Christy Allen, RN, BSN
West Florida Healthcare
Maybe it’s because she spends a lot of time on the move, but when Christy Allen met Daniel Merlin, she was drawn to his feet.
As a cardiac care nurse, Allen spends her working hours in a fast-paced environment. On her own time, she hardly slows down, volunteering everywhere from children’s homes to rehabilitation centers and programs bringing camping experiences to urban youth. No group, or person, seems to escape her notice, and once she commits to help, she can be unstoppable, as Merlin found out.
The two met outside a local bookstore in early 2010, as he peeped over her shoulder to see an NFL game she was watching on her laptop. They would see each other around town, and have brief conversations, often around football and her nursing studies. Dan would not talk about where he lived, but Allen knew that he walked everywhere he went. In 2011, she ran into Merlin, noticed that he was limping and convinced him to show her his foot. He had a severe infection as well as fungus, and so she set him up with care at the Health & Hope Clinic.
While Merlin did receive care, he eventually dropped away from the clinic and wound up living behind the bookstore. Allen arranged to meet him every three days and, with a kit she kept in her car, washed and cared for his feet. She gave him socks and shoes. She reconnected him with the clinic so he could get care for hypertension and other issues, as well as his feet. Merlin now lives in a shelter and dreams of becoming a chef. He sums up their relationship this way:
“I know I’m not the only one she has touched and helped. If I tried to put [down] all she has done for me it would take hundreds [of] pieces of paper. She has given me a new life. I feel in my heart and soul that she will be in my life until God calls me home in heaven.”
As for the honoree herself, she says all this attention is humbling.
“If I can make a difference in people’s lives just by being willing to walk with them and do what I can do to encourage and help them out, then I want to keep doing that,” Allen says. “I just want to treat people as I would want to be treated, and figure out ways to make things happen that benefit others.”
Going on medical mission trips throughout the year is a major source of encouragement for Cindy Tate, galvanizing her commitment to the community she serves every day. Tate has visited Morocco, Guatemala, India and many other countries, sharing her creativity and generosity with local residents. Whether she’s offering sewing lessons or teaching children, she immerses herself in the culture and develops an in-depth knowledge of the community’s needs. A certified master gardener, Tate helped turn trash and debris into compost for the creation of a keyhole garden on one trip.
Experiencing the challenges of the developing world has been transformative and ultimately gratifying, she says. As a nurse in the NICU of The Children’s Hospital, Tate has brought this same level of dedication to helping her coworkers achieve their goals. She launched the monthly publication Character First in 2008, which enables members of the NICU staff to improve their skills and earn continuing education credits.
But perhaps her most significant impact is on the patients she serves. Tate offers comfort and stability to parents and their babies who are experiencing tremendous hardships.
“Cindy’s giving does not end when she leaves work. She is not only committed to our babies, and our team, she is also committed to improving the lives of others around the world,” says Jamie Kilpatrick, NICU Director of The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical System.
Throughout his 23-year career in the military, Robert Guy distinguished himself as a servant to his fellow soldiers. So when he retired from the U.S. Marine Corp. in 2009, he wanted to find another calling that would allow him to help others. His work as a pharmacy technician has given him the opportunity to do just that.
Guy’s high-achieving personality has made a tremendous impact on his fellow staff, and he routinely receives praise for his integrity and strong work ethic. But his influence goes well beyond the hospital.
As a pillar of strength in his community, Guy participates in fundraising campaigns for low-income families needing help obtaining school supplies for their children. He further emphasizes the importance of how a community raises the next generation by helping a local Girl Scout troop with collection drives and community service projects.
Guy always welcomes the opportunity to meet new people. He displays a special affinity for residents of the Maggie Johnson Retirement House and helps them by providing blankets and other supplies.
“Robert is an exemplary employee and citizen,” says Allen Harrison, CEO of St. David’s North Austin Medical Center. “He has taken an active role at work and in his community to make the world a better place. He sets the example and challenges others to follow it. He is a Marine on the outside, and inside he has a heart of gold.”