Eau Claire (WQOW) - The December Jefferson Award nominee has volunteered his time so that others in the community can be healthy.
Ken Adler is among a small group that got the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic off the ground. Now, 20 years later, he is still seeing patients.
That's because Dr. Ken Adler's life mission started with a diagnosis.
"Many of my patients that came to see me, they really wanted to cut corners as far as costs went," Adler said. "After awhile, it became more and more clear that a lot of people had limited choices because they didn't have health insurance."
From that observation, the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic was born.
"It took a lot of footwork, and a lot of good volunteer work and donations from people," Adler added.
Fast forward 20 years, and the good doctor is still roaming the halls with stethoscope in hand.
"As of right now, we've seen over 8,900 people at our clinic here," Adler said. "So, the need has certainly grown."
So has the clinic.
"We now offer dental care at the clinic," Adler said. "We have optometrists, and actually we even have ophthalmologists that operate on people's eyes and do cataract surgery, which we wouldn't have been able to imagine that back in the day."
What started 20 years ago with a group of 12 people donating their time has grown to 180 selfless helpers. Some of them, even, once relied on the services they now help provide.
"You know, in medicine, there are a handful of stories where patients have really taken control of their lives over time, and I see that fairly often at the free clinic," Adler said. "We've had many patients here who came in being quite ill and down the road they actually become volunteers at the free clinic, and that's really heartwarming to see that sort of thing."
It's the success stories that keep this now retired doctor from hanging up his white coat for good.
"This adds so much meaning to my life," Adler said. "Retirement means different things to different people, but this is a meaningful thing that I can do with my retirement years. I have had every kind of break in life that a person could ask for in life, and I get to help people that haven't had the breaks that I've had, and that's important to me."
Adler is quick to credit the other volunteers, saying he is just a small cog in a much larger wheel.
If you are interested in donating your time at the clinic, you can find out more information here.
If you know a volunteer making a difference in the community, nominate the person for the next Jefferson Award.