Pay it Forward Scholarships

The Alfred State College Nursing Department is continuing its "Pay It Forward" philosophy through the awarding of its second annual "Pay It Forward" scholarship, established during the fall 2005 semester and presented to this year's recipients, senior nursing students Katrina Tracy-Folts, Whitesville, and Megan Williams, Houghton, at semester's end. 

The premise of "paying it forward" comes from a movie by the same name where a school child, as the result of a homework assignment to change the world, begins the practice of helping others, expecting not pay back, but that each of those beneficiaries will go on to help three more people.  The caring aspect of that concept prompted ASC Associate Professor of Nursing Linda Panter to incorporate it into the nursing program, where it has grown, and culminated, thus far, into the scholarship.  Each eligible nursing student submitted to the faculty proposals for activities they could conduct to demonstrate the caring nature of the profession. The proposals needed to demonstrate an understanding of caring as identified in the nursing caring project and evidenced by implementing a unique caring project and revealing insight and sensitivity in the written assignment. 

Tracy-Folts' winning proposal noted that "caring is an energy that overcomes you to do something for someone without expecting something in return.  Caring can be an act of kindness, providing comfort, attentively listening, or treating someone with respect. Caring is multi-faceted and can give someone a feeling of overwhelming joy when the outcome is appreciated.

"Recently, I was involved in organizing a benefit jamboree for four individuals in my community who each had medical concerns that required support from the community to help with expenses.

"The night before the event, I overheard Carson (9), whose father, one of the jamboree's beneficiaries, say he wanted to set up a lemonade stand to help raise money for everyone.  His father said it was too late to get the materials to run the stand.  Carson was disappointed but understood.  That evening, without telling Carson or his father, I prepared posters, rounded up some tables, and bought lemonade and cups.  The next morning I had everything set up for Carson before he arrived.  Carson's reaction was priceless.  When he saw the stand, he was happy and surprised-which made me happy.  Throughout the day he was able to get his friends to help him and they sold $120 worth of lemonade. 

"At the end of the day Carson, without hesitation, took his earnings to split among the families. This act of unselfishness made me appreciate even more the importance of caring."

Williams' winning entry read, in part: "Caring is an integral part of the nursing profession because it is done every minute of every day.  A nurse must advocate for a complete stranger in most cases. In most circumstances, a nurse is the person who helps the patient deal with and overcome various problems and circumstances that evolve while at the hospital, the doctor's office, or even during a home visit by the nurse.  A nurse must truly care for each and every patient, family member, doctor, and co-worker in order to be successful and make even a terrible circumstance just a little bit better.

"I work as a waitress at a restaurant in Cuba. We have several ‘regulars' who come in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.  Most of these regulars are at least 75 years old and consider the people at the restaurant their family.  One man, Jay, is 90 years old, has never been married, has no family nearby, and lives alone in an upstairs apartment across the street from my boyfriend.  Throughout the past year, Jay has been slowly declining, not only with his ambulating abilities, but mentally as well. 

"Recently, I learned that Jay had broken his hip and was scheduled to have surgery for a hip replacement.  In order to let Jay know that we were thinking of him, I got a get well card and had everyone at the restaurant sign it.  When I went to visit him, I brought the card that everyone had signed and some candy because although I know very little about Jay, one thing I do know from being his waitress is that he has a very sweet tooth!  Jay was so happy to have someone visiting him that he had a smile on his face the entire time we were there.  After reading the get well card, Jay had tears in his eyes, which of course brought tears to mine.  Seeing how much this meant to him made me feel great.  The words to express how I felt when I saw his smiling face are simply indescribable.

"Later, we learned from a nurse that Jay did not have any street clothes to wear and all of the other patients on the rehabilitation floor wear street clothes.  I told her I would try to get into his apartment to get some clothes for him.  My boss at the restaurant assured me that she would go to Jay's house and talk to the owners to get into his apartment to take him some clothes.  Additionally, I plan to get Jay some sweatpants and sweatshirts for rehab because I'm sure they will be more comfortable for him.  I also plan to visit him as much as possible and do whatever I can to help him out and continue to be there for him."

Pay it forwardPictured here, Panter, far left, welcomes recent nursing graduates and congratulates the scholarship winners:  Williams, Teresa Kuhn, Renee Martindale, Troy-Folts, and Peg Eisenhardt.

Kuhn, Martindale, and Eisenhardt are 2007 nursing grads.  Kuhn and Martindale work as RNs at St. James Mercy Health, Hornell, and Eisenhardt works at Jones Memorial Hospital, Wellsville, and serves as a tutor for nursing students at ASC. Panter invites graduates back to assist in the presentation of the caring projects.  Every graduate receives a letter annually re: the Caring Project, which helps keep the graduates connected to ASC Nursing.