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PROFESSIONALS GIVE UP "FREE TIME"
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PROFESSIONALS GIVE UP "FREE TIME"

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Thanks to the efforts of people like Dr. Richard Rosen and attorney Barden Cooke, community service agencies are able to save thousands of dollars a year in professional fees.

Among other volunteer efforts, Rosen sees patients at the Health Serve Ministry's medical centers, and Cooke plies his trade as part of his service on the boards of the Volunteer Center and the Family Life Council. They are among scores of professionals who provide volunteer services worth big money.``When they're willing to give of their time in a professional capacity, it really raises the capability of the agency they're giving to because they're giving services that the agency would otherwise have to pay for,' says Molly Keeney, director of the Volunteer Center.

``There are dentists and doctors who give their time as volunteers to help Health Serve operate,' Keeney says. ``That time is very valuable to Health Serve. They couldn't afford to pay for all the service that is offered there.'

The Health Serve Ministry grew out of a volunteer effort begun about 12 years ago by Dr. Stewart Rogers and his wife, Betty, a registered nurse, says Bill Glasgow, Health Serve's volunteer coordinator.

``They began seeing patients at night at one of Urban Ministry's residential shelters,' Glasgow says.

The Rogers later leased a storefront downtown to establish a clinic, recruited other doctors and nurses, then added a pharmacy with a $100,000 donation from the Junior League.

In 1991, the effort got a big boost when the Urban Ministry's capital campaign to raise money for a new building led to Health Serve's first medical center on South Eugene Street.

``The community oversubscribed that campaign by $1.4 million,' says Glasgow, a retired engineer who has long been involved with Urban Ministry. ``At that point, we began conversations with Moses Cone, and out of these conversations came Health Serve. Urban Ministry built this building with that money, and they lease it to Health Serve at no charge.'

Now, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical professionals and nonprofessionals volunteer thousands of hours each year to supplement the work done by paid staff members at the South Eugene Street center and the new northeast center on Cone Boulevard.

``The only thing that differentiates us from a private medical practice is what it costs the patients,' Glasgow says.

Volunteers play a large role. Health Serve's walk-in evening clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays is staffed entirely by volunteers. Health Serve benefited from 6,700 volunteer hours last year, Glasgow says.

Glasgow, who works half-time coordinating volunteers, says there are about 400 volunteers: 80 to 85 doctors, 140 nurses, 30 dentists, a few pharmacists, many more pharmacy technicians, and 60 to 70 nonclinical people who help with mailings and work in the office.

Rosen, who is semi-retired since closing his office in 1977, has been a Health Serve volunteer for about seven years.

``The year I started, I was president of the Greensboro Medical Society,' he recalls. ``They needed volunteers, so I had a chance to go there and volunteer and then go out to recruit others. The generosity of the doctors in Greensboro is enormous, and I want to be part of that.'

Many lawyers also volunteer their time.

``I think lawyers are a very public spirited group of people who also have some real talents to bring to volunteer activities,' says Bill Cooke, Barden Cooke's brother and partner and former chairman of the Greensboro Bar Association's community involvement committee.

Most often, Greensboro's lawyers volunteer while wearing their legal hats. But they've also begun to get involved in other kinds of volunteer work.

The bar association began a strong relationship with Habitat for Humanity in 1991, and members also volunteer hours working with elementary school students learning to read through the Reading Discovery program.

``Before we built that first Habitat house, most if not all of our community involvement activities were law related,' Bill Cooke says.

The bar association has supported Habitat financially every year since 1991 and has built a Habitat house every odd year, with 150 to 200 lawyers providing labor as well as money. It's an activity that's been enjoyable to members.

``You get out on a Habitat site, and it's something that gets you out of the office and away from law,' Bill Cooke says. ``It is a great way to relate to other members of the bar because you're not in an adversarial relationship. It's not business, it's pleasure.'

The variety of volunteer activities in which professionals participate provide a variety of benefits to the community, Keeney says. Boards all around town benefit from a variety of free services.

``A lot of times when a board of a human services agency is trying to solicit new members to serve, they will look for individuals with particular skills,' Barden Cooke says. ``Most every board I serve on and have served on will have an accountant on it, and he generally serves as treasurer of the organization.'

But other services by professionals are needed and appreciated. Keeney points out that Barden Cooke, for example, works with the Boy Scout in addition to his service on boards.

``The value per hour of his service there is maybe not as high as the value per hour of his time as a lawyer,' she says, ``but the time that he gives there is valuable in a different way.'

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