In recognition of the significant difference they make in the community, the Desert Mission volunteers of the John C. Lincoln Health Network have been chosen as a winner of the 2013 American Hospital Association’s Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE).
The national HAVE Award recognizes volunteers who provide leadership in community outreach, particularly with innovative and measurable programs with external partners to address challenges in the community.
Desert Mission’s volunteers – about 500 of the almost 2,000 Network volunteers – were also recognized for demonstrating measurable contributions to the effectiveness of an existing community outreach and for achieving success by overcoming barriers. Desert Mission’s volunteers work at the Food Bank, Children’s Dental Clinic, Lincoln Learning Center, Marley House Behavioral Health Clinic, Community Health Center and in Neighborhood Renewal.
“For 30 years, these awards have celebrated the contribution and value of hospital volunteers – women and men who go the extra mile for their patients and communities,” said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association based in Washington, DC.
Desert Mission, founded in 1927, remains an integral part of the mission of the John C. Lincoln Health Network, and the depth of community outreach offered is unusual among hospital and health care systems in the United States.
That couldn’t happen without the volunteers who provide hours of service along with in-kind donations and monetary donations, said Cindy Hallman, executive director of Desert Mission and a vice president in the John C. Lincoln Health Network. At a minimum each day, volunteers provide the equivalent of 18 full-time positions across the spectrum of Desert Mission services.
“It’s so inspiring to me to see how warm and welcoming our volunteers are with our clients, and just to know they want to be here to support us because they believe in our work at Desert Mission,” Hallman said. “They are here every day with smiles on their faces, helping our clients, and that energizes me and my staff to help our clients meet their challenges.”
Linda Llewellyn, director of Volunteer Services for the John C. Lincoln Health Network, added “I am so proud of our volunteers! Their service improves the quality of life for so many people.”
Phoenix City Councilman Bill Gates noted that “Desert Mission has a long, successful history of partnering with the City of Phoenix to provide the basics for people in need of a little help to get back on their feet. The work has been especially vital during these tough economic times, serving as many as 35,000 people each year. I commend the hundreds of Desert Mission volunteers who dedicate their time to making a difference in our community.”
“To build a healthy community takes an integrated approach,” Hallman said. “You can’t just give a family a food box at Thanksgiving or just give children vaccinations, although Desert Mission does both. You need to get to know each family and work together toward success at every level. Integrated care is positively correlated with improved outcomes and service.
“We work together with our clients to help guide them to the right combination of resources – food, dental help, housing help, behavioral intervention and early childhood education – to meet their needs, including public benefits and other human services programs available in the community, and to pursue self-sufficiency and success,” Hallman said.
Desert Mission clients come from the immediate service area of the North Mountain hospital, where the household income ranges between $16,000 and $123,000, and from 30 to 45 percent of the population is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Nearly 100 percent of Desert Mission clients are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.”
In recent years, during the economic downturn, Desert Mission has seen significant increases in a different type of client – families in crisis who are from a higher socio-economic and education level and who historically have been self-sufficient. Ironically, this group includes former Desert Mission donors who now turn to Desert Mission for assistance.