honors leader for 25 years of service

For 25 years Remonia Chapman has been on a mission.

"I really was kind of looking for a place," she said.

A place to make a difference in the lives of others - and Chapman found that place at Gift of Life Michigan.

"Every community needs someone like Ramona to advocate and educate," said Patrick Wells-O’Brien, VP Gift of Life.

Historically African Americans and other communities of color report greater mistrust in the equity of the organ donation system.

Through Chapman's work at Gift of Life and the Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program, she works to erase fears and increase knowledge.

"If I could be that voice that could just get this message and elevate it up so people would hear it differently, and that’s how I started," she said.

"She had to debunk a lot of myths and educate the community, and inspire people to see that when you become an organ and tissue donor, you can save lives," O'Brien said.

And her efforts are working.

"And it has made a big difference," he said. "Over the past 25 years people of color have made up about 10 percent of Oregon donors and now it’s over 20 percent."

Chapman’s outreach is also inspirational.

"I was waiting for a kidney transplant and when she found out, she approached me, she came and talked to me, she met my entire family and told me about the process," said Taneisha Carswell.

Carswell received a kidney and was also inspired by Chapman to start working at Gift of Life Michigan as a community relations coordinator.

"When you come over here and you meet people like Remonia, you see how kind they are, it’s a life-saving organization and you just want to be a part of it."

As Chapman reflects on the past she’s also making plans for the future

"I have a fantastic team," she said. "So what I hope and pray to do now, is take the information and the knowledge that I have gathered over all these years and pour it into them."

For more information long Gift of Life Michigan, GO HERE.