THORNTON, COLO. - It started as a group project for four honors students at Thornton’s Horizon High School. The project was to spot a problem in the community and solve it.
The four students (Leo Jimenez, Ashley Potthoff, Gavin Glaza and Rielyn Sosa) focused on helping Oncology Nurses at Thornton’s Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. For the not-medically-inclined, oncology is defined as the study and treatment of tumors.
Part of the project’s inspiration came from a friend of Sosa's family. Sosa said this family friend worked as an oncology nurse in Texas, and that even when she would come to Colorado to visit she couldn’t get away from her work, talking about her patients that had died and such.
The group did research and found about something called compassion fatigue, which is defined by www.compassionfatigue.org as a state of extreme tension in a person and their preoccupation with the suffering of those they’re helping. Nurses, obviously, are prone to it.
The group saw an opportunity to help nurses who didn’t get enough recognition for their work. Thus, “Nurture the Nurses” was born.
In late March during their spring break, the group provided five days worth of lunches for the nurses, with the final meal at CB&Pots on March 31 including massage therapists and gift baskets, as their Facebook noted.
Boyer's Coffee also partnered with them, donating 20 pounds of coffee a month for six months, with a chance for further renewal.
And Nurture the Nurses recruited Silver Creek Elementary School to write 50 letters for the nurses, which they brought in every day.
Nurture the Nurses raised $1,310 total to "spoil these nurses with," Sosa said in an email.
The group gained what they consider to be valuable business experience from reaching out to and working with these businesses. On the sentimental side, it helped them appreciate what they have, to better understand others’ perspectives and how a single nice action can snowball into something greater.
On the nurses’ part, the group was told that their actions helped the nurses see how deeply they were appreciated and that their work wasn’t just treated as someone doing their job.
“Cancer affects everyone,” said Sosa. “So these nurses have a really big part in our society.”
And even though the project was over and due before National Nurses Week this week, they still found the time to show their appreciation for nurses some more with boxes of treats, handmade hand scrubs and an Olive Garden lunch.
Nurture the Nurses will try to continue as they enter into their senior year of high school next year. They’re thinking of applying for a grant and starting a foundation that will last beyond graduation, but the details still need to be worked out.
Their work also won them the Horizon Big Idea Project scholarship, with $250 awarded to each member, according to their Facebook.
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