Volunteer Spotlight - Sally Samarin

Sally has lived through countless unprecedented challenges throughout her 72 years of life. She has experienced significant loss, as well as moments of true joy. After a short time working as a flight attendant, Sally married a Green Beret serving in the Vietnam war at 20 years of age. Just ten short months after their marriage, her husband was killed in combat, leaving her widowed. Shortly after receiving this devastating news, Sally decided to continue her schooling and become a registered nurse. For the next 50 years, she worked as an RN and spent the last 10 years of her nursing career working in hospice. When asking her what she enjoyed about this difficult job she said that she found great purpose in helping families walk through grief, as well as making sure that the patient was as comfortable as possible during their final days on earth.

About three years after the loss of her first husband, Sally remarried and had two children, a boy and a girl. During her second marriage, Sally began taking an exercise class. Little did she know that the instructors were Christians. Sally enjoyed her classes with them immensely and began teaching alongside them. The Lord used their influence in her life to lead her to Christ at 34 years of age. Unfortunately, her marriage ended in a difficult divorce, but it only brought her closer to the Lord. Although this was yet another trial to endure, Sally was able to glorify the Lord through it, move forward, and continue serving Him.

Not only has Sally’s career equipped her for counseling at LivingWell, but it also prepared her for one of the most difficult trials she would face. After marrying her second husband, Sally had a daughter and a son. Unfortunately Sally’s daughter Katie suffered from a chronic illness. At one point, her body was beginning to fail and she needed to be admitted into hospice care. Sally explained how the Lord provided through each stage of the process. Her experience as a hospice nurse, strong connections to caring healthcare providers, and Faith in God helped to somewhat ease this heart wrenching experience for Sally. “God used all of that to help me.” Little did she know that her daughter's passing would further strengthen her faith and trust in the Lord. “I do have hard times, I really do. And I would be honest, I’d rather not have to have my daughter die. But, I believe the Lord gave my daughter and I mercy and grace through her passing. She suffered physically and emotionally her whole life, and she does not have to suffer anymore. And for that, I’m grateful.” Although she continues to struggle and grow in this area, Sally says that she is “learning that for a Christian, sometimes healing means that they must first go to heaven.” Although it can be difficult at times, “my place is to accept His will, and to know that He works all things for good.”

Sally believes that grief is something you work through. She has also found that the Lord has placed a desire on her heart to create and lead a study on grief and experiencing loss. She believes that, as a Christian, we do not grieve as the world grieves. “People need to know that experiencing grief does not need to kill you and take your joy away. You can heal from it while continuing to have a life and joy in Christ.” She has already started to write the study and has chosen to name it “Beyond Loss.” Her desire is to take grief and dig deeper to find true healing. “I do believe that God gave us the grieving process as a gift, so that we could live in a world where there is sin.”

Sally has volunteered at two other pregnancy centers before coming to LivingWell. One aspect of LivingWell that stood out to her were the people. She loves getting to know those that she works alongside and has found that she loves the staff and volunteers here. When asked what she has learned the most from serving at LivingWell, she replied that it has grown her ability to nurture others. “I am a mother, and through that I have learned to nurture. Our clients need to be nurtured. All of my clients are special to me, and I see that so many young women don’t have that nurturing, and they really need that. I am glad that I get to do that here.” She also “learned to let them go.” It’s not my job to fix them or change their minds. My biggest job is to love them and show them Jesus.” Her career in hospice nursing has definitely helped develop her skills in the counseling field. “We would walk into a lot of crises, on many levels, both physically and emotionally.” She found that “death tends to bring conflict into the family unit, but so does an unplanned pregnancy.”

Sally’s story is a perfect example of how a Christian can use sorrow and grief for good. Her unwavering faith and trust in the Lord has often been her lifeline and continues to be as she enters this new season of life. As she continues to counsel women at LivingWell and write her study, “Beyond loss,” Sally has not allowed her past circumstances to dictate her current life. Sally is a joy to be around and conversation with her is always rich. When asked what her advice would be to the younger generation she encourages them to, “know the Lord, grab hold of Him, and hang on.” Her advice has definitely been displayed throughout the challenges of her life. It has been such a privilege to be entrusted with sharing her story with you all, and I hope that her testimony is an encouragement to you.

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