Glendale Heights resident Jennie Bagaconza, a nurse clinician in the Bariatric Center at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, recently received the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award.
The 40th annual award ceremony honored employees and physicians from across the Northwestern Medicine health system who best exemplify the ideals of King as demonstrated by a positive impact in the community.
Bagaconza was recognized for providing humanitarian aid in developing areas, including the Philippines, Bolivia, Guatemala and Africa.
Every year, Bagaconza saves her paid time off and money for another volunteer medical mission. Bagaconza volunteers with the organization Poor Household of God.
“Being born in a third world country, I was born and raised in the Philippines, you see poor people, hungry people,” Bagaconza said in a news release. “I volunteered after graduating from nursing school in a local clinic before I came to the United States and it all evolved from there.”
Bagaconza also collects clothing and other goods to donate to orphanages in the Philippines.
“In 2011, I started my first mission trip to the Philippines. I did it for three years in the Philippines, then I extended,” she said. “If I’m going to help, I’m not only going to help people in the Philippines, I want to help other people, too. Every year, I’m thinking: Where do I go next?”
Five members of the Northwestern Medicine family were presented with awards for their extraordinary contributions to the community and for embodying Dr. King’s legacy of humanitarianism.
Since its creation in 1979, the Humanitarian Award has been awarded to 77 employees and 29 physicians.