Women of Strength 2018
Alice Bova, Class of 1970
It is with respect, honor and appreciation that I nominate Alice Bova for the 2018 Woman of Strength Award. I am an acquaintance of Alice from St. Francis Academy. She was a class officer, a cheerleader, played trumpet in the orchestra, and sang melodiously in the glee club and SFA plays. Alice and I met again at the first Star Struck Gala eight years ago and was I impressed! Alice embodies all of the Women of Strength characteristics.
Alice graduated from Villanova University with a BSN and four years of marching band experience. She joined the Navy while still an undergraduate. She loved the military so much she made service to our country her career. Alice received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of California at San Francisco in 1989 as a Clinical Specialist in Critical Care.
Alice is a twenty-five year veteran of the US Navy Nurse Corps and retired as a Commander. She was stationed in various Navy ports and hospitals around the world – the Philippines, Diego Garcia, Portsmouth, VA, San Diego, Chicago Great Lakes, Iceland, and Charleston, SC. She worked tirelessly and managed the Emergency Departments, ICUs, and critical care areas. During Desert Storm also she was a Flight nurse and managed the Med Evac teams to and from several bases in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Many of our wounded soldiers have Alice to thank for excellent medical care, when they needed it most.
Alice continues her connection with her Navy Nurses as an active member of the Navy Nurse Corps Association. Their goal is preserving and recording the oral histories of its members. Many histories of WWII, Korean and Vietnam War Nurse Veterans have been completed and will be saved in the Library of Congress – due to Alice’s efforts.
Alice’s greatest accomplishment is motherhood. Alice decided to adopt when she was in her forties. Since she was single and older, most people thought she would be refused as an adoptive parent. However, Alice won over the interviewers and Liann became her daughter as a tiny baby. This year, Liann will be graduating with her Bachelor of Science In Nursing – what a testimony to both Liann and Alice – another nurse in the family. As a single mom, Alice was the epitome of community service as well as optimism. While raising Liann she served as Girl Scout Troop Leader and guided many girls towards the completion of the Gold Award. (The highest award a girl scout can attain), as well as Girl Scout Troop Ambassador. Valuing service to her Church and community, Alice has been active in the Choir of Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church for many years.
Alice has faced some challenges in her life. The characteristics of optimism and and courage shone when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Liann was only 11. Of course through her treatment her family was supportive, but Alice was also a pillar of strength, even with the many worries that may occur when you are a single parent with a potentially life-threatening disease. Once she became a breast cancer survivor, Alice, who had always been athletic, decided to take up Dragon Boat Racing. As a member of the Dragon Boat Breast Cancer Survivor National team, named Paddles and Pearls, Alice has medaled in International Dragon Boat Races in Canada and Australia. She will be competing in Florence, Italy in July of this year.
Recently, Alice had served as a Research RN, conducting studies with the Effects of Omega – 3 supplements with Suicidal Veterans. Alice is now currently employed as school nurse for the Charleston County School District in South Carolina. She also worked for 18 years at Roper Memorial Hospital — as an ICU staff nurse, where she was manager of the surgical step-down unit and is an ACLS instructor. She also spent 4 years part time as a Clinical Instructor and as an Adjunct Faculty for the ADN program at Trident Technical College, in Charleston.
Another reason Alice embodies the Woman of Strength values is she recently spent several months visiting and caring for her 98 year old mother in Allentown helping to manage Mrs. Bova’s health issues.
So it is a privilege for me to share Alice’s amazing achievements, as all can see, Alice is truly a Woman of Strength.
Mary Gonzales, SFA Class of 1973
Frances Marie Duncan, OSF
Sr. Frances Marie Duncan, OSF Class of 1968
With a brilliant mind and a wealth of knowledge to share, Sister Frances Marie has been awarded many times for her excellence in education. What is equally as remarkable is her skill for knowing and caring for her students and creating a bond with them which is uplifting and which encourages them to look at life with new hope and wisdom. While being present to their activities and encouraging her students to do their best, she has also engaged them in meeting the needs of the poor as she directs them to Christian service.
