Artelia Griggs helps save lives by telling everyone she can about organ and tissue donation. She also does it as a loving tribute to her own daughter’s legacy of giving.
“It’s been a wonderful thing that I’ve been able to talk about her and keep her memory alive and knowing that while I’m talking about her, I’m helping other people,” said Artelia, 77, a Detroit resident. “I just enjoy educating people, especially in the minority community.”
Angela was just 38 when she died of an asthma attack 12 years ago this fall. She was in Pennsylvania at the time, helping a friend – something she did a lot of.
“She was just a really upbeat and exciting person to know. She had a bubbly personality; she kept people laughing all the time,” Artelia said. “She was always reaching out and helping other people.”
Angela saved lives with her heart valves and her corneas, bone and skin improved lives for up to 75 others.
Artelia started volunteering six years ago at Secretary of State branch offices, where she would talk with customers about the good that organ and tissue donation can do. Artelia particularly loves educating people who are skeptical of the donation process.
She said some minorities need more information and help dispelling frightening myths.
“We think that our lives aren’t going to be saved if we are registered donors, or if you die without a body part you won’t be able to go to heaven,” she said. “I’ve been able to talk to people to dispel some of these myths and that’s been a great joy for me.”
She has also volunteered with organizations such as the Michigan Donor Family Council, and the Detroit Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) – where, among other things, she organizes a team for the annual LIFE Walk/Run race at Belle Isle State Park in Detroit.
Artelia has shared Angela’s story in a variety of venues, including the iconic Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, where she represented Angela by walking alongside the Donate Life America float in 2018.
She also is a regular speaker at the Gift of Life Michigan annual Donor Family Gathering, which honors hundreds of donor families and their loved ones, too.
“It’s a real pleasure to console someone to let them know that they have something to be proud of, that their loved ones did something wonderful,” Artelia said.
She said volunteering is a continual reminder of the ongoing legacy of kindness donors and their families provide to others.
“I’ve met so many wonderful people,” she said. “I’ve met so many recipients who have embraced me because of Angela. That’s just been a blessing.”