Wednesday, June 29, 2016 7:23 PM

A little gift goes a long way to grow Valley’s caregivers

At her last staff meeting, Julie Bowen, RN, manager of pediatrics at Community Regional, urged her team to apply for one of the several dozen donor-funded scholarships available this summer. She chocked up and had tears in her eyes as she shared the encouragement she’s had every year from those same donor scholarships during her three-year journey to finish a master’s degree in nursing. 

“I don’t know what the future of pediatrics is going to be, but as we grow I hope to be part of that,” Bowen said. “I have the degree now that allows me to go higher in my field.” 

Pediatrics manager Julie Bowen, left, was among the 2014 leadership scholarship winners.

Over the past decade, Community Foundation’s generous donors have contributed $740,000 to our employees’ education – that’s more than 340 scholarships that have advanced careers. 

Those gifts do make a difference and they send a clear message of support to employees. Valley health care providers have a big need for specialized nurses and at Community, we like to grow our own leaders whenever we can.

“It sends that message that education is important,” said Bowen, who has been a recipient of the Marilyn Hawkins Nursing Leadership Scholarship. 

“I’ve received $7,500 in scholarships,” she added. “This kind of support means I didn’t have to take out a student loan. Money is a daunting barrier even for those of us who make a good living. When you think about every class costing $2,000, it adds up.”

An Alice Peters Nursing scholarship helped Faith Linthicum, a nurse in labor and delivery at Clovis Community, with the costs of her books and her initial nursing board fees and training scrubs. “The scholarship has been awesome,” she said. “One thing I thought was exciting was the requirement to give back 18 months to Community. It gives you a reassurance that as a new grad you will have a job.”

Eugenia Walker, RN, the manager of the 1 East medical-surgical unit at Community Regional, who got a similar scholarship award from the Alice Peters’ memorial fund, called it an “honor.”

“Alice Peters was a pillar of society. Although she was unable to attend college, she helped many others achieve their goals,” Walker said. “I can proudly say that I am a product of the Peters foundation. The advanced education contributed my ability to visualize nursing and patient care from a global perspective. My plan now is to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing Administration.”

For Tina Gulbronsen, an associate administrator for capacity management at Community Regional, an Alice Peters Leadership Scholarship in 2014 allowed her to realize a nursing dream that started when she was 16. 

She explained, “When I was a sophomore in high school, I was in a car accident that changed the course of my life. I sustained multiple injuries that required a long hospitalization and one of my nurses, Patty, was one of the kindest and most compassionate people I had ever encountered. When I was discharged from the hospital, I was so moved by Patty’s extraordinary spirit, I told her I was going to become a registered nurse to help ease the pain and discomfort so many patients and families experience during a hospitalization.”

As soon as Gulbronsen finished her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing she decided to continue on to get a master’s degree for a “deeper understanding” of her profession. She was grateful for the scholarship help. 

“It is through this type of philanthropy that many of our nurses have had the opportunity to return to school to pursue their dreams too,” Gulbronsen said.

This kind of invaluable support also plants the seed of philanthropy. “The scholarship helped me grow professionally and personally, and now I would like to pass it forward by helping someone else,” Walker vowed. “In the future I will follow in the footsteps of the Peters family and create a foundation that will help students pursue a career in nursing.”

How about you? 

Erin M. Kennedy, 
Corporate Communications