About 10 years ago, Doug Valverde retired from a management position and found himself with too much time on his hands. He realized quickly that he needed more to do than be fully retired; he decided to go back to school to study nursing.
He searched for health centers near his home that provided care to those in need, but the only one close by was open once a week, for just a few hours. An internet search uncovered the Free Clinic Health Center. The name was immediately familiar: while in school, Doug had studied a prominent figure in nursing; Sister Margaret Freeman, (previous Executive Director of St. Petersburg Free Clinic). Doug reached out and began to volunteer.
He now commutes 2 -3 times a week from Pasco County — an hour each way — to volunteer in the Health Center. Doug has found the fulfillment he was looking for, helping patients at the Health Center; helping those who need it most.
Doug also works in the Diabetic education program, holding one-on-one counseling sessions with patients who are living with Diabetes. Unlike a traditional doctor’s office, Doug finds that here he isn’t confined to a timeline or rushed to see a certain number of patients. Instead, he can take his time and give each patient the time and attention they need.
Doug is thankful that he was blessed in his life, so that he can now give back to others. “I was once broke as broke can be,” Doug notes, “so I understand how tough life can become”. Today, he has the opportunity to give back, and he does so generously with his time, expertise and financial support. “I’d rather give more to one organization, and have it do more, then give smaller amounts to lots of organizations.”
It’s easy to pick out Doug in the Health Center. He’s the one dressed in the fun medical scrubs – whether a pattern of hot peppers and sombreros or The Three Stooges — he enjoys choosing the different patterns. “There is already such bleakness in the lives of our patients; this brings color into their day.”
Doug witnesses firsthand the impact of supporting the Free Clinic, as he treats patients. He truly sees his dollars at work. What would he say to someone considering a gift? “St. Petersburg Free Clinic helps with food, health, housing… we do the things that seem to be forgotten. This place takes care of people where you live; giving here is giving to your community.”
Thank you to Doug and others like him, who restore the health – and hope – of our community, where it is needed most.