Meet This Year’s Healthcare Heroes

Volunteers are a significant part of care teams in local health organizations, working alongside doctors, nurses, community health workers, neighborhood navigators, paramedics, pharmacists, and many others to address the community’s medical and social needs. Each year, the Grossmont Healthcare District recognizes volunteer “Healthcare Heroes” who improve health and quality of life for East Region residents. Nominated by their peers, honorees are considered true unsung heroes of healthcare. Below are the stories of this year’s Healthcare Heroes.

Brian, Ben, and Shannon Foster

The Foster Family, Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation

Brian, Shannon and their teenage son, Ben, have volunteered for over eight years with the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation, which provides free heart screenings for youth age 12 to 25 across San Diego County to help prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and death in youth.  On screening days, the Foster family’s commitment begins before the sun comes up as they’ve played a key role in every one of the Foundation’s 50+ screening events to date. Shannon was a Science teacher and Medical Pathway Coordinator at Granite Hills High School in 2014 working with the Vice Principal to bring a free youth heart screening event to her school and recruited her husband, Brian, that day to help with set up and traffic flow.  The Foster’s only child, Ben, started volunteering with his parents when he was in 4th grade. The family has volunteered together ever since.

“Having veteran volunteers like the Fosters is integral to our ability to deliver a highly organized, efficient screening experience for the 800+ youth that attend with their parent(s) each time. The Foster family also spends countless more hours behind the scenes helping the foundation.”

– Joanie Moes, Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation Program Manager


Susan Guerra

Susan Guerra, Alzheimer’s San Diego

Susan Guerra has been a steadfast supporter of Alzheimer’s San Diego since 2015. While she involves herself in many of the organization’s activities, her primary responsibility is serving on the Board of Directors as a volunteer. Susan and her sister Leslie Kilpatrick lost their mother Miriam (Mimi) in the fall of 2018 to Alzheimer’s disease. After going through such tragic loss, Susan has come out on the other side involved in the cause, fighting for change, and giving back after so much has been taken from her family. Through their walk team Mimi’s Marchers, over the years Susan and her sister Leslie have helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars towards the cause to fight Alzheimer’s and support local families during their times of need.

“Susan has been instrumental in connecting us with other community professionals. Every day we find inspiration in the stories of our clients and volunteers who, like Susan, utilize their own experience and loss to enhance the lives of those who still suffer.”

– Eugenia Welch, Alzheimer’s San Diego President & CEO


Saib Abdulnoor, Sharp Grossmont Hospital Junior Volunteer

Saib has been a junior volunteer at Sharp Grossmont Hospital since May 2017 and has contributed more than 515 hours of service. He volunteers on 2 East, the hospital’s oncology and palliative care unit, where he assists staff in providing memorable experiences for hospital patients and their families. In 2019, Saib was elected Junior Volunteer Auxiliary President by his fellow junior volunteers, where he leads them in fundraising efforts, team building, and more.  He also guides the Juniors’ support of Sharp Grossmont Hospital employee and physician engagement events and is involved in a handful of service groups through his church and school. Saib’s future career goal is to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and have a career in dentistry.

“Saib is awesome! His volunteer shift is on Friday nights from 4 to 7:30 p.m., a time when a lot of other teenagers have already started their weekend of personal time. The whole hospital team appreciates his dedication to set a great example.”

-Linda Van Fulpen, Sharp Grossmont Hospital Volunteer Services Manager


George with fellow volunteer Val at the Grossmont Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary’s Thrift Korral

George Bartz, Sharp Grossmont Hospital

George Bartz has volunteered at Sharp Grossmont Hospital since May 2015 and has provided more than 4,115 hours of service as both a Blue Angel volunteer and a Thrift Korral cashier.  As a Blue Angel shuttle driver, he assists patients, visitors and staff with transportation around the hospital’s 26-acre campus, surrounding medical offices and local bus and trolley lines. As a cashier at Grossmont Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary’s offsite Thrift Korral resale boutique in La Mesa, George rings up sales and engages customers in conversation. George also volunteers for Sharp HospiceCare, having donated more than 1,165 hours of volunteer service, including direct patient care, caregiver relief, companionship and outings. He is dedicated and follows each of his assigned patients until their passing. George is an Army Veteran and has personally “pinned” more than 187 veterans in hospice treatment for their service to our country.

“George proudly serves his community; many customers know him by name and come in on the days they know he is volunteering. He is very reliable and committed to his volunteer assignments.”

– Linda Van Fulpen, Sharp Grossmont Hospital Volunteer Services Manager


Dr. Paul Dean

Dr. Paul Dean, Champions for Health

Dr. Dean has been a volunteer dermatologist with Champions for Health‘s program Project Access San Diego (PASD) since 2018. He sees uninsured patients pro bono at his La Mesa office and helps to fulfill the organization’s mission to increase access to specialty care for the uninsured in East County. Dr. Dean graciously sees patients for consultations, skin cancer screenings, and in-office procedures like biopsies and lesion removals. He goes above and beyond his specialty to ensure patients have better health outcomes overall. Besides seeing Project Access patients pro bono, he also sees uninsured patients through another free clinic in the East County. Dr. Dean brought on board his partner, Dr. Crosby, to volunteer as well.

“Dr. Dean is very humble. I have had the pleasure of interpreting for Project Access patients during their appointment with Dr. Dean and his bed side manner and compassion blew me away. Not only does he listen attentively, but he is cognizant of patient centered care approach.”

-Rebecca Valenzuela, Champions for Health Patient Care Manager


Steve Preston

Steve Preston, East County Transitional Living Center

Steve’s days are mostly spent at East County Transitional Living Center (ECTLC), a faith-based nonprofit that provides residential recovery services, where he volunteers 5 or 6 full days a week. Steve came into the ECTLC Men’s Program in 2013 as a client looking for peace and support. He suffered for many years as an alcoholic and lost everything. After graduating from ECTLC’s program in 2015, he spent the next three years helping other men that were coming into the program during their first 90 days. In 2018, he became an intake specialist on their main campus in El Cajon. Before seeking help for himself, Steve had spent most of his adult life working as a truck driver delivering bread to markets and stores or hauling heavy equipment. Today, he is ECTLC’s main driver for medical needs and dedicates his life to helping others.  Steve has turned his life around, regaining his family and his purpose, and is willing to share his testimony with anyone that wants to know what life can be after addiction.

“Steve is inspirational to the men and women he meets every day, he is kind and compassionate to everyone. We are very blessed to have Steve as our friend and driver.”

-Helen Zamora, ECTLC Director of Business Development



Do You Know A Healthcare Hero?

Click here for more information on our Healthcare Heroes program and how you can nominate a Hero today.