Milt Goodman: Arnold L. Widen Volunteer Legacy Award Winner 2017


Jan 18


In December 2017, CommunityHealth presented our inaugural Arnold L. Widen Volunteer Legacy Award to “recognize a distinguished long-serving volunteer who has held a transformative impact on CommunityHealth (the award is named after Dr. Arnold L. Widen, another distinguished volunteer and previous winner himself of our Serafino Award). The first Widen Legacy Award was presented to our dear friend and volunteer, Milt Goodman.

When you meet Milt Goodman you know you’re talking to a kind and caring man- Milt emanates a gentle warmth to all those around him, taking a genuine interest in how you’re doing. What many likely do not know, even those who frequently thank Milt for bringing delicious pastries to the health center, is that Milt has been an incredible supporter and advocate of CommunityHealth for over 20 years.

Milt Goodman, pictured left, at the 2017 CommunityHealth Volunteer Party.

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Milt doesn’t spend as much time volunteering at CommunityHealth today as he would like; no longer being able to drive quashed his plans to spend a large amount of his retirement at the clinic. His dedication continues, however, and Milt is still a familiar face around the health center:

“You know my daughter says to me, ‘Dad, you’re 82 years old- How long are you going to volunteer at the clinic?’ And I say, ‘As long as I can work the computer and get up and get around, I will be here because this clinic is very important to me.’”

Indeed, even in his eighties, Milt is determined to continue giving back to the community in any capacity possible. Milt still loves taking in the sights and sounds of the clinic, with the additional benefit that he gets to enjoy a weekly lunch with his brother, and fellow CommunityHealth volunteer, Sam Goodman.

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Milt first started in the pharmaceutical sector with Dow Chemical Company, a Midwest-based chemical corporation that has been in existence for well over 100 years. Working as a Hospital Representative, Milt became friendly with many of the other reps working in the same area, in addition to learning the ropes regarding the large health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in Chicago. When Milt was promoted to the position of Account Manager, this knowledge of HMO’s really came to the forefront:  If a pharmaceutical company’s product wasn’t listed on their formulary, the doctors wouldn’t prescribe the product, and the patient would end up paying a lot of money for something that wasn’t covered by their plan. Milt’s expertise soon led to major pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer, Merck & Bristol-Myers Squibb to name a few) approaching him for consultations. It was in his capacity as a consultant that Milt first came to know of CommunityHealth.

Milt recalls knowing CommunityHealth was a special place straight away: the leadership team impressed him with their drive and vision, and the buy-in from all the volunteers was simply incredible. Milt also saw a business opportunity. Pharmaceutical companies would be inclined, with a little gentle persuasion from Milt, to give free samples of their medications for distribution to our patients.

“I was there when we were at Ashland, and I’ve got some fond memories from back there… like when we used to be working and a band would start practicing above us. It was crazy!”

Milt’s visits to CommunityHealth became more and more frequent as he became immersed in life at the clinic. Seeing the real effects that access to medication could have on the patient population, Milt pursued an ever-increasing amount of donated pharmaceutical samples, working hard with the leadership team to ensure a steady supply. This effort was always appreciated by everyone at the clinic, especially as at the time (late 1990’s, early 2000s) there were few generic drugs available, so the average cost of the pharmaceuticals was very high. Indeed, such was the worth of the drugs that Milt was providing to our patient population that the board once said to Milt they were sure that through his connections he had supplied over half a million dollars’ worth of samples.

Milt proudly stood in CommunityHealth’s dispensary full of medication he helped source in the early 2000s.

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Milt grew incredibly close to CommunityHealth as he spent more and more time volunteering at the clinic; the clinic, however, took on new, more personal meaning following the sad passing of his son. Milt introduced his wife, Ilene Goodman, to the clinic in the belief that volunteering would help her bring back feelings of joy and positivity, and he was right. Ilene Goodman threw herself into all manner of volunteer activities at CommunityHealth, spreading joy to all those she came into contact with and developing a strong bond with everyone at the clinic. In Milt’s words, “She loved everyone here, and everybody loved her.” -Ilene Goodman sadly passed away a few years ago, but her presence will not be forgotten- Her smiling face greets you in the CommunityHealth kitchen, and an Ilene Goodman Volunteer of the Year Award was named after her and is presented each December- Milt will not forget the sense of calm that the clinic gave Ilene.

“When I received the Widen Legacy Award, I said, ‘This clinic doesn’t owe me anything- This clinic has saved me through tough times- When members of my family passed, it gave me a place to go, a community to be part of it; it really holds a special place in my heart.’”

Milt with his brother Sam at the 2011 CommunityHealth Volunteer Party.

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The only thing rivalling Milt’s passion for CommunityHealth is the city of Chicago and movies. It would be fair to say that Milt is an expert on both. Having moved to Chicago 40 years ago from Indiana, Milt has extensive knowledge of the north side of Chicago, stretching all the way up to Evanston. Milt’s favorite place, ever since he first visited, is downtown Chicago, which he describes as being simultaneously relaxing and inspiring. The skyline in particular, which features so many different architectural designs and ideas, has frequently been subject to Milt’s gaze. With this in mind, when the topic turns to movies, it is hardly surprising that Milt brings up The Blues Brothers. Fences and Hidden Figures were two films that also received Milt’s praise. With the rate at which Milt rents movies, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before “Milt’s Movie Musings” comes to a leading publication near you.

We sincerely thank our dear friend and incredible volunteer Milt Goodman for the amazing work and passionate advocacy he has always displayed since first stepping foot in CommunityHealth. We hope Milt continues to call the health center a home away from home for years to come.  A worthier winner of the 2017 Widen Legacy Award could not be.