Volunteer Spotlight: Longtime volunteer honors her daughter by teaching others about donation

Woman holding a round floragraph with the image of her daughter on it

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.” 

Woman in green robe and graduation cap holding her diplomaAngela 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.  

Woman outdoors being recorded by Fox2 News cameramanArtelia 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.” 

Read more in the Gift of LifeLINES newsletter

Read More Posts
sunset colors and a cross

Can Catholics Donate Organs?

The tenets of the Catholic faith are something many adhere to. But at times, these…

Read More
Group of patients waiting for organ transplants carrying a banner reading "Waiting to Live" along the Capitol sidewalk

Check Your Heart Rally at State Capitol encourages next generation to donate life

Hundreds expected in support of organ, eye and tissue donation on June 12 Hundreds of…

Read More
May was a record month with 197 tissue donors

Gift of Life Michigan has record-breaking month

197 people gave tissue in May to heal patients in need May was a record-breaking…

Read More
Gift of life. two hands holding kidneys.

Long-term Effects of Kidney Donation

The decision to donate a kidney as a living donor should not be taken lightly,…

Read More
More than 12,000 people joined the Michigan Organ Donor Registry this year while filing their income tax returns.

Michigan Organ Donor Registry sees major growth thanks to Check Your Heart Act

More than 12,000 new registrants added during 2024 tax season Thanks to the Check Your…

Read More
Anna Malnar with her mother, Patricia Laughlin. Patricia became an organ, eye and tissue donor after her passing.

A Mother’s Gift

In December 2023, Patricia Laughlin was diagnosed with PCP pneumonia. Patricia had previously been diagnosed…

Read More
Scroll to Top