M. Joan N.


M. Joan Nash

2014 Winner

Vincennes, IN
Nominated by Patty Dreiman, RSVP Director

Volunteered for:

Knox County RSVP

Length of Service:

80+ hours per month for 13 years

January 30, 2014

Joan Nash, an RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) volunteer in Knox County, Indiana for thirteen years and six months has accumulated 7,016.25 hours of service, receiving a Presidential award and a Golden Hoosier award for her service.

As President of the Knox County RSVP Advisory Council, session member at Indiana Presbyterian Church, board member at Knox County Association for Retarded Citizens, Blue Jeans Community Center and the Pink Ladies Auxiliary, Joan inspires others by her example and leadership qualities.

According to Knox County Solid Waste Management, improperly disposing of unused, unwanted and expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications affects the public health and safety through the possible contamination of drinking and ground water systems, sewage treatment, septic systems, air and landfills and wastes millions of health care dollars annually. Once, it was a common practice to flush these medications down the toilet or sink. We now know that some of these substances are bad for our environment. In February 2007, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy issued the first consumer guidance for the proper disposal of prescription drugs. As Coordinator of the "Drug Toss" program, Joan schedules medication collections in conjunction with informational trainings for seniors on medication safety. Trained RSVP volunteers conduct surveys of participants' disposal habits and weigh the poundage of solids, liquids, aerosols and syringes for reporting purposes. The collection and proper disposal of pharmaceuticals which are typically flushed, burned or buried will lessen the adverse effects on the quality of Knox County's water. Since its conception three years ago 524 pounds of pills, 37 large trash bags of bottles and inhalers and 49 containers of sharps (syringes) have been collected. Joan chuckles as she tells others the oldest prescription collected was from 1978, the oldest liquid was from 1922 and the most unusual was a prescription bottle full of bullets. She also implements Medication Safety Information for Seniors workshops. Participants must try to distinguish between look-a-like pills and candy. Look-a-like liquids are also included in the test. A Medication Safety Information for Seniors handbook (developed by the RSVP Director), plus daily and weekly pill containers are distributed to all participants.

In a leadership position on the Advisory Council, Joan and two other council members review and update volunteer and station files, reviewing time sheets, memorandums of understanding and handicapped accessible forms. This has made the tasks of the RSVP director much easier, resulting in accurate sponsor, state and federal reports.

Intergenerational programs keep Joan busy:
*Through the Children's Vision Screening program, children ages 3-5 are tested for Amblyopia (lazy eye) and Stereopsis (depth perception)

*The three weeks before Christmas each year finds Joan working with the Little Elves Workshop program assisting pre-school children in selecting and wrapping a gift item for the adult caregivers in the home. All gift items, wrapping paper and bows are furnished by RSVP. This service learning program teaches children at a young age (3-5) to give to others at a time when they are on the receiving end of gift giving.

*Each Arbor Day finds Joan sorting and packing 1,500 tree seedlings which are delivered to all area fourth grade students.

*The Knox County Reality Store, sponsored by Work Force Development, is a day for all students in grade eight to experience a taste of life. The students are given a salary and profession based on grades and must access necessities such as rent, utilities, insurance, groceries, pay taxes and sometimes even day care if assigned a family. Joan is one of numerous volunteers assisting the students by deducting the purchase from their salary as they visit the various booths.

The Blue Jeans Community Center in the South Knox area keeps Joan busy organizing the library, answering phones, stocking the country store and working at the annual flea market, yard sale and the Labor Day week-end festival. She was named Festival Queen for her volunteer work in 2010.

Joan's faith is evident as she is involved with the missionary circle at her church. While her church was preparing to celebrate its 200th anniversary, Joan was part of a history committee, collecting pictures and stories of parishioners back to 1806.

Before retirement, Joan was a registered nurse on the mental health unit at Good Samaritan Hospital. Deciding retirement was not exciting enough, she went back to work for KCARC (Knox County Association for Retarded Citizens). She oversaw the health needs of clients in the group homes and those disabled clients working in the plant. Although Joan keeps busy at all her volunteer sites and programs, her first love is health care. She volunteers in triage in the emergency room at Good Samaritan Hospital, in the cardiac surgery waiting room and as a Pink Lady in the gift shop.

At the age of 80, Joan has no plans of slowing down with any of her volunteer activities. It was noted in the 2012 RSVP annual report, Joan was tied for volunteering at the most jobs - 21 out of 72. She was also in the top ten for hours of service. The Knox County community is a better place having volunteers like Joan Nash.

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Nominations - 1,060

Votes - 110,781

Prize Description

The National Winner’s designated non-profit charity will receive a $5,000 donation, courtesy of Home Instead, Inc., the franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network. Each Local Winner’s designated non-profit charity will receive a $500 donation. All Winners will receive a certificate and a spot in the Contest’s “Wall of Fame” here on SaluteToSeniorService.com in recognition of their outstanding service.

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