Shannon SmithI have been an RN for over 20 years. Being an RN was a life dream that did not come easily for me. Like some, I had many obstacles and challenges thrown my way during my college days. Because of my home life and lack of support, I had to work really hard to pay for my education, housing, and day to day living expenses while attending school. It was not an easy time in my life but I was determined and nothing was going to stop me. As a result, it took me 9 years to complete my prerequisites and nursing school at the local community college.
Luckily, I received a little bit of financial help during my first semester of nursing school. It made a huge difference as it allowed more time for me to focus on my studies. I no longer needed to work two, and sometimes three jobs, to get by with all of my expenses. When I look back now, I honestly do not think I could have survived nursing school without that financial help. The demands of nursing school is very stressful and consumed all of my time. I can remember the countless hours spent studying with my study group, going to clinicals, sitting through lectures in the classroom, and working on care plans every week.
When I finally graduated, I felt truly accomplished but my educational journey was not yet finished. I need to first get started on my nursing career and transition from a new grad to an experienced nurse. While becoming an experienced nurse takes many years, I allowed myself about a year and a half to build up my nursing skills and experience before hitting the books again. I went back to school and earned my BSN while working full time. It wasn’t easy to juggle work and school again, but I was determined. At the time, I was working at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and they paid for my tuition in full. In addition, I was given an additional $250 annually for additional educational costs. This money was allocated to textbooks, which helped tremendously.
The financial assistance I received during nursing school and my BSN program truly made a difference for me. I have never forgotten it and will always be grateful for the help. It would have been just soul crushing to not achieve my dream of becoming an RN due to financial setbacks. All these years later, I still love being a nurse and feel it is my true calling in life. I want to help others reach their dream of becoming an RN.
Hello, my name is Richard Smith (RJ) and I married a pediatric nurse and nursing instructor (Shannon Smith) over 10 years ago. Prior to meeting Shannon, I had minimal to no interaction with RN’s, much less nursing students. The primary reason is because my background has been in real estate and business management. My interaction with RN’s was limited to any encounter at a doctor’s office. Since meeting Shannon, I have had significant exposure and opportunity to socialize with RN’s. In fact, during the past 13 years, I have been privileged to befriend many RN’s. And while they are all so unique and different, they share a common trait…kindness. I was also blessed in meeting several nursing students in classes and attended many RN graduations/pinning ceremonies with Shannon. I was always quietly observing these amazing women. When I inquired why they chose a career in nursing, the answer was often the same. To help…. Then, in March 2020, we all got locked down. I recall watching the news and hearing that nursing students would graduate early to serve on the COVID-19 front lines. I spoke to several of these young nurses. Instead of anger, they showed strength and compassion. They were excited to help in any way possible. Many new nurses caught COVID-19 themselves during 2020 and, sadly, not all survived.
That was the final straw, watching so many of our RN friends struggling Kinder Heart Foundation was born. The idea is simple, provide free housing for some RN students, give love to the active RNs, and provide a place for RNs to unwind. Just like firefighters and police officers, Registered nurses deserve their very own rest and relaxation location. They deserve an organization dedicated to their happiness. It’s a simple way for the local community to give back. So, despite having zero experience in running a nonprofit, retail shop, art gallery, event planning, or fundraising, we dove in anyway. The task has been enormous, the feeling of giving back is overwhelming, and our lack of experience shows. But we are committed, and the purpose is noble.
I was born in Germany and moved to Canada at age 7 just after WWII. My mother, father and older sister worked very hard to get a foothold in Canada. Then with the help of a sponsor we moved to California where I married and raised my own family. It was this gesture of kindness that allowed my family to thrive. Sometimes all one needs is a little leg up to shine. I am now 80 years old and full of life experiences. I am excited to help other with a “leg up”. To show love and compassion to hard working RNs. To meet and help RN students in any way I can. Nurses hold a very special place in my heart. When my family has dealt with difficult illnesses and losses the RN was always comforting. I watched as my husband passed much too early from leukemia. It was the RN that made him feel relief and comfort. It was her kind words, soft touch and reassuring tone that made his passing easier on everyone. I am excited that Kinder Heart Foundation now exists. I am excited to see how much we can change the RN experience for the nurses and nursing students.