This year, the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary introduces the reimagined ACHievers program – expanding to include a separate program for young men.
By Rebekah Hall | Photography by Meredith Melody | Hair by Candace Reese with Face Your Day Xpress | Makeup by Cassie Oaks with Face Your Day Xpress | Dress from Barbara Jean
Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s Star ACHievers program was established in 2002 as an opportunity for young women to experience the importance of volunteerism and explore careers in the healthcare industry. This year, the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary introduces the reimagined ACHievers program – expanding to include a separate program for young men.
As chairman of ACHievers boy program and a mother of four boys (ages from 7 to 17 years old), Kori Gordon is a natural fit.
Kori’s connection to ACH is deeply personal. She began her pharmacy career at the hospital in 2001, working as a clinical pharmacist in Hematology/ Oncology until 2005. “Working on a floor like that, you really get to know the patients,” Kori remembers. She still maintains relationships with families of children she helped during her tenure. And in March of 2011, when Kori’s third son was hospitalized for three weeks due to complications from flu and pneumonia, her family experienced the worldrenowned care that ACH provides.
Kori’s voice wavers with emotion as she remembers the experience. “When you go from being on the side of patient care to the side of being a patient, you realize that it’s not for show,” Kori says. “That’s really how it is. They care about everyone that comes through those doors. It doesn’t matter if you’re there for an allergy clinic or if you’re there to get a heart transplant – you are number one to them.”
With a heart for community service, Kori realized there was probably an opportunity to support the hospital and its mission. When Kori’s youngest son started school, she joined the ACH Auxiliary. “I got to see the philanthropy side,” Kori notes. “Now, I feel like I’ve seen every side of what that hospital does, can do and will do for its patients.”
Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary President Lindsey Gray recruited Kori as chairman for the new volunteer program for young men – after all, who would be better than the ultimate boy mom? “We are so excited to expand the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary ACHievers program with a track for boys,” Lindsey explains. “We’ve watched the ACHievers program educate young women on the opportunities in the medical field for more than 16 years, and we realized there is a need in our community for young men as well. As a mother of three boys, I am grateful for this program through Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The awareness of what Arkansas Children’s Hospital offers in programs and services is important as these students begin to plan their college and career paths. The immediate response and filling of our inaugural group of boys is encouraging that we are meeting a need in our community.”
This fall, 28 young men will participate in the program as they begin their freshman year of high school. Throughout the school year, the boys will meet monthly and be introduced to career opportunities in the medical sector as well as the intricacies of the hospital – earning community service hours by working in non-patient care areas of the hospital. The program culminates with a graduation celebration in May. Kori adds, “We’re there to help the boys see what’s in front of them, to help open their eyes to the opportunities and different aspects of healthcare, and to see how even the smallest act can make the biggest impact.”