Volunteer Spotlight

IMAHelps is blessed to have incredible volunteers from many areas of Southern California and across the United States. Our volunteers not only do life-saving and life-changing work on our missions, but they make difference in the doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals where they work in the U.S. throughout the year. On this page, we share recent news developments involving our volunteers to give you an idea of the kinds of people we have volunteering with us.

Joe A. Gonzales

Joe A. Gonzales, a Brawley-based Registered Nurse and IMAHelps volunteer, has received the Citizen of the Month Award on behalf of the California State Senate.

Gonzales received the award in September 2016 during a ceremony with state Senators Ben Hueso and Eduardo Garcia at Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley.

“I’m still in shock,” Gonzales said following the awards ceremony. “I’ve never received anything like this before nor have I ever had the privilege or honor of meeting a US Senator. For once in my life, I was speechless.”

Gonzales thanked Pioneers Memorial Hospital District for giving him the opportunity to grow into the nurse he always dreamed of becoming.

“I would also like to thank my family, friends, and the Pioneers PMH family who were there today to share this special moment with me,” Gonzales added in a Facebook post. “To my guardian angels up above, I felt your presence. Last but definitely not least, I want to thank all the individuals around the world who have donated their time and have participated in medical missions. Today, I accepted this award not just for me, but for all of us! Thank you for your selfless acts of kindness and serving those who need it more. To all the organizations that I belong to this is for you: IMAHelps.org, predisan.org and KenyaRelief.org.”

Gonzales has volunteered his nursing skills on several IMAHelps, including missions to Juigalpa, Nicaragua in 2013; Jinotepe, Nicaragua in 2014; and Zacatecoluca, El Salvador in 2015.

Mariela Gallo

IMAHelps volunteer Mariela Gallo has received the 2016 Excellence in Patient Education Award from the Cancer Patient Education Network.

Gallo, a senior health education specialist for the City of Hope in Duarte, has volunteered on IMAHelps medical missions to Nicaragua since 2014, where she has worked both as a health educator and Spanish language interpreter.

The Excellence in Patient Education Award recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to cancer patient education through their use of creative approaches to develop and disseminate patient information.

Gallo takes a patient-centered approach in developing, implementing, and evaluating patient and family education programs for diverse populations. She recently partnered with El Concilio, City of Hope’s Spanish-speaking patient and family advisory council, on the development of a culturally-appropriate chemotherapy education program.

In 2015, Gallo co-authored a chapter in the Textbook for Palliative Care Communication, which was published by Oxford University Press.

The Cancer Patient Education Network was founded in 1989 by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a structure for strengthening cancer education through collaboration with patient educators at NCI-designated Cancer Centers in the U.S. Recognizing the value of CPEN for those working in cancer patient education, and wishing to broaden our reach to a larger audience of patient educators, CPEN established itself as an independent professional organization in July 2005.

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