Claire: You're watching the Microsoft US Health and Life Sciences Confessions of Health Geeks podcast. A show the offers industry insight from the health geeks and data freaks of the US Health and Life Sciences industry team. I'm your host, Claire Bonaci.
April 19th to the 25th is National Volunteer Week, and given the current situation, it's important to identify how we can give back and help our communities. So for this episode of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife Series, I'll be interviewing Molly and Kathleen. Two clinicians on the US industry team on their experiences volunteering, and they all share several ideas where you can participate now as well.
Claire: Hi Kathleen Hi Molly.
Molly: Hi, how are you doing Claire. Good morning.
Claire: Thanks so much for joining me today. I know this is not an easy time right now. We know that the Red Cross is seeking blood donations. Food banks are struggling and people are really looking for opportunities to engage and give back during the shelter in place time. And both of you have been very involved in your communities. You give your skills and time and so much more to volunteering. So before we get into some ideas you have for how to help. My question for both of you is tell us why volunteering is such a priority for you.
Molly: I think volunteering, you know, always been a priority in my life, just especially around some of the causes that I'm passionate about and that really marry some of my interests. So, for example, right now I'm raising funds for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As well as doing an event with their Team in Training group. So really, bringing together my passion for Cancer Research as well as my passion, quite frankly, for bike riding and other athletic endeavors. So that's just one example and really giving back to the community and helping those that are truly less fortunate or not in an optimal position at this point in their lives.
Claire: That's great, and Kathleen, do you have any examples?
Kathleen: So I've been volunteering both in the US and out of the country for many, many years. Today I'd actually like to talk a little bit about my volunteer work with the American Red Cross. I've been working with them for about 3 years now. My main reason really was I wanted to contribute to my local community, both my city and my county. And in my current role as a disaster action team member I can actually do that. We respond to emergencies on the state and local level. For example, my team responds to all the house and apartment fires that impact people in my county an my nearby city in Baltimore City in Baltimore County. So if there is a house fire or apartment fire and people are impacted, I go to the scene of the fire. I assess the situation. I look out for the needs of the clients and kind of understand what their needs are and how the American Red Cross can help them. We assist in a few ways we can help with funding so they can find temporary housing like a hotel.
Get basic essentials like diapers. And then educate the clients on what the next steps would be because most people have lost all of their belongings, all of their documentation. They need to contact agencies to let them know that they no longer have these things and need to obtain them. So you know what really they need to do for next steps and just kind of reassure them that there is someone here to help them through the process. If there's multiple families involved, we may actually set up a shelter to house those multiple families. We usually have a metric that we use on when we actually go into shelter mode. And then we also respond to national, excuse me, natural disasters.
And my first natural disaster happened to be right in my neighborhood and right down the street from me within 2 miles where we had massive flooding. My house was flooded 3 feet. Which I was very fortunate, my family was able to help me, but there were so many people that everything was just wiped out. We have caved in homes, they had nowhere to go. So it really was a horrific event and that was literally I think I was at the Red Cross for about four months at that point in time. So it really made me realize that I can impact my own community and help the people within my own community.
Claire: I'm sure that you both felt that Microsoft is very supportive of your ability to give back.
Molly: Yeah, definitely. I think you know part of our culture at Microsoft is giving. We actually have a give site where we're encouraged every year, and you know I think people inherently here want to give back, want to help, especially right now. And not so much as throughout the Microsoft culture, but within our own health and life science industry team. As you know, we spend time during our offsite meetings doing volunteer work. Most recently organizing medical supplies out in the Denver area. So it's really part of who we are in our goal to give back. And more recently Microsoft does support Red Cross. I know Kathleen, you're doing some work in your community, locally. Here in the Washington DC area, we recently had a blood drive. So donating blood, I think right now, is of upmost importance. So I really encourage all the listeners today to take a look at the Red Cross site and see where blood donations might be needed within their community.
Kathleen: I agree. I agree with Molly. We all inherently want to help people and everyone is so grateful when they have someone who come comes and helps them. The Red Cross has a ton of volunteer opportunities. You do not have to be a clinician. They do a great job at training and education so anyone is able and willing to can volunteer and find a task that suits them. So, I highly advocate that if that's an avenue where people would like to use their time. If you're looking for some way to volunteer maybe with your family at this point with COVID-19, I would even suggest that you write a letter or card or send an E-card to a clinical staff or to a hospital in your area. As a nurse when you're really working hard, those little types of things can just brighten up your day and make a huge difference in a huge emotional impact for that clinical staff. And I would challenge others to share their volunteer experience so that we can see that it is doable and maybe motivate other folks to volunteer.
Molly: Great, thanks Kathleen. All really good points. I think there's so many opportunities. You know, I think it's right now to get involved in your local community is probably one of the most important whether that's working with, I know in DC here, we have a diaper bank and it's pretty low on supplies or something like a food bank or even just supporting your local small businesses. Quite frankly, the restaurants that you might enjoy maybe going out or carrying out, food from there. That's just one example. The other example is if you are a clinician and maybe not practicing right now, signing up for the medical reserve core within your area. I just signed up for the one in Washington DC last week, should they need anyone. I also reached out to some of my clinician friends just to touch base and see how they're doing your and really to your point Kathleen, around thanking a nurse, I know that yesterday was world health day and its also volunteer week. I think it’s really important that the public really recognizes our frontline workers who are going to work everyday. Really just giving back in some small ways in terms of time, and messages of thank you.
Claire: Well thank you, I love all of those ideas. So do you have any parting words for our listeners.
Molly: Coffee. , if your local coffee shop is donating, I know one of my local coffee shops is donating to front line clinicians, that’s an idea as well. I’m just thinking of what they might need. I’m also partnering with a group here called Devenio (https://www.devenio.org/). It’s an organization that was supposed to have an in person run this spring and instead theyre taking all their give aways and donating them to front line workers like nice bags and we’re contributing some year of the nurse water bottles to that. So really looking for new ideas of partnering with local organizations as well.
Claire: That's great. Kathleen anything from you?
Kathleen: I'd like to hear what other folks were doing because I know that we are not the only ones that are doing volunteer work. So, it would be really great within our community to understand what other folks are doing so that we can evangelize that and promote that as well.
Claire: So thank you so much, Kathleen and Molly for explaining why this is important to you and getting some great ideas on how everyone can give back.
Before you go, this is your chance to share how you're giving back this month. Comment below on what volunteer work you been involved in and challenge those around you to get involved.
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