NEWBERRY — Finally surprised by something, which her friends said was a rare occasion, Jennylee Foster was the recipient of the Jake and Mildred Fulmer Humanitarian of the Year for 2013, given by Newberry County Memorial Hospital Tuesday evening.
“Someone ought to tell the federal government to hire these people for keeping their mouths shut,” said Foster upon arriving at the hospital to find her friends and family gathered together.
In 2008, the hospital received a legacy from the estates of Jake and Mildred Fulmer.
“The hospital chose several ways to honor this gift,” said interim CEO Craig Cudworth. The surgery area of the hospital was named for the couple with appropriate signage.
The surgery waiting room also features memorabilia from the couple’s lives.
Continuing the memory of the Fulmer’s, NCMH Board also chose to establish the Fulmer Humanitarian of the Year award in honor of the couple’s generosity and to announce publicly each year how the proceeds of the trust were spent.
“Plaques are hung in the Fulmer surgical waiting room that acknowledges both the award and the announcement,” Cudworth said.
Dr. Alan Paysinger, chairman for the board of trustees, said Foster certainly fit the mold for the award, with the many attributes she has and her contributions to the Newberry community.
Foster has taught at the high school level for over 30 years, as well as teaching Sunday school, and volunteering as choir director for her church. Her work with Newberry Hospital has been spent with countless hours as a volunteer, a board member, and a friend to many of the hospital’s employees. Foster recently completed a term as chairperson for the board of trustees.
“Now I know that if I have secrets, my friends can actually keep them,” Foster said, surprised her friends kept the news to themselves. “Everyone knows what this hospital means to me. I’m the oldest volunteer in outpatient surgery.”
Foster said she credits her family for making her into a person who truly loves to volunteer, not only in the hospital, but in the community. She described watching her mother look after all of her relatives living in the same house.
“Watching how she waited on them and looked after people, I wanted to be the same way,” Foster said.
Although Foster’s dreams growing up were to become a doctor or nurse, she said she feels that teaching so many students who went on to live out those dreams means that she contributed to that in some way.
One of Foster’s sons, Lee said his mother has always volunteered in the community, even while she was in her teaching career.
“If you’re over 35 years old and went to Mid-Carolina high school, my mother probably taught you,” Foster said.
Foster described his mother as having a great personality, loving to talk to people, but also having the ability to listen well to others.
“She has the ability to talk to people that are on different levels, backgrounds, and have different interests,” Foster said, which he felt was because of her teaching background.
Along with sons, Lee and Rick and their families, Foster had a number of friends and hospital employees and volunteers to attend the ceremony.
A friend of Foster’s, Louise Rollins said the two had been volunteers at the hospital for a good number of years together and she was proud to attend the ceremony.
“We have lunch together about every day, sharing stories about our family,” Rollins said.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.