Compassionate Caring

Posted on November 2nd, 2012 by Vidette Todaro-Franceschi

I live in South New Jersey.  I never dreamed that I would ever want to blog about my home or my work environment.  But now I find myself compelled to write, not about health care and work-related topics per say, but about things much closer to home. My home AND your home, us.

We were lucky.  We live in Jackson, NJ, in Ocean County on 2 wooded acres with two homes (our daughter and us).  Surrounded by woods, I can admit, Sandy scared us…  So, we prepared. We have well water, and are reliant on an electric pump.  Accustomed to power outages, we covered it all.  We filled our car tanks with gas, filled our tubs and some buckets with water.  Powered all our i-things, cell things and laptops.   Filled that barbecue propane tank, got extra people, cat and dog food.

We lost our power mid-day on Monday, hours before Sandy hit our beloved shore.  But I still had cell service for a time.  With a small generator we bought during the summer after we had lost power for almost two days during a storm, we were able to keep our frig cooled during the day and an electric heater on for nights in our home and our daughter’s home next door. WE WERE SO LUCKY.  Surrounded by woods, no trees fell on our house and amazingly, the satellite signal was not lost and so in one home we were able to watch the events unfold around NJ and NY.

One of our daughters is in Sheepshead Bay. No cell , no way to reach her.  My campus-Hunter Brookdale on 1st Ave and E 25th st damaged, the dorms shut down. All I could think of was my students, my students!  Then I thought of all the colleagues I know who live in Manhattan, in LI, in Rockland and Weschester Counties.  Not to be able to connect with everyone, how frightening!  Days later, I still do not know how everyone fared in my work community.

We sat in our almost lightless home, watching it unfold.  No phone, no cell, nothing, but that satellite, that TV. Still, it was a life line to it all.  I wonder if the media folks realize their power?

Today, Friday, days later,  we finally have power.  No internet and no phone service, and the cell isn’t working for anything other than email or texts, but heck, I AM NOT complaining! I got to take a shower!  And I am grateful to have email and text service along with Facebook and Twitter on that cell phone.  I am SO grateful! It has helped to keep us connected and through this difficult time, I have been able to communicate on and off with folks around the globe who shared their concerns and woes with me.  I have been able to be there for others, and they have been able to be there for me.

We couldn’t leave our property for several days.  Indeed, one of my daughters, who came to stay with us for the storm and who has a 3 month old and works in a nursing home, was ticketed while driving the day after the storm.  Today, knowing I could not sit any longer, even with a bad back and reeling for days with a respiratory bug, I left home looking to connect people and with students. I went to the local library where power had just been restored and was able to power up and connect with my university blackboard to reach out to my students. WHAT A RELIEF!! to be able to do that. Next I stopped by the reference librarian, who knew exactly where to look online to direct us to the nearest place to volunteer.

We went to a local shelter/disaster center and let me tell you, there is PLENTY of opportunity for folks to help out. If you do not have funds to contribute and are able bodied, you can still make a huge difference with your compassionate caring.  Many folks feel like they have no one and nothing. You can make a huge difference by letting them know that they have something and someone.  They have US. There is no I or ME. There is only US or WE.

Today, in the shelter I went to work in I met many folks who have lost everything.  I met a woman who lost her home and her two cars. She pointed to her daughter sitting next to her and told me it was her daughter’s birthday today.  That lovely young lady turned and said, Mom, why do you have to tell everyone it is my birthday?  I said, Happy Birthday, I am sorry you have to spend it like this, sitting in a shelter.  Her response to me was, this isn’t so bad. So many people have lost so much.  I am really ok with this.

I met an elderly couple who told me they had been told to evacuate but couldn’t leave their dog behind, so they stayed in their home. It got so bad that the wife left home to find help for her husband and both wound up in the shelter. They were told someone went back in for their dog. Their home was destroyed but that was not important to them. All they wanted to know was whether their dog had survived.

I met many people who shared their stories today.  Horrific stories; we were so fortunate.  But for the grace of God, it could have been us.  I am tired right now and my back is killing me.  But I know where I need to go tomorrow.  Do you know where you can go tomorrow to connect with folks and make a difference? Compassionate caring makes a huge difference. People who are hurting right now might think we do not care. But I know that many people do care. NOW is the time to show it, please reach out and connect with others.  Find out where you can go to contribute whatever you can contribute to healing our hurting community in New York and New Jersey.  There is something you can do…find it and do it.  You will benefit from it too, I promise you. Compassionate caring is what makes OUR world go round. Without it, there is nothing.

In New Jersey check out New Jersey 7:

Embracing Our Humanness and Each Other

Posted on September 27th, 2012 by Vidette Todaro-Franceschi

Recently a student came to my office and after closing the door, burst into tears.  She shared that she was going through a personal crisis at home and was having a difficult time focusing in class.  I rode home that evening thinking about the people I have worked with over the years in various health care settings who were having difficulty in their personal lives, but who came to work and tried to function as if all was well.  Indeed, I have done this myself on many occasions.

I have never understood how anyone can expect people to go to school or work each day and leave their personal lives at the door, and how it could ever be expected that we can go home at the end of the day and entirely leave our work at work.  It puzzles me.  Do I hang up my emotions and the feelings that define what and who I am?  How can I do that?  How can I expect my co-workers, my students, the man in the toll booth, the woman behind the register, the child crying at the bus stop, how can I expect all of these people not to feel as they go about their day-to-day living? Why would I want to deny them their humanness?

Nurses and other health care professionals know better. We know that all people suffer from all kinds of things; nurses especially know this because we look at the wholeness of human beings.  Yet, we go to work in places where we do not acknowledge our own personal or professional suffering.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone acknowledged that human suffering exists everywhere? In a healthy workplace (or educational) environment quality caring is evident when there are opportunities for everyone—coworkers, classmates, staff, etc., to share their concerns in a supportive environment, one that embraces everyone’s humanness.