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“I get more out of volunteering than I give. It gives me a special purpose in life. I love helping people and feeling that I’m serving a purpose.”
Dr. Robert Rolfs, M.P.H.
Deputy Director, Utah Department of Health
Volunteer Physician, Fourth Street Clinic
Dr. Robert Rolfs has spent thousands of hours providing free medical care to some of Utah’s poorest residents. Since moving to Utah in 1994, he’s volunteered weekly at the Fourth Street Clinic, which treats Salt Lake City’s homeless population. That’s in addition to his day job as deputy director of the Utah Department of Health.
Rolfs values the opportunity volunteering at the clinic gives him to treat patients. “My main career has been in public health research, epidemiology and now administration,” he says. “I enjoy that, and it is very rewarding, but there’s something I can’t replace about taking care of patients one at a time.”
In addition to patients, Rolfs has also taken care of the other volunteers. He led the effort to get volunteers covered by Utah’s risk management system, which allows for liability insurance. He also served on the clinic’s board of directors from 2005 to 2010, acting as both chair and vice-chair.
“Over and over again, I’ve been reminded that homeless people are people, and if you treat people with respect, they nearly always respond in kind, even when everything about them and their situation in life might make you expect otherwise,” Rolfs says.