When Amanda Damron describes Regional One Health as a place where “a lot of lives have been saved” she’s talking big picture: desperate car crash victims rushed to the Elvis Presley Trauma Center, frightened moms who learned their pregnancy is a risk, tiny babies born too soon.
But she could just as easily be talking about her own family.
When Amanda was 16, she received the terrifying phone call that her dad was being flown to the trauma center after a traumatic injury. Several years ago, when her dad severed his fingers in a table saw accident, he demanded to again be taken to Regional One Health despite being 45 miles away in Fayette County at the time.
Amanda Damron, left, volunteers during ONE Club’s “Tailgating with Turner” event, one of many she has organized to support and recognize Regional One Health employees.
Her 18-year-old cousin was in a serious car accident in 1999, and Amanda recalls how Regional One Health gave the family time to say goodbye. Another cousin was healed at the Firefighters Burn Center after a bonfire accident. And, on a happier note, in 2006 her daughter Julianna, who Amanda and husband Giles adopted as a baby, was born at the hospital.
While Amanda’s appreciation for Regional One Health comes from her own experience, it is both that personal connection and the big picture of the hospital’s impact on her community that inspire her to give back as Events Committee Chair for the ONE Club women’s auxiliary. “Everyone knows if you have a trauma, you come to Regional One Health,” Amanda said. “It gives people peace of mind knowing it’s here; knowing doctors and nurses are standing ready to mend you and put you back together…standing ready to save your life.”
That, along with Regional One Health’s growing list of outpatient services downtown and at the new East Campus, make its value to Memphis and the surrounding area immeasurable, Amanda said: “Every time you turn around, you see the benefit to the city.”
So, when Amanda’s friend Nikki McVean asked her to join ONE Club, it was an easy call. Nikki and Amanda had worked side by side for years on events at their daughters’ school, so Nikki knew Amanda has a knack for turning ordinary gatherings into something special. Amanda dove into the task with all her energy – and all her heart.
A s’mores bar is one of the sweet ways Amanda and ONE Club have come up with to give employees a little fun in their workday.
In two years, she has hosted events like “A Sweet Introduction,” where ONE Club made its debut by providing donuts for the hospital and clinics; a Christmas party with cookies and coffee for trauma and burn unit staff; and “Pop on by for a Warm Hi,” where Rout Building employees enjoyed s’mores, hot chocolate and popcorn. Most recently, at “Tailgating with Turner,” volunteers served BBQ nachos and handed out blue-and-white pom-poms and can koozies.
The idea is to spread events around so all employees are recognized and know their hard work is appreciated. “Whether it’s someone greeting patients, a nurse at the bedside all day, a social worker handling cases, there’s always the potential of something hard in their day,” Amanda said. “We hope we can fuel them up. We tell them, ‘Let us take care of you for a few minutes.’”
Case in point, she recalls a five-minute massage event where a clearly shaken nurse came by after helping with a difficult intubation. ONE Club members encouraged her to have a massage, and, “She came back to life. It was only five minutes, but she felt so much better.”
Stories like that don’t surprise ONE Club President Karen Johnston, who said Amanda embraces giving back to hospital employees. “She is a creative, high-energy, positive individual who is passionate about the hospital,” Karen said. “She sees Regional One Health as part of her family.”
With Amanda in charge, event attendance has soared, Karen said. “Every event she’s organized, she’s knocked it out of the ballpark. We’ve had record attendance. It’s very encouraging.”
Mary Catherine Burke, Special Events Director for the Regional One Health Foundation, said Amanda’s creativity and warmth make her a huge asset to the hospital: “She dedicates herself to letting every employee know they’re valued. She puts her heart into her work, and it shows in the fun ways she comes up with to bring employees together and support the work they do.”
Karen said supporting employees is one of the most crucial things ONE Club does. “ONE Club is unique because a lot of the hospital auxiliaries deal with raising money or doing things for patients, and we focus on trying to support the staff. They give so much of themselves.”
Regional One Health employees inspire Amanda to give back: “I can’t do the work these doctors and nurses do,” she says, “but I can support them.”
No one knows that better than Amanda, both from her global and personal perspective. Indeed, as Amanda talks about the rewards of volunteering with ONE Club, she pauses to look to the sky as the thud of a helicopter draws closer. It’s far from an uncommon occurrence on campus, but for Amanda, it’s one that never fails to make a powerful impression.
“When I’m over here and I hear the helicopters and ambulances come in, I know someone is being rushed to the trauma center to save their life. I always think to myself, ‘I can’t do that. I can’t do the work these doctors and nurses do,’” she said. “But I can feed them, I can support them, and I can make them smile. It’s a privilege to serve those who are serving others.”
Contact Mary Catherine Burke at 901-545-6176 or MTagg@RegionalOneHealth.org for details on joining ONE Club. Along with hosting events, members provide tours, host dinners to connect doctors and donors, supply the Birth Facility with toys and books, support the ONE Night fundraiser, rock babies in the NICU and serve as ambassadors for Regional One Health within their own circles of influence. ONE Club is open to 100 women, and spots are available.
Visit ONE Club online for more information.