Each month, Look Who’s Talking features voices from across BWH answering the same question. This month, BWHers tell us how they support their local communities. If you would like to add your voice to the conversation, please submit a comment at the bottom of the page. If you would like to volunteer, check out some of the opportunities offered through BWH.


“I love baseball and played through college. When I stumbled upon the Association of Blind Citizens Boston Renegades beep baseball team, I was immediately inspired by this group of blind and visually impaired athletes and could not wait to help coach using my baseball experience. In my two years with the team, however, I’ve learned more than I’ve taught. I’ve learned the day-to-day challenges of our players, the overall burden of visual impairment that affects millions nationwide, and about resilience in the face of disability. I am now a lifelong advocate for the blind community, and with the Renegades as the only team in any sport for blind adults in New England, I am invested in helping provide a unique and supportive team community for our players.”

-Benjamin Coiner, BS, Department of Psychiatry


“When I started donating blood at the Brigham, I knew I had an O negative blood type. Linda Perry, the recruiter for the Donor Center, told me that my blood was valuable and that each unit could go to help babies in the NICU. That sold me, and I am now a dedicated donor to that place. Donating is easy and does not take me much time. I have been donating every 56 days as much as possible for the last 30 years, and I will just keep going for as long as I am eligible. I have now donated close to 18 gallons of whole blood here. I will continue until I am not able! It is just another nursing thing that I do, and it’s the right thing.”

-James Gosnell, RN, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine


“My volunteer experience as a pen pal with the Pen Pals Literacy Program through BWH has been amazing. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to touch a young’s person’s life. I love children, and their education is very important to me. So far, I’ve been paired with local elementary students each year for the last seven years. I was inspired to do this because it’s a great opportunity to promote literacy by allowing students to practice their reading and writing skills. The program is great, and it’s especially fun interacting with the second and third graders. The BEST part is that I get to write to students at my old school, Mission Grammar, where I attended grades six through nine.”

-Sonya Williams, PHS eCare


“I’ve volunteered with the Book Buddy  Program offered through the Center for Community Health and Health Equity at BWH for five or six years and will be starting up again soon. I wanted to give back and enjoy being around children. My grandmother used to read to me as a child and did it in such a special way it seemed like the books came alive, and I wanted to provide that to other children as a Book Buddy. ”

-Helen Norman, Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care


“Each year I look forward to participating in the Toys for Tots program because it is a way to give to back during the holiday season. I am always touched by the generosity of our employees and visitors. At the end of the drive it is amazing to see the sleigh and boxes overflowing with toy donations knowing we will make a difference for a child.”

-Kristen Koch, Patient Family Relations



“As a member of ‘The Big Six,’ my main goal is to provide humanitarian relief to those less fortunate and vulnerable facing the aftermath of natural disasters with the loss of family, shelter, and their livelihood. It’s an honor to have an opportunity to lessen their burden by raising much needed support while playing classic rock music with dear friends, family, and work colleagues in the audience!”

-Timothy Erickson, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine


“I attribute many of my personal and professional successes to the amazing and inspiring mentors I had during adolescence and early adulthood. In my efforts to ’pay it forward’ and continue my own personal enrichment and growth, I volunteer as an advisor to a group of young women at my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire. I continue to learn so much about myself as well as hopefully inspire and support them as they transition into their lives after college. I believe in sharing my successes and my failures to help shape and support our next generation. Connections in our communities, in personally meaningful ways, is the key to creating our own health and well-being.”

-Marta Chadwick, JD, Director, Violence Intervention Prevention Programs, Center for Community Health & Health Equity


“I am profoundly honored to have been a part of the Passageway program for the last 18 years. Our Brigham community’s authentic commitment to helping survivors of interpersonal violence—on both micro and macro levels—makes me so proud. When I was in graduate school, one of my favorite teachers said that one cannot be a social worker 40 hours of week; rather, the value of fighting for social justice and equity needs to run through your core. I try to challenge myself to live that as much as I can each day. I am also lucky to work with a great all volunteer-run, grassroots organization called The Healing Our Community Collaborative, which provides HIV health education and prevention programs for women infected with, affected by, or at risk for HIV/AIDS. The social activism work I do in my home community with my children’s elementary school hopefully makes some difference, and I also benefit greatly from it. There is nothing quite as gratifying as being able to play a small role in instilling the value and joy of service to and for others in our kids.”

-Jackie Savage Borne, LICSW, Hospital Program Manager, Passageway Program, Center for Community Health & Health Equity


“I think it’s important for Brigham staff, individually and collectively, to serve people in our neighborhood. As volunteers, we are ambassadors for Brigham. And honestly, getting a letter from a third grader always gives me reason to smile and brightens my day. I participate in Pen Pal writing, scholarship committee and Read to a Child.”

-Andrea Shellman, MHSA, CPPS, Senior Program Manager, Department of Quality and Safety