Senior Chaplain Brenda Lee received the 2021 Caring Kind Award presented by Great Plains Health, North Platte, Neb.
She was named senior chaplain at Great Plains Health in July 2019. She had served three years on the chaplaincy staff at the hospital before that.
Lee earned a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, with majors in Greek and religion and a minor in archaeology. She received a master of divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.
She received several nomination submissions for the Caring Kind Award. Here are some of the words from those nominations:
“Brenda is incredibly passionate about her job. We saw a lot of death during the height of the pandemic and Brenda was always there to not only comfort patients and families, but also staff. She works a lot of
hours and is incredibly dedicated. Her smile is bright and she is willing to jump in and help anyone. She is invested in the organization, the patients, and lives our mission, vision and values every day.” -Dani Smith
“Most of us want to run from discomfort, the dying, pain and hurt. Brenda runs toward it time and time again. Aside from her willingness to fully immerse herself in some of the activities she would admit to (I know there are many more), she has in her heart more room than anyone I know.
“If a patient is dying, they will not die alone, not on Brenda’s watch. She has been known to sit with patients for hours. I have seen it myself. If a father is dying and won’t be able to walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding, she (along with a lot of help from others) made that walk down the aisle in our very own chapel possible on videotape.
“If going home is not possible and death is inevitable, they may have gotten to see their beloved pet one last time. If they have no family, they have Brenda.
“For the families who have suddenly lost a child and are in the confusing confines of the ER there are often no comforting words. But just being present may be enough. Brenda is present, often for hours.
“And her genuine, authentic goodness pushes out of the walls of this medical facility into the far reaches of this community and beyond to people that would have otherwise been forgotten: the homeless; patients who have no family; her home is open for pets whose ‘person’ is in the hospital; performing funerals for families who are grasping on to the little bit of faith they may have, but didn’t have a church, Brenda is there for them.
“I work closely with Brenda — she is my spiritual guide for my palliative patients. She is so gentle and so loved by those with faith or no faith, and those struggling to find faith at the end of life. She offers them a carved wooden cross, to keep, to hold, to hope on. Her heart suffers with the nurses who face the death of a patient and consoles them consistently with chocolates and a card. She noticed that the families of patients who died in the hospital weren’t getting sympathy cards, so she started sending each and every family a card. The list goes on and on.
“But what is particularly endearing about working with this amazing, selfless chaplain is her passion for loving others and doing for others because she wants to, not because it’s her job. It’s her calling. I’ve seen her exhausted. I’ve seen her tearful. I’ve seen her vulnerable to other’s pain. But I’ve never heard her complain. She worked six days a week for two years, not because she felt she had to, but because she knew patients needed a calming presence often in the midst of chaos. She just worked harder to prove that another chaplain is needed. And she did prove it!
“She has had her own challenges this year with her husband being ill and with trying to manage the small church they direct in his absence. She has been working on her doctorate (which because of her husband’s illness she has had to temporarily postpone) and determined to finish (Oh! She will!). She has been in high demand to speak to numerous community organizations and events (such as the Mayoral Breakfast) because her message is simple and heartfelt: ‘God loves you. You matter.’” -Jan Daniel