Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Items Tagged ‘Volunteer’

January 23rd, 2017

Aboard Floating Hospital, Bringing Medical Help to Poorest Nations

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

As part of the volunteer medical crew on a hospital ship, Mayo Clinic nurse anesthetist Brittany Blake put her expertise to work providing much-needed care to patients in West Africa.
Brittany Blake, a nurse anesthetist at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, has participated in many international missions trips over the past five years. But her recent experience as a volunteer with Mercy Ships, an international faith-based organization that sends floating hospitals to some of the poorest nations is the world, was different than any of her other missions. This time, she could put her medical training to work.

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Tags: Brittany Blake, volunteer

January 9th, 2017

Mayo Medical Volunteers Find Perspective by Changing Lives in Ecuador

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

The Ecuadorian people draw one group of Mayo volunteers back again and again.

For years, Kallie Howerton and Kate Hudson had been listening to Kate Welp talk about the mission trips to Ecuador she organizes every year. The nurses work together on the Cardiovascular Surgery Progressive Care unit at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus.

“My preceptor planted the seed,” says Howerton, who has worked at Mayo Clinic for three years. “She raved about the awesome trip experience she had with Kate [Welp], and, working with Kate, I realized that she’s awesome. I can learn from her.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: volunteer, Giving Back, Medical Missions

October 21st, 2013

Couple crosses country to help fellow patients

By SMHNadmin mayoclinic

Sunny and Bill Meadows moved from Arkansas to Minnesota to volunteer their time to help other patients. "We hope that by giving back in this way, we can express our appreciation for all Mayo Clinic has done for us," they say. 


Sunny and Bill Meadows


On the surface, Sunny and Bill Meadows' move from Fayetteville, Ark., to Rochester, Minn., doesn't sound particularly unique. Lots of people go from one part of the country to another. But rather than one of the typical reasons for relocation — such as taking a new job or living closer to family — the couple's decision to make a new home more than 600 miles away was based on deep gratitude and a keen desire to help others. Also, unlike most moves, it involved two kidney transplants.

The Meadows first traveled to Rochester in 2011 for appointments at Mayo Clinic. But their journey started long before then. Sunny was diagnosed with lupus in her early 30s. The disease took a heavy toll on her body over the years, eventually causing her kidneys to fail. Beginning in 2009, she required daily dialysis treatments that significantly restricted what she could do and where she could go.

After two years of dialysis, the couple began to explore the possibility of a kidney transplant for Sunny. Needing a new kidney due to lupus is not a common situation, however. The Meadows wanted to make sure she received care from medical professionals who had expertise working with people in her condition. Her local nephrologist recommended Mayo Clinic.

"From our very first visit, we knew Mayo Clinic was different," says Bill. "Even though we understood it was the place to go for unusual cases, we didn't have any idea that how extremely kind and caring everyone at Mayo would be. The patient-first philosophy was obvious from everyone there."

In June 2011, Sunny was part of a paired kidney donation at Mayo Clinic that involved six donors and six recipients. Sunny's sister gave a kidney to a recipient from New York. Sunny's kidney came from a donor in Arizona. The match was excellent, and her doctors are optimistic that her new kidney will last a long time.

After the transplant, Sunny's quality of life improved dramatically. She became much more active in work and at her church. The couple also began to travel, a hobby that had been out of reach while they were dealing with the effects of Sunny's kidney failure.

But enjoying this newfound freedom didn't seem like quite enough. When Bill and Sunny returned to Rochester for her one-year checkup, they told her medical team that they wanted to do something to help others. Bill volunteered to become a nondirected kidney donor — a donor who gives a kidney to someone he or she does not know.

"After going through years of sometimes agonizing days while Sunny was sick, there was little doubt in my mind that I wanted to at least offer an opportunity for someone else to have a second chance," says Bill.

He was accepted as a donor, and in October 2012, Bill underwent surgery to donate one of his kidneys. Then, after visiting Mayo Clinic for his four-month checkup, the couple began mulling over another idea.

As they were flying home, they both agreed that they felt a special sense of peace when they were in Rochester and at Mayo Clinic. Bill had previously spent dedicated time volunteering, so the two began considering the possibility of moving to Rochester and becoming full-time volunteers.

