What started as a six-month travel-nursing venture ended in paradise for Brian Hartmus, a former resident of Northern Virginia who’s now a nurse at Kaiser Permanente.
Intending to be here six months, Hartmus was overwhelmed by the staff at Kaiser, who treated him like family.
“It made me want to stay,” he says. “I felt very welcome.”
When he’s not working the night shift at the hospital, Hartmus, who’s been living in Hawaii for nearly eight years, has volunteered once a week for the past six years at Institute for Human Services (IHS).
“Most of the time I’m in the development office doing whatever they need done,” he says. “I do a lot of stuff with the database entry, and I work with the intake donation forms.”
He found that, with his computer skills, he would be helpful in the IHS office, doing more planning and taking on supportive roles.
“I naturally fell into it,” he says.
While he’s comfortable working behind the scenes, as a nurse he also takes to the front lines for various IHS events.
“I’m a critical-care nurse,” Hartmus explains. “I made my own little first aid kit, and I have my little first aid package (to bring to the events).”
Hartmus credits his volunteer ethic to his upbringing. “I was raised with that awareness and the value of helping others,” he explains. “Everyone is a nurse in my family, and I’ve always volunteered and enjoyed it.”
He felt IHS was the perfect place to devote his time, as the organization’s philosophy focuses on self-sustainability.
The one issue that always sticks out in Hartmus’ mind is hunger. “Hunger really bothers me,” he says. “I started Googling ways to help with hunger (here in Hawaii), and I found various things. IHS popped up a few times … and IHS kept showing up in my results.”
After more research, he found that his belief system was complemented by the IHS philosophy.
“I like the idea that they feed people three times a day, 365 days a year,” he says.
The hard-working IHS staff inspires Hartmus, and each week he brings goodies when he goes in for his shift.
“They’re living a sacrifice for their job,” he says. “I like to make them happy, and food is the coolest thing ever. I’ve only ever come empty-handed three times in five years. It’s become my thing.
“I bake cookies. I’ll always bring something – that’s kind of my trademark.” Hartmus apparently has an enormous heart filled with a desire to give back.
As he says, it’s the “least I could do in the world.”