Guest Column: That Feeling ~ Remote Area Medical

Credit: Mike Whaley, Photographer

by Donna Walker

You know that feeling of being captivated by a person or something unordinary you had been quietly seeking but somehow never managed to find, up until that moment. You know the rush of adrenaline. You know it’s unconditional. Those are the feelings I experienced when I worked for Remote Area Medical – RAM®.

I feel very fortunate to have had some incredible experiences with wonderful non-profits throughout my working career like United Way, Junior Achievement, Girl Scouts, Magic Wand Foundation and now with RAM. Being mission driven is an exciting state of being and those feelings you have towards the leadership, the constituents and the work are incredible, but they sometimes can fade when long hours, deadlines and disappointments arise. I purposefully choose to concentrate on the outcomes of my work and relationships to others. I live in the now while honoring and learning from the past and applying the joy of dreaming for the future.

Here are a few things that have happened to me while working as the Development Officer with RAM. On a trip to the RAM California Clinic I was mesmerized by the clear skies and beauty of the earth below and then I saw the huge area of flooding in Dallas. My mind went to the dark side. The beauty of nature’s beauty was transformed into suffering by an ugly disaster. It was as if a preprogrammed success was counterpoised against a struggling failure. I came away with a feeling of emptiness. There’s an imbalance. The problem of suffering appears illusive regardless of the attributes we give it.

The dark veil lifted when I saw selfless dentists, doctors and nurses and lay volunteers serving thousands of patients. I found myself giving smiles and an encouraging word or touch to a person scared and shaking because they hadn’t seen a dentist in 15 years or longer. I saw the joy of several children and adults putting on their new pair of glasses and amazed they could see things others take for granted like the leaves on a tree.

Medical and dental students applaud the great equipment we have for them to use but mostly they thank us for allowing them to experience working at the clinic and the feelings they have from helping so many people. They love getting the thanks and hugs from grateful patients.

My attitude has changed a lot. I don’t want to worry about the WHY of suffering and pain. Instead, I want to concentrate on the HOW I contributed to make a difference.