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JV EnCorps Member Serves the Medically Uninsured and Underserved

Pam Cheeney serves at Volunteers in Medicine and is part of the JV EnCorps community in Bend, OR

Access to medical care saves lives, and it’s something that many people with comfortable incomes and stable health insurance simply take for granted. But what about those whose incomes are too high to qualify for programs like Medicaid, but not high enough to afford expensive insurance premiums? Pam Cheeney, JV EnCorps member serving at Volunteers in Medicine, devotes her time and skills to address this issue.  

Pam is a nurse, and after retiring in 2011, she knew she wanted to volunteer. She began serving at Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) in Bend, Oregon, whose mission is to provide healthcare to the medically uninsured and underserved. Pam’s husband Ed was on the original board when it opened in 2004, and VIM has provided critical services to the Bend community ever since. Its proximity to the not-for-profit St. Charles Medical Center is mutually beneficial for both VIM’s clients and the hospital.  

“The emergency room is very, very expensive for the hospitals to maintain,” Pam explains, “so it was really kind of a win-win situation to create a clinic such as this, because the kinds of things that we care for are office-setting needs. Otherwise, individuals who are not connected with a physician truly would end up in an emergency room with hours of wait and expensive care, when it’s really more of an office-type need.” 

“. . . individuals who are not connected with a physician truly would end up in an emergency room. . . “

Though many of VIM’s volunteers are former healthcare professionals, there are roles for volunteers without medical backgrounds too, whether it’s greeting people at the front desk, answering phones, or providing translation services.  

Pam was volunteering before joining JV EnCorps, and talks about how “weaving in the Ignatian philosophy and giving back to the community” was an easy addition for her. But not everyone who joins JV EnCorps is already plugged into a volunteer program. In fact, JV EnCorps can be a helpful support network as members discern their volunteer path. Additionally, JV Encorps provides opportunities to learn from and support one another, while engaging in topics of social and ecological justice, along with spirituality.  

Pam describes JV EnCorps as “a group that’s committed to being active in a positive way, allowing us to utilize our skills, whether it be helping at a food bank, or at a clinic such as myself, or working at The Humane Society. We have a wide variety of opportunity to do little things. And a group doing many little things together can move a mountain.” 

“a group doing many little things together can move a mountain.”

Interested in joining a JV EnCorps community? Click here to learn more.  

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Thursday, October 28 | 7:00pm ET / 4:00pm PT

Join us to learn all the basics about a year of service in the Pacific Northwest, including where you can serve, what you might do, and how to apply. Our Recruiter, Zayna, will also share her experience as a JV in both Alaska and Montana. Finally, we’ll open it up for an informal Q+A.

Zayna Abusada

JVC Northwest Recruiter

Zayna Abusada (Ashland, MT ’17-18, Anchorage, AK ’18-19) was most recently a JV in south-central Alaska serving with immigrant and refugee English-Language learners as the Academy for Citizenship and Civics Support Specialist with the Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) in Anchorage. Zayna first served with Indigenous students on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Zayna went on to earn her undergraduate degree in History and Theological Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies at Saint Louis University.

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