red line
   Back to Archives
   Back to IF Home

Richard Friedman, age 74 and V.I.M., Volunteers in Medicine

By Catherine Wayland

“May we have eyes to see those who are rendered invisible and excluded; open arms and hearts to reach out and include them; healing hands to touch their lives with love and in the process heal ourselves.”

Source: The wall of V.I.M. clinic, Hilton Head Island, SC USA

Richard Friedmanrichard Friedman is a friend of mine from Lowcountry, USA.  He and I are participants in the Religious Education at the Lowcountry Unitarian Church in Bluffton, South Carolina.  Recently I went on one of the youth conference trips and came back inspired and EXHAUSTED. At 74 years of age, Richard Friedman tells stories of how his cabin at the youth conference was at the bottom of the mountain and he would climb each day to the dining hall and meetings.  Richard puts the bar high for never growing old, just growing better each day.

I wanted to find out more about what makes Richard so energized and alive at 74 years of age.  A big story in Richard’s life is his work with Volunteers of Medicine, V.I.M. here on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  He told me if I was interested, I could meet him there on one of his volunteer days, and so I did.  Volunteers in Medicine, V.I.M., was begun in 1992 on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina by Dr. Jack McConnell.  Dr. Jack McConnell was very uncomfortable with his knowledge that 1 out of 3 people on his beautiful island home could not afford access to healthcare. 

So, Dr. McConnell got together with a group of retired physicians to set about providing free health care in a clinic that was donation-supported and by way of volunteer licenses.  In that same year of 1992, McConnell got a South Carolina bill signed into law that would allow a special volunteer license to start his V.I.M. clinic. Go to their website to either donate or find out how to start a V.I.M. in your own town! Or just email Dr. Frank Bowen, Executive Director at and tell him - JOB WELL DONE.

Richard Friedman volunteers at V.I.M. on Fridays. Richard once led a very lucrative private practice of surgery out of Forest Hills, New York.  But Richard retired early at 56, disillusioned by the cumbersome nature of being a doctor in the administrative world of health care and insurance providers.  Now at V.I.M., Richard can practice being a doctor the way he likes it the best, by simply helping people in need of care. Today, his patients bring him pecan pies and lemons from their backyard lemon trees. 

Richard Friedman is a role model for me.  I keep his person in my focus when I make decisions as a mom, a community person, and a human being.  And the work of V.I.M. is a wonderful adventure of the spirit for my dear friend Richard at 74 years of age. It keeps Richard young, necessary and vitally important to his community. Brava V.I.M., brava!

white divider