THE RAY OF HOPE
RN and Director of Project HOPE, RN for The Children’s Home of Wheeling, Independent Nurse Consultant
Crystal Bauer was an RN working at Youth Services Systems in Wheeling when her CEO, John Moses, started looking for volunteers for the organization’s winter freeze shelter. She didn’t volunteer—at first. “One day, John asked me to come look at someone. I went, took one look, and thought ‘Oh no.’ I realized that if this person was somewhere else, like a tent or different shelter, he would have died. And would anyone have noticed?”
The moment stuck with Bauer, and, with Moses and Dr. Mercer, the on-site doctor, she began to brainstorm ways to help. “I thought I could probably get some friends together to come, do some sort of health screening.” She began sharing what she and the team were doing on social media and asking for donations like hand sanitizer and Tylenol. “People were saying this is why they got started in health care. Our volunteer base grew tremendously.” And thus Project HOPE was born.
With the help of the community, Project HOPE became a fully stocked exam room, small extensions throughout the area, and even a mobile medical unit to go out into these communities. Bauer remembers “ugly crying” when she found out they had received the money to make the unit possible. “We would have somewhere clean and safe for dignified care rather than under a dirty bridge.”
Bauer admits to becoming a “hard-nosed advocate” for the people she cares for. “We once did a questionnaire about patients’ backgrounds, and I was so embarrassed. One graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Some could play several musical instruments. It took it to a more human level and let us see them for their whole person.”
Project HOPE has become Bauer’s most gratifying role as a nurse. “I have learned so much about the human condition that has been invaluable to me. I come to know them for who they are and try to see beyond mental health and addiction. There is a real soul there that needs love and belonging like the rest of us.”
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