Lucretia Scammahorn is the type of person who can't help but answer a need. "I've just been so blessed," notes this retired nurse as she talks about her devotion to patients. Or as she talks about a dizzying array of volunteer activities, including serving breakfast to homeless men at a local community center, gathering winter coats for homeless children, or tutoring the same children via a mobile classroom.
Lucretia's bequest to the IU School of Nursing, which will create a scholarship in her own name, is a thread in the tapestry of her generous life. It's a way of living inspired by her mother and father.
"They were giving and generous people," she recalls. "I grew up in a small town—Centerville, Indiana—and people were neighborly. My parents helped their friends, and their friends helped them.
It was just the way it was with that generation."
When Lucretia graduated high school, she faced the few choices afforded to women in those days: teacher, secretary, or nurse. It was the latter that captured her interest because of a childhood injury that hospitalized her for a month.
"When I was in the hospital, there was a nurse's aid called 'Grandma,'" she remembers. "The story was that her grandson had been admitted into the small pediatric ward she served. He called her 'Grandma,' and the name just stuck with the rest of the patients. And, of course, she was a very kind and caring person, as were all the nurses there." Grandma's example inspired Lucretia: "From then on, I wanted to be a nurse."
At the IU School of Nursing, Lucretia found the opportunity she wanted: "To help others," she states. "That was the foundation laid by my parents. It was something I wanted to do." And she did. For 25 years, Lucretia served the public through the Marion County Health Department. As a staff nurse, she tracked the health of teenage mothers and their children to help stem the rates of infant mortality.
Later, she would become a liaison to area hospitals for the department. She worked with incoming immigrant communities to deal with their unique health concerns, such as tuberculosis. She responded to anthrax scares at the airport after 9/11. These new issues Lucretia tackled with her characteristic interest and vigor. "I learned so much," she says. "You never knew what each day would bring. I learned to never stop learning, and I got to work with outstanding professionals."
Lucretia is also proud of the 10 years at Riley Hospital for Children, caring for children facing cancer, heart disease, and developmental disabilities. Today, Lucretia likes to say that she's back at the "grassroots level" of helping others. Her volunteer activities are many, but she always notes that she's lucky to be able to help. And when she sees a problem—someone in need—she simply acts.
Among her volunteer activities, Lucretia also serves on her alma mater's scholarship committee. Prior to her recent bequest, she created a scholarship to honor her mother and father after they passed away. Now, she's added a second scholarship.
"It's different today," she says. "So many of our students are coming to nursing as a second career. And times are tough. It just feels like they need more help getting to school than in my day." And so Lucretia has acted again and made a difference in yet more people's lives. It has been and will be a life of helping others For her, it has been a life of helping others-one she feels lucky to have led.