A heart for humanity
Julie Flores serves as the Spiritual Care Manager at Centra Southside Community Hospital. As the only full-time chaplain in Farmville, she works closely with healthcare teams at the hospital to provide support to the families of patients while also managing the team of six local clergy members who are on call for Southside during the weekend. Julie’s partnership with healthcare teams through the care of patient families includes taking them to a quiet location in the hospital, meeting simple needs such as providing water and tissues and calling other family or friends on the family’s behalf.
Additionally, Julie often acts as a liaison between the family and care team, assisting the family with understanding what is going on and explaining medical terminology. Oftentimes it is difficult for families to absorb the information that is being shared with them regarding the condition of their relative because they are overwhelmed with shock, stress or grief. Julie is able to act as a calming presence amidst the confusion.
Julie started working at Centra in February 2004 and has worked at multiple locations including LGH, VBH and Hospice before ultimately landing at Southside which she has called her work home for the last seven years. When asked what her favorite memory from her over twenty years at Centra, Julie said, “the coworker relationships have kept me going. I’ve made friends and felt at home at work because of them.”
She described how the hardest part of her role is often the most rewarding–being so close to people who are in pain can become hard to see day in and day out, but it is also deeply humbling to have someone trust you at a time when they are incredibly vulnerable. She also described how it can be especially sad when long-term patients pass because of the bond that she forms with them.
In addition to serving the Farmville community as a chaplain, Julie is an active volunteer with Piedmont Habitat for Humanity and serves on its Prince Edward County committee. She was originally drawn to serving with Habitat because of her love for home improvement projects, going on to say, “I didn’t feel particularly skilled in it, but by volunteering, I was able to learn new skills in a controlled, safe environment.”
Having now helped on six different housing projects, Julie said, “it has become evident to me that people must have safe, affordable housing. If their floors are rotting, there’s an increased risk of falling. If their HVAC isn’t working, they’re more likely to develop a respiratory infection.”
This all ties back to the Farmville Community Health Needs Assessment which found in 2021 that affordable/safe housing was the top answer to the question, “Which social/support resources are hard to get in the community?” As we explained in this month’s Community Partner article, Piedmont Habitat for Humanity is working to directly address this need across Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Nelson, Nottoway and Prince Edward County.
One of Julie’s favorite memories from serving with Piedmont was building a playhouse kit that the Prince Edward Committee assembled and decorated to look like a gingerbread house for the Farmville Christmas Parade and then raffled off as a fundraiser.
As the self-described queen of Google Instructional Videos, Julie enjoys DIY projects and even installed the backsplash in her kitchen! Her next project? Taking up quilting! Her other joys in life are her husband who she enjoys taking evening walks with and her two children.
When asked what is one thing the world is missing, Julie said, “Empathy for our fellow human beings and seeing what needs are out there. It’s easy to criticize and look at what is lacking, but instead we should be asking, ‘how can I reach out and help someone?’” It’s clear that Julie embodies this philosophy in her daily actions, exemplifying a commitment to serving others. May we all seek to be a bit more like Julie in our own lives!