OCONTO – To say that Jeannie Young was surprised when she was announced as the very first recipient of Prevea Health’s Volunteer of the Year award would be an understatement.
âI was just beyond shock,â she said.
Young, a nurse at the Oconto Prevea clinic, was nominated for her long history of helping local organizations and individuals by her colleagues at Prevea, who managed to keep it all a secret.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” she added. “It went on for months here at the clinic and nothing was disclosed – nothing – until the point where they almost had to push me on stage to tell me what it was about.”
The award was presented during Prevea’s annual employee awards program on November 3 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay. The healthcare provider established the honor this year to recognize employees or a department for work in their communities.
The Oconto Clinic appointment included more than a dozen statements from current and former employees, as well as numerous photos of Young.
Shirley Kidd, the care manager at Oconto, called Young a great asset to the clinic, the patients and the community, and said she “deserved this award more than anyone I know.”
âShe goes above and beyond and does it with a smile,â Kidd wrote. âYou know she loves helping people because you can see it in her eyes and in her heart. She helps so many people and is very humble in everything she does. She doesn’t expect praise or thanks.
Young’s efforts include teaching hunter safety courses, helping the Sportsman’s Club’s annual Youth Day, attending Oconto County Historical Society / Beyer Home Museum events, serving for 25 years as a reserve assistant for the sheriff’s office, carrying the flag for veterans Guard in parades and for the honor guard at funerals, and working in cleaning cemeteries, food drives and to many religious functions.
She is also a member of the Oconto Tourism Committee and Chaplain of the Oconto Elks Club. She has also performed in productions by Machickanee Players and in the annual cemetery walk.
She also helps many elderly residents by mowing lawns or doing yard work, taking people to groceries or shopping, and transporting them to doctors and other appointments.
How does she have time for all of this?
âI’m not sure,â Young said, laughing. âIt doesn’t all happen overnight, that’s for sure. You just do what you have to do for which you have time, whether it’s 10 p.m. or 5 a.m. There is always something that needs something.
The motivation to get involved in the community and to give of her time came from the way she was brought up, learning that “it is much better to give than to receive”.
âIt’s an inner feeling that you have to help people,â Young said. “I was never rich, I never will be, but when you can be rich on the inside that’s what matters, and what you give to others is like doubling (you come back).”
Young added, however, that she expects nothing in return.
âIt makes you feel good to do something for others,â she said. âIt can be as simple as shoveling snow or raking leaves. It’s not work, it’s just to make someone feel good. Just keep going.
Young continued her efforts even after being diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.
âI wasn’t going to let him slow me down,â she said. “I have strong faith, (the support of) family and colleagues, and a fantastic oncology team.”
Young, who was a nurse at Prevea in Oconto for 18 years, says she is fine now.
She began her career in 1970 as an aide at the old hospital in Oconto. She joined the Army National Guard in 1974, where she received her nursing training and earned the title of LPN. After seven years, she worked at the VA Hospital in Iron Mountain, Mich., For a year, then at St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay for 15 years, then five years at Oconto Hospital before her closed in 2002.
Young said she was “very lucky” to find the job at Prevea.
Her colleagues and supervisor, Dawn Steele, feel the same way.
âPeople like Jeannie are hard to find and she is definitely one of a kind,â said Steele, the Oconto and Marinette clinic supervisor in Prevea. âFrom her constant positivity to her tireless work ethic, she is an invaluable asset to our staff as well as to the community she serves. She really has a servant’s heart and she would do anything for anyone without question or reservationâ¦ (because) she has lived her whole life embodying all that it means to be a volunteer and has spent a great deal of it of his free time volunteering to serve others.
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Contact Kent Tempus at (920) 354-6075 or [email protected]