Four volunteers reflect on the Gold Foundation’s mission

The Gold Foundation is grateful for our amazing group of passionate volunteers whose flame for humanism in healthcare burns bright. They range from high school students to seasoned experts in their fields. Our volunteers bring their unique backgrounds and experiences to our shared mission of championing humanism in healthcare.

This ongoing series spotlights our volunteers and their work, offering insight into their motivations and individual stories. Together, we are spreading humanism far and wide.

Andie Wardell is a sophomore at Barnard College, studying Neuroscience and Behavior.

In addition to volunteering, are you involved in other activities that promote humanism in healthcare? 

Recently, I volunteered with a group called Love 4 Ukraine, where I was the logistics coordinator for a group of doctors providing humanitarian and medical aid on the Polish-Ukrainian border.  

What drew you to the Gold Foundation’s mission? 

I was deeply impacted by the utter importance yet clear uniqueness of the mission the Gold Foundation supports. Providing compassionate healthcare is the reason I have an interest in the field and finding an impactful organization that shared those same values was enticing.  


Jerrika Kim is a 2021 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where she majored in Neuroscience and minored in Chemistry and Psychology. At Penn, Jerrika was involved with psychiatric research, was a member of several pre-health clubs and associations, and volunteered for the local community. She is originally from New Jersey and is moving to Boston this summer to begin work as a medical assistant in a dermatology clinic. In the future, Jerrika plans on attending medical school. She is currently taking two gap years, during which she aims to learn more about current issues in different areas of healthcare by directly engaging with them.

What drew you to the Gold Foundation’s mission?

I was interested in the unique experience of volunteering with The Arnold P. Gold Foundation because I align greatly with the foundation’s mission to keep humanism at the heart of healthcare. I strive to collaborate with members of the healthcare team to attend to patient needs with the highest degree of satisfaction. I believe that helping spread the Gold standard of care, with its strong commitment to advocating patient trust, respect, and empathy, will help me fulfill my passion for serving others and greatly prepare me for a dedicated career in medicine.

Would you like to share any life experiences that have set you on this path of becoming a compassionate healthcare professional?

I recall one instance when I had to transport a patient in a wheelchair. The patient was giving the other workers a hard time, and they appeared happy that he was now out of their hands. When I greeted him, he was rude and constantly complained about his dissatisfaction with the hospital. Instead of ignoring his comments, I validated how he was feeling and acknowledged that going through treatment is difficult and can be frustrating. I offered words of support and encouragement, and eventually, he began to warm up to me despite initially treating me with coldness. By the end of the trip, his entire demeanor changed, and he apologized for his earlier behavior. He explained that he was having a rough morning and did not mean to take it out on the staff. This encounter showed me the importance of communication and empathy in every aspect of patient care, especially when we don’t know the extent of someone’s condition.


Olivia Miller is a student at the University of Pittsburgh studying Rehabilitation Science. She will begin physician assistant school at Pitt in January 2023. Olivia currently works as an APCT in the Emergency Department of UPMC Children’s Hospital. The Gold Foundation’s goal of promoting humanism in healthcare is extremely personal and important to her as she has seen first-hand how positively treating a patient as human rather than a diagnosis can be. Olivia is very honored to be able to be a part of such a great organization.

What is most meaningful to you in your life?

My family and friends are the most meaningful thing to me and a large reason of why I went into healthcare. Many of my close relatives and loved ones have been in and out of hospital settings and always have stories to tell, both positive and negative, of the care they received. Working in healthcare is extremely important to me because now others have trusted my team and I with the care of their family and their friends. In this situation, I strive to make each encounter with my patients a positive and helpful one as I hope others would do for my own loved ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in new understandings of ourselves and our world. What is a key lesson that you have learned from this unprecedented time?

I have learned to be patient with others. You never know what an individual is going through or how it is affecting them, so it is important to always treat them with kindness in order to understand the best way to help them.

Was there a particular project that you were involved with at Gold that reinforced your support of our mission?

I was lucky enough to help organize the awards for the Champions of Humanistic Care that were given out at last year’s gala. In doing so, I read countless testimonies, each of which told of a unique and novel way to promote humanism in healthcare. Some individuals went as far as to start foundations, some coordinated letter writing campaigns, and others incorporated humanism in small doses throughout their everyday life, but ALL had such amazing and resounding impacts on their patients, their colleagues, and their surrounding environments.


Sara Arfan is a Canadian resident and a graduate of the University of Toronto where she majored in Psychology. Before returning to medical school in the Caribbean, Sara has been working for a patient transport organization as a Communications Officer, where she helps with the logistical transport of critically injured patients and helps them access healthcare at facilities that meet their needs.

Since volunteering for the Gold Foundation, what aspect of our work most resonates with you?

It has been encouraging to witness the deep organizational structure of the Gold Foundation and the plethora of individuals who work in concert with the sole purpose of promoting societal engagement.

What is a key lesson that you have learned from this unprecedented time (COVID-19 pandemic)?

This COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the capacity of people, especially those in healthcare, to sacrifice and be innovative in order to overcome historic challenges. It exemplified the humanity in us all, with neighbors delivering food to neighbors, teenagers volunteering at pop up COVID testing centers, and healthcare workers in all sectors sacrificing family time for those in need.

In addition to volunteering, are you involved in other activities that promote humanism in healthcare?

I recently worked on a research project in which we developed a surveillance system designed to screen Canadian federal inmates for chronic medical conditions with the end goal of providing them access to equitable health services. Additionally, I worked with the Ornge Air Ambulance team to facilitate access to healthcare in remote northern Ontario communities.

What is most meaningful to you in your life?

In addition to avidly pursuing a career in healthcare and being involved in impactful volunteering experiences such as the Gold Foundation, I’m very passionate about animal rights, shelter anti-cruelty and rescue operations.

 

Are you interested in volunteering for the Gold Foundation? Please email your resume and a cover letter sharing why you are interested in our foundation and its mission to Diane Asciutto at dasciutto@gold-foundation.org.