Snowbird Volunteering

Dr. Jeff Blake has been spending six months in the Berkshires and six in Florida for several years now. Life as a “snowbird” volunteer at VIM Berkshires has suited him just fine. Dr. Jeff Blake has been spending six months in the Berkshires and six in Florida for several years now. Life as a “snowbird” volunteer at VIM Berkshires has suited him just fine.

“I’ve been involved with the clinic since it was founded in 2004. The need was obviously there, and even though I had retired, I still wanted to practice medicine,” says Blake, a cardiologist who practices primary care in the clinic. “Seeing patients, being on the Board and acting as co-medical director of VIM has been very rewarding.”

Lots of email and phone contact keeps Blake in touch with VIM while he’s away for the winter.

Blake and his wife are about to make a change, however, from “snowbirds” to mountain dwellers.

“After several years on Amelia Island, we’re putting our home on the market and moving to Boulder, Colorado,” says Blake. He’ll still be commuting back to spend summers in the Berkshires and to help out at VIM for half the year… but he’ll be packing up his winter clothes and skis from now on.

“I’m actively looking for a place to volunteer in Boulder. While I’ve lived in Florida, I’ve spent time as a volunteer doctor at the local county-run health clinic, going in once a week.” says Blake. “The population there is much sicker than at VIM, and there’s less diversity. But it was a challenge that I enjoyed.”

Blake says that moving from one community to another every six months keeps him ”refreshed and invigorated.” He thinks people should not hesitate to volunteer, even if they live in the Berkshires for just a few months a year.

“If you don’t live here full time, you can still make a difference. But I would recommend that clinicians spend at least two days a month here, even once a week if possible. That way there’s more consistent contact with patients.”

Blake is looking forward to life in Boulder, a University town with great weather and a progressive culture. But his next step is to find a place like VIM Berkshires – a place to give back.

“I want to keep practicing medicine.”