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Sister Peter Claver Humanitarian Award

A well-deserving Spokane, WA hero will receive the Providence Sister Peter Claver Humanitarian Award.

Meet Sister Peter Claver

Sister Peter Claver was a humanitarian in every sense of the word. Her leadership in health care was her avenue to serve, with compassion and humility, to better the lives of others.

Watch this video to learn more about this amazing leader, who for 33 years was an inspiration to her staff at Sacred Heart, and the Spokane community.

Nominations are In!

See the list of nominees below

The Sister Peter Claver Humanitarian Award is presented each year to an extraordinary person whose faith and good works inspire their colleagues, friends or families, and enrich the lives of others—especially the poor and vulnerable.

From 1964 to 1987, Sister Peter Claver was at the helm of Sacred Heart Medical Center, during a time when the hospital became the largest medical center in the Northwest. Her compassion for those who suffer—whether in body, mind or spirit—truly led her work, and as you can imagine, her desk light burned late into the night.

Nominees uphold Sister Peter Claver's dedication to enriching the lives of others, particularly the poor and vulnerable. Many of our past award recipients have made a difference by dedicating themselves to creating safer neighborhoods; providing medical or social services; providing outreach to underserved populations; working daily on behalf of children who live in poverty or are abused; or spiritually enriching or inspiring the lives of others.

The winner will be announced at a special dinner and awards ceremony, October 7 at the Spokane Club, beginning at 5:30 pm; admission is $50. Call Public Relations for tickets: (509) 474-3081.

Definition of Humanitarian

  • Having concern for, or helping to improve the welfare of people.
  • Pertaining to the saving of human lives or to the alleviation of suffering.
  • A person actively engaged in promoting human welfare and social reforms.

Honored Humanitarians

Bill Bialkowsky

Moved by the tragic death of a 2-year-old who suffered extraordinary abuse, Bill developed a vision to provide a home-like environment for children most at risk for abuse and neglect. And thus, the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery was born. Thirty-two years and 77,000 children later, the Nursery has become an instrumental part of the Spokane community and a life-saving asset to local families.

Leroy Byrd, M.D.

Thanks to Dr. Byrd’s presence, commitment and vision for fundraising, Providence Holy Family Hospital has become an anchor on Spokane’s north side. Today, he also gives freely of his time, talent and treasure to the House of Charity, Project Access, Hope House, Knights of Columbus, and other charitable organizations providing compassionate care and respect to the disadvantaged.

Jeff Clode, M.D.

Leadership, vision and credibility describe Dr. Clode. His contributions in caring for the elderly helped provide new beds for St. Joseph Care Center’s transitional care unit, and he convinced his medical practice partners to serve as primary care docs for the residents, most of whom are on Medicaid. He is frequently the physician other physicians choose, “representing the best our health care system offers.”

Michael Cunningham, M.D.

“I once was blind but now I see,” is true for many, thanks to the humanitarian service of Dr. Cunningham. He travels to Africa at his own expense to help restore sight to the blind. In less than ideal conditions, he makes a special effort to train local surgeons, improving the care of the community. Closer to home, Dr. Cunningham is celebrated by his staff and patients alike, for the grace he shares with everyone around him.

Alice Dupler, RN

For more than 30 years, Alice has been an advocate for older adults at risk for abuse and neglect. As a new adult nurse practitioner, she was inspired by Sister Peter Claver who shared a common interest in caring for the elderly. Alice investigated more than 1,000 complaints of abuse to seniors and lobbied for legislation to protect them. Frustrated by a lack of justice, she achieved a law degree and became a nurse lawyer. Alice receives commendation every year from the Washington State Bar Association for her hours of pro bono service to seniors.

Barbara Heimbigner, RN

Barb is the ideal example of a clinical and academic partnership in which nursing students thrive. She mentors new nursing students to help them overcome obstacles that may prevent them from achieving their professional goals. Her volunteer work is no less impressive. She travelled with Healing the Children to provide care in third-world countries, and shares her deep commitment to medically fragile children with heart disease through Beats & Rhythms.

Wendi Lawrence

What started as a simple act of kindness, sharing cookies with the homeless population, has grown into a mission to show love and respect during the Christmas season. Wendi’s ministry has become HolidayPax, a nonprofit organization providing backpacks filled with personal care items and winter essentials to area homeless individuals. Wendi’s humility, compassion and unselfish leadership have made a difference.

Rob McCann, Ph. D.

As executive director of Catholic Charities Spokane, Rob serves the most vulnerable and marginalized in our region through 13 programs rooted in compassion. Rob is vigilant in making sure resources are provided in the area of greatest need, providing food, shelter, clothing, education, individual and family counseling, assistance to the elderly, single parents, victims of abuse, the homeless, women and children and immigration services.

Jeff O’Connor, M.D.

Jeff has been instrumental in building Christ Clinic, a non-profit primary care clinic that meets not only medical needs but the physical, mental and spiritual needs of those in poverty. His heart is set on improving the welfare of people from all walks of life through an unwavering dedication to provide excellent health care and demonstrate the love of Christ.

Mark Paxton, D.D.S.

For the past 20+ years, Dr. Paxton has traveled with Hearts in Motion to care for patients in the third world who were born with catastrophic facial deformities. To date, he has provided surgical repair of cleft lip and palate, and other maxillofacial needs, to more than 1,200 patients. Mark puts his patient’s needs ahead of his own interests and has donated countless hours providing care for those lacking the ability to pay.