How a N.C. nurse ended up volunteering a Queens hospital

As the misery spreads, most of us are relieved to be watching the worst of it from the safety of our sofas. And 47-year-old Bevin Strickland of High Point, North Carolina, was one those comfortably on the couch. 

But some switch flipped in Bevin. “Yea, it was kind of a switch,” Bevin said. “That’s funny that you say that because I was like, ‘Wait a minute, why am I sitting here?'”

Bevin, a nurse, had just contracted a serious case of empathy. 

Bevin Strickland and her sons. Courtesy of Bevin Strickland

“I could imagine the nurses being so exhausted, so stressed out if I can just go and relieve a shift for them,” Bevin said.  

That was a month ago, and now Bevin is working at Mount Sinai Queens, the epicenter of the outbreak in New York City. 

She cares for the sickest patients — under the most demanding conditions — solely because she believes she was made for a moment like this. 

“I’m not afraid,” Bevin said. “I’m not easily shaken by things. I was in a bank robbery. I was held at gunpoint. I was tied up for 15 minutes. He was tying me up and I said, ‘Are we on candid camera?’ You know, I wanted to make him laugh. I figured I’ll make myself human to him and then he won’t want to kill me.” 

It was at that point that I realized this was no ordinary hero. 

nurse4-copy.jpg Bevin Strickland Courtesy of Bevin Strickland

Then I later learned that that, although she’s not technically a volunteer, she has to get paid for legal reasons, Bevin plans to donate everything she makes, after expenses, to the Mount Sinai support staff. 

And the fact is she could use the money. She has student debt. And she’s a single mom with twin 16-year-old boys back home. She asked them before she volunteered.

“She asked us multiple times and even after saying yes she’s like, ‘Are you sure you want me to,'” Sammy said.  

Why did they say yes? 

“This life is not just to serve yourself but to serve others,” Aaron said. 

These apples didn’t fall far. 

“I believe it’s our duty,” Bevin said. “I believe we should be compelled to do something when we can.” 

There’s a switch that goes off in some people during perilous times. Whether it’s the football coach who steps in to stop a school shooter or the NFL player who joins the army after Sept. 11 or the nurse who simply stands up from her couch – there will always be those who run toward tragedy when everyone else is fleeing. 

“Somebody’s gotta help,” Bevin said. “What if we all said we couldn’t handle it and we couldn’t do it? You know, what if everybody said that?” 

It certainly wouldn’t be America.  

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