SPIRITED, a CareOregon eNewsletter

My experience as an Embrace Oregon volunteer

Last August, my church held a meeting for those interested in assisting foster children or foster families in need. It was hosted by a woman who was a volunteer services manager for the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Adrienne Guckenberger

After a lengthy application process that included a criminal background check, personal references and fingerprinting, I finally got the letter in the mail informing me that I'd been approved to be an Embrace Oregon Volunteer with DHS.

By volunteering my time I could do a multitude of things, such as help with administrative duties in the branch office, babysit a foster child while the foster parents had a well-deserved night off, run errands, or just take a foster child out for a movie. Anything to help the foster child or foster family find some relief in their hectic and chaotic world. 

Working at CareOregon for almost two years as a customer service representative, I knew that my background in Medicaid would prepare me to help a foster child or foster family understand how Medicaid worked and how to get the most out of their health care coverage. In the back of my mind I could hear all of the member calls I took on a daily basis talking about how difficult it was to navigate the health care system.

If I could somehow help a foster child or foster family learn how to advocate for themselves and give them tools to draw from, they could then get their health care needs met more easily. And I would feel like I'd made a small difference in someone's life. 

Haven't we all had difficult circumstances at one point in our lives? Are we so immune to the problems in the world that we don't have to worry about having a roof over our head, food in our stomach, clothes on our back and a warm place to sleep? Plato said, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." And I think of that every time I get a phone call from a member. You just don't know what the person on the other end of the phone is dealing with. And when I start volunteering, I’ll think of that with each foster child and foster family I get the opportunity to help. It’s my opinion that people on Medicaid don't need a hand out, they just need a hand up. Sometimes, they just need someone to listen. Not judging, not assuming, just being there for them -- paying it forward.