After that, several things happened that encouraged them to move forward. On a riverboat cruise the Meadows took during a visit to Belgium and The Netherlands, one of the first people they met — and who they got to know over the course of the trip — was a woman who had worked at Mayo Clinic for years. When they told their family about the idea, the couple received support and encouragement. As they explored the financial aspects of the move, they found they would likely be able to manage it. So in June 2013, they put their house in Fayetteville up for sale. It sold in 20 days, sealing their decision to move north.

In September, Sunny began volunteering at the Gift of Life Transplant House, which offers lodging to Mayo Clinic transplant patients and their families. Bill will spend his time volunteering at Charter House, a retirement community owned by Mayo Clinic in downtown Rochester. Their plan is to stay in Rochester for at least two years.

"It is hard for us to express how thankful we are for the care Sunny received. We are indebted to Mayo Clinic for saving her life," says Bill. "We hope that by giving back in this way, we can express our appreciation for all Mayo Clinic has done for us."

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Tags: Charter House, dialysis, kidney, Lupus, transplant, Transplant House, volunteer, organ donation

July 23rd, 2013

A Double Blessing: The Mexican Red Cross Donation

By Susana Shephard susanashephard

Mayo Clinic urologist, Dr. Robert Ferrigni, International Patient Coordinator, Mila Vargas, and Carlos Bloch from the Mexican Red Cross gather at the Los Mochis, Mexico Delegation Office.

As an international patient coordinator at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, I have had many opportunities to work with patients to ensure that they receive the best medical care and attention. Helping patients is our number one priority at the International Patients Center. Last year, we had a unique opportunity to reach beyond our four walls at Mayo Clinic to help make a difference for thousands of patients in Sinaloa, Mexico.

On one of his trips to Sinaloa, Mexico, Robert Ferrigni, M.D., a Mayo Clinic urologist, met Mr. Carlos Bloch, President of the Sinaloa sector of Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross). Through Carlos, Dr. Ferrigni learned about the vital role the Mexican Red Cross plays including serving as first responders for emergency calls. Impressed with the services Cruz Roja provides with limited resources, Dr. Ferrigni contacted me to see if there was anything Mayo Clinic could do to help. We recognized their urgent need for medical equipment and supplies.

I then presented this idea to Mr. David Reidy, Logistics Manager/Supply Chain Management, and the ball started rolling. Mr. Reidy started the very difficult task of collecting and labeling medical equipment for the purpose of shipping to Cruz Roja Mexicana in Sinaloa, México. With the auspice of Phoenix Mexican General Consulate, Mr. Victor Trevino, the first shipment was delivered March 29th, 2012.

Dr. Ferrigni, David and I had the opportunity to travel to Los Mochis, Sinaloa to be a part of the annual festivities initiating a month long “colecta” (fundraiser) for Cruz Roja Mexicana. This experience was very humbling as the Mexican people of this region showed us their great appreciation for the donated medical equipment that would arrive shortly after our trip.

I’ve been very honored to be a Mayo Clinic employee for the last 17 years and as a Mexican National, I’m extremely proud to be a part of this very important endeavor. I call this a double blessing!

Written by Mila Vargas

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Tags: Arizona, Carlos Bloch, Cruz Roja, David Reidy, Donation, International Patients Center, Los Mochis, Mexican Red Cross, Mexico, Mila Vargas, Robert Ferrigni, Sinaloa, volunteer

October 25th, 2012

What Volunteering at Mayo Clinic Means to Me

By Makala Arce MakalaJohnson

Picture of Volunteer AlisonMany experiences in my life have impacted the way I look at the world and all of the different people around me. I have realized that the world is so much bigger than just me and my family. Working together with each of our strengths and weaknesses can bring about extraordinary hope and progress. A few of my volunteer experiences have especially stood out in this respect.

