In 2000, Ashley and John Nonato’s grandfather was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. Ashley was just 10 years old at the time and her brother John only 6, but they both look back fondly on their trips to Northwest Kidney Centers’ Elliott Bay clinic at 600 Broadway in Seattle.
“Every Sunday our family would visit him. We got to know the nurses and the patients. They were all really lively, always greeting you.
It felt like one big family.”
— John Nonato, volunteer
Ashley remembers it that way too. “When we’d arrive they’d all be like, ‘Hi Ashley! Hi John!’ Like everyone—literally the whole floor.”
It wasn’t long before the siblings started volunteering at the clinic. They answered phones and organized paperwork, and Northwest Kidney Centers’ approach to patient care made an impression.
“It was my grandfather who inspired me to go into the medical field,” says Ashley, now a full-time nursing student at Seattle Central College. “I really enjoyed the nurses that were there. I saw how they worked with him and I thought it was amazing.”
These days, Ashley and John primarily volunteer for Northwest Kidney Centers at community outreach events, including the Seattle Indian Health Board Halloween Fair, the Chinatown-International District Summer Festival and Pista sa Nayon.
“My big thing is prevention—reaching out to people and letting them know how to prevent kidney disease with diet and exercise,” Ashley says. “You can’t change your lifestyle in a day, but you can slowly reduce salt or start increasing your exercise here and there. Progress is progress.”
John has a similar message. “Living healthy is a process and you just have to continue with it. Remember, there’s a whole group behind you. There are people there to support you.”
Interested in become a volunteer? Find out more about volunteering at Northwest Kidney Centers.Tags: volunteer