Registered Nurse, Endoscopy
Raleigh General Hospital
Beckley, West Virginia
At Raleigh General Hospital, a good dose of "Momma Bear" can be the best medicine. That's what colleagues lovingly call Cereatha Kinzer, who often takes new employees protectively under her wing.
Her vibrant personality compels even complete strangers to open up within minutes of meeting her. A fellow nurse says, "It is not uncommon for a co-worker to ask Cereatha how she knows a particular patient, only to find they just met." Her ability to make even the most nervous patients feel comfortable and understand their care is remarkable.
"She is well-known throughout the hospital for her compassion and energy," says CEO Matt Roberts. Colleagues rely on her, too. When she noticed a housekeeper walking from work, she discovered the family had lost their car due to unfortunate circumstances. Cereatha not only drove 30 minutes out of her way to take the woman home that day, but she continued to do so until she had a car again.
Cereatha's impact reaches far beyond the walls of Raleigh General, her acts of kindness blanketing the community she calls home. She has been known to offer free childcare, organize numerous fundraising efforts, and volunteer at her church and local humane society.
She also gives her time at a local homeless shelter, where her compassion and generosity lead to the source of some of her most noble kindnesses: her home. She has been known to "pick up as many people as her SUV can hold and take them home to her family's Christmas dinner," a colleague notes. When asked why she picks up strangers, she replied, "Because my heart tells me to do it. My vehicle just stops without me realizing it."
Once, she gave a man a ride and learned that he lived at the homeless shelter, so Cereatha fed him and offered him a job working at her house. She asked him to round up others at the shelter who wanted to work, and then picked them all up and bought them breakfast. When they arrived at her house, Cereatha and her family worked alongside these individuals. At the end of the day, she paid them and drove them back to the shelter, stopping along the way to buy them some items they needed.
One of the people she helped that day said, "It has been a long time since I've had a meal like this with people who seem to really care about me."
Cereatha's heart beats for the most vulnerable among us, including children in need. She delivers toys to less fortunate children through Mac's Toy Fund, and she has traveled to West Virginia's state capital to promote "Not Us," a program that supports foster parenting and increases awareness about the effects of drug addiction on the children of addicts. She also supports veterans through the community's Wounded Warrior Project and volunteers with the SafeHaven campaign, which provides assistance to expectant mothers suffering from drug addiction.