Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

Building Resiliency Through Volunteer Work

Pediatric Associates Staff
December 28, 2018 03:00PM

Community involvement and service have always been at the core of Pediatric Associates of the Northwest (PANW). We believe in extending our reach beyond the walls of our practice and encourage our staff and providers to seek out opportunities to connect with our community in ways that are meaningful to them. Volunteering can play an important role in raising not only happy and healthy children, but compassionate and resilient ones as well.

As pediatric providers, it is our goal to teach our patients that building resiliency involves understanding children can contribute to helping the world become a better place, and this happens by teaching them about service. As 2018 nears to a close, we are sharing how our PANW family has given back to the community and what it has taught us.


What Volunteering Means to Me


Volunteering means something different to everyone- find what speaks to you. Look locally or even internationally for opportunities. Debra Hayden, one of our Billing Specialists, shares that her son spent a month in India working with impoverished children when he graduated from high school. She knew it would be a life-changing adventure for him, noting that travel and volunteer work together can offer a unique experience. “My son, Taylor, is now 22 years old. My husband and I both feel his India experience has shaped his worldly perspective in many ways. Taylor looks back on it as one of the greatest highlights of his life and still thanks his dad and I often for the opportunity.”

For a more local experience, Dr. Spencer and his family have volunteered with Good Samaritan Hospital’s Family Birthing Center to pack special boxes for foster kids. As a pediatrician, he is passionate about finding ways to help all children. His family’s volunteer experiences have helped them understand that not all children have things that they often take for granted, like toiletries and books.


What Volunteering Teaches

Volunteering can help teach us about important life lessons. Jenny Anderson, a Triage nurse at PANW, loves to involve her whole family in community service. She describes them as a regular family with a regular home and everyday struggles like anyone else. Through volunteer work, her children have recognized they are fortunate to have their basic needs met while so many do not. Jenny and her husband teach their children that someone’s life circumstances (where they live, how their parents raised them, even their race and skin color) can very much play into their ability to “make it” in life and her children are already set up for greater success than some because many of these factors are in their favor. As parents, they instill in their children that they can directly affect the lives of others by being compassionate, helpful, and showing kindness.

Dr. Buerk understands that volunteering can help develop confidence, a factor in building resilience. She has taken her daughter, Katie, on a medical team trip to Bolivia, and now plans to take her younger daughter, Eliza, on the next trip to Kenya in the spring along with Dr. Rosenbloom and Dr. Evans-Smith. In preparation, Dr. Buerk has encouraged her daughter to organize a drive for supplies at her school, letting Eliza take the lead but being there to answer questions and offer guidance if needed. “I’m trying to step back and let her manage this project herself. The benefits of volunteering are much greater when she takes ownership,” says Dr. Buerk. 


Why Volunteering Is Important

One of the wonderful aspects about volunteering is that it can be done together with others- family, friends, school mates, co-workers, and it can be a great way to meet new people. It offers a chance to collaborate and connect, another building block for developing resiliency. Close relationships give children a strong sense of security which fosters strong values. It also prevents children from seeking destructive alternatives for attention.

Administrative Support Specialist, Denise Garoutte, shares that her daughter, Sarah, volunteers with her women’s soccer team at Southern Oregon University. Denise and her husband have always encouraged Sarah to volunteer, and now, her coach requires the team to give back to the local community. Volunteering as a team has allowed the young women to grow closer as a team, forming bonds on and off the playing field. Denise also knows that when her daughter gives back in a hands-on way, rather than simply donating money, she better understands the needs of those around her and sees how she can help. Giving of your own time and effort nurtures true compassion.

Leslie Ruminski, our Director of Operations, has volunteered for the Providence Festival of Trees Gala, which benefits Providence Children’s Health Services. She enjoys this opportunity to volunteer with her group of friends for a good cause. Together, PANW, the Children’s Health Alliance, Metropolitan Pediatrics, and Santa collaborate in the spirit of the season and donate toward critical research and services for newborns. 


How Volunteering Helps

Dr. Birk recognizes that volunteering allows his children to contribute to something bigger than themselves, an essential element for cultivating resiliency. He and his family work at the Oregon Food Bank monthly. “We do this to help our children understand that a child can make a world a better place. Also, it gives our children a sense of purpose and motivates them to take actions and make choices that will improve the world.”

Similarly, Dr. Dahl’s son volunteers with his basketball team to serve hot meals to the homeless. Through this, he has come to recognize that volunteering is ultimately about being there for someone who needs help.


Join Us

At PANW, we have so much to be grateful for this year- our patients, our community, and our staff. We hope you will gather your friends and family, and join us in giving back to our community throughout the year, not just this holiday season. Your time, compassion, and a warm smile can make all the difference in someone’s life.