Helping others is important to retiree Joseph Richer. It’s one of the reasons why the five years he worked at Pfizer hold such special memories for him.
Joseph worked several other jobs before joining Pfizer in 1987. For most of his early career he was employed as a technical writer and draftsman in the textile industry. He later became a consultant, working for companies such as Northern Telecom and GTECH.
But, he says, it was when he came to Pfizer that he got his first chance to work on a project that directly helped people. He worked in Pfizer’s former INFUSAID facility in Norwood, Mass., which manufactured an implantable infusion pump that administered insulin and pain medications to patients with chronic illnesses. Joseph created the drawings for the infusion pump and wrote the technical documents submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for clinical trial approval.
“I learned a lot,” he said. “It was a good experience working on that type of project, getting involved, and working with manufacturing, engineering and marketing people.”
Best of all, he said, were the letters from patients stating how much the devices were helping them with pain management and what a difference it made in their lives. That experience, he noted with a smile in his voice, really “injected” him with the Pfizer philosophy of service to others.
After he retired in 1992, Joseph kept busy by traveling with his wife, spending time with his family and engaging in various part-time jobs, including a short stint as a roving reporter at the local radio station.
Then, in 2004, he encountered health problems that caused him to reach out for help, and ultimately showed him a new way he could help others.
Following surgery in 2004 to implant a stent and pacemaker, Joseph noticed that he had little strength and was constantly tired. His doctor recommended that he enter a 12-week cardiac rehabilitation program at the Landmark Medical Center’s Heart Center in Woonsocket, Rhode Island where he resides. That program, Joseph said, gave him back his life.
“When I went in there I had no stamina, I couldn’t climb stairs. They showed me how to exercise. I felt so good at the end of that period that I decided to continue and I got into the cardiac maintenance program.”
Now, Joseph exercises three days a week at the Heart Center, doing weights, treadmill, steps and the rowing machine.
“I’m 82 years old and feel like 60 again. I dragged myself into the Heart Center and I came running out,” he said with a laugh.
As his way of saying thanks, Joseph decided to volunteer at the Center. As he considered what volunteer options to pursue, a lightbulb went off.
“I remembered I had this retirement benefit I had never used – the Pfizer Volunteer Program.”
The Pfizer Foundation Volunteer Program encourages volunteerism among Pfizer colleagues and retirees and recognizes their efforts by helping them obtain grants for the non-profit organization where they regularly volunteer.
Joseph began volunteering at the Center twice a week: filing, putting together materials for classes, and encouraging other patients by sharing his story. He recently applied for and received a $1000 grant, and presented it to the Center.
“I feel good. I can do what I want to do,” he said. That means enjoying life with his wife and playing with his great-grandchildren, who are learning the importance of volunteering from him.
Helping others is definitely important to Joseph. And through him, the organization that gave him back his life is being helped by the company that “injected” him with its philosophy of service to others.
For more information about the Pfizer Foundation Volunteer Program, go to http://www.pfizerplus.com/gi/volunteer_program.aspx.