Once a nurse, always a nurse. Our dedication to our profession comes from a place deep within. What happens to a nurse when he/she retires? Does one’s last day in uniform mean the end of a lifetime of caregiving? If you asked most, the answer would be most definitely no. While many plan their post retirement travels, this month’s Coffee Talk features Janet… a nurse that spent her early retirement days in the service of others. She went on her first mission to an orphanage in Haiti.
Janet, a soft spoken southern belle born in North Carolina and raised in Florida, spent nearly her entire thirty-year career working in neonatal intensive care. When asked what inspired her to become a nurse, she responded with there were always three things she wanted badly to do in life: be a wife, mother, and nurse. She accomplished all three.
Soon after retirement, Janet journeyed to an orphanage called Three Angel’s Children’s Relief, just outside Port Au Prince. It is an orphanage serving children and under privileged families in Haiti. Founded over ten years ago, the orphanage’s aim is to serve “both orphans and at-risk families with programs aimed at sustainable change.”
Haiti is plagued with orphans, a staggering estimate close to 30,000 throughout the country. Of these 30,000, it is estimated that 80 percent of these children have one living parent. Poverty has forced parents to make the painful decision to leave one or more children in the care of an orphanage where they are fed and offered some education.
What inspired you to go on a mission after retirement?
My love for children, wanting to travel, and do God’s work.
Where did you travel to?
I went to Haiti, where I found people to be so appreciative and caring. Very poor, but kind and caring.
Describe the orphanage
The orphanage was wonderful. It was clean, the children were clean, happy, having fun, and eager to have us play games with them and love them.
What was your role in the orphanage?
My role was to assist workers, play with the children. The older children wanted to learn English, so we taught them using pictures.
Working as a volunteer makes me feel good inside. I am helping those who can’t afford to pay and that is an awesome feeling.
What advice would you give someone thinking of going on their first mission?
I would say work hard and go! I felt like a much better person… closer to God and stronger in my convictions. I think my heart grew at least twice its size. You return with such a big heart, know you have helped people who really want to be helped, and they are so appreciative.
Her bedside nursing days behind her, Janet continues to work part time from home with the state of Florida. She assists the state in gathering information on infant mortality through The Fetal Infant Mortality Review. Janet’s love for her profession continues to burn bright. She is a shining example of nurse integrity and devotion. Once a Mighty Nurse, always a Mighty Nurse.