I first joined Mayo Clinic Young Volunteers near the end of my freshman year of high school. I thought it would be exciting to be involved with the famous, prestigious organization of Mayo Clinic, which gives so much hope and good care to its patients. While it is amazing to be a part of this nonprofit organization, I am also surprised by how Mayo Clinic has become a part of me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Alison Miller, volunteer

November 11th, 2011

Healing A WWII Veteran’s 66-Year-Old Injury

By Jason Pratt jasonpratt

Mayo Clinic began because of a military connection and our commitment to servicemen and women has never faltered. As we celebrate Veteran’s Day this year, we salute the many Mayo Clinic staff members and patients who are veterans, helping to protect our freedoms. It is in their honor that we share this story about a Florida man’s long journey to healing.


StanleyRozyckiFeature2Eventually, something’s gonna kill you.  It’s just life. What we usually don’t know is if what that something will be.  A car accident? Cancer? It could be a falling coconut.  Some suffer.  Others go quickly.  Some see their end coming.  Many don’t.

As we think about the meaning of Veteran’s Day, we salute our heroes who fought wars at home and abroad –  who most likely  thought about their mortality and wondering if they will make it to their next birthday. Dodging bullets is a way of life, literally for these men and women.

“It was always in the back of your mind,” recalls Jacksonville, Fla., resident and Mayo Clinic volunteer Stanley Rozycki, a WWII Polish Army veteran. Rozycki, who was born in 1927, spent three years in the Underground Army as well as four years in the Polish Army under British command. But he also had the misfortune of being a prisoner of war and spent nine months in three different German POW camps. He often wondered if he’d make it to 84.

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Tags: injury, Mayo Clinic in Florida, MayoClinicFL, military, veteran, volunteer

September 10th, 2009

Becoming an Employee after 35 Years as a Mayo Patient

By Lee Aase, Director, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network LeeAase

Linda Rockey's first experience at Mayo Clinic was in 1971, when her grandmother insisted that she come to Mayo Clinic for treatment of her worsening Crohn's disease. "It was a week that just changed my life," she says. Thirty years later Mayo neurosurgeon Dr. Fredric Meyer operated on Linda to repair a double aneurysm in her brain. In the video below, Linda describes how her life-changing experience as a Mayo Clinic patient led her to move to Rochester to become a Mayo employee so she could help serve patients:

As you can see, Linda's passion for Mayo Clinic and for helping our patients (and those who care for them) is obvious. It was a pleasure meeting her last week, and we look forward to her future contributions here on Sharing Mayo Clinic. Just as she enjoys helping first-time patients and their families find their way in the downtown Rochester campus, Linda will be sharing stories and observations as a regular contributor to this blog.

What's your Mayo Clinic story?

Lee Aase is manager for syndication and social media at Mayo Clinic.

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Tags: aneurysm, brain surgery, Crohn's Disease, Employee Stories, Linda Rockey, Matthew Clark PhD, patient stories, volunteer

March 26th, 2009

Learning Perspective

By Jeff Bell jpaulbell

Jeff Bell is the Section Head of Illustration and Design at Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN. Jeff and his team are responsible for all of Mayo's media design.
In 2003 I asked Randy McKeeman, Director of Child Life at Mayo Clinic’s children’s hospital, what he thought about the idea of me coming over to draw pictures for the pediatric patients. He agreed to let me give it a try.

tph1166014_07-web-mss_519851-revision-13I didn’t tell Randy at the time but I’m not a performance artist and although I knew I could draw fairly well, I was scared to death to do it on demand while someone watched. I had no idea what would happen, it just seemed like a good idea. A week or so later I began. I got on the shuttle to Saint Marys Hospital from the Mayo building with a nervous feeling in my stomach, a pad of paper under my arm and a fist-full of Sharpie markers thinking “what have I gotten myself into?”

I remember my very first little customer, an eight-year-old cherub-like boy in a wheelchair who was hooked up to a beeping chemo machine. I asked him what he wanted me to draw for him. He smiled, looked down at his fuzzy slipper-clad feet, wiggled them and happily blurted out, “I want you to draw my bunny slippers.” I thought to myself, “Thank goodness, I think I can do that.” I then proceeded to create a decent facsimile adding his name in cartoon balloon letters for flair. I knew from then on I could never guess what I was going to be asked to draw. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: art, Hospital, Matthew Clark PhD, medicine, Pediatrics, Sketch, volunteer

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