Work Out Help Out: A Nonprofit Fit For PTs

In my 2nd year of PT school, I went on a service trip to Guatemala that altered my perspective on the importance of community service and health, especially as they relate to my profession. Witnessing first hand the impact I could have as a PT by simply offering my knowledge and skillset made a powerful impression on me. It made me feel as though it would be selfish NOT to share my time and skills with those who could benefit from them.

I finally developed my own interpretation of our vision: “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.”

I began to understand that there are thousands of people I can help simply by offering my time, and I sincerely wanted to help people, but I needed an efficient manner to do so.  Fast-forward 2 years, and I am assisting the rapid development of a San Antonio based nonprofit called Work Out Help Out (WOHO). WOHO was developed in 2014 by Paul Rezaei, who realized that so much mechanical work was being squandered in gyms across the country, and that same work could be used for something more productive while simultaneously improving the health of the individual. So Paul found various service opportunities within the community, assembled a group of volunteers through social media, and carried out his mission to integrate exercise with community service.
In my eyes, this nonprofit model is the perfect marriage of service and health (physical AND mental), and it also facilitates nonprofit collaboration more effectively than any other organization I have come across.  While the concept of community service is obviously not new, what makes WOHO unique is that we add an exercise component to our events, as well as music, food and networking. In other words, we make our volunteers have fun and sweat together! Our events make volunteering a memorable experience that subtly transforms community members into healthier, happier, and more productive human beings.
These goals are not much different than the goals of a physical therapist! We do this for a multitude of reasons, but the gist is we want to improve the quality of life of our community members, and we want our collective community to benefit from the free source of labor WOHO events provide.  These ideas form the framework for WOHO, but we are in nascent stages of growth and we have many exciting projects and opportunities in progress. For example, WOHO recently partnered with Legacy, a company that designed a mobile app for nonprofits. This app will allow volunteers to track service hours and monetary contributions, quickly find events in their community, and much more. In addition to this mobile app, WOHO is building it’s own! WOHO events inevitably incite new conversations between volunteers from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and the WOHO app will be designed to bolster these relationships by connecting volunteers through an exclusive social network.
Additionally, WOHO recently successfully experimented with offering volunteers nutritious snacks
following an event. This allows WOHO to even further impact the health of the community by demonstrating the value and taste of quality nutrition. It is our sincere belief that WOHO has the potential to transform the health of the nation through an infectiously fun and positive program. As of now WOHO is only in San Antonio, but the future is promising with new opportunities to spread across the country becoming increasingly more viable. As experts in the movement system, physical therapists are in a prime position to utilize a tool like WOHO to share their knowledge with the community and influence public health on an entirely new level.
Given the simplicity and minimal time commitment involved with running a WOHO, even therapists who work full-time can make time to coordinate events each month. I encourage any physical therapists interested in advancing the APTA’s Vision 2020 through a rewarding and novel approach to contact me via email to inquire about how you can start a WOHO in your own city!
About WOHO
WOHO Mission: To integrate exercise with community service to promote health, provide help, and strengthen communities.
What is WOHO?
Work Out Help Out (WOHO) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to community service and the advancement of physical and mental health.
What does WOHO do?
WOHO effectively connects volunteers to a variety of community service opportunities; however, there is ALWAYS a focus on health, wellness, and quality of life.  WOHO makes volunteering FUN by offering weekend service events that offer exercise, networking, and complimentary chef-prepared meals!
Who does WOHO serve?
WOHO serves like-minded community members, businesses, and organizations in need of assistance on weekends.
Why does WOHO do it?
1) To improve community member quality of life and effectively halt current deleterious US health trends.
2) To advance perceptions and behaviors related to health and volunteer service.
3) To educate and empower community members in decisions related to health, wellness, and quality of life.
4) To forge healthy, happy, influential, educated, and productive members of society.
5) To address the shortage of volunteer labor in the US.
What makes WOHO unique?
Our Environment WOHO events offer music and socialization as a way to build a supportive environment conducive to camaraderie. Our Model WOHO is uniquely designed to facilitate nonprofit collaboration, address multiple social challenges simultaneously, and help volunteers discover their passions.  Our events unify volunteers from myriad cultural, professional, and ethnic backgrounds to a common cause- Building Strength Through Community Service.
Visit www.workouthelpout.org for more information, and find upcoming WOHO events by downloading the Legacy Pro mobile app (search “Legacy Founder”).
Dr. William Richardson PT, DPT, CSCS serves as a board member and director for Work Out Help Out.  Dr. Richardson graduated from Texas Woman’s University- Houston in 2015 with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy.
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BILL RICHARDSON PT, DPT, CSCS