Vulnerability, Dignity, and Dedication

2019-2020 Precious Blood Volunteer, Keven Cheung

by Keven Cheung, Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Health Center

“So, what brings you in today?” is usually the first question I ask patients once I have brought them back to an exam room at KC CARE Health Care Center. Replies will range from a simple follow-up appointment to a long list of health concerns. Patients will reveal personal and intimate details of their lives within a short period of time. Perhaps it is the natural expectation of vulnerability that comes with seeing a healthcare professional or that being strangers makes the information less personal. Whatever the case, people come through the doors seeking help and willingly expose themselves physically and emotionally.

Many of the individuals that come to KC CARE are those that are most vulnerable in our society: uninsured, undocumented, underserved, or homeless. One of the questions I often ponder is how to uphold the dignity of those that I serve. It can be hard at times to balance the desire to sit and talk to patients with the responsibilities I am tasked with. Given the limited time and fixed schedules, upholding a patient’s dignity is often found in small actions. One example of this centers around women’s health. Women who come in for breast and cervical examinations will often be told to undress before the provider comes in so that less time is wasted waiting for the patient to undress. One provider, however, will always go into the room to talk with the patient before allowing them time to undress. After all, sitting there unclothed on the cold examination table with paper thin drapes over your body waiting for the doctor can be uncomfortable for anyone. This seemingly small decision is one way that I see the personalization of dignity in the clinic.

It is understandably hard to work in an environment that addresses suffering. There is only so much that I can do for a patient. Part of my work as a volunteer is to send referrals on behalf of patients to different specialities. Unfortunately, those without insurance are left with the option to either pay out of pocket or to be put on a waitlist for programs that could take up to a year, both of which only negatively exacerbate financial and physical burdens. The best I can offer sometimes feels vastly inadequate to the circumstances patients face. A phone call, fax, or phone number that patients can follow up with is usually only the first step in a long line of hoops they have to jump through. The best part of my day at times is when a patient finally picks up the phone after weeks of trying to contact them. I never expected to learn so much about the healthcare process through referrals.

A few months ago, I remember calling a patient about his referrals. His friend picked up the phone and told me that she and her husband were the ones that took care of and arranged for his health needs. In the few interactions we had, I was encouraged by her consistent responses over the phone and dedication to helping her friend. Many patients do not know how to, are unable to, or do not have someone to advocate for them. Their health issues can often be neglected in comparison to their other responsibilities. With so many fires to put out, no wonder patients miss appointments, phone calls, and medication refills. Working in the clinic has highlighted more problems than solutions, but I also recognize that the most effective way to create change will be a collective one. My hope is that my time in Kansas City will continue to prepare me to critically tackle these challenges as my role within healthcare further develops.

Keven is a current Precious Blood Volunteer serving at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
To learn more about becoming a Precious Blood Volunteer go to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org

This article originally appeared in the March 2020 edition of the New Wine Press.

Faith in Action

2019-2020 Precious Blood Volunteer, Caitlin Caminade

by Caitlin Caminade, Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Health Center

Two months in, it seems I have found a new rhythm. Whereas in the first few days
at KC CARE Health Center, it felt like I was stepping onto a treadmill that is already set at a sprinting pace, now I feel as though I am in sync with the rest of the team. I am extremely grateful for the patience of my coworkers, as they trained me on how to use the electronic records system, taught me the lingo, and showed me how to care for our patients. Throughout all this, they have kindly reminded me that making mistakes is part of the process.

I was recently reminded of the purpose of this process by some readings at Mass. In the gospel of Luke, the disciples ask the Lord to increase their faith. A simple enough request, I thought, and one that I have pleaded before in the moments when I felt guilty for faltering so easily. I think it is an instinct to think that more of something will always fix the issue at hand. How often I have wished to be more steadfast, more consistent in prayer, and how rarely I have truly appreciated the gift of faith. Because through faith, no matter how small, God can still reveal the truth and work through me.

And what if you don’t have more? At the clinic, this question is asked every day, figuratively speaking. After all, people come there in their hour of need, often quite aware of the socioeconomic systems that have made them vulnerable. This is where I must meet them.

However brief my encounter with the patient may be, I am right there beside them to face that with them. It’s a moment of rawness and realness that never leaves me unaffected. And while it does take a toll, I hope I never get used to it or take it for granted. My experience volunteering at the clinic has so far motivated me to think of healthcare as a ministry.

On October 4th, St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day, I was reminded of the Peace Prayer (an old favorite of mine) that is often attributed to him, and I have taken a lot of strength from it. To be an instrument of peace in the face of so much hatred, injury, doubt, despair, darkness, sadness—a goal for the rest of my service year and be- yond. And I have still so much to learn! About providing healthcare as a profession and as a business, about how to put my faith into action, about how to be a bold Christian witness. I ask for your continued prayers for us volunteers as we continue our year of service.

Caitlin is a current Precious Blood Volunteer serving at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
To learn more about becoming a Precious Blood Volunteer go to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org

Introducing the 2019-2020 Precious Blood Volunteers: Caitlin Caminade

2019-2020 Precious Blood Volunteer, Caitlin Caminade

Caitlin will be serving at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. She will be living in community at Gaspar Mission House in Kansas City. She grew up in Cebu City, Philippines and Lubbock, Texas. She graduated in May from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science and Arts in Biology and a minor in Spanish.

