Girl Scout troop shows support for hospital workers


Having to work on the days leading up to Christmas and on the holiday was tough for nurses and other staff at Schneck Medical Center.

Not only did they spend time away from family, but some of them had to care for patients with COVID-19.

To lift their spirits, Girl Scout Troop 135 in Seymour came up with a visual to thank them for the work they do.

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On the grassy lot across the street from the Seymour hospital, they placed 100 luminary bags that spelled out “Thank You.” The O was in the shape of a heart and consisted of 42 bags, which represents every life lost to COVID-19 in Jackson County.

In front of the display, a banner was hung that read “Thank you to everyone on the front lines fighting the battle against COVID-19. Your commitment to our community makes us stronger. You are the heart that brings our community together. We are thankful and blessed to be stronger together.”

That goes along with the hospital’s theme this year of “Stronger Together.”

Chealsy Parr, one of the troop leaders, said the idea came about as several local youth groups were looking for ways show their appreciation for all of the front line workers.

“We are so thankful for our health care workers and our community as we fight this together,” she said. “We knew going into the week that the Christmas spirit would need a little boost, especially for the hospital staff that have been working tirelessly, so we began working with the Schneck Foundation to ensure there was a little something extra to make the week special.”

Along with the luminary display and banner, the Girl Scouts used chalk to draw pictures and write positive messages on the sidewalks outside Schneck.

They included a rainbow with the message “Be the light,” a heart rhythm with “You are vital” and “Stay positive and we will stay negative.”

“Chalk art is something so simple and enjoyable for the kids, and the hospital workers love it, too,” Parr said. “Girl Scout troops are unable to meet right now, but being outside like this allows the girls to come together to give back, which they love to do.”

Parr said all 25 girls in her troop helped with the project in one way or another.

“Some have been a part of planning, others have sent thank-you messages and some have come out to do the physical labor,” she said. “Our girls love to give back to their community, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I think I have more hope for what our community can take away from it. We are stronger if we are moving through it together. If kids can do it, so can you.”

Seeing the Girl Scouts come together to make it all happen was definitely a proud moment, Parr said.

“I have several girls that say they want to be a nurse or doctor when they grow up, so getting them close to the people that inspire them will only continue to feed their aspirations, dreams and goals,” she said. “My heart is truly full this holiday season because of the work of these girls. They care so much about our community. They are going to do so many great things.”

Nora Mei Christiansen said she likes going to the hospital because she wants to be a doctor when she grows up so she can make people feel better.

“I hope my pictures can make them feel better,” she said.

Kensley Stith said she is thankful for the hospital workers, which includes her mother.

Izabel Ruiz said she also is thankful for everything the hospital staff does.

“I hope they stay safe and people wear their mask,” Ruiz said.

Stephanie Grunden, a BSN/RN who works on the third floor at Schneck, was so inspired by the messages on the sidewalks that she took pictures of them and shared them on Facebook.

She said it really meant a lot to her because she used to be a Girl Scout troop leader for many years.

“The last few days have been really hard for me and my co-workers,” she wrote. “When I left this evening and saw these beautiful works of art, they made my heart smile. It was not only the message written in chalk, but the message from the heart, a message that someone thought enough of us to take the time on this very cold day and use your talents to cheer us up and keep us strong.”

Grunden said there are many days she feels defeated, sad and heartbroken, but the works of art lifted her hope, gave her strength and comforted her spirit.

“May you always keep your positive outlook on life and live in the service to others, and although some days may be tough, you will never regret the part of you that you gave to someone else,” she wrote. “Thank you for this beautiful gift on the sidewalk. Merry Christmas and much love to all.”

Stephanie Flinn, executive director of the Schneck Foundation, said multiple community members stepped up to support Schneck as the county reached the Indiana State Department of Health’s red level due to community spread of COVID-19.

There have been words of encouragement on the windows and sidewalks, food deliveries consistently, more than $116,000 donated for Giving Tuesday and more.

“On the surface, it’s easy see all the ways this pandemic has caused us pain and changed our lives. But when we look closer, we see some incredible things happening,” Flinn said.

“’Stronger Together’ has been our mantra this year, and it isn’t just about our Schneck team members. It’s also about the communities we serve,” she said. “Those same communities have stepped up and supported Schneck in so many ways, making us all stronger together.”

The thank-you luminary, words of encouragement inside and outside the facilities, donations of food, masks and gifts, financial support for the Shining a Light campaign to purchase ultraviolet disinfectant units and many other acts of caring bring hope, Flinn said.

“While our front lines continue to care for patients and our community cares for them, we are stronger together as we enter the new year full of hope,” she said.

The recent acts of kindness, including by the Girl Scouts, are a great way to end the year on a high note, she said.

“Teaching youth to find their gift and put it in action sharing with those around them is a beautiful thing to witness,” Flinn said. “I commend Chealsy for her leadership with these young ladies.”

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