At Providence, many caregivers answer the call of our Mission to serve all by volunteering outside of work hours. Some pursue their passion to help those who are experiencing homelessness. Others act on their concern for the physical environment around them. There are numerous ways to serve and caregivers are encouraged to follow their hearts in service through an online hub designed to support and inform their choices.
Cleaner landscapes through Love the Earth immersion events
Caregivers throughout Providence celebrated Earth Day in 2022 – some by removing large amounts of garbage from the beach at Seaside, Ore. and the Clark Fork River near Missoula, Mont.
Brandi Gustafson and Lisa Bertin at Providence Seaside Hospital in Oregon are both passionate about preserving the beauty of the coast. They were excited to lead a team of more than 30 volunteers for a cleanup event in April which netted 33 bags of garbage as well as a recliner, of all things.
“Volunteerism fills my cup and my heart."
- Brandi Gustafson, Providence caregiver in Seaside, Ore.
“Not only do I enjoy the projects I get to participate in, but more importantly, the people I spend time with while doing it,” Brandi says.
Sarah Johnson of Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula led a team of 36 volunteers that cleared a truckload of trash from a mile of riverbank.
“I have been volunteering since I was in elementary school,” Sarah says. “Much of my volunteering these days involves education around gardening and food sovereignty."
"I love to volunteer for the health and well-being of my larger community. We are all on this journey together.”
- Sarah Johnson, Providence caregiver in Missoula, Mont.
In the Puget Sound Region of Washington, Kate Jorgenson, of Providence’s global and domestic engagement team, facilitated a group of 10 volunteers who spent a day removing invasive plants from a SeaTac community park.
“Coming out of pandemic constraints, I think a lot of people were eager to be in community,” Kate says. “Coordinating an outdoor event felt like a safe way to begin gathering in groups again and aligned perfectly with Earth Day 2022 as well as our Providence environmental justice work. Additionally, Providence’s population health team has done work within the community of SeaTac. Hearing from their leaders about the impact of environmental factors on the community – such as asthma and respiratory issues from the nearby airport – this felt like important work to highlight and advocate for.”
Listen to Hear Me Now: “Volunteering is in line with our values.”
In Northern California, Providence caregivers Rebecca Webster and Suzy Banuelos reflect on their volunteer experience cleaning up the Napa Sonoma Marshes Wildlife area by removing litter and other debris. In total, their team of 10 caregivers and family collected 135 pounds of trash, recycling, and compost! Rebecca (left photo) and Suzy are both based at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa.
Natural habitats in urban backyards
Melanie Hamilton, a native Oregonian and caregiver in Portland, has a strong passion for the environmental health of her state. She spends free time volunteering with the Portland Audubon Society and Backyard Habitat Certification Program, where she works with urban gardeners in their efforts to create natural, native-plant-focused backyard habitats.
“Through urban and agricultural development, humans have altered the species composition of vegetation communities in our remaining natural areas,” Melanie says. “By replenishing areas overrun with noxious weeds, we can help mitigate the effects of global warming. Landscaping with native plants has been proven to help in the fight against climate change. Indigenous plants, especially long-living trees like oaks and maples, are effective at storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Because native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, they require far less time to manage, less money, and less of our most valuable natural resource, water!”
Assisting with basic needs for those without homes
Since 2019, caregivers at Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont. have worked with Family Promise to serve those experiencing homelessness in the region. Family Promise, a nationwide nonprofit that helps the unhoused get back on their feet, operates a shelter with the YWCA in Missoula.
During St. Patrick’s Spirit Week in March, caregivers volunteered at the Missoula Family Housing Center, which opened shortly before the pandemic began. Caregivers helped serve meals and gift cards to residents, and stayed overnight at the center.
“Our support of Family Promise aligns with our Mission as we extend our sacred encounters in the health care setting with some of our most vulnerable community members to where our patients and their families live, eat, and work toward obtaining stable housing,” says Hollie Timmons, with community health investment at Providence St. Patrick.
A Health for a Better World story, about serving with our local partners to build community resilience.
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