Retired Fairview Southdale Hospital surgeon Dr. George Nemanich was a grateful volunteer on a recent cold night at the Dorothy Day Center.
Nemanich, 75, and about 100 other medical professionals spent hours cleaning and examining the feet of hundreds of working poor and homeless people. Each client received a new pair of winter boots, donated by Red Wing Shoes, and a couple pairs of socks. Some were referred for additional medical treatment.
"It's a privilege to be here," said Nemanich, the grateful son of an Iron Range miner. "I try to share my talent. I've been so fortunate. And there are so many people in need."
In the 20 years since his kids were educated and left home and as Nemanich phased out of surgical duties, he and his wife, Ann, have donated significant time and treasure through Catholic Charities, which operates Dorothy Day, and the Fairview Foundation, through medical missions to Central America.
"You get so much from doing for others," said Nemanich, a graduate of St. John's University and the University of Minnesota Medical School. "It's an overwhelming feeling for me. Knowing that you've helped somebody. We have had some unusually fantastic experiences with people in need. They are wonderful. They are so grateful."
Duane Wilkers, 52, a Dorothy Day resident, tossed his old, worn-to-holes shoes in the garbage as he thanked the volunteers and walked out a little lighter on his feet.
Volunteer physical therapists massaged feet and demonstrated preventive care procedures. A table of volunteer lawyers assisted some with benefit applications and other issues.
Dr. Lance Silverman, a foot and ankle surgeon, has organized the local Our Hearts to Your Soles event for seven years. He was joined by his young children. They know not everybody lives in a nice house with everything they need.
"It feels right to give something back," said Silverman.
Minnesota-based Red Wing Shoes donates thousands of pairs of footwear for the annual Thanksgiving-week event in 40 cities.
Hats off to these volunteers who take time from business and leisure time to serve those in need during the holidays and throughout the year.
Former medical device executive Doug Kohrs joins SEED Partners
Doug Kohrs, the veteran medical-technology executive, has signed on to chair the advisory board of the SEED Partners, a 2013-formed venture group investing in emerging technologies that "promise to address societal challenges and disrupt traditional markets."
Most recently, SEED acquired FLIVO, a proprietary healthcare technology platform focused on cellular research, from locally based ImmunoChemistry Technologies.
Managing partner Jeff Julkowski said recently that the FLIVO "breakthrough technology," winner of a Minnesota LifeScience Alley new technology award, is an analytical tool with power enough "to impact the treatment of virtually every human disease state." SEED is forming a new company and product portfolio around FLIVO.
SEED plans to accelerate research, clinical trials and regulatory approvals en route to commercialization.
Kohrs, 57, a biomedical engineer, retired as CEO in 2013 of medical-device firm Tornier, which went public on his watch. He also was CEO of American Medical Systems Holdings, a publicly held medical device company acquired by Endo Pharmaceuticals.
Julkowski, 45, a West Point graduate and Wall Street veteran who hails from Forest Lake, founded jewelry company Chamilia a decade ago with his wife, Killian Rieder, a designer, in their New York City apartment. They moved it back home to Minneapolis in 2007. Sales grew to $200 million and about 200 employees in 2012. The couple sold Chamilia in 2013 to jewelry titan Swarovski.
Little Law Firm Gets Big Recognition
Berens & Miller, a Minneapolis-based, five-woman law firm, received the 2014 Law Firm MVP Award from the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms Council (NAMWOLF). Berens & Miller was selected from a group of 120 firms.
The MVP Award recognizes the firm that has best demonstrated a sustained commitment to equality, diversity, excellence and collaboration.
"I was honored for our little bitty firm," said Berens & Miller owner Barbara Berens.
NAMWOLF consists of in-house counsel from federal agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
"I've worked at big firms and when you hire a firm like ours, the clients are hiring the minorities and women who own the law firm," Berens said. "The people making the money are the ones being retained [and doing the work]."
Berens principal Justi Rae Miller, who has worked with numerous federal agencies and companies on employment matters and internal investigations, was an All-Big Ten college golfer at the University of Illinois.
Giving is Good
Three local companies will be honored for their corporate giving and volunteer commitments on Dec. 11 at the 38th annual Minnesota Keystone Program of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. The honorees are: Little, the design and branding agency that has contributed cash and free work to 50-plus charities over three decades, including $1 million-plus since 2009 Way to Grow; Salo, the staffing firm that runs a social media campaign that means serious money to employee-selected nonprofits; and Securian Financial, which has made more than $20 million in cash contributions to the community over the last decade. Employees volunteer more than 5,000 hours annually.
Wells Fargo Corp. said its Minnesota employees donated $7.3 million to nonprofit organizations and local schools as part of the company's fall community and United Way campaign, a 19 percent year-over-year increase in donations. The one-month campaign also resulted in employees contributing nearly 12,000 volunteer hours to a variety of nonprofits and causes. Wells Fargo matches gifts of up to $5,000 to qualifying schools.