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‘They have not been forgotten’

Gritman employee works to help homeless vets

Each and every member of the Gritman Medical Center team, from those ensuring our patients’ rooms are cleaned and disinfected to our surgeons, makes a difference for our patients. But their work and dedication to serving others doesn’t end when they leave our hospital and clinics.

EVS teamThe work of our Environmental Services (EVS) team is vital to our goal of providing an infection-free environment. Thanks to their dedication, Gritman has a 0.1% healthcare-acquired infection (HAI) rate, far below the national benchmark of 3.5%.

Tina Delph, for example, helps keep our facilities safe and infection-free as an Environmental Services technician, but during her personal time, she has helped to form a volunteer organization committed to helping homeless veterans.

We recently visited with Tina to learn more about her and how she is working to better the lives of others.

How long have you been at Gritman?
I’ve been with Gritman for 4 1/2 years. I work in the rural clinics and other buildings off of the main hospital campus, so I don’t see a lot of the staff, but I have gotten to know several and I truly love the environment within our Gritman community.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Potlatch with three sisters and a brother, and aside from a couple of years I spent in New York as a nanny, I have always lived here. I have two children, two step-children and 10 grandchildren – they keep me busy! We are adopting four girls this September. It’s been a long road, but we are happy to be almost to our adoption date.

Our family likes to go swimming, riding four-wheelers, hiking around in the woods and fishing. We like to catch an auction whenever we can, as I have owned an antique store in Potlatch for almost 10 years. My husband and I also have run a scrap business for 12 years. There are all kinds of treasures to be found out in the old barns around our area.

What about the work you do with homeless veterans through Humans United in Kindness?
Humans United is just something that I thought about for quite some time before actually jumping into action. I have always had a soft spot for our veterans and I wanted to do something meaningful to show our homeless veterans they have not been forgotten, that their sacrifices meant something.

My daughter Danielle, who is also a Gritman employee, has always wanted to work with troops with PTSD, and throughout high school and college, she has been very passionate about it. She just graduated from U of I and hopes to keep pursuing that path. She worked with me to deliver the first round of backpacks and has been doing it with me ever since.

We’ve been doing it for five years now and it has grown quite a bit. We started out delivering 20 backpacks twice a year to veterans’ shelters. We filled them with food and other items they needed and it was just such a humbling experience that we wanted to continue and grow. We asked our community members for support and donations and they stepped right up and helped us make it happen.

We now take a pickup load of food, blankets, clothing, personal hygiene and first aid supplies to a homeless veterans’ home in Spokane two to three times a year. We make one of those trips at Christmas time so that we can make sure each veteran gets a Christmas present. We also take between 20-40 backpacks with us and we hand them out in Spokane, Moscow and Lewiston to those without shelter. The goal is to continue for many years to come and to keep growing each year. Right now, the home we go to houses 22 veterans and we would love to be able to start helping another house.

It is extremely humbling and rewarding. Meeting these veterans has meant so much. On one of our visits, we met a gentleman who had been in Vietnam and he told us so many stories. Another gentleman, he was in his 80s, he was so overwhelmed by all of the baked goods that everyone had sent with us that he broke down in tears. That was the most humbling moment of my life. I realized then that we take so much for granted and the simple act of people caring enough to bake for them just overwhelmed him. I will never forget that moment — ever. That is why I want to continue doing what we do. I know we can’t touch the lives of every single homeless veteran, but I think it’s important to show those that we can that they matter.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the work of Humans United?
The need has definitely increased since the COVID crisis. These veterans don’t have much in the way of food or necessities, and with COVID that has become even more limited.

We would have normally delivered a large load of food and necessities in June, but we were unable to because of COVID. We are planning a trip at the end of August or the first part of September and then we will go again around Christmas.

How can people help Humans United?
We absolutely appreciate all the help we can get. We have people who donate food, clothing, personal items, books, movies and money so we can buy perishable food at Costco. People always ask what they can donate and there’s no small list to give. Non-perishable foods are great. Socks are always needed, as well as winter hats and gloves, small blankets and candles.

Some have thought that $5 wouldn’t be enough to help, but it all adds up, and it’s through contributions that we’ve been able to make this happen. We couldn’t do it without help, that’s for sure. It also helps if people like our Facebook page (facebook.com/HumansUnitedInKindness) and share our posts. That helps get the word out and it’s what has helped us to grow.

If people have any questions or would like to reach out to me, they can do that through our Facebook page or they’re always welcome to stop by my antique store in Potlatch or email me at moc.o1624292577ohay@1624292577hpled1624292577.anit1624292577.