Angela Meeks is the latest winner of the Phil Patton Award, HCA Healthcare’s highest honor for corporate employees' community service. Angela is being recognized for service at the Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC). What follows is from an interview with Angela where she shares her way of making community service a priority and she explains all the reasons it’s worth the time and effort for her and for the agency she supports. She ends with a challenge for us all that may be the motivation you need to serve or to continue to serve where your community needs you.
What’s your community service story?
I was sitting in an All-Hands meeting and someone was needing help fulfilling the last 3-months of their board service. An unexpected family event arose for that individual and the time was needed on their personal life. So, I thought about this… the Nashville Adult Literacy Council website communicated 1:8 in Nashville cannot read in their native language. That was disturbing and sad to me. Then I came to realize that a number of HCA volunteers assisted at the NALC through the tutor program. With that, I agreed to serve for the remaining 3 months and that 3 months has turned into over 3 years.
How do I select the right community service opportunity for me?
Know yourself, your passions, and your skills. Find something that fits you… if you like nature, serve with the environmental agencies; if you like children, serve with the schools/educational-type programs, etc. The goal is to make it natural by using your talents/skills in the agency in a small and consistent way where you can personally see the success. At first you will probably want to do things native to your skillset. For me, that meant assisting with infrastructure refresh, back office automation, hack-a-thon activities, community service projects, etc. In going through these activities, I learned more and more about the agency allowing me to more comfortably assist in other areas.
What does it seem our local nonprofit agencies need most?
Committed volunteerism. The needs are great; the underserved population is ever present and growing. Even the smallest commitment has the potential to make a huge difference. You have more to offer than you may think.
Who inspires you to continue community service?
My parents. They insisted that we serve as a family together. As a young child, I remember assisting with numerous community activities –helping with food pantry activities, singing at the assisted living locations, delivering ‘meals on wheels’, fitting shoes for families, visiting people in the hospital, etc. My parents instilled a sense of community and relationships in me. I remember my dad saying, “We need each other! And, sometimes we need each other more than other times; never forget that!”
Do you have a community service challenge for the rest of HCA?
Make a commitment. Use these guidelines to set yourself up for success:
- Choose a location near your home.
- Use your passions.
- Use your skills.
- Serve 2 hours per month.
- Rely on a mentor and then be a mentor when you’re ready.
- Attend HCA’s onboarding training for nonprofit board members.
- Enjoy the benefits to the agency and to yourself. Maybe even write them down and revisit the list when you need new inspiration. Community service has benefitted me in the form of new friends, an awareness of the impact I can make, an understanding of the strategic vision of the NALC and a cause that has found its place in my heart, rewards that come from partnering with other HCA volunteers, and the satisfaction of knowing I’m doing my part to support the HCA Foundation and our company’s commitment to the community.
All of these things will come to you, too. And all you need to do is begin.