Amherstburg nurse recognized with 2016 Lois Fairley award for community service



By Ron Giofu


Born into a family that regularly gives back, Marylynn Holzel is used to giving of her time in a volunteer capacity.

Holzel, a nurse at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette campus, has now been honoured by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) with the 2016 Lois Fairley Nurse of the Year Community Service Award. In addition to her nursing career, Holzel has a lengthy list of accomplishments as a volunteer within the community. She received the award Tuesday but found out about it just over a week prior to the actual presentation.

“I was so emotional, so overwhelmed and so humbled,” she said of her reaction to winning the award. “It took a week to get my bearings back after finding out.”

After graduating from St. Clair College in 1984, Holzel started her career in long-term care at Richmond Terrace and spent less than a year there before being hired as a registered nurse at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette campus.

She started there in 1985 on a busy medical-surgical unit and has also worked in paediatrics, telemetry, and is currently working in ambulatory care.

Holzel helped found the Windsor-Essex County SIDS chapter, a branch of the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (CFSID). That stemmed from a tragedy she suffered along with her husband John as, on Jan. 31, 1993, they lost their first child Holly due to SIDS with Holly only being ten-weeks-old.

Marylynn Holzel of Amherstburg is this year's recipient of the Lois Fairley Nurse of the Year Community Service Award.

Marylynn Holzel of Amherstburg is this year’s recipient of the Lois Fairley Nurse of the Year Community Service Award.

At that time, there were no SIDS bereavement groups in the area, so she travelled to the U.S. to attend a support group with other parents grieving the loss of a child to SIDS. She soon founded the local chapter and served as its president from 1996-2006. Holzel also helped develop a manual for health-care professionals on safe sleep practices for infants and she said she travelled extensively to promote the manual and help teach others.

The group also led local monthly bereavement sessions for parents, and helped raise funds for the cause.

Holzel has been a familiar face with the Miracle League in Amherstburg, where she volunteers every Saturday in the spring and fall. She served on their board of directors from 2011 to 2015, and has already signed up to be a volunteer this year.  Her roles include being a buddy director, volunteer coordinator and set-up director

Holzel also volunteers to mentor new staff and nursing students and enjoys sharing her knowledge and skills with others. She volunteered to be project lead for the standardization and optimization process for operating room scheduling and pre-surgical assessment as the hospital worked toward standardizing practice between the Ouellette and Met campuses. She has served on different committees and is always looking for ways to improve her working areas.

Holzel is also a familiar face at the hockey rink. She has volunteered, been manager and trainer for several hockey teams in her community from 2006 to 2014, including trainer for Windsor, LaSalle and Amherstburg Minor Girls Hockey, hockey trainer at large for the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association and team manager for Amherstburg midget minor and major travel hockey.

Holzel has also volunteered as a coach and team manager for the Amherstburg Soccer Association from 2000 to 2010. She also helps with the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals Jr. C hockey team, including helping to update the website and Facebook pages.

Holzel said she grew up in a family that gives back and contributing to her community is natural for her.

“The feeling you leave with after you volunteer is reward enough,” she said. “It feels normal (to give back). It doesn’t feel extraordinary.”

Holzel likes the fact that high school students need 40 hours of community service in order to graduate. She said she has seen students show up at Miracle League because they have to only to find they grow to love it so they end up staying once their 40-hour requirement is fulfilled.

After doing some research into Fairley, Holzel found her to be “an incredible woman” and someone she wants to be more like. She is the ninth winner of the award and received advice on what to do when accepting it from last year’s winner Rita DiBiase, also of Amherstburg.

In her nursing career, Holzel believes in having a sense of humour with patients in order to make them feel at ease and also believes in people “the old-fashioned way” is very important. She said taking care of the whole person rather than just treating an illness is the way to go. Holzel added she has learned a lot from veteran nurses over her career and also from the newer generation of nurses.

Many of her patients, co-workers and family members have inspired her, she said, and she shares credit for the award with them.

“This is not about me. This is about the people around me,” said Holzel. “When you work around awesomeness, you want to be as awesome as they are.”

“We are proud to recognize Marylynn Holzel with our 2016 Lois Fairley Community Service Award. She exemplifies true professionalism and compassion in nursing,” Dana Boyd, president of RNAO’s Windsor-Essex chapter, stated in a press release. “This award allows us to recognized a nurse who goes above and beyond, and also to honour the legacy of Lois Fairley, who had an immeasurable impact on so many lives in Windsor-Essex.”

Holzel was nominated by her sister Mika Parlette with the nomination stating “Marylynn has a great positive outlook and loves what she does. She fulfills all aspects required for this award. She has proven herself as a patient and nurse advocate. She is committed to her patients and workplace.”

Parlette said she was reading a magazine article about the award and saw that Holzel met the qualifications that were being sought for nominations.

“I kept it a secret,” she said.

Parlette agreed with her sister that volunteerism and giving back to the community was something they saw frequently during their lives.

“It’s something we grew up with,” said Parlette.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario.

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