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The Wounded Healer


Bob Speelman and Chanel Watkins

August 5, 2022
Chanel Watkins has been at Maria Joseph, our facility in Dayton, Ohio, for 19 years. Chanel first started in long-term care back in 1990 in the Dietary Department at another facility. The HR Director at that facility saw something special in Chanel and encouraged her to become a Nursing Assistant. Chanel didn’t feel that was what she was meant to do but did take a position as a Hospitality Aide and was really good at it. So good in fact that her coworkers convinced her to become a Nursing Assistant.

In 2003 Chanel came to work at Maria Joseph as a Nursing Assistant and has never looked back. Chanel works on the Memory Care Unit at Maria Joseph, and she LOVES IT! Chanel told me, “I just love these residents. They need me, and I need them. You have to be patient and kind with them and firm when it’s needed.”

As we worked together throughout the day, I asked questions to get to know Chanel a little better. I asked who the most influential person was in her life, and she told me almost immediately, “My mom.” She told me her mom died when she was 14, but her kids were her whole world. She said, “anytime we would fight, mom would make us hug and make up. She was so loving and sacrificed so much for us.”

I asked Chanel if she had kids of her own. She said, “I did.” She then went on to tell me that her oldest daughter, Letise, was killed in 2005 in an automobile accident at the age of 17, and her youngest daughter, Raychell, passed away this past February of 2022 from complications of Lupus at the age of 31. My heart sank. I had no idea what to say or do. I just hugged her and told her I was so sorry.


Letise, Chanel and Raychell

Chanel looked at her watch and said, "It’s 10:56am right now. I’m glad you’re here today because I used to call Raychell every day at 11am just to check on her and see how she was. 11am every day is the hardest time for me." It was hard for me to hold back the tears.

As we worked with the resident throughout the day, I saw a mother that loved her children. I know they were all much older than Chanel, but I honestly saw a mother’s love for her children, and it warmed and broke my heart at the same time. Chanel told me, “These residents have gotten me through the dark days.”

Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not 'How can we hide our wounds?' so we don't have to be embarrassed but 'How can we put our roundedness in the service of others?' When our wounds cease to be a source of shame and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.


- Henri J.M. Nouwen


Chanel – I love you my friend! I don’t have answers, but I have observations. You are making a difference to our residents!! Your wounds are a source of healing because I witnessed it first-hand today with our residents. You have a gift, and I’m glad you have kept pressing on. May God continue to use you. Wounds and all.

Bob Speelman, STNA

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