Elgin says ‘thank you’ to Sister June
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News November 30, 2011 9:02PM
Sister June Does at her 85th birthday/retirement party at Provena Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin last year. | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 3:55PM
ELGIN — Age is a state of mind, and if you have a positive attitude and are willing to give of yourself, you will have a good life, Sister June Does says.
Does, who turns 85 today, knows about giving of herself. For the past 60 years, she has done exactly that, working for the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart at hospitals in Elgin, Chicago, Los Angeles and Brazil.
She’s known in Elgin for her work and volunteerism with a plethora of organizations — Altrusa, the Elgin Community Crisis Center’s Clinic Board, the Elgin Chapter of Hadassah, the Elgin Day Care Center board, Huntley Rotary Club and many, many more.
On Wednesday, she was honored not only for that work, but her years of service as she officially retired earlier this year.
For much of the past 15 years, she has worked on the Provena Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. Her work, said Dr. Eugene McMahon, hospital president, has helped to bring in $17 million for the hospital, including $3 million for the heart and vascular center and the hospital’s entire cardiac program, $6.6 million for the cancer center, and another $1.9 million for other expansion and modernization projects.
She’s also helped raise funds in ways that she herself was surprised by.
In 1994, she helped implement a “casual Friday” at the hospital, where employees could wear jeans or business casual dress in exchange for a $2 donation. When asked during her retirement celebration if she knew how much those casual Friday’s had raised, she guessed, “$20,000.”
No, hospital chaplain Ed Hunter said. Casual Fridays has raised $126,000 since it was implemented, he said.
Five years ago, in a conversation across a table from an anonymous donor, she told the donor about her idea for an endowment for the hospital, McMahon said. That endowment would provide mini-grants and scholarship funds for the hospital nursing staff. That $5,000 got the ball rolling, and the Sister June Does Endowment now has $600,000, McMahon said.
Three nurses received the first mini-grants from that endowment on Wednesday — grants to help pay for programs in their different areas that help patients, said Rhonda Huber, the foundation’s executive director.
Over her years at the hospital, it wasn’t unusual to find Sister June in the hospital chapel, praying for patients, the hospital and the community, McMahon said. She helped design the stained-glass window and the placement of a Mary and Joseph statue there, too.
For all of her years of service to others, she also is known for speaking her mind and having some fun at the same time.
After the three nurses were honored with the endowment funds, Sister Does stopped to whisper in the hospital president’s ear. “Short and sweet again,” is what she said, McMahon said with a laugh.
“She doesn’t want to waste time,” McMahon said. “She will say ‘short and sweet’ to the hospital president or to the chaplain.”
Sister Does is now living at her order’s mother house in Frankfort, but McMahon recently visited her there after one of the meetings regarding Provena Health’s merger with Resurrection Health Care. Now there will be orders from Germany, Poland, Ireland and France involved with the new health care system. He asked Sister Does what she thought the hardest decisions will be.
“The menu,” she replied.