Some relationships are meant to be. When Elizabeth Sesselberg, RN, interviewed for a job at VNSNY in 1979, she was hired on the spot. In the decades since, she has served in various areas of the organization, including acute care in the Bronx. She is so inspired by the legacy of VNSNY founder Lillian Wald that she used to stop by Wald’s grave regularly when visiting her family in Rochester. Like her predecessor, Elizabeth also goes above and beyond for people in need, both in her nursing work and on her own time. For many years, she made Christmas meals for patients without relatives nearby, and drove through the city with other volunteers to deliver the meals and gifts that VNSNY had purchased with charitable care dollars.
Elizabeth also gives out of her own pocket, making a financial contribution to VNSNY each year to sustain and enrich the charitable care that VNSNY provides. Her recent gifts include support for the Soto Scholarship to Promote Diversity in Nursing, an award named in honor of longtime VNSNY nurse Elsie Soto that is given to especially promising nursing students to advance diversity.
Elizabeth donates to the scholarship because she knows how valuable education is to a nurse’s future—and how valuable nurses are to health care’s future. “Health care itself may be changing, but what hasn’t changed is the care and consideration that nurses give to our patients,” she says. “Patients come in all kinds and have different needs, but their basic needs are the same: they need our compassion, our understanding, and our teaching. Our goals as nurses remain the same as well: we want to give people the skills and capacity to manage their own care, so they can have the best quality of life possible.”