November 8, 2007
Patrick Kuykendall holds the President’s Volunteer Service Award presented to him by President George W. Bush on November 8, 2007 for his 17 years and 10,000 hours of volunteer service at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. Photo by: Nikki Verbeck, Voluntary Services Specialist
HOUSTON - President George W. Bush presented the President’s Volunteer Service Award to Patrick Kuykendall on Thursday, November 8, 2007. Kuykendall has been a volunteer at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center for 17 years and has logged more than 10,000 hours of service.
Kuykendall began volunteering when his uncle entered the MEDVAMC’s Spinal Cord Injury Unit (SCI) for treatment. He had been thinking about a career in the medical field, and started volunteering to get experience and be near his uncle.
“The patients and nurses are the reason I kept volunteering. I grew attached to them,” said Kuykendall.
He supports the staff by assisting with patient therapy, meal service, feeding, and anything else the veterans need. Over the years, Kuykendall has grown to love what he does. Serving veterans is a way of life for Kuykendall; he also works as a home care provider serving disabled veterans.
As Patrick Kuykendall gets ready to leave for the day, a nurse asks him if he has a moment to help a veteran. Kuykendall’s response is true to his nature, “Sure, no problem. What do you need me to do?”
Although Kuykendall’s assignment is in SCI, he volunteers in many other areas. He assists Recreation Therapy planning various patient activities such as popcorn and movie nights and Halloween pumpkin carving contests. He has worked with Kinesiotherapy and Physical Therapy, assisting patients bake cookies, organize pots and pans for easy use, and plan meals.
“It’s therapeutic for patients. It teaches them how to work around, and use objects, in the kitchen,” said Kuykendall. He also helps set up obstacle courses for patients to advance their therapy.
Kuykendall was named the MEDVAMC Volunteer of the Year in 2005. In addition, he was recognized as the Volunteer of the Games for the 21st National Veterans Golden Age Games held in Houston in August 2007.
As the years past, Kuykendall realized he is an integral part of the MEDVAMC. “It doesn’t feel like I am volunteering. I have been doing it so long, I feel as if I am a part of SCI. Most people think I work here,” Kuykendall said.
Kuykendall’s colleagues enjoy working with him, too. “He personifies the extraordinary spirit of volunteerism. The service he provides to the veterans on the Spinal Cord Injury Unit is immeasurably valuable. For Patrick, it is about improving the quality of life for our veterans,” said Sally Ramanujam, R.N., Spinal Cord Injury Unit nurse manager.
“He is very dependable and knows how to motivate patients. His warm and giving manner is special to the veterans. He’s dedicated, even if he is needed on a holiday, he is ready,” said Stacey Spicer, recreation therapist.
Kuykendall encourages others to find out more about being a volunteer for our nation’s veterans by calling the MEDVAMC Voluntary Service Office at (713) 794-7135 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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