McDonough resident, Shonta Winn, a certified nursing assistant at Sacred Journey Hospice, was recently named the hospice's first SHINE Award honoree.
By Johnny Jackson
Shonta Winn will tell anyone who asks, that she is only doing what she enjoys doing, caring for those in hospice care. Officials at Sacred Journey Hospice believe she has done more, and have honored her with their first SHINE Award.
Sacred Journey created the award to recognize employees, like the McDonough resident, on a quarterly basis, for the positive work they perform for those in hospice care.
"I was very surprised," said Winn, a 38-year-old certified nursing assistant for the McDonough-based hospice.
SHINE is an acronym, meaning Strong work ethic, Humble, Innovative, Notable, and Energetic -- all the qualities Winn exudes, said Debra Parks, director of nurses at Sacred Journey Hospice.
"We had a committee come together to recognize employees that go above and beyond, and Winn was the first choice," said Parks. Parks said Winn earned the commendation as a result of the collective admiration of her hospice clients, co-workers, and supervisors.
"For our patients' families, when their loved one dies, she may prepare dinner for the family, and bring it over that night, so that they don't have to prepare the food," she said. "She may spend some time with caregivers, and take them to the movies or to the park, just to help them get out for a while."
Parks said Winn often stayed with her patients and their caregivers beyond the time she was obligated to stay. "She takes really good care of the patients that passed away, but she takes care of the families," Parks continued. "Just going back to check on a family member, when she is not on duty, those are things she doesn't have to do."
Winn said she felt honored by the hospice's gesture. "I just like to help out," she said. "I work from five in the morning to six in the evening. I work long hours, and I never complain about getting up in the mornings, because I enjoy what I do. And I'm proud of what I do."
Winn joined the staff at Sacred Journey about five years ago, and works for the hospice at two Stockbridge assisted-living facilities -- Dogwood Forest and the Benton House.
Winn said she became a certified nursing assistance 13 years ago, and worked as a laundry attendant for several years before she confronted her fears of putting her certification to use.
"I was just afraid at the time, and I was pretty much content," she said.
Starting out in the profession, Winn admitted, was stressful. "When I first started, the first year, it was so depressing," she said. "I had never seen so much death." However, she has grown into her role as a caregiver and confidant for many of her patients. "I just try to make their last moments fun," she said. "You've got to have a sense of humor, when you see death every day."
Winn is the married to Adass Winn, and she is the mother of four -- Raymon Winn, 23; Dyneer McCoy, 21; Cerria Robinson, 19; Dominqiue Winn, 13 -- but she said her career is just beginning.
Already trained in massage therapy, she said she plans to take a slightly different route in her training a few years into the future, by pursuing training to become a mortician.
She said for now, though, she is content with serving others. "I love older people, and I like helping them," Winn said. "I just wish more people would be dedicated to their job."