Rachel Loeper, Mighty Writers education director (above), accepts donations of books and writing materials
For Einstein Healthcare Network, Martin Luther King Day is a day to remember the life of the late civil rights leader, but it also presents an opportunity to celebrate the Einstein employees whose acts of kindness and charity best exemplify the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Take, for example, the four employees who earned the 2017 Keeper of the Dream Awards, presented at Einstein’s annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Tribute.
The winners, in the words of the co-workers who nominated them, were:
- Anayeli Gomez, lead ob-gyn medical assistant, who was described as “our go-to person for everything.” Her nominator went on to say: “It’s the most helpful that she is bilingual and is able to provide that extra care for pregnant and GYN patients who come and are having a hard time understanding. Or when they call and need help immediately and we don’t have the time to call the translator, she is that person for us.”
- Christine Salley, who “works tirelessly to serve the community around Einstein hospital as not only a health educator but as an advocate and a friend to all.”
- Louis Pleasant, who, as his nominator suggested, “could not by more aptly named! He is one of the most pleasant people I have ever encountered here at Einstein. In his role at the reception/security desk in the Tower Lobby (Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia), Mr. Pleasant is in a prime position to set the tone for patients, family members and visitors coming into the hospital, and the tone he sets is always a very positive one!”
- Melanie Gavin MSN, RN, IDC home care nurse who “visits the homes of our patients as a part of her job, but her caring spirit looks beyond their physical presentation to see their inner beauty.” Outside of her job, Gavin “is devoted to volunteering and community service.”
Keeper of the Dream Awards were presented by Ruth Lefton, chief operating officer, Einstein Philadelphia and Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park, MossRehab, Willowcrest and Center One.
In addition to honoring Keeper of the Dream Award winners, Einstein’s Martin Luther King Day Jr. program included opening remarks by host Vanessa Rawlings, laboratory supervisor at Einstein Elkins Park, and guest speaker Ike Reese, 94WIP Sportsradio host and former Philadelphia Eagles player. There were also performances by Cory Ballard, scheduling coordinator in gastroenterology; Makeida Thomas, medical assistant, hepatology, Einstein Philadelphia; and Leaders and Legends Performing Arts Center Dancers.
Rawlings also recognized Einstein’s annual Employee Service Project: Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization focused on improving the writing skills of about 2,000 children 7 through 17 at four locations throughout Philadelphia.
Kristen Walls, a CT scan technologist at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, is a volunteer for Mighty Writers.
“They’re one of the coolest organizations I’ve ever volunteered for,” said Walls, who has donated her time to the group for eight years. “They have a young, progressive energy. It’s easy to get caught up in the projects they do. The kids who go there are just fun to be around, and the people who donate their time are all such inspiring individuals. It’s as beneficial to me as it is to the students."
Mighty Writers accomplishes its mission in many ways, Walls said, such as short- and long-term writing projects, after-school academies, college prep courses, and college essay coaching. In one way or another, Mighty Writers helps kids tell their own story. Walls primarily has helped college-bound students improve their college admissions essays, but she has also worked at the other end of the spectrum, helping young students write stories about themselves.
Collection boxes for donations of new and gently used books and writing supplies sprouted up on each Einstein campus, all to benefit Mighty Writers.
Walls knew students would be excited to receive the Einstein donations, and she can’t think of a more generous and appropriate way to remember the courageous civil rights leader.
“Martin Luther King Day is all about giving back, and what better way than to encourage its children to spend their time in a productive way," she said.
Laura Romano, MSW, director, Spiritual Care and Mindfulness, chairs the event committee that sponsors the annual Martin Luther King Day commemoration at Einstein. She recalled the moment when Mighty Writers emerged as the favored choice of a nominating committee designated to select the Einstein Healthcare Network’s annual MLK service project.
“There were a lot of very worthy organizations nominated,” Romano said. “We were down to a couple of final choices and a member of the committee said, ‘You know, there is something about teaching kids about thinking critically and writing well that is so well in line with what MLK would care about.’ And that felt true to us. People were struggling a bit between the final two, but that comment turned the tide. Literacy is at the heart of much of what can help people realize their dreams.”
See photos from the day’s celebration here. (Photos by Wes Hilton)