The colleagues at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital adopt the organization’s Core Values of Respect, Care, Competence, and Joy throughout the year, but the holidays are a special time to bring those values to life. For more than a decade, colleagues at St. Joseph’s Hospital have adopted families through Highland Area Christian Service Ministry (HACSM) to provide gifts and food for those in need. This year was no different, but it was a little grander than most. This year, one family received a gift they could never have expected – a car.
“This is a story straight out of the movies,” said Amy Liefer, Director of Communications for St. Joseph’s Hospital. “Our colleagues coordinate the family adoptions on their own each year because they believe it is the right thing to do. This year, we had one nurse who believed very strongly in sharing Care and Joy with one of our families and he did so in a very big way.”
A nurse in the Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital, signed up to help provide gifts for a family who had recently visited the hospital. When the Emergency Department colleagues decided to adopt a family, they were told all the families coordinated through HACSM had already been adopted. During a department huddle, it was suggested the team help a family who recently visited the Emergency Department with one of their daughters. They had no car and needed a little help. The story of the family had such a strong impact on the nurse, he decided he needed to do more, so he donated his car to the family.
“The struggles this family was facing had a profound impact on one of our nurses,” Liefer said. “He and his wife felt like they needed to do whatever they could to help. Donating their car was something that just felt like the right thing to do for them.”
Colleagues reached out to the family about adopting them for the holidays and received a wish list of small items for the two daughters. The response from colleagues was overwhelming, with a car load of gifts donated. Volunteers came in to wrap the gifts, and a member of the Facilities Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital volunteered to play Santa when the gifts were delivered.
“The mother of this family wanted nothing for her, just to make sure her girls were taken care of for Christmas,” said Teresa Cornelius, Director of Clinical Services at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “The items she asked for were things the kids needed, not wanted. We knew this was the right family to help and our colleagues gave more than I could have ever hoped.”
Throughout the planning process for delivering the gifts, Cornelius received a call from the nurse expressing his desire to donate his car to the family. He expressed his concern with burdening them with costs for insurance, licensing, and the title. Members of the Emergency Department and Pastoral Care worked over the next week to secure funding for each of those items. St. Vincent de Paul Society generously offered to pay for the first year of car insurance and contacted a mechanic to inspect the car and make any repairs needed. Another colleague at the hospital donated the money to pay for the license and title.
“The whole plan came together like it was meant to be for this family,” said Janetta Feeny, Assistant Manager of the Emergency Department. “It was so heartwarming to see the efforts of everyone.”
The week before Christmas, members of the staff, including the nurse and his family, delivered all the gifts to the family. The family was shocked at the number of gifts they were receiving and the visit from Santa put a smile on the faces of everyone.
The surprises weren’t over though. After giving the family all the gifts, Santa announced there was another gift for her outside in the trunk of the car. When they opened the trunk, it was empty. Santa then told her since the trunk was empty, she better just take the whole car.
“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place when the mother told us we were angels and she loved us all,” said Cornelius. “This is a woman with such a wonderful, positive outlook on life and she was so happy.”
The colleagues throughout many departments at St. Joseph’s Hospital adopted a total 10 families this year for Christmas.
“Providing Joy to families in our community is something our colleagues want to do,” Liefer said. “This is something they choose to do on their own, not something coordinated through our leadership. Our colleagues are amazing people and we are so proud of all they do.”