When I started at the Agape Clinic it was a one day/week treat ‘em and street ‘em clinic with a vaccination program. Leslie and I were responsible (i.e., none of this would have happened without us) for the clinic expanding to four days of services/week including expanded primary care and providing a medical home for people without insurance. There were specialty services (gynecology, psychiatry, neurology, dermatology, etc.), health education (in the clinic and community), health screening (cancer, depression, etc.), and other services. The clinic was in excellent financial shape (in at least the top 12% of US non-profits according to figures in the New York Times, 3/26/2009) and the clinic had been presented at a number of national conferences and was the subject of articles and chapters in professional and lay publications. There was a spirit of kindness toward patients, volunteers, and staff – that spirit and the clinic were described by the clinic psychiatrist as “a collective.” To me it was more than a collective – it was a living manifestation of hope and loving kindness. We were taking the word agape seriously. Photo: Leslie in her natural habitat. I'm there too. From an article in the the Advocate.
Some months ago I was approached by leadership at Agape about the establishment of an annual named award commemorating my service to Agape and the community – something along the lines of the Charles Kemp Award for Excellence or Compassionate Service in Community Health. Though I’ve received awards in the past, it had never occurred to me that an ongoing award would be named for me.
It was tempting, but eventually I declined the award – in part because I’m not into that sort of thing (awards are nice, but sometimes there's something else to give), but primarily because there are vast differences in values between the current clinic leadership (including the board of directors) and me.