On a cold day, emergency department nurse Joe Stevens gave his own coat to a patient who didn’t have one. It was a simple act of kindness, but not out of character for Joe, who could always be counted on to practice random acts of kindness.
Joe was a good guy, says Rita Burgess, who worked alongside him in King’s Daughters emergency department. A patient representative, Rita saw firsthand the care and concern Joe demonstrated toward his patients, families and co-workers.
In 2012, Joe passed away after a long battle with cancer. Inspired by Joe’s giving spirit, his friends and co-workers determined to honor his life through an annual coat drive to benefit the homeless and those in need.
Last year, Joe’s friends and colleagues in the emergency department collected more than 500 new and gently used coats, as well as hats, t-shirts, gloves, scarves and shoes.
Their donations were given to the homeless and those in needs through a Church Without Walls service in Ashland’s Central Park. More than 200 attended, receiving the Word, clothing, breakfast and lunch.
Remaining donations were distributed through For Jamie’s Sake, an area foster/adoption resource center and the Clothing Closet, an organization serving the homeless and underserved in Ashland.
Joe’s mother, Leona Stevens, has been with the group every step of the way, inspiring them with her courage and dedication to her son’s memory.
The Second Annual Joe Stevens Coat Drive was conducted in September, Burgess noted, with employees throughout King’s Daughters participating. More than 2,000 coats were collected and will be distributed to people in need in Ashland and throughout the region.
“The kind of compassion Joe always showed … that's what we want to remember every year as we work together to help people stay warm with our annual coat drive," Burgess said.
Joe's kindness continues to affect all those who had the privilege of working with him at King's Daughters as well as people who never met him, but have been touched by his character.