Examples of this leadership include involvement with Habitat for Humanity; 30 hour Famine to raise awareness of poverty issues; fundraising for World Vision and Catholic Charities. She organized student immersion trips for summer experience of service to Kentucky, West Virginia, L’Arche Community in Canada, New York City, Camden, New York State. Sister accompanied groups of students on Subway Runs to deliver home made lunches to the homeless. She had her students participated in the Pax Christi Good Friday Peace Walk in New York City and formed an Easter Basket Drive for children of unwed mothers at a local shelter. Many are her awards for her compassion and involvement with the poor. One of note is the Franciscan Peacemaker Award given through the Franciscan Federation.
As a Sister of St. Francis, she has served in many forms of leadership. Currently our Provincial, she has been a Provincial Councilor and has represented us in our General Chapters. Accepting the position of Provincial meant she would have to leave St. Peter’s Prep School, where she loved to serve. Instead she was to step into this new and challenging role as Provincial during a crucial time for religious life. No one hears her bemoan the fact that she said her “Yes” to the Lord.
And now, Sister does for us what she has done at St. Peter’s Prep. She has challenged us to social justice issues, given us an example of faithfulness to prayer, and is attentive to our personal needs. She is mindful of our Sisters who are in need of skilled or personal care. Sister has always managed in the midst of her activities to care also for her parents when they were ill. She now tends to the current needs of her godmother and her blood sisters.
Sister continues to be involved with the board at St. Peter’s Prep as well as that of St. Francis Center for Renewal, Marian Hall, Pre School and Sister’s Place.
God has manifested Himself in Sr. Frances Marie in more ways than we can enumerate.
Over 2000 years ago the word was made flesh in Jesus. He has been incarnate in Sister’s life today.
It is with great respect, honor and appreciation that I congratulate
Sr. Frances Marie Duncan, OSF ~ 2018 Woman of Strength!
Sr. M. Virginelle Makos, OSF.
Debbie Karabin Stevenson
Debbie Karabin Stevenson, SFA Class of 1968
I first met Debbie in 1988 when she applied for a registered nursing position on the medical surgical unit at St. Luke’s Hospital where I was the manager. Upon interviewing Deb, I was immediately struck by her maturity, grace, caring and confidence. I can still remember thinking, “how did I get so lucky?”
Debbie and I worked together in the over 20 years that followed with Debbie becoming the Charge Nurse and ultimately the Clinical Coordinator, which is equivalent to the assistant manager role. It should be noted here that Debbie could have certainly assumed a patient care manager position at many points along her nursing career path, but chose to stay in the Coordinator role because it kept her closer to the patients and the staff, both of whom she deeply loved caring for and working with.
Working in a hospital on a medical surgical unit in the Clinical Coordinator role was full of challenges and the unexpected. Thirty-four patients, their loved ones, 80 plus nursing staff members, numerous physicians and other health care disciplines, and folks from the emergency department needing to move their patients to inpatient beds are just some of the many people that Deb worked with on a daily basis in order to meet their respective needs. Deb moved through her day seemingly effortlessly and with amazing grace, dealing with one problem after another. There was often a line to get to Deb because she was so easy to approach and was always so helpful. She was totally flexible and wore many hats throughout her day. Her accountability to her position and its responsibilities was without measure. Deb always found a way of accomplishing what was asked of her and worked incredibly long and hard hours.
One of our main goals for our nursing unit was to nurture new nurses and help them become successful It can be an arduous and stressful road from novice to senior nurse. Deb was always a huge part of this developmental process, becoming a mentor and strong support for the new nurses on the unit. Young nurses would come to Deb with questions and concerns and knew that she would be supportive, non-judgmental and offer sage advice and information. Though she had many “managerial” responsibilities, Deb would go in and out of patient rooms all day long to provide her expert knowledge and skills. She would role model the empathy and caring values that embody the spirit of nursing as well as the procedures and hands-on care needed. One of the benefits of our efforts to support new nurses was that our unit enjoyed a very high nursing retention rate which is important to providing quality care.
Deb was recognized many times for her selfless dedication to her nursing role at St. Luke’s. Most notably, she was awarded the St. Luke’s P-CRAFT award which recognizes employees that embody our health care organization’s core values of Pride, Caring, Respect, Accountability, Flexibility and Teamwork. Deb also earned the Nursing Excellence Award in the category of “Definition of Nursing.” Virginia Henderson, nursing theorist, developed the first modern definition of nursing: “The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he/she would perform unaided if he/she had the necessary strength, will, or knowledge, and to do this in such a way help him/her gain independence as rapidly as possible.” It takes great strength, compassion and intelligence to accomplish the goal established by Henderson. Deb was recognized out of literally hundreds of nurses for best fulfilling this challenging and very rewarding work.
