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Volunteers Spread Mission, Message of Community Health Center

by Laurie C.

An Air Force veteran, Angel Nuñez has been passionate about service all his life. He has always made time to give back to his country and causes he feels are important or his community. “Volunteering gives me a sense of satisfaction,” says Nuñez. “It gives you a natural lift.” When he heard that his current employer, CommuniCare Health Centers a non-profit organization was starting a volunteer program, he was eager to sign up and excited about the impact it could have on his community.

CommuniCare Health Centers is a federally-qualified health center (FQHC) that serves San Antonio and nearby Hays County. As an FQHC, it provides primary healthcare services, including medical, dental and behavioral health, and focuses on the medically underserved and low-income populations.

The 37-year-old non-profit organization created its volunteer program back in February to expand its outreach efforts and increase health education throughout the communities it serves. Since then, more than one-third of CommuniCare’s 270 employees have pledged to volunteer. Many are starting to realize what an impact volunteering can have on their community.

Recently, CommuniCare expanded its volunteer program and has staffed some events with help from corporate sponsor, Skanska. “Our staff volunteers really enjoy giving back to the community and seeing the impact their efforts are having to help others”, says Skanska Vice President, Matt Daniel. “ It’s also beneficial from a team building perspective and that translates well back to our work environment,” says Daniel.

Earlier this year, the Texas Department of State Health Services made several changes to school immunization requirements. CommuniCare saw the great need of its community and, with the help of the volunteer program, sponsored CommuniCaring for Kids events which are school immunization health fairs to help hundreds of families get their children immunized in time for the start of school.

The CommuniCaring for Kids events at each of its three locations will provide free immunizations to hundreds of needy San Antonio and Hays County families. Over 100 staff and corporate partner volunteers will help run the events, working in hospitality roles, staffing games, handing out prizes and providing free health education information. Two events have already taken place, and the third will take place on Saturday, August 15th when the health center expects to immunize as many as 500 children.

Nuñez sees the effect that the volunteer program has had on the community and expects it to only get bigger. He says he’s seen an increase in the patients’ interest in health information that equips them better to manage their own health and that the word is spreading about the availability of CommuniCare’s services. As the organization grows, he predicts that so too will the volunteer program, and even more volunteers will want to participate and give back. He adds, “I know that volunteering makes our community a better place to live and extends a helping hand to those in need”.

For more information about CommuniCaring for Kids events, please visit: www.communicaresa.org

For information about other National Health Center Events happening in your area, please visit: www.healthcenterweek.org

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