Making a Difference

Difference Makers 2018: Building friendships and a future for Kenyan children

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At CHG, Putting People First isn’t just a saying we stick up on the wall, it’s a belief and practice that is at the center of our culture. It empowers all of us to take care of each other, as well as our customers and our communities.

Last year alone, our people used more than 10,000 hours of their volunteer time off to make a difference to causes they care about, ranging from Habitat for Humanity and Ronald McDonald House to local food banks and schools.

A few years ago, we created the Difference Maker award to recognize our people’s efforts in the community and to give them the opportunity to make a difference on a global scale.

Making a difference in Kenya

In partnership with Me to We, six Difference Maker award winners and their guests joined executive leaders Bill Heller and Michael Peterson on a company-paid humanitarian trip to Kenya. In addition to laying the foundation for a high school for the village boys and helping to build a new women’s college, the group learned about the Kenyan culture, went on a safari, and participated in a Mama Walk where they carried 25 – 50-pound jugs on a mile walk from the river to the village. They also toured the Kisaruni secondary school for girls that our inaugural Difference Maker winners helped build three years ago.

“This trip gave me the opportunity to speak with young women who were the first in their families to go to college,” says Bill Heller, president of CHG’s Weatherby Healthcare division. “I also spent time with our Difference Makers and was blown away by their generosity and fierce desire to give back and change lives.”

“I watched my kids experience the wonder of Africa and witness firsthand how challenging life can be outside of our bubble. I got face-to-face with every animal the savannah has to offer and relearned just how truly special our planet really is,” Heller adds. “But most of all, I left with a new set of friends, a love for Africa and our amazing planet earth, and a completely new respect for the ways we can make a difference as well as a renewed hope that anything is possible.”


Here’s what the Difference Makers said about their experience:

Brett Sanford

“I learned that the CHG and Me to We partnership is incredibly impactful to the people in Kenya. Our relatively small donations are helping create a college of medical studies, which will eventually enable local students to stay in their communities and help people live healthier lives. I’m incredibly proud of CHG’s involvement with Me to We!”

Stephanie Frost

“My favorite part about the trip was the people. From the mamas to the students, everyone was so friendly and cheerful. Once you step under their roof, they say you are now family. Also, I loved the new lifelong friendships I formed with the other Difference Makers, our doctors, and the We staff.”

Vanessa Pizzatola

“I really didn’t know what to expect coming to Kenya but when I walked away, I knew I would be leaving a piece of my heart behind. I’ve learned that the important things in life are not what we have, how much we have, and how much more we can obtain. Instead, it’s about who you spend it with, how you can positively impact the lives of others around you, and what legacy you are going to leave behind. I realized on this trip that all of our roles here in this company, no matter how big or small, are making a huge impact across the world. I was able to witness this firsthand and it was amazing!”

James Boley

“I brought my 17-year-old son, Parker, on the trip with me. My favorite moment was seeing him interact with one of the mamas. They shared an experience which changed Parker’s view of the world.”

Marina Ivie

“Every single person that I met was friendly and genuine. They were welcoming and happy to share their way of life with us. The biggest learning experience for me was the drive that each of them had for bettering themselves and their community. Each student had plans to better their community with healthcare, technology, and tourism.”

Marcus Gilbert

“This experience taught me to focus less on what we don’t have and be grateful for what we do have. The Kenyan people are so happy and content. They appreciate what they have and are truly happy and joyous. We can learn a lot from them.”

Providing quality healthcare to the village

Thanks to a generous grant from the Making a Difference Foundation, our Weatherby Healthcare division was able to send four physicians —  Dr. Olabisi Jagun, Dr. Jane Park, Dr. Chastity Edwards, and Dr. Roger Altoff — along with our Difference Makers to Kenya. While there, the physicians provided patient care and educated local physicians at the Baraka Hospital.

Dr. Roger Altoff

“Having people come here and teach the local docs is the best way to support the healthcare system,” Dr. Altoff says. “It is gratifying to come over and do some surgery, but sustaining an ongoing program like this is how we can make a real impact.”

Bill Heller adds, “We got to see the physicians in action. Their skill level and bedside manner is phenomenal. Meanwhile, they’re learning from their colleagues at Baraka Hospital and also sharing their knowledge. I feel fortunate to work with these physicians who donate their time and fly halfway across the world to give back in a way that will continue to make a difference in this community and in countless lives.”

Read more about the physicians’ experiences in Kenya on our Weatherby Healthcare blog.

About the author

Liz Cornwall

Liz is a communications manager based in Salt Lake City. For more than a decade, she’s done a little bit of everything in the communications world — from writing about locum tenens and travel nursing, to working as an executive speech writer, to becoming a social media influencer in the world of micro goldendoodles.

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