community Health

Sarah Helms, of Community Health Network, works to knock down drywall at United Way.

In a short amount of time, 800 Community Health Network volunteers tackled a lot of work.

Last week Community Howard and employees from across Community Health Network descended upon Kokomo for a leadership development day. To conclude the event, hundreds of managers from across the hospital and health network loaded up on buses and traveled throughout the City of Firsts to tackle a myriad of community projects.

Within United Way of Howard County’s downtown location, workers spilled out of a bus to grab hammers to knock down walls within the local nonprofit. The volunteers took down multiple walls in the nonprofit’s building, removing unneeded office space to make way for renovation work.

“I think what Community Health Systems is doing here, and Community Howard, is phenomenal,” said Brian Gallagher, United Way’s resource and volunteer development coordinator. “We love the opportunity to work with them on this project. It’s benefiting us a ton. The pure man hours that we’d have to do getting our own volunteers, this is a blessing. This is a total blessing.”

Across town, similar projects were being undertaken. Leaves and cleanup work were conducted outside the Seiberling Mansion and Garden Square Apartments. At The Crossing, volunteers scrubbed and gave the facility a deep clean. Outside and inside Jackson Street Commons the volunteers also handled an array of cleanup work, and at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library workers decorated Christmas trees, sanitized books, and helped with a fund raiser mailer.

Joe Hooper, the president of Community Howard Regional Health, said all the work came out of a desire to give back to Kokomo.

“It’s part of our culture to give back to the communities,” said Hooper. “In fact, it’s built into each manager’s expectations that they perform some community service sometime throughout the year. Now this doesn’t count for that. This is just an opportunity for us when we have all these people together to get in the community and really give something back. It’s something we feel pretty passionate about, and we’re glad to have the opportunity to do it.”

Hooper explained that three or four times a year, a large meeting of Community Health Network’s management convenes in one of its Central Indiana locations. During this instance the meeting was held in Kokomo, and the goal moving forward would be to make these events into similar, large-scale volunteer efforts.

“It was the vision of our CEO Brian Mills that, ‘Hey, we’re missing an opportunity here to really engage with the communities we serve.’ It’s our opportunity now to give back in those communities,” said Hooper. “This was our first one, and we’re going to carry this forward now. Every time we have one of these we’re going to work in the communities we’re having the meetings in.”