There were often times when Deb had much going on with the health and well-being of her own family. This included loss of a dear grandson who had a terminal illness and lived many miles away. She always found a way to offer tremendous love and support to her family while meeting all obligations at work. She was beyond selfless. I often wondered where she found the emotional and physical energy in these times, and then I would remember her strong spiritual background, beliefs and values.
I was recently talking with a nurse who worked on the unit with Deb and myself and she said, “You know Deb never complained, ever!” And she added, “Deb always made sure people knew they were appreciated”. Deb took care of the caregivers on the unit, and in turn, they were able to take better care of their patients.
It was always easy to see that Deb had a great passion for nursing and great compassion for the people with whom she worked. Deb possesses a warmth, sincerity and positive attitude that is wonderful to be around. Her outlook on life is exemplary. Her love of all people, from all backgrounds is undeniable.
And by the way, the nurse I was talking with said one other thing of importance, “She really is a saint”. I chuckled when she said that because throughout the 20 plus years I worked with Deb, the one word that constantly swirled in my mind was “saint”.
Sandy, a native of Allentown, PA has been a part of the St. Francis Retreat Center for the past 12 years. She initially visited us on a retreat and was inspired to come back as a volunteer and assist us in the kitchen. She is an extraordinary women who possesses the traits of a Women of Strength: courage, generosity, persistence, optimism, integrity, duty to her community and an unwavering trust in God.
Sandy spent most of her childhood being raised by the Sacred Heart Nuns of Coopersburg. In their care, she learned many of life’s lessons, which is how she lives her life every day. The nuns figured out quickly that Sandy was a hard worker and she took much pride in the jobs she was assigned. When she was 16, she left the nuns and spent time with her family. The one family member she holds near and dear to her heart is her Grammy. She could always depend on her for an ear to talk to and a shoulder to lean on.
Sandy took the many skills she learned in her early years and applied them to her career paths. She started out working for a cleaning service and supervised teams that cleaned several buildings in the Lehigh Valley. Knowing Sandy, I am sure they were the cleanest buildings in the Valley. After several years of service, Sandy got a calling to become a caregiver for the elderly. Because of her overwhelming belief that everyone should be treated with compassion and dignity, this was the perfect career path for her. Every person she took care of became a part of her life and her heart. If they were taken to the hospital or a care facility, she would be by their side. She knew care facilities were often not adequately staffed and she wanted to be sure she would be there to give them the care she knew they deserved.
Sandy is a devoted mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, volunteer, friend, worker and servant of God. She spends her weekdays making kiffles at her daughter’s shop where she is the gate keeper of the dough recipe. At the retreat center, we know her as our devoted volunteer for the past 12 years. She spends Saturday’s and Sunday’s helping us serve our guests. There is never any doubt that she will be there at the crack of dawn, sometimes even before the staff gets there. No matter what her week was like at the kiffle shop or the other obstacles she may encounter during the week, Sandy shows up with hugs for everyone and true concern for all of us. No one gets in or out of the kitchen without a Sandy hug. She always takes the time to make us feel special. Sandy takes care of the retreatants needs in the cafeteria. Often the retreatants thank us for our service and Sandy always responds with a thank you to them for letting use serve them. She is also her own meals-on-wheels for those who need a little extra help now and then. Sandy possesses a unique sense of service, an overwhelming sense of duty to others, and a gratitude to God for helping her do his work.
Sandy has an outstanding gift of believing that Jesus is her guide through life. She actually has a vanity plate on the front of her car of Jesus for that purpose. When she is lost or has to take a detour, she doesn’t depend on GPS, she counts on Him to get her where she is going. She truly believes that all of her life experiences are a part of God’s plan for her life. She believes all things, good and bad, make her a better person. I know we all think and say that, but she actually lives it. I’ve never met anyone who truly puts their life in God’s hands the way she does. When she is unsure of anything, the one thing she is positive of is that He will guide her in the right direction. This gives her a complete sense of confidence in the decisions she makes in life.
Sandy has become a valuable part our retreat center. We are thankful that God inspired her to share her gifts and part of her life’s journey with us. She inspires us to trust in God’s plan for our own life’s journey.