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Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation awards scholarship to Hickory Ridge High School graduate

Neha Balakrishnan is the recipient of the 2021 Ann Cannon Spirit of Volunteerism Scholarship...
Neha Balakrishnan is the recipient of the 2021 Ann Cannon Spirit of Volunteerism Scholarship Award.(Mark Owensby – Media Services Specialist at Atrium Health Cabarrus)
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:54 AM EDT

CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - From the Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation: The Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation, whose mission is to provide financial and community support for Atrium Health Cabarrus, is excited to announce Neha Balakrishnan as the recipient of the 2021 Ann Cannon Spirit of Volunteerism Scholarship Award. Balakrishnan is a recent graduate from Hickory Ridge High School with a 4.63 GPA and is excited to attend UNC Chapel Hill in the fall while majoring in pre-med and public health.

Balakrishnan began volunteering with Atrium Health Cabarrus in 2018 and has given over 60 hours of time in the Junior Volunteer Program. Prior to the pandemic, Balakrishnan volunteered in the sterile processing department where she assisted in organizing surgical tools and packing the equipment to have it prepared for the operating room. Balakrishnan also engaged with patients at Levine Cancer Institute which helped to provide comfort to those having treatments through playing games such as Go Fish or simply talking about baking cakes with others. While the pandemic put a hold on all in person volunteer opportunities this past year at Atrium Health Cabarrus, Balakrishnan continued her volunteer journey remotely and helped to make get well cards for patients, collected snacks for our healthcare heroes, cut filters for masks, and created postcards for our military.

Balakrishnan shared; “Volunteering at Atrium Health Cabarrus over the past few years was the missing piece to complete my puzzle. The junior volunteer program has given me the experience and support system to know that I want to do this. Whether this confirmation came from the exchanges of “hellos” with experts or putting scrubs on before entering the sterile processing department, it has given me a glimpse into the future of such a rewarding career.”

Balakrishnan accepted the scholarship from Ann and Bill Cannon at an afternoon social at Atrium Health Cabarrus on July 9, where social distancing was practiced. Also in attendance for the award presentation were Asha Rodriguez, Facility Executive and Vice President for Atrium Health Cabarrus; Katherine Barrier, Director of Volunteer Services at Atrium Health Cabarrus; Bernadette Reid, Atrium Health Cabarrus Volunteer Scholarship Committee Chair; Charlie Sastoque, President of Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation; Pat Horton, Board Chair for Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation as well as Balakrishnan’s parents. We were also joined by two guest speakers; Jessica Castrodale and Timbs Fulghum who gave words of wisdom to Balakrishnan and spoke to her about their roles in public health at Atrium Health Cabarrus. Jessica Castrodale is the Community Outreach Coordinator, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Community Health, and Operations/Administration in Outreach Services while Timbs Fulghum is our Community Engagement & Corporate Responsibility to Atrium Health Cabarrus. Both guest speakers gave great insight to Balakrishnan as she begins her journey in Public Health and the medical field coming this fall.

“It is truly an honor to gift this scholarship each year to a worthy young individual who understands the value of volunteering and is dedicated to becoming a part of the medical field.  Neha has illustrated the true meaning of volunteerism, community and leadership. Volunteers are a priceless gift to mankind,” said Ann Cannon. “As a recipient, I know she will continue to demonstrate this philosophy into her future path. I know her road to the medical field will be long and strenuous, which is why this scholarship means so much to us all.”

The Ann Cannon Spirit of Volunteerism Scholarship Award was established in 2004 and is endowed through the Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation as a gift from Mr. William (Bill) Cannon in honor of his wife, Mrs. Ann Cannon. Mr. Cannon endowed this award as recognition of his wife’s volunteer contributions as a founding board member and past chair of the Cabarrus Healthcare Foundation and her passion for Atrium Health Cabarrus. The award is used to recognize and support volunteer service among members of the Junior Volunteer Program. The recipients will use this scholarship to assist them as they further their educational pursuits following high school graduation. Since the inception of the scholarship, there have been 18 recipients with a total giving over $37,000.

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