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Local Nurse Wins Statewide Award

| Goshen, IND. —Kathy Turco, an RN, was recently awarded the 2012 President’s Values Leadership Award from Indiana University Health. Turco was one of 71 nurses nominated for the honor across the entire 18-hospital IU Health system. In a letter of congratulations from system president Dan Evans, Turco was acknowledged as a person “who demonstrates extraordinary dedication to the mission and values in their daily work, professional life, and community contributions.” In addition to a recognition dinner in Indianapolis in early November, Turco will receive a $3,000 award to further her “development as a values leader.”

A nurse with Goshen for 29 years—26 of them in the ED—Turco extends her passion for helping people beyond the hospital walls. She volunteers at the Center for Hope and Healing, teaches 2nd grade Sunday school, and leads the high school youth group at her church. Yet it’s her longtime dedication to Catholic HEART Workcamp, in combination with her excellence in the workplace, that led to her winning the system-wide award.

Turco plans to use the award money to help more youth attend Catholic HEART Workcamp, which costs $325 per person for food, lodging, and transportation. Every summer, hundreds of students in grades 8-12 and their chaperones participate in one of more than 40 Workcamps across the country. Each group divides into teams to assist area nonprofit organizations with any job on their list, from refurbishing homes with fresh paint and new flooring to sorting food at a food pantry or assembling donated playground equipment at a homeless shelter. “We never begin a job we can’t finish in the four days that we’re there,” says Turco, who organizes a Workcamp in Mishawaka every summer in addition to taking teens from her church to a Workcamp in another part of the country.

Turco has been managing the Mishawaka Workcamp for 13 years, and the nonprofit beneficiaries of her efforts include La Casa of Goshen, Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Nappanee, Goshen, and Middlebury, the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in South Bend, REAL Services of St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties, and several more.
“Kathy Turco works tirelessly to make sure that our volunteers have a good experience,” says Bonnie Martin, vice president of development for LaCasa. “Under Kathy’s leadership, Catholic HEART volunteers have accomplished much for us, including painting, landscaping, building a terrace, cleaning out apartments, building a fence and numerous other jobs.” 
Planning this work is essentially a year-round activity, working with nonprofit agencies to identify projects, locating a site to house and feed 300 volunteers, and organizing a complicated transportation plan.

Turco says her reward is the transformation she notices in the teens who participate. “You get to see kids who are in their shell at church, who might be shy or moody, and they get excited and motivated about helping others,” says Turco. According to Bonnie Martin, that motivation translates to far-reaching, long-lasting impact on the community. “The work of Kathy and her volunteers has advanced the mission of LaCasa to provide safe, attractive and affordable housing in Elkhart County.”

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