It's often said that the reason volunteers aren't paid is because their contributions are priceless. Nothing could better describe our thousands of dedicated volunteers all across the country.

The American Lung Association was founded by volunteers (in fact, we're the nation's first voluntary health organization), and volunteers remain a vibrant, energizing force in our organization. Whether providing community outreach, participating in events, guiding our organization as volunteer leaders or supporting us in countless other ways, American Lung Association volunteers are truly extraordinary and essential to driving our mission work. April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week, and we are celebrating the spirit of volunteerism by looking at one volunteer who exemplifies all our outstanding volunteers – generous, engaged and deeply committed to our lifesaving mission.

Each year, we recognize the excellence of our nationwide volunteers, and one of our Volunteer Excellence Award winners this past year was Amy Chuang, M.D. Dr. Chuang has a special interest in asthma and, especially, how the American Lung Association positions itself to work through cultural understanding, language and literacy barriers in order to serve all communities to address lung health issues. Although she carries a heavy professional work schedule as an allergist at the Cleveland Clinic, she continues to be very active on the American Lung Association local leadership board, committees and special events. Dr. Chuang has also been actively involved in education and advocacy issues relating to asthma, lung cancer and the environment in Northeast Ohio as well as participating in LUNG FORCE Walks. Additionally, she supports her husband in the Fight For Air Climb and Lung Association golf tournament. Dr. Chuang is committed to addressing health disparities in diverse communities, and is passionate about the American Lung Association’s mission.

Recently, we spoke with Dr. Chuang and asked her to reflect on her voluntary service and what being a volunteer means to her.

Q: What first drew you to the American Lung Association?

A: It didn't take me long in my early practice as an allergist to realize that asthma education is vital to the success of asthma management. I started doing free asthma screening, providing asthma education in the community and reaching out to area community healthcare organizations. Knowing that the Lung Association had various outreach asthma programs/projects, I started getting involved. I joined the board of the local Lung Association (at that time it served a relatively small area of the state of Ohio). That was the turning point in pursuing my interest and passion in serving the community.

Q: What is the volunteer experience with the Lung Association you are most proud of?

A: As a Lung Association National Assembly member, several years back, I had the opportunity at the national meeting to work with devoted volunteers from all over the U.S. As the chair of a National Volunteer Engagement Committee,  I was able to engage the Diversity Committee to have a very productive combined conference call of both committees. We went over national diversity and inclusion policy and discussed the diversity issues in both volunteer recruitment as well as the mission works. I am proud to have had influence at the national level on an issue as critical and pertinent to outreach as diversity.

Locally, I've recently chaired the Volunteer Engagement and Diversity Committee of Midland States Region. I am proud that with my persistence the committee developed the Diversity Strategic Plan of the Midland States which was approved by the Midland States Board in 2016.

Q: How did your professional career help make you an effective Lung Association volunteer?

A: As an allergist treating patients, I know firsthand how important it is to help people who suffer from lung diseases. I believe that my understanding of the different challenges that face patients, caregivers and healthcare providers has helped make me an effective advocate. Using my professional background, I have been able to work with Lung Association staff at local, regional and national levels to organize education programs for patients, caregivers and healthcare providers, partner with other healthcare organizations to provide community lung health programs and join other volunteers to lobby on Capitol Hill for clean air and lung cancer screening initiatives.

Q: You've been a volunteer for a long time. What keeps you coming back?

A: I strongly believe in the Lung Association mission and have witnessed how its efforts have truly impacted people's lives. Knowing that you are part of this work is a huge motivator and source of personal satisfaction.

Q: What are your feelings about receiving the Volunteer Excellence Award?

A: I really felt that I had not done enough for the organization as a volunteer to deserve this award, but I was so happy and proud that I am part of this organization. I believe that the award is most significant as recognition for the work accomplished by all the Lung Association volunteers and staff I have been fortunate enough to work with.

Q: What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering for the Lung Association?

A: Get involved! The reward you receive is beyond what you might expect. It's a great feeling to be able to give back to the community.

See how you can become an American Lung Association volunteer.

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