Dr Tim Edwards, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at Adelaide Plastic Surgery and Board Member of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons writes about the important role philanthropy has played to the success of his practice.
Volunteer Work With Catherine House
For over 10 years now we have been involved with Catherine House, a local Adelaide charity that provides support and services to women who find themselves suddenly homeless. Catherine House provides recovery-oriented interventions, working in partnership with the women to create opportunities that build a solid foundation for personal well-being and financial stability so they can go onto have a more meaningful and satisfying life.
Our partnership came about as an initiative of the collective Specialist Plastic Surgeons working at Adelaide Plastic Surgery as we wanted to develop a philanthropic partnership, rather than a haphazard scattering of occasional donations. We sought to find a meaningful partnership that we as surgeons and our staff could contribute to both financially and through the donation of time.
This has evolved into clients from the centre having access to Specialist Plastic Surgeons for pro-bono treatments of issues that may be holding them back from employment, such as inappropriate tattoos, treatment on self-harm scars, the removal of body piercing and repair of injuries sustained in domestic violence situations. Our nursing staff are involved in treatments and in addition, our administration staff help out with training and computer skills. We also donate surplus computer equipment.
This tangible connection between staff and the clients of Catherine House I believe has been the lynchpin to the long-term success of the partnership. We hear time and time again from our staff how wonderful they feel by being able to use their skills and expertise within work hours for the greater good. It’s a personal reward from contributing in a tangible hands-on manner that brings great satisfaction to our entire organisation in a way that a simple monetary donation cannot do. Although we do donate an annual sum as well, this is targeted so that we and our staff know what it is for, such as refurbishing rooms and replacing beds and mattresses.
Importance Of Philanthropy
The way I see it, philanthropy is always a two-way street, the donor benefits as much if not more than the recipient. As fortunate members of our society, we have a responsibility to give back, but it can be so much more rewarding than just fulfilling a responsibility.
I would strongly encourage all ASAPS members to consider introducing a component of philanthropy to their business models. The impact on the business model is minimal, but the impact on surgeons and staff in terms of wellbeing and morale is tangible.
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.