Jennifer's Heroes: Jan Saint John and Roberta White

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

February 18, 2010

It takes a special quality person to work in a field dedicated to bettering the lives of others, and in the Charlottesville convention room full of heroes dedicated to long-term senior care, it was hard for Jennifer to find just one.

"It's very easy to lose your sense of self when you lose the use of your body, and it's so important to keep that," said registered nurse, Jan Saint John.

The first symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis crept into the life of Jan Saint John in 1982. However, those hardships wouldn't keep her from opening her own company six years later. And at last week's convention, Saint John led a workshop in which she shared her experiences as a registered nurse.

"She doesn't let that slow her down one bit. She's really been a teacher to us all and an inspiration to everyone at this conference," said Claire Curry, of the Legal Aid Justice Center.

Roberta White, a certified nursing assistant, also received an award at the convention. She is one of five nursing assistants from Trinity Mission who go above the call of duty to act as peer trainers.

"Like I tell everybody, you want somebody to treat you the day you wanna be treated, and everyday when I go in there I just smile and talk to them," said White.

"She cannot get that beautiful smile off her face and it's contagious," said Saint John.

Saint John, now retired, received an award for teaching those still working in the nursing field. While she is no longer a colleague of nurses like Roberta White, Jan Saint John still has plenty to pass on.

"Just because a body doesn't work as well as it once did, it doesn't mean the mind is gone. The person is still very much there. The soul is there and we need to love those souls," said Saint John.

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