At Landis Communications Inc., we represent several non-profit organizations, as has been the case for the past 20 years. Today, I’d like to tell you about a non-profit –not a Landis client – founded by my friend Meg Styles. It’s called The Gretta Foundation. The story behind it is heartwarming to me because my friend took what was a great loss in her life and turned it into an opportunity to give back to society.
The Gretta Foundation is aimed at increasing the global force of in-country nurses through educational scholarships. Overall, the world is woefully short of nurses, and it’s a far larger (and much less discussed or publicized) problem than lack of medicine. According to the World Health Organization, the global healthcare worker shortage is over 4.3 million. Even with the widespread availability of medicine, if there is no one to administer it, therein lies the problem. The Gretta Foundation aims to provide the solution.
Meg is a personal friend of mine whom I have known for several years, and one of the strongest women I have ever met. She raised two kids as a single mother. She had the courage to quit her job in real estate and put herself through graduate school. She is a pillar to everyone around her – ever humble about it. When Meg’s mother died only a few short years after losing her father, Meg was devastated. But she also hatched a plan that would follow in her mother’s footsteps and honor her memory.
Meg’s mother – the late Dr. Margretta Styles (known as Gretta to her friends) – was one of the foremost leaders in the history of nursing in America. Gretta was a nurse scholar renowned globally as an international leader in nursing education, regulation and credentialing. She was dean of nursing at the University of California San Francisco from 1977 to 1987. She was also president of the American Nurses Association and later president of the International Council of Nurses, which is like the U.N. of nursing, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Inspired by her mother’s work and untiring dedication to the nursing profession, Meg created The Gretta Foundation in 2007, two years after her mother’s passing. Their mission is to provide scholarships to impoverished nursing students in foreign countries – namely, underserved, disease-ridden countries like Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. The students attend nursing school based on the scholarship, with the obligation to work for a hospital or clinic in their own country for one year for every year of scholarship assistance.
Gretta Foundation Scholars often work in conditions that many of us Americans find hard to imagine. Several students in Uganda have been actively dealing with victims of recent terrorist bombings in their country which have resulted in 80-plus deaths. One scholar, Agnes, has been overwhelmed by the death toll, as “ambulances are delivering more bodies than patients.” Another scholar, Immaculate, who works at the University Hospital located near the attacks, had this to share: “During the ward rounds, I met a patient who had burns on the whole lower part of his body. The nurse in charge asked me to assist in dressing his wounds. I was scared to touch him. After the ward rounds, the nurse taught me how to overcome my fears. After a few days, I was able to change the dressings…and chat with him at ease. Sometimes he would even ask for me. In fact, I am going to miss this patient!”
Meg’s idea is beyond brilliant – and I am one of her biggest fans. I find myself inspired by her dedication and determination. She is a woman with a heart of gold, and it shows. Please visit The Gretta Foundation at www.grettafoundation.org
Who or what inspires you? I invite you to share it with us.