They work at Kaiser Permanente. They volunteer across the country — even around the world. These are the winners of our 2022 David Lawrence Community Service Award.
Imagine an ideal community. Does what you dream match where you live? If not, what would it take to get there?
The winners of our 2022 David Lawrence Community Service Award know what they want to change and they’re working to make it happen.
Since 2003, we’ve presented this national award to recognize outstanding community service efforts among our employees and physicians who go above and beyond to advance our organization’s mission to improve the health of our communities.
“It’s an honor to work alongside incredible employees and physicians who are true models of community service,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente, “These individuals embody the core of our mission, dedicating their energy to improving the health of the communities we serve — even beyond their day-to-day work.”
The award is named in honor of David M. Lawrence, MD, a former chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente and a lifelong advocate for improving health. Kaiser Permanente makes a $10,000 charitable contribution on behalf of each winner to the nonprofit of their choice.
Meet the winners of the 2022 David Lawrence Community Service Award.
Growing up, and working as a nurse for 23 years, Maura Andrews saw the impact of addiction, mental illness, and homelessness firsthand. She lost family members and friends to addiction and saw many struggle to survive while homeless. Motivated to serve her community, in 2021, Maura Andrews and a friend began cooking pots of soup to feed homeless people in Northern California. They served the soup in public parks and parking lots. They also began collecting warm clothes to give to people without housing during the winter. As their operation grew, Andrews and her friend founded John’s Table, a nonprofit that feeds and clothes homeless people in and around Fairfield, California. The organization has grown to 5 board members and about 10 volunteers, including 2 cooks. They distribute food wherever homeless people tend to congregate, and they collaborate with partners to offer vaccinations. Andrews plays a variety of roles now at John’s Table, volunteering more than 500 hours to her organization each year.
Michael Brush, MD
Michael Brush, MD, is committed to bringing vision to communities locally and globally. Volunteering for the Himalayan Cataract Project since 2014, he’s performed hundreds of vision-saving cataract surgeries. In May of 2022, he went to Ghana and performed 45 to 50 surgeries every day for a week. He’s also helped doctors in Africa learn how to better perform these surgeries. In his own community in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Brush teaches and mentors doctors and volunteers at Veterans Administration clinics and the University of Washington. He has also served as the volunteer director of vision care at the Seattle/King County Clinic since 2016. The clinic provides specialty care for patients with low incomes who are uninsured. There, he performs eye surgeries and provides follow-up care. He also recruits new volunteers, many of whom are his colleagues at Kaiser Permanente.
Since 2013, Heidi Canas has volunteered for Leanna’s Closet, a nonprofit organization in Greeley, Colorado. Leanna’s Closet provides clothing and accessories to women to help build their self-confidence as they seek to enter or reenter the workforce. Canas began as a volunteer and now serves on the board of directors as treasurer. She has worked to expand the programs Leanna’s Closet provides, recently developing resume writing and job interviewing programs. She’s also exploring other strategies for helping women get jobs. For example, she recently forged a partnership between Leanna’s Closet and the Brittiney Marie Sierra Foundation. The partnership provides additional resources and services for Leanna’s Closet clients. She also recently produced several pop-up events to bring Leanna’s Closet services to other areas of Weld County. She’s fundraising to buy a trailer to support even more events. Canas’ efforts have helped increase the number of clients Leanna’s Closet serves and have raised the organization’s presence in the community. Leanna’s Closet was recently recognized as a Greeley nonprofit on the rise.
Scott Denny, PA-C
Medical director, HIV and PrEP services
Scott Denny, a certified physician assistant, is passionate about ensuring that people who are transgender or gender diverse can get the care they need, when and how they need it. At Kaiser Permanente and in his volunteer work, he focuses on reducing the fear, shame, and stigma people may feel in seeking care. In 2020, he collaborated with the Nuuanu YMCA in Honolulu to establish Rainbow Connections. Rainbow Connections is a program that connects transgender and gender-diverse youth, allowing them to share their life experiences and gain a sense of community and support. Denny regularly educates his community about health care for people who identify as LGBTQ+. He has spoken at the Aloha Medical Conference and Maui Health Fair and during events held by the Health Information Management Association of Hawaii, Hawaii Pharmacists Association at the University of Hawaii, Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation, University of Hawaii’s residency program, and Hawaii Employers Council. He helped draft recent legislation that allows physician assistants to change a person’s gender on birth certificates.
