I'm not usually one to go to such shindigs but this time, it was out of my hands. Because I was the Behavioral Health nominee for the Clara Ford Award for Nursing Excellence. Don't feel bad if you're surprised, I was too! The Henry Ford System philosophy is driven by what they call pillars. Finance, Growth, Education & Research, Service, People and Community. All of the system departments were encouraged to submit nominees under the specific pillars. My department submitted my name. If you're still surprised, that's ok. I can 'splain.
The particular pillar under which my name appeared was Community and it was a result of The Shoe People. As you recall, several months ago I started posting on this blog as well as my facebook about the need for shoes among our patients. Many of them either have such ragged shoes that they are as good as none, or literally none at all. We've struggled during my entire career to help these people; the need far outweighing the supply. Can you imagine literally not having a single pair of shoes? If you can't imagine it, you're not alone. Neither can I. Anyway, the response to my request was beyond anything I had imagined. We went from not being able to meet most of our needs to outgrowing our available storage space for clothing and shoe donations. We have donations piled up in the office of administrators just waiting for room on the shelf. We've given shoes and clothing to the parents of pediatric patients! We started looking for shoes but it was like an avalanche of love. I have received boxes and boxes of shoes, clothing, coats, underwear, socks, bras, gloves, hats, books and money. Generous checks mailed to me, someone who the sender has never met, to help these mentally ill people in Detroit, Michigan. Not only did all of our patients get shoes, some of them got brand new ones donated by people who were raining down the love of Jesus on us. In the cold Michigan winter, for the first time in memory...every single person went home not only wearing shoes but wearing warm coats. With the warm weather now upon us, we've stockpiled the winter goods to make room for lightweight clothing. We actually had to steal an administrative assistant from a physician to clean and organize the clothing closet! And by the way, it's no longer a closet. We took a meeting room and made it into our clothing closet. The facilities guys had to install shelves and racks. We now have a local Girl Scout group come in once a month to ROTATE THE STOCK!
The news of The Shoe People went from this blog and facebook to the leadership of Kingswood Hospital to the leadership of Behavioral Health and is becoming the stuff of legends. More importantly, I have patients regularly approaching staff because someone has told them, if you come to Kingswood, they'll give you a pair of shoes and anything else you need. Here I sit, crying again! You know what those kind of statement are, the seeds of faith that had long ago been buried deep beginning to grow in the lives of hurting people. Someone cares. The people at Kingswood care. The homeless people of Detroit are telling one another, the people at Kingswood will take care of you! And it is because The Shoe People will take care of them.
My nursing team got me a tote bag to commemorate this amazing honor. On one side it says, "So they can walk a mile in their own shoes." I hope I stop crying when I look at it at some point. 'Cause I'm gonna carry it everywhere!
|Tote bag: Side One...sniff!|
|Tote Bag: Side Two|
|Clara Ford Award Program|
|Sara Smith, Behavioral Health (you can imagine "The Shoe People" inserted here!)|