A Heart for Helping Others

Sellers endowment will fund nursing scholarships

By Neil Mowbray

John and Faye Sellers of Harrisonburg have a real heart for helping others, and their lives have been a testimony to that desire. Since their retirement 10 years ago, they have faithfully volunteered at Sentara RMH, where they have been in charge of the Guest Services front desk in the hospital lobby, making sure it was staffed by volunteers from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day of the week.

Before retiring, they both worked in professions that impacted the lives of hundreds of people. John was a school teacher and principal for the first 15 years of his working life, then became director of financial aid for James Madison University (JMU), a position he held until retirement. Faye was a 1964 graduate of the RMH School of Nursing and served for 42 years as a nurse, working for two hospitals, including RMH, and 13 physicians’ practices. As their parents grew older and needed medical attention, John and Faye took care of them and saw that they received the care they needed.

It’s that lifelong desire to touch the lives of others that recently led them to donate $100,000 to the RMH Foundation. The endowment they have established will help fund the newly created RMH Foundation Institute for Nursing Excellence and Innovation. The Institute provides scholarships to Sentara RMH nurses who wish to further their nursing education, says Cory Davies, executive director of the Foundation.

“John and Faye’s generosity is truly remarkable, and they’ve been very gracious in their service to the hospital for many years,” says Davies. “Now they’re leaving an indelible mark on the care our patients receive by establishing this endowment. I know the gift is personally meaningful to them, but it also means a great deal to our nurses and their patients who will benefit as a result. We’re deeply grateful.”

The Sellers selected nursing as the beneficiary of their generosity partly because of their experience taking care of their aging parents.

“We had to travel frequently to Charlottesville with our parents because they needed advanced medical care that wasn’t offered here locally at that time,” says John. “We were so impressed with the technical skills and caring attitudes of the nurses who cared for our parents. Now, we want to help nurses at Sentara RMH acquire and maintain the skills they need so they can continue offering the same kinds of advanced services on this side of the mountain.”

The endowment, and the Institute it’s helping fund, are in alignment with a strategic goal of Sentara RMH and Sentara Healthcare. That goal is to encourage all nurses with an associate’s degree to achieve at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and to encourage all nurses to continue advancing their knowledge and skills.

“Nursing research has shown that patient outcomes improve as a hospital increases the number of nurses it has who have earned a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) degree,” says Sentara RMH Chief Nurse Executive Donna Hahn, DNP, RN, NEA-BC. “Our goal is to have at least 80 percent of Sentara RMH nurses achieve their BSN by 2020. The Institute for Nursing Excellence and Innovation will help us meet that goal.”

John says it used to make him feel good when, as director of financial aid services at JMU, he could help students finance their education and get their degree. It’s pleasing to know, he says, that the endowment he and Faye are establishing will help future women and men advance the tradition of nursing excellence at Sentara RMH.

“It’s very satisfying,” adds Faye, “to know you’re helping others make a lasting impact on our community.”



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