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UT Physicians receives prestigious volunteer award for second year

Written By: Vicki Powers, UT Physicians | Updated: April 27, 2024
President's volunteer award recipients UT Physicians

Kim Kham, Melissa McDonald, and Judith Coulter accept the President's Volunteer Service Award from the Houston Food Bank on behalf of UT Physicians. (Photo by UT Physicians)

UT Physicians earned back-to-back recognition from the Houston Food Bank, receiving the nonprofit’s 2023 President’s Volunteer Service Award (silver level). University employees provided 478 hours of community service at the food bank, which equals 28,680 meals.

In its third year, employees representing various departments (marketing and communications, patient experience, orthopedics, human resources, clinical leadership, and more) jointly served in the Houston Food Bank packing area during the Thanksgiving season. The collaboration, camaraderie, and teamwork to pick and pack nonperishable food provided a tangible difference for families in the Houston community. Each year, the number of departments and volunteers participating within UT Physicians grows.

UT Physicians was one of 34 organizations in the silver category contributing 11,591 volunteer hours which translated to 695,460 meals. Corporate volunteers were the largest category of any volunteer group last year at the Houston Food Bank. The substantial number of volunteers each year enables the food bank to tackle more initiatives to support the Houston community.

Jacob Lange
Jacob Lange (Photo by UT Physicians)

“We are grateful to UT Physicians’ volunteer support because with their help, we were able to provide access to over 28,600 meals for children, families, and seniors,” said Brian Greene, president and CEO of Houston Food Bank.  “What’s important for the volunteers to know is that once their job is done, the food is distributed within the next few days to our neighbors in need.“

Team building

Jacob Lange, a talent acquisition specialist III at UTHealth Houston, volunteered for the first time because he enjoys helping people. But it also was an opportunity to get to know the employees who provide services at UT Physicians.

“Being in HR, I don’t get to meet everyone in person. Being able to do that and help others combined two of my passions,” Lange said. “Collaboration between departments is very important for everyone to be successful.”

Hailey Benningfield
Hailey Benningfield (Photo by UT Physicians)

Hailey Benningfield, communications manager in orthopedic surgery, considered it an excellent team building experience.

“Volunteering at UT Physicians means more than just giving back,” Benningfield said. “It’s about being part of a community that’s driven by making a real difference. That is incredibly fulfilling. It’s a reminder of our mission to improve health care and well-being in the community.”

While UT Physicians doesn’t volunteer for accolades, the recognition is incredibly rewarding. Last year, UT Physicians received the bronze level of the PVSA for its 2022 volunteering. This recognition includes a certificate and pin from the White House recognizing the importance of volunteering in the community and a letter signed by President Joe Biden.

Vital partnership with Houston Food Bank

Partnering with the Houston Food Bank is a natural choice for the university’s volunteer efforts. Since 2019, UT Physicians has participated in Houston Food Bank’s Food for Change program, offering food prescriptions (Food Rx) and Core Connections to eligible patients. Twice a month, patients from two clinics receive up to 30 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables plus additional healthy food items. Currently, 140 active patients are receiving Food Rx, with a total of 400 patients enrolled since 2019. UT Physicians understands that the pathway to patient health includes overall well-being, not just medical needs.

Food bank group shot
A spirited group of university employees served the community by volunteering at the Houston Food Bank in November 2023. (Photo by UT Physicians)
As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.