Meet Lauren Carmer.
Compassionate. Selfless. An inspiring volunteer with a heart of gold.
Lauren Carmer ’18 exhibits a strength in her heart that many would admire. Since she was a young child, she has given her time and her love to those who really need it, and she has humbly made a difference in the lives of hundreds of children.
Lauren started her Graceland career on the Lamoni campus and then followed her dream to work in the nursing field to the Independence campus, where she is now enrolled in the nursing program. Helping others as a nurse is a noble profession, but the practice of doing good for others began much earlier for Lauren.
Her father set the example that pain and hard times are opportunities to spread love and joy. He was the opening manager of Kansas City Hospice House, and Lauren would go to work with him from the age of five or six and follow him around as he did his work. She loved being there, and by the age of about seven, she had found a creative and tangible way to give even more.
Lauren began collecting flowers donated to the house by the families of patients who had passed away, and she used them to recreate bouquets that she then delivered to the rooms of other patients. She began in a closet, but the hospice house flower initiative grew from her efforts. It is now an official volunteer position people can sign up for, and the facility has even added a dedicated space for flower arrangement work.
Lauren still does some volunteer work at the hospice house, but her heart still had room to give more. She has recently become a court-appointed special advocate, sworn in by a Kansas City judge, for an organization known as CASA.
As a CASA rep, Lauren is appointed as an advocate to children who enter the foster care system through an act of abuse or neglect. She is trained to discuss with them how they’re feeling, what their hopes are for an outcome and living situation, and then guide them throughout the process of court dates, etc. She then takes what she learns to court and makes recommendations on behalf of the child.
“When Lauren provides care, she provides care with her whole heart. Not everyone can give that much of themselves to people they barely know. This is one of the wonderful traits that will make Lauren an excellent nurse.”
-Elise Craig, Assistant Professor of Nursing
Lauren was introduced to the volunteer opportunity with CASA by a friend and role model, as well as by her aunt, a CASA social worker. She was drawn to the organization because she expects she will foster and adopt later in her life, and she saw this as a great opportunity to broaden her horizons through her volunteer time and get an inside look into what happens in the foster system.
“I am very, very drawn to volunteer work; I love it; I’ve done it since I was little,” explained Lauren. “I’ve always been a person to want to help out in any way, shape or form. Since I’m in school, I’m not able to give as much as I’d like, but I know I can still contribute with my time.”
While it is clear that Lauren has always had room to open her heart to others, she believes Graceland built on her caring nature with its own caring community, house connections, and friends and faculty who go the extra mile. That care has carried over from her time on the Lamoni campus to her experience on the Independence campus as well, and she believes the nursing faculty play a huge role in fostering character in students to give back.
“The professors really do take the time out of their day to make sure everything is going well and that you’re taken care of,” shared Lauren. “I probably wouldn’t be where I am without them. They’re teaching us to take care of others, but they’re also taking care of us.”
The desire to give her time and heart to others through these experiences developed out of a passion for children. Lauren will graduate from the nursing program in December 2018 and hopes to one day go into pediatric nursing and become a pediatric hospice nurse. It is clear that she will make a difference in the lives of many children and their families — she already has — and that, through one act of kindness at a time, Lauren is making a difference.