Joyce Gustein Pays it Forward through Nursing Scholarship

Joyce Gutstein’s passion for nursing led her to establish scholarships to pay it forward to other students entering the profession. Joyce grew up in Springfield, Illinois, and she was able to study at Memorial Medical Center thanks to a scholarship she received for nursing training. Afterwards, she moved to Chicago and took classes towards a liberal arts degree at University of Illinois. Joyce worked at a hospital while taking classes, and she loved public health nursing. Joyce worked with the Infant Welfare Society in Chicago, making house calls and talking to parents about nutrition and accident prevention. Joyce visited many neighborhoods in the city, and she remarked, “As long as I was in uniform, people would pass by and say ‘hi, nurse!’ and I always felt safe.”

Joyce met her husband, Alfred, who was working at the same hospital while he studied for his bar exam. Alfred grew up in Kendallville, Indiana, and the couple moved to Steuben County after they married 56 years ago. Alfred served as a lawyer for decades, including 12 years as Steuben County’s prosecuting attorney. Joyce joined the organizing committee of the Well Child Clinic in Angola, then served as nurse coordinator there for 22 years. She did health teaching, worked with WIC and the health department to make sure kids had their immunizations, and helped spread good parenting skills. “Al called it my full-time part-time job,” she joked. Joyce increased her hours as her two daughters grew up, both of whom are teachers today. “It’s been a wonderful community to raise a family.” In addition to working with Well Child Clinic, she co-organized interagency meetings with Helen Smatt, a County Nurse at the time, and helped create the first nursery school in Steuben County as a collaboration between the Angola United Methodist and First Congregational United Church of Christ. During much of this time, Joyce was also heavily involved with Santa’s Helpers, helping to create the organization that shopped for over 1000 kids for 30 years.

Alfred’s father was a doctor in Kendallville, so they established a nursing scholarship in Noble County in memory of his parents. She also learned about Steuben County Community Foundation through Jack Curtis, a friend of both Alfred and Joyce. Jack was the first full time Executive Director at SCCF, and after Joyce and Alfred created a scholarship in Noble County, they knew they wanted to establish one here as well. “I think nursing is such a noble profession,” said Joyce. “The responsibility they have now has grown so much. I think nursing is a very important part of the medical field.”

After Alfred’s passing in 2011, Joyce established the Alfred R. and Joyce E. Gutstein Nursing Scholarship with both of their names because, she said, “It just made sense, we were a team!” One scholarship recipient was chosen by the committee for Joyce’s scholarship 3 times in a row. In the final year, the student was not able to attend the scholarship banquet because she was on a mission trip in Haiti. Joyce was delighted to know that the scholarship she had invested in was having an impact that spread throughout the world.

Joyce uses an IRA charitable rollover to support multiple nonprofits throughout the county, from Turning Point, to the library, the Steuben County Council on Aging, and Faith Community Health Clinic. She explained, “I see the Community Foundation as being a help to nonprofits who have to do fundraising all the time.”

Today, Joyce still serves as a member of the Cameron Hospital Auxiliary, where she has volunteered for 20 years. She also helps with pantry distribution at her church, Angola United Methodist, and serves in a variety of other volunteer functions there. “I grew up in a household that believed in the verse ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’ and as I have been able to do so, I have been giving back.”

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