Sister Annemary Miller
"It's letting people know how valuable they are - valuable as human beings - that's our key work."
Sister Annemary Miller is a retired nurse, but the nurse inside her hasn't retired.
When people who are homeless, when young mothers who are poor,
when veterans who are elderly and at their wits’ end — when they ask Sister Annemary for help on almost any given day, she sees them through a nurse’s eyes.
Sister Annemary works for J.O.I.N., or the Joint Organization for Inner-City Needs. She works four days a week. Some days she answers the phone calls of people in need; some days she interviews people coming off the street.
In either case, she’s dealing with men, women and children who have run out of options.
J.O.I.N. is fifty years old and sponsored by the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. It provides emergency assistance with food, clothing, and shelter, help with utilities — and importantly to Sister Annemary — help with medicine.
“People in need of medicine, that has no place in our society,” says Sister Annemary. “I retired from nursing but that still stays in my thoughts.”
Among those needing help with medicine and medical supplies are veterans, the elderly and people who are homeless.
“I got a call from someone trying to help a man with a CPAP machine [to assist with breathing at night],” says Sister Annemary, “that the man needed a special battery for it.
“And I said, ‘Why do you need a special battery? You just plug the thing in the wall.’
“And the person said back, ‘Because he’s homeless. He lives in a tent.’”
Sister Annemary pauses. “Stuff like that just pulls at me.”
Sister Annemary sees things as a nurse, but always as well as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur.
“I’ve always worked with the poor,” she says, “helping them in our society where so many of them are trapped in poverty. It’s so easy for them to get discouraged. But I try to make known to them God’s goodness, and to help them get on their feet. The physical stuff, you can mostly get around. It’s letting people know how valuable they are — valuable as human beings — that’s our key work.”
Photo caption: Sister Annemary Miller listens to Ronald Richardson, a homeless client at Columbus’ J.O.I.N, as he requests bus fare to a new job.