The Perspective

No cape or mask; just heart

How can you tell if someone is a hero? What does one look like? Does he wear a cape? A mask? Are her muscles unusually big?

Hero with a heart

We queried staff and found that the heroes among us look like everyday “normal” people. No masks. No capes. No disproportionate biceps. The only commonality among these health district heroes is their desire to help those less fortunate.

Michelle Stanton, Administrative Assistant | Clinic & Nursing Services Division

“I have always considered myself fortunate to have a good job, food, shelter and the means to provide for my family,” said Michelle. “I may not be able to give money, but I can certainly give my time. It is my civic duty to help out.”

Michelle started volunteering in her early twenties, and learned early on that she preferred to serve in a “behind-the-scenes” role. While she has contributed to different causes, she is most apt to help distribute food to the hungry. “If you don’t have good food, you don’t have anything else,” she said about the overall effect that malnutrition has on people. No nutrition, no brain power. She currently volunteers weekly at the local food bank, ThreeSquare—where the health district hosted its first-ever group volunteer activity for employees in 2010.

Dustin Thibodeaux, Administrative Assistant | Environmental Health Division

Dustin began to volunteer regularly at ThreeSquare after last year’s employee volunteer event. He said volunteering at ThreeSquare is the “easiest way to go” since the organization offers online registration and many opportunities that fit into his schedule.

Number of Volunteers in Las Vegas Graph

Over the years, Dustin and his partner, Lester Rossi, have volunteered for many organizations. They give back because they are fortunate enough to be financially independent, unlike a lot of people today. Dustin sadly noted that the indigent population seems to be getting younger, which he attributes to the poor economy.

Dustin and Lester are particularly committed to the AIDS Walk and the AFAN Toy Drive, where they have the opportunity to give back to their community. These two kids at heart shop year-round for their annual toy drive donations so they have collected a literal truckload of toys, clothing and games for children affected with HIV/AIDS. “Each payday, we shop for the toy drive,” Dustin said, “We look for deals, but we usually buy the toys we’d want!”

Lan Lam, Accounting Technician | Administration Division

Lan feels compelled to “pay it forward” through various activities—most of them self-started. For example, she approaches schools in low-income areas so she can provide backpacks stuffed with school supplies to less fortunate students. It is not unusual for her to freeze bottles of water to distribute to homeless people during the summer or hand out prepackaged dog food to a homeless person with a dog. She claims she doesn’t go out and actively seek these opportunities, but it’s pretty safe to say that she is prepared both in thought and action to respond when the need arises. “We are so fortunate,” Lan explained. “It only makes sense to donate our time or money to those who aren’t.”

Additionally, Lan is about one inch away from being able to donate her long thick hair – for the second time – to Locks of Love, the nonprofit organization that makes wigs for children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. “It’s a piece of cake,” she casually commented about donating her hair. (It is exactly that selfless mentality that defines a “hero.”)

28.5 Volunteer Hours per Resident

Erin Riebe, Environmental Health Specialist | Environmental Health Division

Erin grew up in a family that modeled community service based on faith. “I volunteer because I have been so richly blessed both by God and by those around me throughout my life,” Erin explained. “It is my way to say thanks, give back, and be a blessing in return.”

While she has actively volunteered for years, she currently serves as a lead for the Green Valley Presbyterian Church youth group. Through her work with the teen group, she is helping to coordinate a weeklong cleanup activity in New Orleans and is raising money to benefit the Henderson Presbyterian Food Bank. She has also organized a health district team for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure two years in a row.

While our heroes don’t have any special powers, they all exude a selfless attitude that giving back to the community is just what they do.

Diet Myth 1

The Southern Nevada Health District’s Community Outreach Team coordinates volunteer opportunities for staff members to help others in the Valley. Since 2010, staff has participated in group activities at ThreeSquare and the Tonopah Community Gardens. Additionally, staff has contributed to multiple blood, food, school supply and toy drives.

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