Recognized for her tireless efforts that provide memorable experiences to children and young adults facing life-threatening illnesses
All too often, children struggling with life-threatening illnesses miss out on creating childhood memories. But Jennifer Huson, a nurse practitioner in a local pediatric intensive care unit, is working tirelessly to change that. Thanks to her unwavering voluntary service to the Dream Street Foundation, sick children and young adults get to attend medically supported free sleepover summer camps and make everlasting memories of their own.
As a clinician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Huson devotes herself to making a positive difference for the children she cares for each day and for those facing similar obstacles in her broader community. Through her work at the hospital, she learned about Dream Street Foundation, a nonprofit committed to improving the lives of children with chronic and life threatening illnesses. Huson has dedicated countless hours of her free time over the past 11 years to helping Dream Street achieve its goals. In recognition of her exceptional service and compassion and helping to make the impossible possible for this young patient population, Huson is one of just seven recipients nationwide being honored with a prestigious 2011Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award.
“Jennifer determinedly pursued her vision to make a difference for children and families that have been touched by frightening illnesses by partnering with Dream Street,” explains Wendell Mobley, who directs Cherokee Uniforms’ charitable and scholarship programs. “To our judges, Jennifer’s dedication to providing these children with exciting experiences outside of the homes and hospitals that serve as a constant reminder of their illnesses distinguishes her as an extraordinary nurse who deserves to be recognized.”
As the volunteer nursing director for Dream Street, Huson works year-round organizing the logistics for two different summer camps hosting children and young adults. Most of her time is committed to Dream Street’s “Big Camp” which accommodates about 120 children each year with cancer, blood disorders and other long-term illnesses. While the normal sleep-away camps are unable to meet these children’s daily medical needs, Huson volunteers her extracurricular time to make sure that Dream Street can provide specific medical
services to each child attending the camp. Huson arranges campers’ medical charts, orders medications, equipment and supplies, and even prepares the infirmary herself. Additionally, she recruits and manages on-site volunteer nurses and doctors to make sure that children can receive 24/7 care when attending the camp. Huson even holds herself accountable to be on duty an astounding 24 hours a day for up to 10 straight days throughout each camp session.
“By taking on a full-time volunteer position in addition to her job with Children’s Hospital, Jennifer demonstrates an incredible amount of dedication to improving the lives of these children,” says Christina Smith, a registered nurse, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Huson’s nominator. “The Dream Street Foundation and its camps would not be possible without her organizational skills, nursing expertise and compassion.”
The Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award is granted by Cherokee Uniforms as a way of recognizing the caring and highly competent work of nurses and other non-physician healthcare professionals who provide exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation while positively impacting others’ lives. This is the ninth year the nation’s leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel has honored inspirational caregivers across the country.
As a Top National Winner, Huson receives an all-expense-paid trip to a 2012 medical conference of her choice courtesy of Cherokee Uniforms; an annual membership to her preferred clinical association; a wardrobe featuring the best of Cherokee Uniforms and Footwear worth more than $1,000; a Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award trophy; a 14K gold-plated commemorative pin; a year’s subscription to Scrubs, the nation’s first lifestyle magazine for nurses; and a $500 donation in her name to the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation.
Ultimately, Huson is rewarded by her ability to make any kind of difference, big or small, in her patients’ lives. “Being a nurse allows me to be a part of a person’s life when they are at their most vulnerable. I am equally rewarded when I make a huge difference, such as saving a person’s life, or when the difference I make is small, like bringing a smile to a child’s face,” says Huson. “As a nurse, I am happiest when I am able to use the talents I have been blessed with to benefit others. When I volunteer my skills and expertise, I am reminded that nursing is more than just a career for me. It’s a calling.”
Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, almost 9,900 healthcare professionals have been nominated across the various nursing and non-physician disciplines. A panel of Cherokee representatives and past Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award recipients evaluates nominations and grants the awards.