Early this month, Mercy Health Center hosted the annual Open Heart Dinner where we honored our volunteers of the year. From the bottom of our hearts, Mercy again thanks you for the love and service you have provided.
Student Volunteer of the Year – Tyler Raeford
Our first Volunteer of the Year came to Mercy in 2011. Tyler Raeford immediately impressed the staff with his charming smile, assertive attitude and never-ceasing desire to serve. He not only serves the patients of Mercy Health Center, but he goes out of his way to lend a hand to the volunteers and staff whenever possible. In addition to volunteering at Mercy, Tyler is also a full-time student at UGA, a manager at American Eagle Outfitters, and somehow, he also finds time to volunteer with a local hospice organization. When he began volunteering at Mercy, Tyler worked fervently as a front office volunteer by efficiently checking patients in while answering a constant stream of phone calls and juggling a variety of other tasks. We soon realized that Tyler was capable of just about any job we gave him. More recently, Tyler has taken on new responsibilities as a volunteer scribe, and we even created a role just for him as staff support. At Mercy, we ask our volunteers and staff to strive for excellence in their work, and from day one, Tyler has achieved excellence in all that he has done at Mercy. It is with great pleasure that we award him the honor of Volunteer of the Year.
Lay Volunteer of the Year – Suzann Welch
When we think of the amazing women we know, we are often reminded of Proverbs, chapter 31. The words in this chapter paint a clear picture of what a godly woman is. “A woman of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies…” Suzann Welch embodies so many of these attributes. As the coordinator for the Meals for Mercy program, Suzann works tirelessly each year to make sure meals are provided for volunteers each evening clinic. This requires countless phone calls, personal visits, and collaboration with various restaurants, small groups, Sunday school classes, and individuals. Thanks to Suzann’s hard work, volunteers can be assured that they won’t have to miss dinner when they come to serve at the clinic straight from work or class. The verses in Proverbs go on to say, “She is like the merchant ships, bringing food from afar.” It’s as though Solomon was speaking specifically about Suzann! In addition to coordinating our Meals for Mercy Program, Suzanne has also served as a spokesperson for Mercy, leading our Open Heart Tours where members of the community come to hear about Mercy each month. Suzann’s latest role has been assisting staff with donation management and helping with our financial processes. Her service in this area is so helpful, as it supports the staff in countless ways. Mercy relies on Suzann for many of the behind the scenes details that make each day possible. Her worth truly is “far more that rubies.” She is an invaluable gift to this ministry.
Medical Volunteer of the Year – Dr. Jeff Williams
For nearly 6 years, Dr. Jeff Williams has been sharing his skill as a specialist with those most in need at Mercy. Being able to see a GI specialist gives patients hope that they may feel better one day. Each month, 10 uninsured patients from Mercy are scheduled at Dr. William’s office. Some months, there will even be additional emergency patients scheduled within a week of being discharged from the hospital. The consultation, course of treatment, and any necessary follow-up appointments, including required procedures, are free to the patient. A screening colonoscopy, recommended for patients over 50 and those who are at a high risk for colon cancer, is just one example of a costly procedure that those of us with insurance may take for granted. Since August of 2011, Dr. Williams has donated more than $600,000.00 in free services and procedures to Mercy patients. For his great faithfulness and generosity, we would like to recognize Dr. Jeff Williams as our medical volunteer of the year.
Volunteer Pharmacist of the Year – Dr. Michael Neville
Dr. Michael Neville began serving with Mercy as a volunteer pharmacist 3 years ago. His dedication and passion for serving our patients is contagious, and it didn’t take long for Mercy staff to recruit Dr. Neville to serve in a leadership role, as the Pharmacy Team Coordinator. Since he began volunteering with Mercy, Dr. Neville has worked diligently to improve the pharmacy’s functioning and has been instrumental in developing a flourishing partnership between Mercy and the UGA College of Pharmacy. Thanks to Dr. Neville, Mercy’s pharmacy is now a service learning site for approximately 150 UGA Pharmacy Students each semester, as well as a Residency site for Pharmacy Residents. Dr. Neville is also instrumental in recruiting, training and retaining our incredible team of Pharmacy Volunteers. As if these accomplishments were not impressive enough, Dr. Neville is also an incredible blessing and support to Mercy staff, volunteers, and patients alike. With a compassionate understanding and genuine interest in the daily lives of others, Dr. Neville will go out of his way to take a moment and offer a prayer or word of encouragement; ministering to each person he interacts with individually. Mercy Health Center is better because the Lord brought Dr. Neville to us.
Volunteer Organization of the Year – Athens Eye Associates
Only one year ago, Mercy was faced with what seemed to be an insurmountable deficit in access to eye care services for patients. Imagine not being able to drive, read, or work because of poor vision, and being told it may take longer than 18 months to see an eye doctor. To further complicate matters, Mercy serves more than 500 diabetic patients – many suffering with eye complications associated with uncontrolled diabetes. It is recommended that every diabetic have an annual eye exam. We simply did not know what to do! But just as He always does, God provided for this important need. The incredible team at Athens Eye Associates were moved to address this critical need and acted in a dramatic fashion. Dr. Jacobs, Dr. Patterson, and Dr. Johnson, along with the staff at Athens Eye, worked together to make 10 appointments available in their office to Mercy patients every week. Since the beginning of this year they have provided more than $75,000 of in kind services. As an answer to the prayers of many at Mercy, the wait to be seen for vision has been cut down from 18 months to 1 month!
Volunteer Dentist of the Year – Dr. Terry Parkman
The dental clinic at Mercy Health Center could not function without the support from so many individuals. Some give supplies, some support financially, and others sacrificially give of their time to serve with us. Our Dental Volunteer of the Year, Dr. Terry Parkman, has been a part of Mercy for over seven years. He is a University of Georgia alum and graduated from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in 1976. Dr. Parkman served as a dentist with the US Army for five years before moving back to Athens to open his private practice. He continued serving with the US Army Reserves until 1995 when he retired as a full Colonel. Dr. Parkman faithfully serves at Mercy at least 5-6 times a year. He loves to interact with the pre-Dental students that volunteer, and he is happy to answer their many questions regarding dental school admissions, dental terminology, or serving in the Armed Forces. Not only is Dr. Parkman a faithful volunteer within the four walls of Mercy, but he is also a big advocate for us in the community. He has helped open the doors to various speaking opportunities in clubs and civic organizations. His goal is to share the heart and mission of Mercy with whomever he interacts.
Georgia Regents University Medical Partnership – 4th Year Students
In January of 2011, Athens’ first class of medical students walked through the doors of Mercy for the very first time. Now, as they near the end of their time here in Athens, Mercy is glad to welcome the 4th year medical students back to the student run clinic. It is exciting to see these students practice medicine with an advanced level of skill, helping to multiply the number of patients that can be seen by each doctor. The partnership this class has forged between Mercy Health Center and the Georgia Regents University Medical Partnership will be a lasting legacy for the 40 students graduating in May. Not only have they expanded Mercy’s capacity, but they have also created an environment where future medical professionals can learn how to care for the poor with compassion and excellence while operating within a whole person healthcare model. By the close of 2013, medical students and their faculty will have provided nearly 675 appointments in their student run clinic at Mercy. They will soon start residency programs all over the United States. We hope they will not forget the joys they experienced while serving and bring the Spirit of Mercy with them wherever they go.