Several hundred Kaiser Volunteers improve San Jose School
Dr. Susan Smarr doesn’t normally wield a paintbrush as Physician-in-Chief of Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center, but there was Monday, gleefully painting the sky of a health mural at San Jose’s Thomas Ryan School.
Dr. Smarr and nearly 200 other physicians, nurses, and staff from Kaiser Santa Clara and San Jose hospitals were working on the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior national holiday, enhancing the East San Jose elementary school.
“This is part of Kaiser Permanente’s mission,” said Dr. Smarr, brushing paint carefully. “This work will make a wonderful learning environment for the kids and that’s definitely healthy.”
At the other end of the 40-foot mural, Dr. Raj Bhandari was painting a sketch of the scientist Albert Einstein. Dr. Bhandari is the Physician-in-Chief of Kaiser Permanente San Jose medical center, and he too, isn’t normally a painter.
“You know, Einstein said that walking is an important part of staying healthy?” said Dr. Bhandari, painting a brown bowtie on the mural. “This mural encourages walking.”
Indeed all of the work being done Monday has a health angle in mind. The doctors, nurses, and staff from Kaiser were fixing up a garden for the students to plant healthy vegetables. They were painting stripes on the school hardtop to outline a walking track. And they were repairing damaged playground structures so kids could work out.
“I’m really impressed how many of our staff is out here,” said Dr. Todd Dray, an ENT specialist loading plant clippings into a dumpster. “The kids will come back to school Tuesday and hopefully, we’ll have given them a real morale boost.”
Kaiser Permanente is working with Hands on Bay Area at the Ryan School. Hands On was started by some alumni of Stanford, and they identify the project locations and set up the work. Hands On was also building a teachers break room, with café tables, a microwave, and toaster.
“It’s incredible”, said Principal Doug Paganelli, who was touched by the number of volunteers and the work they were doing. “Kaiser Permanente has worked with us on health programs at the school but this work is just a huge boost for Ryan in East San Jose.”