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Oshkosh chaplin receives national "caring" award

Monday, October 31, 2005

Aurora employee fulfills peoples emotional, physical and spiritual needs

John Nieman, volunteer and spiritual coordinator for Aurora Medical Center of Oshkosh, has received the prestigious 2005 ‘Spirit of Caring, Caregiver Award’ at the national Spirit of Caring awards ceremony this month in Virginia.

The award recognizes health care workers who personalize the health care experience for others and create programs or services supporting extraordinary achievement in patient centered care. The National Planetree Foundation, a non-profit, national membership organization working with hospitals and healthcare centers across nation to develop and implement patient-centered care in healing environments, created the Spirit of Caring awards.

The ‘Caregiver Award’ presented to Nieman noted: "John lovingly creates a nurturing environment that all of his volunteers and fellow staff love."

Since August of 2003, John has developed and grown the volunteer program at Aurora Medical Center to more that 100 volunteers from many areas of the local community, ranging from 13 to 90 years of age. John creates a nurturing environment that his volunteers love. John is responsible for the hospitals gift shop and provides volunteers an opportunity to show off their creative side. He established the ‘Knitters Nook”, who knit baby caps for newborns and afghans for patients receiving dialysis and chemotherapy treatments.
Many community events that John organized and managed include:

  • A “Joining Hands” event with special collections for non-profits organizations such as the American Red Cross and local food pantries, and craft items made for local healthcare facilities and military personnel overseas
  • “Make a Difference Day” – Along with volunteers, food donations were provided to 11 local food pantries in the community and fleece blankets were made along with other craft items for local nursing home residents
  • “Love Lights” program at AMCO, an event to honor loved ones who have passed away, or reached a significant milestone in their lives
  • Supporting the American Cancer Society Daffodil Days
  • Annual partnership campaign benefiting the Oshkosh Area United Way and the Aurora Foundation
  • President of the south Winnebago Chapter of Thrivent Financial Services
  • Member of marketing committee of the United Way, Chair for Day of Caring for 3 years, board member of Oshkosh Cable Access Television, Oshkosh West High School Site Council, blood drive chair for Grace Church, Kids for Christ leader, and Ambassador for Aurora Health Care

John’s impact on the medical center and community are best summarized in his own words.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Did you ever feel like your were living out your dreams until you heard someone else talk about their work and contentment it brought? My work now brings me contentment and a peace that mere words on paper cannot express. Close your eyes for a moment and hear the calm peace that fills the room after you pray with a family and their loved one when death is near and they celebrate his life. Can you see the joy on the volunteer’s face as they give a hand-made quilt to a cancer patient finishing treatment? Can you feel the warmth in the gathering of people who embrace the words and music of the Love Lights ceremony? No matter what I do here, I know that I am part of a family who is making a difference in someone’s life. This is a great responsibility, but one that I embrace because I know that I am living my dream.”

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Contact: Mark Kantola (920-451-5351)

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