February 26, 2021

Building and honoring community

The David Lawrence Community Service Awards recognize Kaiser Permanente team members for extraordinary volunteerism.

Amber Medina (left) and Megan Dudley, MD, are 2 recipients of the David Lawrence Community Service Awards.

A physician who uplifts and builds community through documentaries and discussion, and a certified patient care assistant who has poured her heart and soul into leading programs to support her hometown: Both Kaiser Permanente employees in the Northwest were among the recipients of the David Lawrence Community Service Award.

Megan Dudley, MD, a pediatrician of Longview, Washington, and Amber Medina, who works at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro, Oregon, will each receive $10,000 to donate to the organization of their choice.

The award, started in 2003, is named for former Kaiser Permanente CEO and chairman David Lawrence and is given to employees who volunteer to improve community health in the United States and abroad.

Gather, educate, advocate

Dr. Dudley was recognized for her work to bring a pair of community programs and events to her town of Ridgefield, Washington. Ridgefield is a rapidly growing agricultural community with a diverse population that resides on indigenous land.

Dr. Dudley’s interest in community building is rooted in the past. Her grandparents met at a Japanese internment camp in Arkansas during World War II. After the experience of the camps, families were afraid to share their background, stories, language, and traditions with their own children, friends, and communities. This led Dr. Dudley to want to provide a space for today’s families to share their stories.

With that motivation, she founded and runs the Ridgefield chapter of the Meaningful Movies Project, a nonprofit that presents documentaries, followed by a forum for respectful discussion. The purpose is to gather, educate, advocate, build meaningful and sustainable community, defend justice, and work for peace.

The film events are attended by people of all ages and in the past have helped to support Ridgefield’s downtown core by partnering with a local historical theater. One of their largest panel topics to date was on opioid addiction, which had 9 panel members, including several from Kaiser Permanente, along with local nonprofits.

In addition to Meaningful Movies, Dr. Dudley established the annual Ridgefield Multicultural Festival, which highlights Ridgefield’s heritage and cultural diversity through food vendors, dance, classes, and music. Her goal has been to create a safe event that makes everyone feel like a welcome part of the Ridgefield community.

Rooted in community

Amber Medina has a big heart — whether she’s caring for patients as a CPCA, or certified patient care assistant, in the Westside Medical Center Emergency Department, or helping her fellow community members as a volunteer in her hometown of Gaston, Oregon.

“I grew up in Gaston and attended the same school my kids now go to. I didn’t have access to a lot of opportunities,” said Medina. “

Her passion for Gaston, and her neighbors, friends, and family encouraged Medina’s passion for giving back. For the past 8 years, she has volunteered with a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities travel to vacation destinations all over the country. In 2018, she formed an organization to help the elderly and homeless populations in her community by performing winter check-ins and distributing basic needs. And most recently, she has volunteered with GG’s House, a local nonprofit that works with families affected by homelessness, domestic violence, and food insecurity.

Her interest in education and the health and well-being of the town’s kids also led her to form a parent group to save an Outdoor School program that had been slated for shutdown. And she spent the past decade fundraising for youth sports — and served as a coach for local T-ball, baseball, basketball, and soccer leagues.

“It’s important that my 3 kids — and all 560 kids in town — have a chance to play sports and benefit from programs such as Outdoor School. Many Gaston residents have been hard-hit by all that’s going on in the world right now. We’re a community. A family. We help one another.”