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Running toward chaos

A nurse volunteers to serve COVID-19 patients in a New York hospital

by Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Brittany found the streets of New York City neither noisy nor crowded. (Contributed photo)

ST. LOUIS — “Over a thousand miles away from everyone I know and love, I ran towards the chaos,” Brittany wrote to a friend.

As a registered nurse, Brittany had volunteered to work in a New York City hospital. She marked her birthday, saying, “It’s not a birthday I’ll soon forget … I spent it battling disease, poverty, social injustice, COVID and death.”

How did this young woman find the courage for such a perilous journey?

Only a few years ago, Brittany was a single mom – jobless and fearful. The Single Parent Family Program at Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services gave her and her two children a safe place to live while she started over. The program helped her to “retrain my brain and use healthy coping skills in times of stress,” she says. After a year with PCHAS, Brittany moved her family into an apartment and started courses at a nursing school.

There were setbacks that brought her to PCHAS again. “I used my fear as an engine to keep moving toward my goals,” she recalls. Gradually, she found faith in herself and in God. “I learned to draw near to him, asking him to give me understanding of his will for my life and for the power to carry it out.”

She graduated. She married. She made a home.

PCHAS Regional Director Scott Waller reflects an admiration for Brittany’s success that has spread across the agency. “God used PCHAS to bring about transformation, hope and healing,” Waller said. “Brittany has truly gone from being a receiver to a giver.”

Brittany brings faith and resilience to her work as a nurse during a pandemic. (Contributed photo)

Watching news reports about the COVID-19 pandemic, Brittany felt compelled to help. Perhaps it was her personal triumph over chaos that prepared her so well to step in when chaos dominated the lives of others in need. She traveled to New York in April to join the front lines of the nation’s medical response to the pandemic. Her work is exhausting and she will have a two-week quarantine before returning to her family after her service period is complete at the end of June. But her faith comforts and sustains her.

Brittany’s story is not only an example of individual triumph; it is a testament to the power of community rallying around an individual in need. PCHAS was able to walk with Brittany as a single parent during her time of crisis. She was able to focus on her strengths and not only build a new life for her family, but also expand her impact to an incalculable number of lives.

May we all find inspiration in those who persevere, who learn to stare down chaos, who reject the option to run away in favor of running toward it with everything they have.

Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Service (PCHAS) provides Christ-centered care and support to children and families in need. Across three states, PCHAS manages foster care and adoption cases, assists young adults leaving the foster care system, provides housing for single parents getting back on their feet and counsels families in crisis.

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