January 20, 2013

National day of service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

OAKLAND, Calif. Once again this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, thousands of Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians nationwide will step out of lab coats and suits and into painting caps and tool belts, rolling up their sleeves in community service to honor Dr. King and his commitment to improving lives through dedicated service.

Established in 2005, this will mark the ninth year in which Kaiser Permanente will conduct its Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service. Thousands of Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians will have the opportunity to take leadership roles within their communities in remembering the values that Dr. King exemplified — values that closely align with Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to social responsibility and community involvement.

Last year, more than 7,000 employees and physicians — the most ever, and a 10 percent increase over the previous year — dedicated their time at more than 130 sites nationwide. This community work benefited an estimated 35,000 people.

“Kaiser Permanente employees’ enthusiasm for community service on this day is evident in the growth in the number of volunteers year after year,” said Ronald Copeland, MD, FACS, chief diversity officer of Kaiser Permanente. “These great activities happening across the country underscore Kaiser Permanente’s longstanding commitment to both diversity and community benefit, while also providing a unique opportunity for employees and physicians to serve some of the communities’ most vulnerable residents.”

This year, Dr. Copeland, along with Bernard J. Tyson, current president and chief operating officer and incoming chief executive officer, are distributing hundreds of coats to people in need at City Team Ministries in Oakland, Calif. the organization’s headquarters. City Team Ministries provides hot meals and safe shelter to Oakland's underserved populations. The organization also provides medical care to the needy, operates a recovery program, provides clothing for disadvantaged families, and offers recreational and spiritual programs for children.

MLK Day 2013

In addition to the coat drive in Oakland, Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians will volunteer in the communities they serve across the country.

Projects include:

  • Employees and physicians in Georgia are partnering with MedShare in Atlanta. The nonprofit organization collects surplus medical supplies and equipment nationwide to redistribute to underserved health care facilities here and abroad. MedShare’s goal is to improve health care worldwide, while also reducing medical waste. Kaiser Permanente volunteers will sort and package recovered medical supplies.
  • In Ohio, Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians will work with Golden Age Centers to lead activities and prepare lunch for seniors living in public housing.
  • Employees and physicians from Southern California will be partnering with Giving Children Hope and the Orange County schools for the “We’ve Got Your Back” program to alleviate hunger among elementary school children who are homeless in Orange County. Volunteers will be packing backpacks full of food for these children and their families.
  • Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians from Oregon and Washington are partnering with Innovative Services NW, a full-range provider of services for people with disabilities of all ages. Volunteers will facilitate an intergenerational, collaborative art project with youth and seniors based on the book The Rainbow Fish, which will be prominently displayed in the Innovative building following MLK Day.
  • Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians in Hawaii will be honoring the Hawaiian tradition of ahupua'a, the division of land into sections that run from the mountains to the ocean. This concept highlights the interdependence of the various ecosystems and the importance of maintaining and protecting our environment. Activities will include mountain trail and stream maintenance and restoration of an ancient ocean fishpond.
  • In Northern California, Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians will partner with Hands on Bay Area to beautify Allendale Elementary School and the adjacent Allendale Park in Oakland. Volunteers will help build benches and tables, and paint murals and blacktop games, such as hopscotch and handball.
  • Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians in Colorado will be working with the Food Bank of the Rockies to pack food for the needy. Volunteers will work in an assembly line to fill boxes of food for the USDA’s food program that targets low-income, pregnant and post-partum women, their children and seniors.
  • In Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., to prevent overlap with the Presidential Inauguration, Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians will have opportunities to honor the Day of Service later this year. Beginning in early April, physicians and staff can volunteer to provide clinical and non-clinical services.

For more about Kaiser Permanente’s efforts in the community year-round, visit: kp.org/communitybenefit.