"If I get better, I'm going to come back here and volunteer."
Loretta Nelson came to Burke in 1986 and 1993 for rehabilitation therapy for chronic Guillain Barre, a neurological condition that causes paralysis of the extremities. Loretta was paralyzed from her finger tips to her elbow, and from her toes to her hips.
It was difficult, but "the therapists are great at getting you moving and keeping you moving," she recalled. "They gave such encouragement that on days that you didn't feel like coming to therapy, they talked to you and helped you continue."
As an extra push of motivation, one of the nurses told Loretta during her second stint at Burke that she wanted her to keep going so that she could dance at her wedding. That invitation boosted Loretta's drive to keeping working and get better. By the time the wedding came around, Loretta was ready. The nurse had her picked up from Burke and she was able to attend the wedding.
Loretta was so encouraged by her stay here that she told one of the volunteers who used to wheel her out to the Colonnade, "Gene, if I get better, I'm going to come back here and volunteer." And she did. For 17 years, Loretta has been volunteering at Burke, doing anything from mailings to greeting patients, to looking after the library.