NurseGrid in the Community: Giving Back at New Avenues for Youth

More than ever, we’re proud to support nurses that do this work every day, and we’re glad to be following their lead and providing care to our community.
NurseGrid gives back at New Avenues for Youth

As NurseGrid’s Community Manager, I’m responsible for managing our incredible community of nurse users. I’m lucky enough to talk with nurses every day, sometimes about the NurseGrid app and sometimes about the work they do. I often find myself amazed at nurses’ dedication and selflessness and I’m in admiration of the genuine relationships they build with their patients. The generosity, compassion, and commitment of these nursing professionals is a real source of inspiration for me and the entire NurseGrid team.

At our recent company retreat, we discussed our organizational values and one of the first to come up was “service.” We know that nurses provide a crucial service to their patients day in and day out, and we’re always looking to follow the example they set. As a team, we brainstormed all of the ways we could donate our time and energy back to our community. We generated a (really) long list of ideas, from helping to clean up the Oregon coastline to volunteering at a local health fair. After the retreat, our stellar Operations team went to work identifying and scheduling volunteer opportunities for our team.

Our hometown of Portland, Oregon is full of awesome organizations tackling critical issues like environmental preservation, animal welfare, and homelessness. That meant there were tons of opportunities for the NurseGrid team to get involved. Our first chance to give back as a team was with New Avenues for Youth, a drop-in service center for homeless and at-risk teenagers and young adults. Since their founding twenty years ago, New Avenues has assisted more than 20,000 local youth in accessing basic services, shelter, job training, and education.

NurseGird volunteers at New Avenues for Youth
Community Manager Katie in the back, Ops Manager Zoe up front, and SVP of Strategy Hank hard at work prepping food!

Last week, four of us #NurseGridders headed to New Avenues to serve a hot meal. After a quick orientation, we got to work preparing lunch. New Avenues can never predict how many people will arrive for a meal, so we made sure to make plenty of food! Hank, Devan, Zoe, and I washed, chopped, and prepared tasty chicken salad and vegetarian wraps for everyone. We rounded out the meal with a side salad, sliced pears, and cookies for dessert. Once everything was ready, we started serving lunch.

That afternoon, we had nearly 30 youth drop in for a meal. We were able to interact one-on-one with each kid that came in for lunch, making sure they got enough to eat and trying to leave them with a smile. We bonded with diners over our love of hot sauce (Tapatio on everything) and our distaste for spinach (too many stems).

It felt good to know that even if we weren’t able to spend more than a few minutes with each kid, we were sending them off with fuel in their stomachs. Still, it was hard to watch the kids leave, not knowing what was in store for them on the other side of the doors. “Maybe this is similar to what nurses feel when patients are discharged,” I thought. “We did what we could to help each person who we treated, and now all we can do is hope that it’ll be enough to keep them well.”

While most of us will never fully understand the bonds formed between nurses and their patients, this volunteer session gave us a chance to experience what it feels like to care for others directly. As a tech company, sometimes it’s easy for us to get lost in our screens, sitting behind our keyboards. Being able to connect with others, human to human, and know that we were helping to make their lives a little easier was such a valuable experience. More than ever, we’re proud to support nurses that do this work every day, and we’re glad to be following their lead and providing care to our community.

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Zach Smith

Zach Smith