During National Volunteer Week April 18-24, we are proud to highlight the amazing ways our colleagues serve their communities and each other. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our colleagues have found new ways to volunteer virtually and continued to support causes close to their hearts — in 2020, our colleagues volunteered 83,107 hours and gave $18.9 million with HCA Healthcare matching. Overall, 5,468 charitable organizations were supported through donations and volunteering.

HCA Healthcare colleagues assisted local nonprofits with tornado recovery efforts in Middle Tennessee.

For Christie Gardner, a physical therapy assistant at Palms of Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, volunteering has become a passion. Christie’s interest in physical therapy was sparked in the 7th grade, when she saw a commercial with a physical therapist assisting a young boy.

Years later, after starting her career, Christie saw an ad in the local newspaper seeking volunteers for Horses for Handicapped, a free recreational riding program for individuals with disabilities.

Christie Gardner, a physical therapy assistant at HCA Healthcare’s Palms of Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, volunteers with Horses for Handicapped, a free recreational riding program for individuals with disabilities. (photo taken pre-COVD-19).

“That was the start of my journey in using my lifelong dream in physical therapy and giving back to such a rewarding program,” Christie says. “It continues to be the highlight of my week. I get to work with the riders in the arena doing activities while they are on the horse. We also take some of our riders to participate in the Special Olympics.”

Christie, who serves as vice president of the board and rider assessment chairperson, has been volunteering with the organization for 14 years and says it’s amazing to see the progress each participant makes. She recalls one particularly special moment with a participant who has cerebral palsy and is blind, nonverbal and a wheelchair user.

“When he wants his horse to walk on, he communicates by clapping his hands three times and the horse walks on,” Christie says. “Each rider has a horse handler leading the horse and two side walkers. His horse gently will Paso Corto and the rider will grin from ear to ear, his shoulders bounce from him laughing. It puts joy in your heart and tears in your eyes to see him have so much fun.

“You always hope that you are pouring into their lives, but most of the time they are pouring into your life.”

Colleagues helping colleagues

The HCA Healthcare Hope Fund is a colleague-run, colleague-supported 501(c)(3) public charity that supports colleagues facing financial hardship due to personal illness, the death of a family member, domestic violence, natural disaster or other crisis. In 2020, a record $10.6 million in assistance was provided to support more than 4,900 Hope Fund grant recipients.

“The Hope Fund represents why many of us get into healthcare, which is to take care of each other,” says Daphne Palakie. “We are people before we are employees and the Hope Fund is a great example of how our organization cares for us as people, not just as employees.”

Magalie Normil supports the Hope Fund to be there for her fellow colleagues during some of the worst moments of their lives.

“If we can help alleviate their burden just a little, it’s worth it.”

Find your next volunteer opportunity

Whether you’re looking for a way to volunteer virtually or would like to serve in-person, HCA Healthcare colleagues can search for volunteer opportunities using trusted resources like the Points of Light Foundation.

Colorado-based HCA Healthcare colleagues at North Suburban Medical Center  helped serve the Food Bank of the Rockies.

HCA Healthcare colleagues can also access our giving and serving platform on our intranet. Plus, all benefits eligible colleagues can double their impact by recording volunteer hours on HCA.YourCause.com. For every 10 hours of recorded volunteer service (up to 50 hours a year), colleagues will receive a $200 Care Card, a virtual gift card that can be donated to any public charity or school in the U.S. Colleagues who serve as a board member or leader for a nonprofit can also earn Care Cards for that nonprofit.

In a normal year, volunteers are crucial to help community partners and nonprofits accomplish their missions. During the last year of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines, they were an invaluable lifeline for many in the communities that HCA Healthcare serves. To volunteers across our organization, thank you for all that you do. We give our heartfelt gratitude to our colleagues and other volunteers who have given so freely of their time and talent this past year.

Kristi Bidinger, executive assistant with HCA Healthcare’s Physician Services Group, volunteers in her community.

Founded in 1968, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services with 185 hospitals and approximately 2,000 ambulatory sites of care, including surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers and physician clinics, in 20 states and the United Kingdom.