Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - Around 100 nursing home residents in Lincoln have been treated to cheerful, decorative door signs, thanks to the hard work of Pius X High School senior Natalie Schieuer. Natalie is the daughter of Kevin and Heidi Schieuer of St. Joseph Parish in Lincoln.
The Ambassador near 45th and Normal Boulevard serves more than 90 patients, usually in transition from hospital to home. Most are elderly, and all are struggling to regain their health. Natalie is something of a regular fixture at the Ambassador. On Veteran’s Day, she and other volunteers delivered their homemade cards. At Christmas time, she and fellow classmates caroled for the residents, leaving more homemade cards with the patients.
“I feel really blessed to be able to give back to the residents of Ambassador Health this year,” Natalie said.
Her ongoing labor of love was inspired by personal experience. When her own grandparents were ill and had to live temporarily in nursing homes, she helped her family decorate their rooms.
“My grandparents really appreciated this, as it helped their room feel more like home,” Natalie recalled.
While brainstorming ideas for her scouting Gold Award project, she realized she could bring the same touch of home to the Ambassador residents.
“I wanted to use my project to do something to help the elderly and help alleviate feelings of loneliness and homesickness that nursing home residents may experience,” she explained.
Door signs seemed just the thing to bring in that touch of home.
“I thought this project was a good way to incorporate my love for helping others with my love for crafts,” Natalie said.
She came up with a variety of options so that each resident would get a sign that appealed to them.
“Some of the designs include flowers, cowboy boots, footballs, Husker Ns, silhouettes of the state, hearts and American flags,” she said.
Funded largely through generous donations – including raiding her family home for leftover supplies from other projects – Natalie also received some donations from the Pius X Landscaping Club, which makes door signs as a fundraiser.
“I tried to be as cost-effective as possible,” she said.
She learned to wield power tools like a pro as she cut out the various shapes. She honed her communication skills as she recruited her Godteens peers and youth from the Lighthouse to help paint the signs.
“Lighthouse is an afterschool program,” Natalie said. “By working with local youth to paint the signs, I am sharing my love for art and creativity while simultaneously helping others develop a love for service.”
Natalie’s organizational skills were also enhanced as she worked on the door-signs project simultaneously with competing in multiple varsity sports at Pius X, earning a perfect score on the ACT college entrance exam, and making excellent grades.
Last summer, she was also recognized by Bristol-Myers Squibb as one of 100 national recipients of the Emperor Science Award, which included working on a multi-week cancer research project last summer with esteemed scientist Dr. Hussein Tawbi from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Together, these experiences are helping Natalie determine what her future will be after graduation. She knows she wants to be a doctor, but she’s not yet sure what kind of practice she will pursue.
“I am looking into anesthesiology, pediatrics and oncology,” she said. “I also hope to become fluent in Spanish and do mission trips to underserved Spanish-speaking communities and countries.”
Natalie said the door sign project has really strengthened her love for serving others and her belief that serving and visiting the elderly is important.
“Unfortunately, we live in a time where the elderly may feel lonely and forgotten,” she said. “It’s so important for my generation to visit with them and treasure their stories, lessons and wisdom.”
She credits her Catholic education as teaching her the importance of stewardship and sharing one’s time, treasures and talents.
“Through my education in Catholic schools, I have been blessed to participate in numerous service projects with my fellow classmates,” she said. “My Catholic education has helped me to develop a love for service, which is something I will keep with me for the rest of my life.”
That includes the next four years, as Natalie intends to make time in her busy life as a pre-med college student to help others.
“I am excited to continue giving back to others in college through service organizations,” she said.