W. Lee Gray
W. Lee Gray’s love for volunteering and giving back to his community started when he was young. He grew up in a poor neighborhood and saw the resources wealthier communities had. Inspired by his parents’ community service, he promised himself that if he had the opportunity to improve his neighborhood and others like it, he would.. Gray’s community service has supported thousands of people in Georgia, from children to older adults. He’s planted trees, beautified parks, painted gyms, and cleaned nursing homes. He worked with the March of Dimes, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies, to create a fundraising softball tournament called Batting4Babies. He also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds and repairs homes for people in need, and was a volunteer umpire in the Wish for Wendy softball tournament raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Over the past 45 years, his community service – an estimated 450 hours per year – has touched thousands of people.
Rinelda Horton, MD
Mychelle Shegog, MD
Audrey Tsao, MD
In 2006, Audrey Tsao, MD; Mychelle Shegog, MD; and Rinelda Horton, MD in the Mid-Atlantic States — helped found, WOGO (Women Orthopaedist Global Outreach). WOGO volunteers provide free orthopedic surgeries to women worldwide. These surgeries eliminate debilitating arthritis and restore disabled joints, allowing these women to reclaim their ability to care for themselves and their communities. The team carefully plans for and then performs each surgery. Afterward, team members monitor each patient and treat any complications. They also educate patients about the healing process after surgery. WOGO physical therapists work with patients as they heal. They also train local physical therapists to attend to patients once the WOGO team leaves. WOGO selects one “mission city” each year. In 2022, the WOGO team undertook a mission to Antigua, Guatemala. Past mission cities include Kathmandu, Nepal; Arusha, Tanzania; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Havana, Cuba.
Clinical pharmacy services manager
Matthew Lennick began volunteering when he was in college. During that time, he volunteered for the United Way, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education, income, and health. Since 2017, he’s volunteered for Share Vancouver, an organization that offers food and housing for people of all ages in Vancouver, Washington and is now their board president. Lennick’s other community service work is extensive. He has organized and led group service projects for Kaiser Permanente’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day week of service. He’s also volunteered for the “I Have A Dream” Foundation, an organization that provides long-term support to youth living in under-resourced communities. As a volunteer for Leadership Clark County, Lennick developed and implemented a diversity, equity, and inclusion youth advisory board for the Police Activities League of Vancouver. Leadership Clark County is a nonprofit with a mission to develop effective community leaders. The Police Activities League is a nonprofit that partners with the Vancouver Police Department to promote positive relationships between police officers and youth in the community. Lennick has also provided tours of Kaiser Permanente’s automated pharmacy refill center to young people who live in the Northwest and are interested in careers in health care.
Amanda Jenkins is a champion for foster children in the Northwest. In 2018, she organized a donation to gather and distribute clothing, groceries, beds, bedding, car seats, and other items for foster families. Jenkins now runs the foster closet with Riverside Community Outreach, an organization that helps children moving through the foster care system as well as the families that care for them. Jenkins made instrumental efforts to help purchase and renovate a building that will be used to store resources for foster families. In 2021, Jenkins began serving as a court appointed special advocate. As a special advocate, she works on behalf of foster children involved in the judicial system in Columbia, Clatsop, and Tillamook counties in Oregon.
Susan May, AuD
Susan May of Hawaii’s Moanalua Medical Center has volunteered with the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Summer Games since 2003. And she started working as the organization’s co-director of healthy hearing in 2009. As co-director, she coordinates volunteers to provide health screenings for Special Olympics athletes. The screenings have greatly improved the quality of life for more than 3,500 athletes with disabilities. May’s volunteer work has inspired her Kaiser Permanente colleagues to get involved, too. Many of her colleagues now provide physical exams for athletes competing in the Special Olympics Summer Games. As a volunteer, May also trains University of Hawaii graduate students on how to screen people who have disabilities. In addition, she volunteers for the state of Hawaii Board of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the American Cancer Society, and the annual Honolulu AIDS Walk.
