Volunteer pays it forward at Oak Hill school, community
HIGH POINT – John Hansen barely has begun to pay forward the $1,000 he received from his employer. Still, he delivered on Monday a van full of clothes, toys, blankets and other needed items to Ward Street Mission United Methodist Church.
In August, Hansen, who lives in Stokesdale, was one of 12 employees of Cone Health who each received $1,000 through Cone’s new Pay-It-Forward program designed to benefit the community. Hansen soon came to be known as an Energizer bunny in the program.
“What confounded Doug (Allred of Cone’s marketing department) is that he kept asking me what I was doing with the $1,000, and I kept telling him I hadn’t used it, that I was doing everything I could to come up with donations and to use all the resources at Cone I could before I dipped into the $1,000,” Hansen said.
Those resources at Cone mostly were employees Hansen tapped for money or useful items for the church mission, which is home to a Boys and Girls Club and other community outreach services. Hansen chose Ward Street because his wife, Jane, teaches English as a second language at nearby Oak Hill Elementary School, and she told him of the desperate needs of children in that community.
“The kids have nothing, and they need everything, so I asked (Cone employees) for clothes, games, sporting equipment, pretty much anything people had lying around their house,” said Hansen, who is a temporary contract employee at Cone in the electronic medical records section.
“I don’t know the students at Oak Hill personally because of my work schedule, but I hear the stories everyday of kids coming to school without coats or wearing shoes that are two sizes too big and are hand-me-downs.”
Ward Street church provides numerous services for the community in addition to the Boys and Girls Club. It operates clothes and school supplies closets and a food pantry, and currently it is collecting gifts for children for Christmas.
“We truly are a church that serves the poor, so we need everything,” said the Rev. Anne Elmore, church pastor. Big-project needs include tables and chairs for the fellowship hall, fresh paint for the Boys and Girls Club and insulation in the sanctuary, she said.
Hansen hopes to hold off using the $1,000 for as long as possible and to use the money for larger projects. He also would like to establish long-term projects, possibly ones in which businesses or groups undertake projects to benefit Oak View students, such as painting parties to brighten classrooms.
He solicited help from employees at MedCenter High Point, which is part of Cone Health, and they agreed to step up donations during the next few weeks before Christmas. In addition, a volunteer at MedCenter works for a local paint company, so that volunteer may be able to supply paint.
Hansen has never undertaken a project such as this, and he chokes up with emotion and can barely speak when he talks about how it makes him feel.
“It’s pretty fantastic. Emotions kind of overwhelm me so – it’s just – an awesome experience to do something for kids who have nothing. So that’s pretty much it,” he said.
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Twelve Cone Health employees received $1,000 each to fund projects based on the Cone Health values of caring for patients, caring for each other and serving the community.
Six projects are designed to expand through gifts from other employees or the public so the impact will exceed the initial $1,000. Those projects and employees who created them are:
• Holiday dinners for needy patients at Cone Health Cancer Center – Pauline Dancy of Greensboro, nurse technician/nursing secretary, Wesley Long Hospital.
• Upgrading security system at Clara House domestic violence shelter and providing used cell phones to victims of domestic violence – Lolita Henley of Kernersville, clinical documentation specialist, Wesley Long Hospital.
• Providing emergency fund to support needy patients with sickle cell disease at Cone Health Sickle Cell Center – Roy Lynch of Greensboro, environmental service technician, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital.
• Funding research on the impact of using karaoke music and expanding selection of karaoke music for patients at Behavioral Health Hospital – Donna Overbey of McLeansville, secretary, Behavioral Health Center at Greensboro.
• Establishing program to provide diabetes education and counseling for people who cannot afford co-payments or do not have health insurance and to support scholarships for Guilford County children to attend Diabetes Camp at Camp Carolina Trails in King – Bev Paddock of Jamestown, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center.
• Creating emergency assistance fund for employees at Women’s Hospital – Barbara Smith, R.N., of Westfield, labor and delivery, Women’s Hospital.
The other six projects fund programs selected by employees who received $1,000. Projects and recipients are:
• Rolling Ridge Riding Program in Rockingham County – Cicely Alston, R.N., of Reidsville, care coordinator at Annie Penn Hospital.
• Food backpack program for three children and books for the media center at Liberty Drive Elementary School in Thomasville – Donna Beck of Thomasville, patient accounting representative.
• Reading materials for students at Bethany Elementary School – Meg Clark of Summerfield, equipment technician, Wesley Long Hospital.
• Scholarships for at-risk girls from Guilford County to attend a Girl Scout summer camp – Beth Creamer of Greensboro, medical technologist, Wesley Long Hospital.
• Improvements at Boys and Girls Club in High Point, supplies and clothes for students at Oak Hill Elementary School – John Hansen of Stokesdale, trainer, EPIC Operations, Management Systems.
• Thanksgiving dinners for families in need – Teresa Staton, R.N., of Bethel, Moses Cone Hospital.