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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – At a time when people in Ukraine desperately need help, some Savannahians are answering the call.
“I always knew that I was going to do something to help other people, I just didn’t know in what capacity until I became a nurse,” said Angela Hennessee, a critical care nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
In early March, seeing images of war in Ukraine, Angela said her spirit told her she had to help.
“Just like everyone else around the world, just absolutely heartbroken,” she recalled. “As nurses and caregivers, I think that’s just part of who we are, to want to step in and help.”
Having helped with humanitarian mission work in Zimbabwe, Angela was ready when her church put together a trip.
“The church that I go to is Compassion, and we are very intentional about doing missions,” she said.
Angela and her husband, Nolan — who also works at St. Joseph’s — were teamed together to take their expertise to Poland.
Meanwhile, St. Joseph/Candler donated hundreds of pounds of medical supplies.
“It was pretty awesome to be at home to pick up the medical supplies,” said Nolan, chief information officer for the hospital.
“Some of it was for day-to-day care, and some of it was for trauma,” he said, adding, “That means these supplies were meant to be taken to a war zone. I’ve never had to do that in my life.”
With work schedules rearranged, the Hennessees boarded a flight with the job ahead weighing heavy on their hearts and minds. The mission was a partnership between Compassion Christian Church and a ministry in Poland where doors were open to women and children fleeing Ukraine.
They helped provide a safe place, food, clothing and some medical care, but could not ease the longing for their missing sons, husbands and fathers.
“Sometimes, there would be moments when we were having meals with them and they would be FaceTiming their husband or son in Ukraine who were still there fighting,” Angela said. “So seeing that was obviously heartbreaking.”
For two weeks, the couple put their skills to work.
“We were able to put together a small room and be able to take vital signs and provide over-the-counter medications for them,” Angela explained. “I was asked on a couple of occasions to see some of the elderly folks in their cabins.”
Nolan’s primary task was transporting medical supplies across the border.
“We loaded up a van full of medical supplies,” he said. “That was pretty rewarding to really see it happen.”
“As we got there, there’s miles and miles and miles of trucks stacked up at the border. We didn’t know what to do so we just zoomed on by them,” Nolan continued.
He said he waited at the border and watched as the driver crossed to deliver the medical supplies.
“It was pretty awesome in a terrible situation to watch our medical supplies being put into the hands of folks that really need them,” Nolan said.
Easter weekend offered a break.
“We were able to provide the candy and eggs and do an Easter egg hunt with the kids,” Angela said. “And you know, just seeing them having this bleak really dark you know time having moments of happiness and joy.”
Back home in Savannah now, the Hennessees are feeling thankful to be in a position to help others.
“It’s just to help people to relieve pain, to bring some kind of light in the midst of their illness or their pain,” Angela said. “So for me, paying it forward is making myself available however I can.”
Along with Nolan, she plans to support another humanitarian mission in the future. For now, Angela says she’s going back to school and will serve as a mentor in Statesboro’s foster care system — just another way she’s paying it forward.