“The doctors in the hospital can do the treating,” said Bill Pickens, founder of Gift of Life Mid-South, “but what they can’t do is provide the travel arrangements or support the children and families while they’re here.” That’s where Bill and his enthusiastic group of volunteers for Gift of Life Mid-South come in. Based in Memphis, the non-profit provides free, life-saving heart surgery for children from developing countries.
The organization partners with LeBonheur Children’s Hospital, which donates its medical services, and FedEx Family House, where the children and families stay during recovery. Bill leveraged his involvement in his local Rotary Club to build an active board of directors and group of volunteers that provide hospitality, food, transportation, and companionship to the young patients and their families.
As the “go to” person for all things Gift of Life, Bill spends between 20 and 30 hours per month volunteering for the organization and has personally been involved with each child since he started the program. Since 2007, they have been able to save the lives of 64 children and counting.
The organization pledges $5,000 to LeBonheur for each Gift of Life child the hospital treats. Gift of Life Mid-South received a $20,000 donation from Invest in Others when Bill won the 2015 Invest in Others Global Community Impact Award, enabling the group to save the lives of four more children.