Health clinic volunteer: When someone is down, you pull them up

Updated
NAFC Volunteer Lee Zimmerman
NAFC Volunteer Lee Zimmerman
Photo courtesy of Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman volunteered with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) at care clinics in the past to help provide free health care for those who need it. He wrote for msnbc about what inspired him to volunteer, and what he gained from the experience.

Having spent most of my adult life as a soldier, one thing I know is that life is not just about you, it’s about “the team.” For me the team is America, and a lot of Americans have been left behind. The Army was very good to us as a family. When my wife faced a serious medical crisis, the Army went into overdrive to provide the care and support she (and we as a family) needed. I’ll always be beyond grateful for the way we were treated and the great medical care she received.

Sadly, many Americans don’t have this kind of health care and support. I shudder to think what would have happened to us had we not had access to excellent medical care through the Army. Bankruptcy at a minimum. And the possibility of a much worse outcome. Because when you don’t have access to quality care, you’re at the mercy of whatever crisis you face and a bureaucracy designed to minimize risk and maximize profits.

My wife introduced me to the NAFC. Always a person who gives of herself, she volunteered at the Little Rock clinic and was hooked. After she travelled to clinics in New Orleans, taking our teenage son, and North Carolina, we volunteered as a family at the Dallas clinic. The sheer number of people needing help, and the gratitude they had for NAFC being there for them, was incredibly moving for me. But while I felt good for giving, what I received back from those we served far outweighed my contribution. The smiles of the people there for help, the gratitude they had for knowing that other Americans cared, that was the prize. It reinforced for me how great the need is, and my place is to be there whenever possible. Because when someone on the team is down, you reach down, extend a hand, and pull them up.

That’s what Americans do.


msnbc and Reverend Sharpton will team up with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to offer another free clinic like the one Lee volunteered at on July 3. Please consider volunteering as he did or donating money to the cause if you’re unable.

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Health clinic volunteer: When someone is down, you pull them up

Updated