Bhavin Parikh, MD
South Sacramento Psychiatrist Bhavin Parikh, MD, turned to volunteering after personal and economic hardship. In 2020, his father passed away. Then in 2021, his sister and 7 other close relatives died of COVID-19. In his grief, he responded by helping others by raising over $100,000 to buy 50 portable oxygen concentrators for hospitals in India to treat COVID-19 patients. He also worked with an oxygen plant manufacturer and fundraised to build oxygen plants for 2 hospitals in need in India. Additionally, Dr. Parikh organized the manufacture of 7,000 face shields for local Indian police. He also organized the delivery of a $250,000 shipment of personal protective equipment to hospitals in India. In his own community in Sacramento, he worked to provide face shields, food, and school supplies to food pantries, shelter homes, health care providers, and schools. His passion for mental health led him to support local initiatives and programs that serve communities who have low incomes and are underinsured. Dr. Parikh currently volunteers with OCA Sacramento, which advocates for the political and economic well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Dr. Parikh is active in suicide prevention initiatives that reach high school and college students.
Associate account management
Aundre Stanton has led and volunteered in 20 community service initiatives since 2017. During the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, he conducted webinars for communities that are underserved to educate them on the importance of getting COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. He volunteered at vaccination clinics where over 150 people were vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 (many for the first time). He also volunteered with Hands On Atlanta to provide meals for Atlantans who do not have housing. He has spent many years working with HEAL Collaborative, an organization that raises awareness about prostate cancer among Black men. Stanton has shared his journey as a 10-year cancer survivor with the goal of providing encouragement and hope to people currently battling cancer. Stanton is passionate about community service and models this commitment in hopes that his 4 daughters will emulate the same volunteerism to help others. Stanton has provided more than 200 hours of community service over each of the last 5 years.
Ceresa Sulsona is passionate about helping others. She regularly volunteers to help people without housing in communities across Southern California. In fact, since 2019, Sulsona has dedicated at least 25 hours of her time per week volunteering both on her own and for Project Coffee Cup. Project Coffee Cup is a nonprofit organization that provides hot meals, clothing, sleeping bags, blankets, and showers to homeless people in Riverside, Santa Ana, San Bernardino, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and other nearby communities. She’s also now a board member for Project Coffee Cup and helps recruit volunteers. She recently helped recruit 20 new volunteers and worked with her family to coordinate the donation of a used truck to transport supplies and a portable shower unit for Project Coffee Cup.
Community engagement lead
After moving to Colorado in 2018, Kristen Turnbull joined Cheer Colorado, a volunteer adult cheer team committed to positively impacting and strengthening the Colorado LGBTQ+ community. Currently, Turnbull is serving her second year as the organization’s volunteer executive director. Cheer Colorado envisions a Colorado where all people can be safe, seen, and celebrated. Through cheer performances, social media posts, and volunteer work, Cheer Colorado raises awareness and funds for LGBTQ+ organizations. In addition to her work with Cheer Colorado, Turnbull is active with the Boulder Women’s Leadership Group and the Boulder Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Turnbull has actively volunteered with other organizations including the Girl Scouts, Denver Urban Gardens, the Colorado Symphony, and many more.
Justin Wu, MD
Justin Wu, MD, has an unwavering commitment to “healing little heroes.” In 2017, Dr. Wu noticed that his young surgery patient was unhappy and resistant to cooperating in his recovery process. During the next visit with the patient, Dr. Wu dressed up in a Batman costume. This changed the child’s demeanor to delight, and he was motivated to do whatever it would take to get better. The power of this experience made him realize other pediatric patients could benefit from this approach. So, he and his son Nathaniel founded the Healing Little Heroes Foundation. Dr. Wu and the foundation’s 20 volunteers dress up in Disney, Star Wars, and superhero costumes and visit young patients in hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses across Southern California. Their visits provide emotional and mental health support and brighten up the children’s recovery processes. Dr. Wu makes 300 visits annually. His devotion to helping young patients goes beyond his organization. He volunteers at many public events that benefit pediatric patients. He organizes 2 toy drives per year. He raises funds to buy and distribute hearing aids to children who don’t qualify for government help. He also raises funds for custom-made prosthetic sports limbs for children.