Why do you want to volunteer?

I’m eager to volunteer so that I can shift my focus outside of myself. I feel there is so much I can learn from service, and I see it as an awesome opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Why do you want to volunteer with Precious Blood Volunteers?

I love the ministry’s focus on walking with those who suffer and the emphasis on forming and building relationships in the Kansas City community. I’m also glad that I’ll have the support of Precious Blood priests and other volunteers to grow in my faith.

What are you looking forward to about your volunteer experience?

I am looking forward to being in the clinic and learning about healthcare accessibility, as I hope to go into the medical field in the future. I’m also excited to get to know the community and Kansas City!

Introducing the 2019-2020 Precious Blood Volunteers: Keven Cheung

2019-2020 Precious Blood Volunteer, Keven Cheung


Keven will serve at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri and will live at Gaspar Mission House. He was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May of 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Pre-Professionals Studies and minors in International Development Studies and Poverty Studies.

Why do you want to volunteer?

“Service has always been an integral part of my life. From serving in different capacities
over the years, I have continuously been humbled and challenged by the people I interact
with. Serving has been a way for me to reconcile my own brokenness with that of
another. My desire to serve comes from a deep desire to grow in love, wisdom and
understanding for the communities I am placed in.”

Why do you want to volunteer with Precious Blood Volunteers?

“The Precious Blood Volunteers’ four pillars hold the qualities I strive to embody, which
include faith, building community, walking with those who suffer, and seeking
reconciliation. The intersection of faith, service to the marginalized, and clinical
experience is what draws me to the PBV. The PBV program is an opportunity for me to
develop meaningful and life-giving relationships with the communities I live and work
with.”

What are you looking forward to about your volunteer experience?

“I am excited to be spending a whole year getting to know Kansas City and developing a
genuine appreciation for the various communities within the city. I am also looking
forward to living at the volunteer house and allowing it to become a home for me. I hope
to gain a better understanding of the healthcare system and what it means to be a
physician.”

Hero of Small Deeds

by Koby Buth, Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Heath Center

Growing up, I regularly attended youth ministry events titled something along the lines of, “Be a Hero for Jesus!” The message I heard at those events usually went something like this: “Jesus calls us to be moral exemplars in society. We need to stand out from our peers in a way that points to Christ and brings others to Him. By performing extraordinary acts with extraordinary courage, we will gather attention from society that we will then be able to redirect to Jesus.”

Part of the use of the word “Hero” was, of course, a means of appealing to our ten-year-old imagination: we could be Superman or Wonder Woman. I did not consider, however, how this appeals to our modern obsession with individualism, until I first heard the song “Helplessness Blues” by the band Fleet Foxes. As I contemplated the lyrics over time, the first verse has always been the most striking to me:

I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes,
unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery
serving something beyond me

While that verse could be interpreted as critiquing the Participation Trophy Phenomenon, I think it more clearly speaks to the desire to contribute in small, cooperative ways to a larger, more meaningful society. Those youth ministry events encourage great individual acts, not small, perhaps menial, acts that add up to something greater than we could do individually. I think that our youth ministers did not want to encourage those particular acts, primarily because they can feel menial. An accountant for a homeless shelter may not feel like she’s contributing much to the world, but that shelter would not exist for very long without her, leading to fewer people getting the services they need.

This volunteer year, I have often felt like a “cog in some great machinery,” which has in some ways left me a little unsatisfied. I have felt the need to begin some great project which will overhaul the way the clinic works and drastically improve the care for our patients. I would love to say that desire comes solely from the care I feel for our patients, but I think some of it comes from a desire to stand out from the crowd—to be a Hero for Jesus. In college, we often had speakers from small organizations come and speak about what caused them to start a nonprofit that helps with human trafficking or world hunger. I often wondered if, instead of having many small organizations dedicated to eradicating a huge social issue like human trafficking, having a few large ones would be able to mobilize more people and more resources. I wondered if people’s desire to be a Hero for Jesus by starting their own organization was a less efficient way of decreasing hunger and slavery in our world than joining a pre- existing one and adding their skills and talents to an already established nonprofit.

People will often say that the desire to be a cog in a machine is fueled by complacency. But I am learning to see the benefits to it. It allows good, helpful organiations to function smoothly. It helps you make significant changes in the world without burning yourself out hunting for the next great idea.

A few months ago, some street evangelists stopped Brooke (my wife, also a Precious Blood Volunteer) and I on our walk home and asked when we were saved. I thought, I don’t think salvation is a one-time thing, I think it’s a process, which is why Paul tells us “work out your salvation.” But, because I knew I would make my wife uncomfortable confronting street evange- lists, I said, “When I was around six.” He then asked, “Does your salvation make you want to go out and evangelize?” My answer was something along the lines of, “Actually, I feel like I usually want to show people what Christ is like rather than telling them.” We then told each other to have a good day and parted ways. These people were looking for big ways to serve Christ, which is good, but I’m trying to find consolation in doing small things, routine things to serve Christ, other people, and the broader creation.

Koby is a current Precious Blood Volunteer serving at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
To learn more about becoming a Precious Blood Volunteer go to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org

Koby Buth with a patient at KC CARE Health Center


This article originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of the New Wine Press.