Celebrating Dr. King's Life And Legacy: the 38th Annual Humanitarian Awards Honor Five from Northwestern Medicine

Northwestern Medicine
News January 26, 2017

Pictured are the 2017 Humanitarian Award winners (left to right): Nicole Cartwright, Elizabeth Cumpian, RN, David Watt, MD, Amy Kessler, and Charles G. Woodward, MD, with keynote speaker Rami Nashashibi, PhD, executive director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and Dean M. Harrison, president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare.

On Friday, January 20, Northwestern Medicine celebrated the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his ongoing legacy of service during the 38th Annual Humanitarian Awards Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Five members of the Northwestern Medicine family were presented with awards for their extraordinary contributions to the community and for embodying Dr. King's legacy of humanitarianism. The Humanitarian Awards Program launched in 1979 to commemorate the life and legacy of the late Dr. King and to celebrate his virtues and ideals of community giving, equality, unity and excellence. The award honors individuals, both employees and physicians from across the Northwestern Medicine health system, who best exemplify the ideals of Dr. King, as demonstrated by a positive impact in the community. Since its creation the Humanitarian award has been awarded to 70 employees and 23 physicians. The 2017 Humanitarian Award recipients are:

Charles Woodward, MD, occupational health at Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group, was recognized for his work with Healing Hands Medical Mission, a not-for-profit organization he founded to provide medical assistance to those without access in Guatemala. Healing Hands provides medical services to several small villages in remote regions of Guatemala through a volunteer team that includes physicians, nurses, a dentist, an optician, physical therapists and medical students. On a recent mission, Dr. Woodward and his team treated 1,000 patient in just four days, providing: 100 referrals for follow up care with providers in Guatemala City; 400 pairs of prescription glasses; 75 teeth extractions; and 400 treatment days of medicals were prescribed and distributed to pregnant women, infants, children and other adult patients including 5,000 vitamins. Healing Hands also helped expand emergency care in the village providing an AED, advanced respiratory equipment, burn care packs, suture trays and obstetrics packs. To learn more about Healing Hands, visit its website: http://www.healinghandsmission.com.

Nicole Cartwright,
volunteer services at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, was recognized for her 35 years of dedication to serving the community on both a local and global scale as a missionary, volunteer, advocate and mentor. Cartwright’s missionary work with the group “Youth on a Mission” has brought her to Haiti, Jamaica and Panama. Locally, she has served the community through her the Abounding Life Church, where her husband is the pastor. Cartwright has also volunteered with various organizations in Chicago’s north suburbs. In 2005, she worked with PADS Homeless Shelter and the city of Northbrook to help more than 50 families displaced by Hurricane Katrina resettle in the Chicago area. She has also served as a volunteer and mentor at a local unwed mother’s shelter helping girls ages 13 to 18 years old through tutoring and teaching life skills. Cartwright had just returned from a trip visiting the MLK National Historic site in Atlanta, when she was notified that she would be receiving the Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian award. To learn more about the Abounding Life Church, visit its website: http://www.aboundinglifecogic.org/index.aspx.

Elizabeth Cumpian, RN, surgical services at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, was recognized for her 10 years of volunteer work with Operation Walk, a not-for-profit medical mission providing free orthopaedic care in developing countries. Cumpian has completed 12 volunteer trips with Operation Walk traveling all around the globe to areas lacking medical care and resources, including rural China and Nepal, where she aided in earthquake relief. Along with direct patient care, she also coordinates logistics, supplies and travel for volunteers as the director of nursing for the Chicago chapter of Operation Walk. Cumpian’s volunteer efforts have helped 331 people walk again. On the evening of January 20, she went straight from the Humanitarian Awards program to the airport for a flight to Brazil to participate in her 13th Operation Walk mission. To learn more about Operation Walk Chicago, visit its website: http://www.operationwalkchicago.com/.

David Watt, MD,
orthopaedics at Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group, was recognized for his international and local volunteer work. Dr. Watt’s first medical mission trip took place when he was studying to become a doctor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His volunteer work, including with the group MedSend, has taken him around the globe to places like the Ivory Coast, China, Romania and Mexico, while he also found ways to contribute at home serving his community through volunteering as a team physician, providing free surgeries to patients in need, mentoring students and, with his wife, donating an anatomy lab to Wheaton College. In 2016, he retired from his volunteer position at the Lawndale Christian Health Center, after 30 years of providing orthopaedic care to Chicago’s underserved west side. To learn more about the Lawndale Christian Health Center, visit its website: http://www.lawndale.org/. For information on MedSend, visit its website: https://medsend.org/.

Amy Kessler,
Lake Forest Health and Fitness at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, was recognized for her volunteer work with One Step Camp, a camp where children with cancer can experience carefree fun with kids facing similar situations. As a volunteer, she spends time each summer at the camp where she helps kids with cancer participate in a variety of outdoor activities including pitching a tent, arts and crafts and a swimming test during which the campers qualify to swim across the lake while their peers cheer them on to the finish. In addition to her summers at camp, Kessler also runs the Chicago Marathon each year to raise money for Children's Oncology Services and One Step Camp. To learn more about One Step Camp, visit its website: http://www.onestepcamp.org/.

Rami Nashashibi, PhDRami Nashashibi, PhD, executive director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), delivered the keynote address about the ideals and humanitarian efforts of Dr. King and his lasting impact on the city of Chicago. Nashashibi and IMAN led the community-driven creation of the first permanent memorial to Dr. King in the state of Illinois. The MLK Living Memorial Project was dedicated last August in Marquette Park on Chicago’s southwest side.

“I’m inspired, I’m in awe of those that continue to make that sacrifice; who remind one another that it is possible; that remind all of us that living up to those values that are enshrined in our documents; that are enshrined in those that have reminded us time and time again that what makes the country great, what makes the city great, is the vision of those who have never tired from helping us realize our full human potential,” remarked Nashashibi.

After referencing the famous Dr. King quote “Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that,” he closed his address with the Islamic Prayer of Light: Oh God, put your light in my heart. In front of me, your light. Behind me, your light. Above me, your light. Below me, your light. Oh God, make me your light. “My prayer as a I close out today, I pray that the Most High allows each and everyone of us to emanate the bright and beautiful light of King and those who have marched and worked with him for so many decades, and like the recipients of our award, so that we can continue to light up the darkness,” said Nashashibi.

Early Childhood Education Center Childrens ChoirThe Bernice E. Lavin Early Childhood Education Center Children’s Choir opened the Humanitarian Awards ceremony with a musical salutation honoring Dr. King. The Regina Puckett-Kent Gospel Choir of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, named for the employee who founded the event and awards program, performed the closing selection, featuring guest soloist Reverend Bryant Jones. Learn more about Northwestern Medicine’s contributions to the community.
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