News Release
A collage of four images, showing patient care and community service events, with the Penn Medicine CAREs logo.

PHILADELPHIA – Buying personal hygiene supplies for someone in need, helping them access fresh, healthy food, or offering a ride to a medical appointment may seem like simple acts of service. Often, those acts have a network of passionate, dedicated volunteers behind them to ensure they have the greatest impact for the greatest number of people.

For more than 12 years, Penn Medicine faculty, staff, and students have served as those dedicated and passionate volunteers, supported through Penn Medicine CAREs Grant program, which provides financial support for members of the workforce to augment their service activities in communities across the region. Now, the CAREs Grant program has passed an exciting milestone, funding more than $1 million to power volunteerism, bolstering projects from Lancaster to Philadelphia to Princeton that aim to improve health and wellness and tackle disparities. Since the effort’s inception, Penn Medicine has awarded funding to more than 1,000 projects.

“This milestone is a testament to the many Penn Medicine staff members who translate the passion they find in their work directly to neighborhoods across the region to make an even greater impact on the communities we serve,” said UPHS CEO Kevin B. Mahoney. “From food drives and children’s literacy events to art therapy ventures or physical fitness activities, there are Penn Medicine volunteers helping to make them happen.”

Along with direct benefit to communities, research has shown that employee volunteerism can improve mental health, including one 2020 study that found those “who volunteered reported being more satisfied with their lives and rated their overall health as better.” A separate study surveyed employees on their employer’s commitment to societal impact, drawing a direct impact to employee loyalty.

The program is a key component of Penn Medicine’s multifaceted community service efforts, which also include free clinics and patient navigation programs, community health fairs, and screening events. Recipients this quarter range from an endoscopy nurse working with a clinic to provide health care services and resources to medical students working with a clinic supporting those seeking asylum in the United States.

Awardees include Andrea Blount, RN, MPH, a nurse for more than 30 years who works as a patient educator at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Blount recently founded Circles of Wellness, a nonprofit to educate faith leaders and their congregants about health. Informational sessions conducted at houses of faith can enhance, support, and provide resources to promote a healthy lifestyle in the congregation and the broader community. Blount's grant will help provide for educational displays for sessions on diabetes and high blood pressure.

“Taking ownership of our health extends beyond a hospital or physician’s office,” she said. “Health is holistic, and helping our communities take that ownership through a variety of settings is extraordinarily rewarding.”

After losing her cousin to sudden cardiac arrest, Lauren Stoltzfus, a health educator with Chester County Hospital, began working with Aidan’s Heart Foundation, a group that aims to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and create heart-safe communities for young people. The group aims to install an automated external defibrillator (AED) in Chester County's East Goshen Township Park. Stoltzfus's grant covers the cost of the AED, its cabinet, and a sign, and she also plans to coordinate Chester County Hospital’s free training for hands-only CPR and AED use.

“Knowing how to use an AED can be a critical difference between life and death if someone is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest,” Stoltzfus said. “Not only will the materials be available, but the accompanying training will be invaluable because every second counts in these situations.”

Other projects receiving CAREs funding this quarter include:

  • Susannah Colt and Carolyn Chow,fourth-year medical students in the Perelman School of Medicine, volunteer with the Philadelphia Human Rights Clinic, whose mission is to provide psychiatric and physical evaluations at no cost for survivors of persecution who are seeking asylum in the United States. Their funding helped the clinic hold its first in-person physician training, for 40 volunteer clinicians, since the pandemic in December 2023.
  • Lauren McLaughlin, a senior project manager with Penn Medicine at Home, has seen the need for seniors to have shower chairs and grab bars to decrease the risk of falls. Although health insurance covers most medical equipment to keep people moving, like walkers and wheelchairs, Medicare does not cover these other essential items to help people live safely in their homes as they age. McLaughlin’s grant will go to Abilatools, a non-profit group of disabled volunteers who share resources and donate this type of equipment throughout Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. It will also help cover the purchase and installation of grab bars for patients.  

CAREs grant recipients are selected according to criteria outlined in hospital community needs assessments, which document areas for improving the health of local residents, from treating substance use disorders, to addressing neighborhood conditions and navigating health systems and beyond. For more information, visit To learn more about Penn Medicine’s community outreach programs, visit

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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