1. Harris, Marilyn D. MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

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I met Evelyn early in my career. In 1973-1976, I was enrolled as a graduate nursing student at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in the administration track. The textbook was Community Health and Nursing Practice written by Evelyn Rose Benson and Joan Quinn McDevitt. The two authors were associated with the Visiting Nurse Association and were my mentors during my time there.


At age 98 years, Evelyn continues to keep active at the retirement community where she lives. The independent senior supportive housing site where Evelyn lives, Hebrew Senior Life, has an affiliation with Simmons University. Each semester 12 nursing students, led by a clinical instructor, come to the community. For 6 hours they meet individually with residents in their apartments for assessments, socialization, and learning about their lives-a unique nursing school opportunity.


Every semester, Evelyn comes to meet the students, along with any other former nurses who are living on-site. Evelyn focuses on hearing about the students' studies and the personal side of their lives. She instantly connects, infusing her insatiable curiosity, warmth, and delight in being part of community health clinical. Her life has focused so much on building awareness of the benefits of community health and the impact nursing makes. She is a staunch advocate of community health nursing and an incredible role model.


Evelyn's loss of vision requires her to use a cane and pay close attention to uneven sidewalks, but she adores being outside, and walks regularly. When someone asks if she would like a hand, she always responds in the affirmative, but with a motive. She has great fun getting to know people. Recently she could detect an accent from the woman who spoke to her. Evelyn asked: "I can tell that you know another language, could you tell me how to say, 'thank you' in that language?" The woman laughed and said she spoke Serbian. To the woman's astonishment, Evelyn responded in Serbian, then shared that her husband had written a Serbian/English dictionary. The woman cried: "The 'Benson Dictionary'...that is how I learned English!" In that brief encounter, so much was shared. Honestly, this happens with Evelyn all the time. Life is full of opportunities to learn about others and no one does it better than Evelyn.


In 2001, Evelyn published "As We See Ourselves: Jewish Women in Nursing." Her book documents the history of Jewish women in nursing based on interviews that "helped to cement old friendships and create new ones." Evelyn shared a copy of her 2001 book with me. One of the reviewers of the book on Jewish nurses wrote: "Benson listens carefully to those who have devoted themselves to the profession of nursing and treats her readers to powerful and energizing anecdotes." Each of us, like Evelyn, needs to listen carefully to each other because each of us has a powerful and energizing story to tell and share.


Three years ago, the Nursing Foundation of PA selected Evelyn as the recipient for the Leadership Award, to be presented at the 2020 NFP Gala. Paula Lasecki, Nursing Foundation of PA Staff, and I flew to Boston to visit with and interview Evelyn prior to the gala. The 2020 and 2021 galas were postponed until this year.


It is my honor to be Evelyn's friend and colleague for the past 6 decades and to celebrate with her on receiving the Nursing Foundation of PA 2022 Leadership Award.