On August 10, Penn Medicine leadership, grant recipients, and outreach partners gathered in the sunny Jordan Medical Education Center to celebrate Penn Medicine’s commitment to the community during the 6th Annual CAREs Grant Luncheon. The CAREs grant program is designed to recognize and bolster employee volunteerism by providing funding each quarter to a wide range of causes and missions. During FY17, 55 grants were given out across Penn’s entities, and that number continues to grow each year.

“Community service is a cornerstone of our institution, and I believe the CAREs program – and each of its recipients who dedicates their time to our local communities throughout the year – represents a major point of pride for Penn Medicine,” said Patrick Norton, Vice President for Public Affairs.

PPMC is proud to have had a number of staff members receive grants throughout the last fiscal year and extend their pledge to “give back” outside of the hospital. From visiting shelters to give haircuts, to raising funds to provide medication to the underinsured or uninsured, to purchasing books to support youth education, PPMC’s doctors, nurses, technicians, and other staff have shown that they are willing to go above and beyond not just in their workplace, but in their local communities too. Congratulations to each of last year’s recipients, and thank you for living the mission of PPMC and of Penn Medicine.

Do you volunteer your time through community service? Apply for a CAREs grant today at PennMedicine.org/community.

Meet Our Recent Recipients

Aside from serving patients as an assistant professor of Surgery in Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care, and Emergency Surgery, Shariq S. Raza, MD, is deeply invested in promoting violence prevention through the Philly Youth Peace Project – a well-established outreach program for middle and high school youth in North and West Philadelphia. As someone who sees the aftermath of violence daily, this cause is very close to his heart.

“I grew up in a rough urban city and saw firsthand how trauma affects young people, their families, and their communities. Raising a child is a loving endeavor, and to see violence bring about such entropy of love in a flash is heartbreaking. So many people die or sustain debilitating injuries at an incredibly young age – it’s unbearable to watch,” Raza said.

Through his grant, Raza is able to support sports, music, and arts activities that encourage kids to stay engaged after school and exercise their imaginative and entrepreneurial muscles. For example, students are invited to utilize audio engineering and DJ equipment, produce remixes, and create videos, and even to screen-print their own artistic designs on clothing. These opportunities offer positive, productive outlets for city youth, while also highlighting conflict resolution and community building tactics. Eventually, Raza hopes to introduce mobile outreach vans and volunteers who can be called in to diffuse tension and prevent retaliation in the aftermath of violent incidents.

“My ultimate goal is to prevent young people from ever even having to enter our trauma bays with injuries from violence,” Raza said. “I’m honored and thankful to have received this grant and Penn’s support.”

Rhonda Browning RN, BSN, CEN, TCRN, an emergency department nurse on the trauma team, is no stranger to community outreach – or the CAREs grant. Having previously organized fall prevention and bike safety projects, Browning has recently been awarded her fourth grant. After earning her MSN in Forensics (a combination of the legal and medical elements of trauma care), she was inspired to submit another proposal, this time focusing on the importance of community violence prevention and gun safety.

“I think many people may not realize how significant a problem this is,” Browning said. “At PPMC, we see a minimum of one gunshot wound every day, and Penn Trauma is working hard to support violence prevention programs,”

Through her grant, she will be purchasing gun locks and distributing them to patients and families in her unit, as well as at health fairs and other events. A gun lock should not be used as a substitute for a secure storage location, but it offers an additional level of safety when a firearm is not in use. The gun locks Browning will be issuing are inexpensive and simple to use, and they can prevent children and at-risk family members from accidentally firing guns at home. By creating gun safety signage and drawing attention to this critical conversation, Browning hopes to ‘trigger’ more people to lock up their firearms safely and securely in order to prevent gun violence and accidental injuries.

“I’m so excited to have been chosen for another CAREs grant,” Browning said. “We all work in the healthcare field, and yet we each find a cause relevant to the particular patients we serve. It’s awesome that Penn supports these types of community projects, and I’m thankful for this opportunity.”

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