Each year at our Green Ribbon Gala, Lori's Hands' business partners present scholarships to two students who win our annual essay contest. This year, Shannon Murphy and Kyla Cerce were those students. We are thrilled to share Shannon's essay with you today, and will soon be sharing Kyla's! Thank you to this year's scholarship sponsors: Oasis Senior Advisors Delaware & GRALC Global Regulatory Affairs Labeling and Compliance Services.
Not being able to walk on my own, make a meal on my own, or clean up my home on my own is never something I need to worry about in my daily life. Because this is the position that most students at the University of Delaware are in, we find ourselves detached and trapped inside the campus bubble. After volunteering regularly at home with cancer patients and cancer survivors, I found myself desperate to get my hands on an opportunity to grow and learn about the community I would call home for the next 4 years. As soon as I had discovered Lori’s Hands I was intrigued and wanted to get involved. I remember signing up for the organization in the fall of 2017, but never being assigned a client. I was a bit discouraged at first due to feeling uninvolved in the growth of the club and being stagnant in my place as a member and as a student. When I was made aware of a few open clients, I jumped at the opportunity. I did not know who my partner would be or how much my life was about to change.
My partner, Chris, and I got completely lost trying to find out where our client lived. I remember calling two separate contact numbers hoping to get in contact with either Pam* or Daniel*. Luckily, we found our way to their home with their guidance. I was definitely nervous walking into their home and getting lost did not help my situation. I had no idea exactly what to expect besides the small amount of information we are given about our clients prior to our first visit. As we walk inside, I remember seeing the smile on Pam's face. Chris and I were welcomed into their home with open arms. We quickly learned so much about them and more particularly how Daniel came to have problems with mobility, cognition, and speech. Daniel experienced a severe traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for an extended period of time. Pam, Daniel's mother and caretaker, was told that Daniel would not wake up by multiple doctors, but this did not stop Pam from having faith. Eventually and against all odds, Daniel did wake up. And to much of the doctors’ surprise, he was speaking. Daniel's health was slowly improving following the incident, but just as things were looking up, Daniel fell and broke his neck. All the improvement Daniel had made was no longer present and Daniel was back to where he was following the brain injury. Not one of these accidents discouraged Daniel's or Pam's faith. Daniel continued to work physically and cognitively to improve. Today, Daniel has improved slightly, but he continues to struggle with doing many things on his own.
I have grown so much from knowing Pam and Daniel. Pam constantly has new stories about her grandchildren doing amazing things, such as attending medical school or moving to Europe for a job. She has taught me how to be young in the best way, giving me advice about how to go about different situations I may encounter. She has been such a light in my life and a role model. Daniel has taught me to be kind and brave. I have never heard Daniel complain about anything in his life. Although he has been through some debilitating events, his head is held high and I admire him every day for that. I have learned to appreciate every second of my life and to love everyone around me, because they do nothing short of this. Every week I am excited to go to my client’s home and I know that the feeling is reciprocated. Pam and Daniel have become my family. They have taught me to be a better person and I am so thankful for them both.
Lori’s Hands has made me realized the significant amount of people who need the same assistant that Daniel needs in his everyday life. In the Newark community alone, we have found numerous clients seeking assistance. This problem is everywhere. I have developed so much passion for this organization because I can directly see the impact a single person, like myself, can have on those in need. I have been lucky enough to serve on the executive board as recruitment chair for Lori’s Hands. This position has allowed me to explain why Lori’s Hands is so incredible and to encourage others to get involved. This organization has helped me solidify my love for healthcare and realize how much I need personal connection in my workplace. My happiness at the University of Delaware has succeeded my expectations and I have Lori’s Hands to thank for that. Pam and Daniel were names I initially had to remind myself of a few times before I entered their home, but soon to find out they are names I will now never forget.
*Names have been changed for privacy