ABOUT THE AWARDS
Since 1972, the awards that recognize volunteerism have been presented on the local and national levels. Each year a national winner is selected in four categories: elected or public officials, private citizens, people benefiting the disadvantaged and individuals 35 or younger. The final winner of Chattanooga's Jefferson Awards will attend the national awards program in Washington, D.C., in spring 2012.
Tomasz Voychehovski considers the waiting room in his East Brainerd pediatrics office his "pride and joy."
The book-filled area is something of a library. If kids like the books, they can take them home. Parents also can donate books to the office.
The doctor said he talks to parents and kids about the importance of reading and playing creatively.
"I hate TV and video games," he said.
And it's this hands-on approach to patient care that prompted Donna Harvey - who works in his office and is the mother of a former patient - to nominate Voychehovski for a local Jefferson Award. The doctor is one of two local recipients of the award for December.
"He cares for what he does," Harvey said. "He's very passionate about it."
Until Harvey's daughter was 2, she suffered from chronic ear infections. Harvey was a single mother who worked full time, and Voychehovski was helpful to her and her daughter, who is now 18.
"My daughter adores him," she said.
Harvey added that the doctor doesn't turn sick kids away if they don't have insurance.
Voychehovski and the other doctors in the office see many special-needs children, including those with attention deficit disorder and autism. Parents of special-needs kids often don't feel as if their children get enough personal attention at other places, so they'll come to his practice, Voychehovski said.
The doctors in his practice also take calls at night and work on the weekends.
"We're trying to be available," he said.
A native of Poland, Voychehovski worked in the African country of Gambia for five years before moving to the United States in 1982.
The doctor said he feels like an "imposter" for winning the award because he's not a volunteer, but he thinks he was nominated because of the quality of the practice.
"Everybody's smiling here," he said.