More Award Winners

Gil Muñoz of Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center

Extraordinary CEO

As Gil Muñoz navigates the halls of Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center on the ground floor of Pacific University’s Health Professions Campus in Hillsboro, he is greeted with “hola” at nearly every turn. “We have a particular niche in terms of reaching out to people with language and cultural barriers to health care access,” he says of the 33-year-old organization he has directed for nearly a decade.

Given the center’s four locations, 31 full-time health providers, on-site dental clinics and pharmacies, and mental health program, it’s hard to believe that this organization once occupied a three-car garage in Cornelius. Under Muñoz’s directorship, Virginia Garcia has grown exponentially; it now provides comprehensive primary care to more than 30,000 low-income patients (90 percent of whom live below the federal poverty level) across Washington and Yamhill Counties.

This public health clinic is at the forefront of medical innovation, having created an early model of a primary care home in which a physician, nurse, case manager, and behavioral health expert work in tandem to address not just patients’ symptoms, but also their overall health. The idea is to help them avoid getting sick in the first place.

Despite the center’s growth, Virginia Garcia’s employees haven’t lost sight of their mission. Last year, Muñoz bought a mobile health clinic to care for the thousands of seasonal farmworkers who come to rural Oregon for the harvest every year.—MC Contact: 503-601-7400; www.virginiagarcia.org

Kim Filla of MIKE Program

Extraordinary Board Member Under 35

As the director of community programs at Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center: Rosemary Anderson High School, Kim Filla has a pretty full workweek. She teaches teen parenting classes at the North Portland alternative school and oversees student support services and counseling. But when the 34-year-old clinical social worker was asked to join the board of directors for the Multicultural Integrated Kidney Education Program (MIKE) and implement an after-school health education curriculum at Rosemary Anderson, she saw an opportunity to help students improve their health and to empower them as community ambassadors.

“I really didn’t know anything about writing health education curriculum,” Filla says, regarding the program’s emphasis on preventing kidney disease by teaching students about healthy diets and habits, like snacking on fruit instead of junk food and drinking water instead of soda. But drawing on her background in youth development, she crafted a MIKE Program course that would encourage young volunteers to take their own message of healthy living out into the community.

Student-designed projects at Benson and Forest Grove high schools have included peer education outreach at Ockley Green Middle School; a “Kidney Karnival” for National Youth Service Day; and an illustrated book in Spanish and English for elementary school libraries. Now Filla facilitates her school’s program, trains mentors, and oversees efforts to implement the MIKE Program in other schools.

“We’re reaching these kids at a time when their health choices have the greatest chance to effect change in their lives,” Filla says, “but more than that, we really look at how to help them become contributing, whole members of society.” —MC Contact: 503-296-7705; mikeprogram.org

Native American Youth and Family Center

Winner: Inspiring our Next Generation
Awarded to an organization doing big things for children.

The Native American Youth and Family Center in North Portland serves members of the more than 300 tribes represented in Multnomah County (Portland houses the ninth-largest Native American community in the United States, with 38,000 people). For 34 years, children and families have turned to the family center for education, housing, job training, or simply a welcoming venue in which to celebrate—and perpetuate—their tribes’ rich cultures.—SW Contact: 503-288-8177; nayapdx.org

David Murray of Convergence Networks, for Big Brothers/Big Sisters

Winner: Extraordinary Pro-Bono Contribution

When you think of the connection between a child and his Big Brother or Big Sister volunteer, you might not think of the Internet. David Murray is someone who understands the importance of connections not just between fiber-optic cables but also between people. This is part of the reason he and his eight-year-old Portland-based IT firm, Convergence Networks, donated more than $12,000 worth of consulting time to update the infrastructure at the local Big Brothers Big Sisters headquarters—a major contribution to volunteer operations.

“Before, we were all on different versions of Microsoft Word, [and] none of us could access our e-mail or our servers remotely,” says Lynn Thompson, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest. “We’ve learned over the years that to retain prospective volunteers, we have to be able to get back to them within 24 hours and get them in for an interview within five days. Without the proper infrastructure in place to respond quickly, we would miss our chance at another volunteer.”

Thanks to the upgrade, Big Brothers Big Sisters expects to meet its goal of serving 6,000 local children by 2011.—MC Contact: 503-249-4859; bbbsnorthwest.org