The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 5, 2014

Person of the Week: Volunteer helps save lives through local blood drives

JOHNSTOWN — Walter J. Mattern is the lifeblood behind blood drives at his church and elsewhere in the community.

Mattern has been donating his time the past 11 years to organize American Red Cross blood drives at his church, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, located in Richland Township, and at blood drives elsewhere in the area.

“I enjoy doing it,” said the 86-year-old Richland resident. “It gives me something to do.

“I love to do it because I meet a lot of people.”

Mattern said the next blood drive at his church is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. Feb. 7.

Marianne Spampinato, communications manager for the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region of the Red Cross, said Mattern organizes the drive by making announcements at church, posting fliers and signing up donors.

Mattern said he supplies hot dogs and sauerkraut for the drives while Fox’s Pizza, located at the Richland Lanes, donates pizzas. The church provides coffee and the Red Cross, orange juice.

Mattern is active at his church in more ways than organizing blood drives. He is a longtime usher and also had served on the church council and as a Communion assistant.

Mattern believes it is important to serve God through the church.

“I just believe in God, and I believe in the church. Anytime they call me to help, I am glad to do so.”

For his efforts, Mattern, a former Richland Township supervisor, is the Person of the Week.

Spampinato said Mattern, who was awarded the prestigious All-Star Volunteer Award by the Red Cross in 2012, is an outstanding and dependable volunteer.

Christine Schirato, donor recruitment representative for the Greater Alleghenies region, said Mattern and other volunteers mean a lot to the Red Cross.

“They take time out of their lives to give back to the community and the Red Cross,” she said.

Pastor Scott Custead of Mount Calvary church, said Mattern is one of those people on whom you can always call to help.

“He always completes the task with a smile,” Custead said. “He hunts for places to be of service.

Mattern and his late wife, Elizabeth, have five children, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

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