A handful of years ago, colleague LeAnne Prenovost, DNP, MBA, CNE, RN, visiting professor for Chamberlain University’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) online programs, had suffered personal loss and felt disconnected from professional nursing. Then one day, as she glanced around the room, she spotted her honor cords from graduation and the invitation to join Sigma Theta Tau International, the honor society of nursing. That was when she knew what had to be done to revitalize her spirit. She joined Sigma right away and submitted an abstract for an upcoming conference, which was accepted. At the conference, she stopped at a Chamberlain University table and three months later, became a colleague. “My love affair with nursing again was renewed.”
LeAnne immediately set out to help the Chamberlain Sigma chapter, Phi Pi, in any way possible. She had her hand in quite a few projects, always asking what more she could do. Then a few years later in 2017, it was time for the big leagues… she was asked to fill in as president elect for the chapter. “I remember saying, ‘I’m your girl, I’m your girl!’,” LeAnne laughed. “It’s better to do something than nothing.” So the self-proclaimed “high energy cheerleader with big ideas” Stepped Forward to serve as president of Phi Pi. “When we take a position as a nurse, we’re responsible for the healthcare of families, the communities and the nation. We have to find ways to give back and encourage others to give back too,” a vow LeAnne pledged back in high school when she missed the final days with her grandmother. “My mom… kept talking about how wonderful the nurses were to my grandma,” she remembered. She then promised that “since I could not be there for my own grandma, I would be a nurse and be there for someone else’s grandma.”
Stepping Forward for Phi Pi
A professional in the field for the last few decades, LeAnne describes Phi Pi as an extension of Chamberlain and Chamberlain Care® that strives to remind members what matters most in the healthcare field – service and responsibility to others. “If together, we can make one person, child or nurse’s life a little bit better… we are a success and we are ‘Chamberlain Care’ and ‘Phi Pi Strong’!”
The Phi Pi chapter is home to 5,000 active members in every U.S. state – including one in Alaska who lives more than 50 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the District of Columbia and several countries such as Brazil and the Philippines. Phi Pi invites the top 35 percent of graduates into the society and its membership consists of nearly all Chamberlain graduates or colleagues. The chapter offers members such amenities as subsidies for annual membership, professional development funds, educational awards, research grants and an opportunity to network and Step Forward in their communities and beyond.
SAFE: It’s All About the Children
A member survey in early 2018 indicated an interest in helping children who are facing illness or a traumatic situation. “We knew we needed a good service project that would span the miles and be useful to our members, no matter where they were.” The group searched for a worthy service project and found the answer with Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE), a nonprofit organization that provides comfort to children in traumatic or emergency situations. The group accepts donations of stuffed animals, blankets, books, children’s clothes and baby items and then passes them along to local shelters, police and fire stations, children’s hospitals and other organizations that support children in crisis.
Phi Pi members assemble about 150 stuffed animals per SAFE project. They kicked off their first service-project event in 2018 and have since hosted four other events with three on the way:
- September 2018 – Indianapolis campus members donated stuffed animals to Riley Children’s Hospital
- February 2019 – in conjunction with attendees at a Sigma conference, members donated stuffed animals to the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter
- May 2019 – North Brunswick campus members donated stuffed animals to Saint Peter's University Hospital oncology unit
- October 2019 – Miramar campus members donated stuffed animals to the Miramar Fire-Rescue Department
- November 2019 – members assembled at Sigma’s Biennial Convention in Washington, DC, and donated stuffed animals to the Central Union Mission and Homeless Shelter
- March 2020 – St. Louis campus members will donate stuffed animals to Maryland Heights Fire Protection District
- Summer 2020 – Tysons Corner campus members will donate stuffed animals to Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC
- Fall 2020 – Indianapolis campus members will donate stuffed animals to Riley’s Children’s Hospital
More Ways Phi Pi Members Step Forward
SAFE is only one of the many projects Phi Pi members participate in. Additional charitable projects include:
- International service project with water.org – raised almost $1,400 last year to assist women by providing access to clean, safe drinking water for their families; they will support this program again in 2020
- Walk-A-Thon with another chapter using the Charity Miles app – raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; members around the world log miles to raise money for children fighting cancer and other diseases
- Service projects on various Chamberlain campuses such as cancer walks, socks for homeless and diapers for crisis nursery
LeAnne has enjoyed her journey with Phi Pi and will finish her term at the end of June. “I have been so blessed to be involved with Chamberlain and Phi Pi. The return on investment is more than I could have hoped for in my wildest dreams. I’ve had the time of my life.”
Ready to earn your next degree? Learn more about Chamberlain’s MSN program.
By Heather L Hurtado
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