As Mission of Mercy Arizona gears up for our 25th anniversary celebration this fall, we have captured some special memories from our earliest volunteers. We caught up with Carol Long, now 88, who was among the first volunteer nurses to work with Mission of Mercy back in 1997 when the first clinic opened in Phoenix.

Carol was part of a prayer group based out of Saint Maria Goretti Catholic Church that was instrumental in laying the early foundational work that led to the launch of Mission of Mercy Arizona.  Carol fondly remembers working with nurses Elena Konerko, Helen Davis, Carol Meola and others to establish a network of volunteer medical professionals that would treat MOM patients.

Their job was to triage patients one on one at the clinic, which was located at Shepherd of the Valley Church in Phoenix.

“It was more than taking their vitals, it was hearing their story,” Carol says. “MOM provides a space where you listen with intention.”

Of course, that special care links back to MOM’s mission of Healing through Love.

A passion for nursing

 Carol earned her nursing degree in Iowa back in 1957, trained as a nurse in Chicago and ultimately worked in surgery prior to getting married and starting a family.

After raising her children, she was excited by the prospect of returning to her nursing roots through volunteer work with MOM.

“It’s a real gift from God to be able to be there for people,” Carol recalls. “We saw God’s light in each patient who came through our doors. Our work was about more than restoring health.”

Like most MOM volunteers, Carol cites her relationships with patients as her favorite part of volunteering with the organization.

“I like to say that God is like Baskin Robbins – he made us in 31 flavors and we’re all wonderful,” she says, chuckling. “We all have a gift – some are big and some are small, but all are important.”

As part of Carol’s work with MOM, she started the Pharmacy Team to sort and bottle medications, and established annual volunteer retreats. She was also a member of the auxiliary, which was a group that supported MOM with prayer, volunteer recruitment and fundraising.

Over the course of 25 years, Carol volunteered countless hours at Mission of Mercy’s clinics, lending her nursing skills and her heart to patients from all walks of life. “It has been such a gift – not only for the patients – but for all of us who have been blessed to serve,” she says.

Carol points to Proverbs 22:2 as scripture that has guided her life over the years, particularly while volunteering for MOM: The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the maker of them all.