DaVita Stories

Helping my Houston Teammates: Volunteering after Hurricane Harvey

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth post in a weekly four-part series highlighting teammates who supported the Village during two hurricanes in 2017.

I was very lucky to have grown up with parents who both had kindness and compassion in their hearts. My mom and I would volunteer doing Meals-On-Wheels for the elderly in our community, or spend a few hours a week helping at the Samaritan Homeless Center nearby. All throughout the years, my brother and I would give our clothes and toys to the hospitals in the area for them to give to the needy. Anonymous monetary donations were given to the Battered Women and Children shelters and the American Red Cross by my parents, and I chose to volunteer at the YMCA and the Senior Center. Growing up with the idea that helping others was just something you did; something you never thought twice about doing, helped me become the person I am today.

When I became an adult, I wanted to help people. I wanted to make an improvement in their lives. I am currently working as a dialysis technician while awaiting an acceptance into a few of the nursing programs I’ve recently applied to. Dialysis has been an extraordinary experience, and DaVita has allowed me to continue helping others while providing me with the tools to better myself.

Less than three months ago, Hurricane Harvey had hit land. Lives were uprooted and histories of individuals were erased forever by devastation. Photographs of Houston’s flooding immediately popped up online and in the news. People needed help. Rescue, food, clothing, shelter, cash, and mental support were going to be given out, but there wasn’t anything I could to do help from Southern California. I am unable to give a significant amount of money. I can’t volunteer my time since I need to work. I had no idea how to do something and felt helpless.

I contacted DaVita and asked if there was anything I could do to help. I received a phone call the next day and was asked if I could be on a plane to Texas in a few hours to start working in clinics affected by hurricane damage. There were teammates who’ve lost everything because of Harvey, and should not have to worry about working during their time of need.

The experience I had while working in the few centers I was sent to was not what I expected. The RNs and PCTs working at clinics I was sent to were shocked they would have someone in their facility helping them that day since they’ve been short-staffed since the hurricane. They were grateful and extremely welcoming and made me feel like I was one of them. A technician I was working next to was loud, happy, laughing, and joking around with her patients. At the end of the day, I asked her if any of the flooding had an impact on her. She said her mom evacuated and was currently living with her. She told me about the technician who usually worked the pod I was covering. He was living in a hotel right now trying to care for his family after losing everything. Even though their own lives had been affected, they didn’t show it and continued being there for their patients and maintained an upbeat and caring attitude.

The warmness and gratefulness given to me by the Facility Administrators, nurses, technicians, and patients was overwhelming and surprising. The flooding had changed their lives, but they didn’t show it. Their uplifting vibes and gratefulness for help is what makes me proud to say I was a part of their team. I am able to call them my teammates because DaVita gave me the opportunity to work with them, and I would go back in a heartbeat to help again.

Kirsten Keller

Kirsten Keller

Kirsten is from Simi Valley, Cali. She’s been a patient care technician in Oxnard for five years and is planning to expand her career to nursing. When she’s not at work, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Lucy and Ruby, and enjoys baking, fishing, watching any sci-fi movies she can get my hands on, and taking her car out for a few adrenaline-filled rides through the curvy Malibu mountains.