The pandemic has changed so many lives, including how and where we work. Until the last year-and-a-half, nursing was a profession that seemed to always attract enough young adults to the profession.
But COVID-19 has seemingly changed all of that, with many hospitals and other health care facilities reporting shortages.
This Sunday morning, the Mount Kisco Lions Club will be holding a three-mile walk within the village to raise money for a scholarship for a local high school student who plans to pursue a nursing program in college and for a current health care worker who would like to go back to school and become a nurse.
Gail Smilkstein, president of the Mount Kisco Lions and a retired registered nurse, is reconstituting the walk to raise money for the scholarships after the effort lapsed for the past 12 years. She said the prospective nursing candidates need all the encouragement that can be mustered to entice students into the field.
“People are leaving the nursing field, people aren’t going into the nursing field because of COVID and we really need nurses,” said Smilkstein, who worked as a school nurse for the bulk of her career at Sleepy Hollow High School, along with several other schools around the county.
Candidates for the high school scholarship will be selected from Fox Lane, John Jay or Kennedy Catholic high schools, she said. The two recipients will receive $1,500 each.
The walk, which kicks off at 9 a.m. from the front entrance of Northern Westchester Hospital, will follow a three-mile loop around the village. After leaving the hospital grounds, it will head down Moore Avenue, before turning onto Lexington and then South Moger Avenue, and finally onto Main Street to head back to the hospital.
The route will remain on the sidewalks so there will be no road closures or impact on traffic. Smilkstein expects a fair number of nurses from the area to take part.
Participants are asked to secure donors to sponsor their walk for a flat rate and to pay before the walk. Smilkstein said a station will be set up at the gazebo on South Moger Avenue to answer questions from passersby and solicit additional donations from the public. A second table may also be set up near Jacobson’s Pharmacy on East Main Street.
Participants may park behind the pharmacy or at the Boys & Girls Club.
Smilkstein said since 2009 the Mount Kisco Lions have focused their energies on other charities, organizations and causes. But with the pandemic straining the nursing field in many areas, it seemed the proper time to restart the walk, she said.
“We would like to raise as much money as we can because it will carry over to next year if we make extra money, and we’ll give (out) funds the next year,” Smilkstein said. “If it’s really a very well-supported thing then we will.”
The walk will be held from 9 a.m. to noon rain or shine. For more information or if anyone has questions, they may call Gail Smilkstein at 914-483-7106.