This month, we share stories of ways our nurse interventions are enabling two patients to work in order to enrich their lives and the lives’ of others. 

Booker T. Washington once said, “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.”

At Deaconess Nurse Ministry, we believe work is an important aspect of one’s life that can contribute to greater communities for us all. Over the last three years, our nurses have been engaged throughout the St. Louis region, serving the mental, physical and spiritual health needs of seniors and low-income adults; and from our care, we have enabled hundreds of people to continue their work – whether that means a paid job or volunteering. We celebrate our patient’s commitments, and we want to share two of their stories.

Meet Sr. Evelyn Peterman

Naomi House at The Sarah Community

For the last year, Faith Community Nurse, Rev. Victoria Brown, RN, has served the Naomi House at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton. Each day, she meets with senior residents, and at each interaction, she aspires to help them maintain their independence for as long as possible.  She also helps them to stay active and engaged with life so that their years can be happy and healthy.

Sr. Evelyn Peterman is a resident and has been meeting occasionally with Brown over the last year. She is in her mid-80’s and has had a storied career serving as a nurse and Catholic Nun. She has served in multiple health care capacities, including her role as the first Pharmacist at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.  Later, she served for several years as a nurse in Kenya, but her mission visit ended abruptly when her fellow Franciscan Sisters were brutally murdered in the home they inhabited. This trauma still haunts her at times to this day, and she often talks about this with Brown.

Sr. Peterman has always chosen to love others, and when she returned to the US, she decided to express her love in unique ways.  One of those ways was by counseling incarcerated men.  She visited multiple prisoners, sharing her experiences as well as the testament of the Lord. When she could no longer visit regularly, she started writing letters to them in her absence. She wrote hundreds of letters and cherished each response.

Recently, with Brown’s assistance, she has furthered her commitment to love and serve others by enrolling in the OASIS Volunteer Program.  In this program, she will be paired with a student at Holy Spirit Catholic School to help him/her improve their reading skills. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a child, and she shares her excitement often with Brown.

Sr. Peterman will volunteer her time for as long as she can, and through her work, she has positively impacted the lives of many – including Brown and our entire staff.  Her work keeps her strong, energetic and healthy; and we applaud her contributions and are grateful she has included us in her incredible journey.

Meet Willie

Trinity Episcopal Church

In August 2015, Faith Community Nurse, Reta Kirk RN, met Willie at Trinity Episcopal Church in the Central West End neighborhood.  At the time, Willie was coming to the church for food that was offered at the on-site panty. He also began visiting with Kirk for basic health monitoring services because he didn’t have access to medical care.

In their early encounters, he told Kirk about a sequence of misfortunes that led him to financial and housing instability. He explained that for many years he was receiving pension checks from his former job at Chrysler, but in late 2015, those checks stopped, causing a huge financial rift in his life.  He also discussed various health issues he was experiencing and the negative impact they were making. The combination of these trials made daily living tough on Willie.

One bright spot for Willie during this time was his job with Delaware North, a national event management and service company.  He started working for the company as a concession cook during Rams and Cardinals games shortly after his time at Chrysler in order to supplement his pension checks. He was excited to start the job because he grew up watching his mother cook and bake. He quickly became passionate about his role.

By early 2016, things started to turn around for Willie. He regularly met with Kirk, and she was able to provide him a medical referral to get him established at Affinia Healthcare. Kirk and Willie also began discussing scripture, and Willie started writing stories and poems based on his Biblical learnings.  He even reconnected with a long-time interest in sewing.

With Kirk’s encouragement and guidance, Willie was able to reestablish his pension payments, and he is mentally, physically and spiritually healthy to continue his work at Delaware North.  In fact, he was recently recognized for 10 years of service with an award and commemorative gift of his choosing.  He chose a brand new sewing machine.  Lastly, his work allowed him to obtain his own housing.

A few weeks ago, Kirk invited Willie to Bridge of Hope in North St.  Louis to receive much needed chiropractic care from Dr. Abbe Keen. He also continues to receive health screenings at Trinity with Kirk.

We celebrate Willie and his hard work and sincerely thank Reta Kirk for the strong personal advocate she continues to be for him.