Each year, the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated with a day of service and reflection.
Across Northern California from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21, more than 1,300 employees and physicians honored him by volunteering their time in service of others.
This year marked the organization’s 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service — a “day on” in which employees and physicians participated in service activities. For the first time this year, the day of service was extended to a week of service, giving employees and physicians the opportunity to volunteer throughout the entire week. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the projects were held virtually.
Here are some of the ways employees and physicians gave back.
Career Mentoring Activity
“You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love to serve,” said Vivek Ghiya, a managerial consultant for Medicare Strategy and Operations at Kaiser Permanente, who volunteered in a virtual resume review workshop where job seekers were offered constructive feedback on their resumes and help telling their story to future employers.
Ghiya has volunteered throughout his 13 years with Kaiser Permanente. “For me, volunteering is a reminder that it is important to help those in need, to serve our community, and leave a lasting impact on the people around us.”
Senior Wellness Calls
With her love for senior citizens, volunteering for the Senior Wellness Calls was an easy choice for Cori Jensen.
“When my parents lived in an assisted living facility, I enjoyed visiting and talking with them and other residents,” said Jensen, a construction project manager for the Regional Capital Projects Team. She believes that “seniors have a vast amount of knowledge” and finds it exciting to be around them.
Jensen, along with 18 other volunteers, called seniors who use the Meals on Wheels program.
“Their drivers are just dropping off their meals now, but in the past, they would sit and talk with the seniors and find out how they’re doing,” she said. “Due to the pandemic, they can’t do that anymore. This has left a void for many seniors who desire connection and friendship.”
Jensen got to know each of the seniors she called. She asked them about their families, children, grandchildren, life post-retirement, and provided the connection and conversation they needed.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day “is all about giving back and not thinking of yourself,” she said. “To give to those less fortunate than me is of great importance to me, and I see no better way to honor him on his day.”
Continuing his legacy
“Through these types of volunteer efforts, our physicians and staff pay wonderful tribute to Dr. King’s life and his powerful legacy of service, and celebrate the many timeless contributions he and others made to advance social justice and racial equality,” said Richard Isaacs, MD, CEO and executive director of The Permanente Medical Group.
Carrie Owen Plietz, president of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, volunteered with The Healing Well, an organization that provides healing and wellness programs to vulnerable members of the San Francisco Tenderloin community.
“It’s an incredible honor to stand beside our physicians and employees commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by participating in volunteer opportunities in the communities where we live, work, learn, and serve,” said Owen Plietz.
By writing and decorating letters for members of The Healing Well, Owen Plietz and other volunteers are helping brighten someone’s day.
“I’m grateful to work with a team so dedicated to honoring Dr. King’s legacy and to keeping his spirit of service alive and well,” she added.