French Hospital will honor Jim Sargen of Avila Beach with the 2012 Louis Tedone, M.D. Humanitarian Award at its annual foundation gala tonight.
Originally from San Francisco, Sargen, 71, made San Luis Obispo County his home in the 1990s and has since participated in extensive volunteer and charitable efforts, serving in numerous leadership roles with the French Hospital Medical Center Foundation, the Performing Arts Center, Cuesta College Foundation, YMCA, Cal Poly and the Foundation for the California Community Colleges.
“I don’t call it contributing. I call it investing. My dad used to tell me, ‘You get exactly the community you deserve,’ ” Sargen said.
After working in city management and as a commercial real estate development consultant, in 2003 Sargen founded the company TriActive America Inc., which creates outdoor fitness equipment.
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Sargen declined to estimate the amount of money he has given to the local community, summing it up with: “A lot.”
“If you are going to give, it’s either time or money. I’ve tried to distribute both of them equally. It’s a circle, it returns back,” he said.
After championing the cardiac campaign for French Hospital, health problems landed him there in 2006 and 2008.
“I’m also a voluntary quality-control person,” he joked about his time at the hospital.
While Sargen said he does not seek public recognition for his contributions, he agreed to accept French Hospital’s award because he believes it serves as an example to others to give what they can.
The award — created in 2006 to honor a local provider or advocate for a lifetime of dedication to health care and improving the community’s health — is named after Lou Tedone, San Luis Obispo’s first pediatrician, because of his extraordinary contributions. He was the first recipient, and still lives in San Luis Obispo.
Other past recipients include Frank and Betsey Kelton; Phyllis Madonna; Jac Pedersen, D.D.S.; Steve Hearst; Ke-Ping Tsao, M.D. and Rob Rossi.
French Hospital raised more than $120,000 at its 2011 Celebration of Caring Gala.