By Colleen Lehmann
As Douglas County, and the rest of the world, continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19, acts of kindness, caring, and compassion at our local level are just as bountiful. We remain indebted to the numerous volunteers who, week after week, step in and step up to keep our communities safe by helping with COVID relief efforts.
This time we would like to shine a light on Tuscola resident Pat Damler, now retired after a 51-year career as a nurse, 26 of those logged while serving in the Air Force. Following her military retirement in 1988. Pat worked at Daytona Children’s Hospital, Christie Clinic Champaign, and spent 10.5 as a clinical instructor in the Parkland College nursing program. She last retired in 2014, but has kept her RN license current.
Pat is the “extremely proud” mother of Micki Kay, a pediatric cardiac ICU nurse practitioner with Vanderbilt Health Systems in Nashville, Tenn. Pat has a twin brother, Mike, who also lives in Tuscola, and an older Kay Ellen, who resides in Riverton. They were lucky enough to have been raised by Kay and Wilber Damler, “the greatest parents who ever lived,” and whose passion for volunteerism was modeled by the Damler offspring.
What efforts have you been involved with since the start of the pandemic?
I have been working the weekly vaccine clinics in Tuscola. I have given shots, worked on the immunization card table, and also helped with getting paperwork completed.
What was your motivation for getting involved with these efforts?
I am a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) member and have been since about 2003. COVID clinics are just why MRC was established. We have no hospital in Douglas County so volunteers come in handy to give seasonal flu shots in the drive-thru clinics at Ervin Park. My mom and dad volunteered as so does my family-(brother) Mike and (sister-in-law) Linda, as well as my sister Kay and her husband Jim.
What has been the most gratifying aspect of being part of these efforts?
I have found great satisfaction in working with people as they are able to get their vaccinations and then to perhaps have a semi-normal life. Most people are gracious and thankful.
What have you found to be the most challenging?
The big challenge is not having the time to educate folks fully about all aspects of the vaccine. People are scared, and it frequently comes off as crabby when we are dealing with them.
Why did you choose to be vaccinated?
I am looking for a more normal life. I spent 26 years in the Air Force and got all my vaccinations. It just makes sense to me.
In addition to helping with COVID relief, Pat is an active member of the Tuscola Kiwanis Club, participating in most of its fundraisers and work days. She volunteers weekly at SAM Food Pantry; and is an active member of Forty Martyrs Parish, including serving as Eucharistic minister, lector, and church pew sanitizer. American Legion Post 27 also benefits from Pat’s membership, as she is finance officer and oversees the post’s annual pancake breakfast. Other favorite pursuits include traveling and reading.
The Douglas County Health Department noted that Pat has selflessly served, supported, and volunteered thousands of hours over her more than 18 years as a member of the Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps. Pat’s extensive military training, medical experience, immense knowledge base, and quick-wit make her a go-to, to fill any role for any public event. (Also makes her a frontrunner for friends asked “if you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want there with you?) Thank you, Pat, for the beautiful difference you make in our community as you serve the greater good.