Laura Palmer, DHA, CMT, CLT, knows that a culture of health starts with service. As a member of the CAHL Volunteer Outreach and Member Recognition Committee, she shares her passion for volunteering this month and encourages all members to seek out opportunities to give back in 2023. In additional to CAHL, Laura also volunteers with:
- Sutter Health The Women’s Inclusion Resource Group (WIRG)
- Ceres Community Project
- Redwood Empire Food Bank
She invites CAHL members to reach out to her for support in identifying volunteer opportunities with CAHL, or to talk about finding roles that are right for them in their own communities.
Rising to the Challenge
I believe in running head-on toward the big problems. And as a proud member of CAHL, I recognize my actions change lives. Contributing through volunteerism to local communities and healthcare issues has been a hallmark of California Association of Healthcare Leaders (CAHL) and American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) since it’s inception.
CAHL leaders have a commitment and responsibility to “support efforts to eliminate health disparities for vulnerable populations, including reducing barriers to access; supporting programs that address adequate housing and food supply; increasing thhttps://www.ache.org/about-ache/our-story/our-commitments/policy-statements/healthcare-executives-responsibility-to-their-communitiese supply of health workers and other resources in underserved communities; systematically collecting race, ethnicity and language preference data of your patients; and training to help healthcare providers deliver culturally competent care.”
Volunteering might not fix every problem, but it can be a way to be a part of the solution to big socio-economic and collective civic problems.
Food insecurity is one such big problem, which is why I’ve volunteered with local food bank organizations to help address hunger. There are many ways to champion health and nutrition within our communities, and volunteering helps you run head on into action.
A Culture of Health Starts with Service
Food insecurity is a social determinant of health, but service heals us all. The healing power of giving brings me unlimited joy. I care deeply about the happiness, safety, and health of those around us. Volunteering is mutually beneficial to the community and the individual.
I am happier and healthier by connecting and sharing as a volunteer at the distribution sites. Working in an integrative medicine department, I see the effects of connection on healing and health. A recent new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health demonstrates volunteers improved their sense of well-being compared with those who don’t volunteer and became more physically active. Volunteering connects us to our purpose.
This time of year, we are called to reflect on living with gratitude, self-compassion, and mindfulness. A grateful heart is a giving heart. Improving your own life, health, and happiness, is a huge win.
I believe healthcare leaders have an obligation to reach out, encourage and expand volunteering in their organizations and communities. Advocating for socially inclusive perspectives of volunteering helps bring more voices, perspectives, and solutions to the table. One of my volunteer opportunities includes a diversity and inclusion group within my healthcare organization. This inclusion group provides opportunities for training, peer support, and promotes professional development for healthcare workers within the organization. I feel it is an honor to grow, share, and create change while building positive relationships and to continue to support volunteer opportunities in diverse capacities.
If given the opportunity, volunteer health workers and healthcare leaders, especially those of historically marginalized groups, can create new opportunities for themselves and increase representation. Through volunteering, we can encourage ways to learn and gain new skills outside of systems from which some are often excluded. Fostering a sense of belonging and gaining a deeper understanding of the disparities and challenges facing your community can help build connection, trust, and help to illuminate the needs of our communities.
Supporting others, expanding your reach, inclusive and equitable volunteer opportunities is a win for advocates, allies and populations who have historically been underrepresented or subject to discrimination.
Strategic Volunteering Can Positively Impact Your Career
I am humbled and honored to volunteer with CAHL as a member of Volunteer Recognition & Member Outreach Committee (VRMO), which has the amazing task of overseeing the chapter’s volunteer program. This role was meant for me. I love to laugh, smile, engage and support others. Volunteering is simply a part of my life like exercise or working. I come to it from a true place of love and passion, and I am always so excited to help introduce, connect or support CAHL members in any way.
I am happy to emphasize that volunteering can have a profound impact on your life. Volunteering can be a way to build professional skills and try out leadership opportunities through networking and service. I encourage CAHL members to learn more about volunteer opportunities within CAHL, please email us at email@example.com or visit cahl-volunteer-opportunities.
Laura Palmer, DHA, CMT, CLT, is a Massage Therapy Lead and Clinical Faculty at the Institute for Health and Healing, Sutter Health, in Santa Rosa, CA.