Dr. John Kaminski: Hampton's Award-winning Volunteer

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By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Friday, May 10, 2001

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

SERVING THE COMMUNITY -- Hampton physician Dr. John Kaminski displays the medallion he received after being named a Jefferson Award winner for New Hampshire. He will represent the state in a convention to be held next month in Washington, DC.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

HAMPTON -- Well-known local physician Dr. John Kaminski has been helping keep Seacoast area individuals healthy for the last 15 years at his Hampton-based medical office.

Besides operating his family practice and being what he terms the "unofficial school doc" for SAU21, Kaminski has been serving as the on-site physician at a free medical clinic, which has been stationed at Hampton Beach for the last four years.

It is Dr. Kaminski's willingness to volunteer his medical services at the clinic (which he helped establish), and his ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of his patients, that led to him being nominated for — and eventually winning — this year's Jefferson Award for community service in the state of New Hampshire.

Representatives from WMUR-TV Channel 9 in Manchester came to Kaminski's office at Stickney Terrace in Hampton last Friday to officially present him with the award, a handsome copper-hued medallion approximately three inches in diameter and looped on a patriotic red, white and blue-striped ribbon. "I brought it home to show my mother," Kaminski says with a chuckle.

He explains that he found out about receiving the award last week in a rather unexpected way: "One of my patients told me she had seen [the story] on the news." Kaminski adds he "was dumbfounded" when he learned he was a Jefferson Award recipient. Ultimately, though, "It's been a great dream [and] a great week," Kaminski observes.

Kaminski was one of three finalists selected from a field of close to 60 New Hampshire nominees, and was eventually chosen to represent the state at the national convention which will take place from June 11-13 in Washington, DC. He is the first representative from New Hampshire ever to attend the event.

While in Washington, Kaminski and his fellow Jefferson Award winners from other states will receive recognition from members of both the US Senate and the US Supreme Court. He says he is looking forward to enjoying his visit to the nation's capital (his family will be accompanying him), and he adds he "can't wait to see Baltimore play."

"It's a great pleasure," Kaminski says of receiving the Jefferson Award. "I accept it on behalf of a lot of people." Kaminski humbly admits, "I keep telling everyone I don't deserve this." He lists a number of individuals who assist at the clinic with whom he says he shares the honor. "They do as much or more as I do," he says of the nurses and other people who keep the clinic in operation each year, every other week, from September to June.

"We see approximately 150 people during the course of the winter," Kaminski says of the free clinic, which is located on Ashworth Avenue at Hampton Beach. The clinic, established four years ago by Kaminski and the Hampton Community Issues Coalition (with space freely provided by Preston Real Estate), was created "to make sure people [living at the beach] get acute care," says Kaminski. Besides providing a wide range of medical services, the clinic provides patients — many of whom are winter residents — with medications, screenings, and vital information about a number of important resources available to them.

Kaminski notes that the recent attention he's received has been very beneficial to the clinic. As word of his being the recipient of the Jefferson Award has spread, donations toward the support of the clinic have been coming in. Sitting at his desk in his office, Kaminski displays a $100 check — a donation for the clinic — which was presented to him at the beginning of this week.

"This [publicity] gives the clinic more exposure," he says. "The people of Hampton have been amazingly generous." Noting "we don't solicit funds," Kaminski says "every penny" that is donated goes toward supporting the medical care of the patients who utilize the clinic. Kaminski expresses his appreciation to the groups and individuals who keep the clinic running with the donations and support they consistently provide.

The Jefferson Awards are nationally sponsored by the American Institute for Public Service. Founded in 1972 by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft Jr., and Robert Beard (the institute's current president and a former staff associate to Senator Robert Kennedy), the institute presents the award yearly to "ordinary people who do extraordinary things." The award is named after Thomas Jefferson, who served as the third US president and encouraged community service.

Dr. Kaminski was nominated by Hampton Community Issues Coalition's Nita Niemczyk, who wrote in her nomination letter that "Dr. Kaminski will be the first one to tell you that the clinic is successful because of all the volunteers, that it is not 'his' clinic, but Hampton's. It is and has been a joint effort of many people, but the clinic wouldn't be a reality if it were not for Dr. Kaminski's vision, his professionalism, leadership, dedication, and true caring for those in need."

Kaminski, who willingly admits, "I am not [television doctor] Marcus Welby; I'm not a diplomat," is nonetheless pleased with the recent events that have touched his life. "I'm just very thankful to be where I am, frankly," he says. "It's just pretty darned special."

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