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Feature Article Volunteering is a Family Affair at Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute

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Sridhar Vijayasekaran, MD, remembers going with his father to help at medical screening camps in India when he was a child. Vijayasekaran’s father was also a doctor, and he wanted to give his son a broader perspective of the world.

“When you are young, you often feel that you are not a part of society,” Vijayasekaran said. “Volunteering makes you feel like you are part of the community.”

It’s the same values and lessons he hopes to pass along to his two children, who volunteer alongside him at community heart screenings and educational events sponsored by Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute, where Vijayasekaran works as a cardiologist.

Volunteering is all in the family for two of the institute’s providers, Vijayasekaran and Kim Montagne, FNP, director of Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute. Anyone who has ever been to a Samaritan heart screening has probably interacted with these families.

Vijayasekaran said that volunteering as a family allows his children to better understand his work, and to connect with other people.

“We are all dependent on each other,” Vijayasekaran said. “Volunteering opens your eyes to other people’s challenges and helps you also to be thankful for what you have.”

The Vijayasekarans got involved with volunteering through Montagne. She started bringing her children to help at heart screenings when they were 4- and 5-years-old. Even at a young age, the kids could serve refreshments and sing songs to entertain people while they waited.

“They were like little minstrels,” Montagne said.

Cameron Montagne, 15, remembers how volunteering made her feel when she was younger.

“I felt really special because there were no other kids there,” she said.

Now that they are older, Cameron and her brother Zachary, 13, can do more to help, and they’ve branched out to other volunteer activities, including Corvallis Parks & Recreation Youth Volunteer Corps and Stone Soup. The Montagnes recommend both programs for teens who are looking for something to do during the summer because they offer a variety of tasks and there’s plenty of social interactions.

Zachary said it’s a struggle to get up early on the weekends to volunteer at the heart screenings.

“I’m a little grumpy getting out of bed,” Zachary said. “But volunteering makes me feel good.”

Kim Montagne was in Girl Scouts when she was younger, and said her parents taught her to take care of other people. Montagne was just 17 when she became a nurse and started working at a nursing home.

“I was drawn to helping other people,” she said.

Montagne sets an example by volunteering in her children’s schools, at sporting events and with choir. And the whole family has traveled on  medical mission trips with her to Central America.

“Nothing builds happiness like volunteering,” she said.

For more information about volunteering at Samaritan Health Services’ facilities, visit samhealth.org/Volunteer.