National Nurse Week: Celebrating all Nurses

From May 6-12, we celebrated National Nurse Week, and we took some time to show our appreciation for all the good that nurses do and the impact they have on patients’ health. We couldn’t think of a better way to honor all nurses than to shine the spotlight on two of our dedicated volunteers who have devoted their time, talents, and passion to this noble profession. Happy National Nurse Week!

SUE O’BRIEN (left)

Sue’s vocation as a nurse started in the 1960s. For the first nine years of her career, she worked as a Floor Nurse for O’Connor Hospital and then moved to Kaiser Permanente, where she continued to develop her passion for the next 26 years.

“When my husband passed away,” Sue shares, “we were in San Diego, and I was sleeping on a couch in an ICU room or the waiting room and attempting to eat in the hospital cafeteria until my son and daughter arrived. I would have appreciated having something like JW House then. Being an RN, the patient was always my primary concern. But I discovered through this experience that the caregivers also have needs. They experience fear and many of the same emotions as the patients, and it is difficult for them to take care of themselves.”

Perhaps this was why Sue was attracted to the mission of JW House in the first place. Because of her experience, she understands quite well the value of keeping the family together and strong in difficult times.

Sue has been a dedicated house volunteer for the past six years, covering any needed shifts. When asked what she does at JW House, her answer is “what I do at home, but on steroids: I do the laundry for the rooms and prepare meals for the residents and the Day Use clients. But, most importantly, I feel that I am there to meet the emotional needs of the clients, whether it is someone to listen to them, hold their hand, or give a hug. We all provide physical support, but most importantly, we give emotional support. This is what I feel that we do so well at JW House.”

Why do we appreciate Sue? Because everyone who walks through our doors is important to her.


“This is my graduation picture from 1979,” says Larel, “It’s the only time I wore my nursing cap!” We think that she looks terrific in this picture, but we also believe that cap or no cap, Larel, has made an incredible impact on the health and wellbeing of so many patients during her career.

Larel worked at San Jose Hospital for the first 14 years after graduating from nursing school and later moved on to work for San Jose Medical Group and San Jose Medical Center. She then spent the last 13 years as a nurse caring for patients at O’Connor Hospital before retiring from nursing in 2018.

If you stop by JW House in the morning, you will likely find Larel busy working her morning shift. She will be greeting guests, giving tours and sharing the history of the House, making a meal or warming up leftovers, prepping a room for the next guest, or washing sheets and towels. In short, doing, as when she was a nurse, whatever it’s in her hands to make someone’s day a little bit easier. But, you might also find Larel sitting with a guest who needs to chat, picking flowers in the garden to make beautiful arrangements for the tables, and doing other little things that make a big difference.

“Being a nurse,” Larel shares, “I have sensitivity to what caregivers go through. I can talk with them about their experiences in the hospital and understand the lingo they use, which is comforting for many of them. I love what I do at JW House, and I always miss my time here when I have to be away!”

Why do we appreciate Larel? Because she fully understands both our guests’ physical and emotional needs.