By ANNA CLAIRE O’CAIN
Partners in Hope, a ministry of St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, has been around since the 1980s, collaborating with St. Dominic’s employees and local organizations to provide gifts and necessities for needy families in the community. Aimee Burrow, manager of volunteer services at St. Dominic’s, and Sister Kelly Boline, a Dominican sister and chaplain in pastoral care at the hospital, recently spoke with MCL contributing writer Anna Claire O’Cain about how faith and teamwork are making a difference in the lives of families.
Anna Claire O’Cain: Can you give me an overview of what Partners in Hope is?
Aimee Burrow: Sister Josephine Therese was actually the president of the hospital. (She) started the program to reach out to some of our patients that were in great need at Christmas time. … It was called Baskets of Hope and it was just a basket with food items and gift items.
At our highest point of participants, we had 70 families … most of them all referred by (St Dominic’s) employees. (When) COVID hit, we had no volunteers here to help us. We were not allowed to have visitors, so families couldn’t come pick things up. We broadened our outreach (and) we changed the name of the program to Partners in Hope. We partnered with the United Way and various shelters in the community, and we collected just as many donations, but we did more of a blanket approach where we supplied items for the shelters … We’ve done that for the last three years.
This year we are doing more of a hybrid approach of continuing to support shelters but also including some individual families … Our event will happen December 9 and it is supported by the team members of the hospital, who provide all the donations.
AO: Tell me about the Partners in Hope event.
AB: Because of the confidentiality of the patient, we don’t have a reception-type event. … Also the confidentiality of the fact that they are actually in need. … We literally are meeting them at our loading dock and loading their car up. It is an amazing event. Volunteers help us do this. When you see a car drive away with bicycle handles hanging out the window and boxes up to the brim … It is truly a gift of the season.
AO: What organizations will you partner with this year?
AB: We are really focusing on Stewpot this year because they reached out to us as an organization and they have great need this year. (Also) Catholic Charities (and) St. Dominic’s Community Health Clinic. The clinic is run by St. Dominic’s Hospital (and) it is next to Stewpot. It is a totally free clinic. It’s been in existence (since) one of our sisters started (the clinic). They provide medical care to the indigent.
(Also) The Refill Jackson Initiative. (They) help (young adults) get back on their feet and find work. We actually hire people from Refill Initiative. Then we are also (partnering with) St. Dominic’s care management closet. One of the things we do every year is when patients come to our hospital — we have quite a few homeless, you know — we try to let them leave with clothing. … And we will also be supporting Hinds Behavioral Health with some gift cards.
AO: How does teamwork play a part in Partners in Hope?
Sister Kelly Boline: Something our team members do so well day in and day out is they collaborate. Whether it’s the nurses and the CNAs (certified nursing assistants) and the housekeepers on a particular floor in the hospital together, whether it’s colleagues out in one of our clinics … When they gather around Partners in Hope, it’s a common purpose.
No matter how you engage here at St. Dominic’s — no matter what kind of team member you are — you can find a role in Partners in Hope.
AO: How does faith play a role in this project?
KB: There’s a scripture that comes to my mind … ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, when did we see You naked?’ (Matthew 25:44) Because Christ talked about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick. So this is a very tangible way to do what Christ is calling us to do. y
For more information about Partners in Hope, contact Aimee Burrow at 601.200.6739 or visit stdom.com.
Anna Claire O’Cain is a former English teacher and current grad student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Liberty University. She is married to her best friend, J.T., a teacher and youth pastor. Most of all, she is a believer who is passionate about serving God through missions and worship. Through MCL, she now uses her love for writing to serve the Lord in a new way.