June 24, 2014

Sister Betty Harris brings her own ministry of caring to Regina Health Center residents

The following profile appears in the most recent issue of The Heart of Regina Health Center newsletter. Read the complete newsletter for additional news, upcoming events, stories of how Regina Health Center provides excellence in health care and supportive services, and more.

Sister Betty Harris brings her own ministry of caring to Regina Health Center residents

Sister Betty Harris, CSJ, has always had a gift for listening and ministering to those in need, which is good news for her fellow residents at Regina Health Center (RHC). Sister Betty continues to use her gift to provide a listening ear to keep residents company and put a smile on their faces.

Like many of the sisters who call RHC home, Sister Betty spent many of her early working years teaching grade school students. After retiring from teaching, Sister Betty helped with administration at the Congregation of Saint Joseph Motherhouse in Cleveland. When her ministry there was complete, she was approached about managing a local thrift shop in Cleveland’s Detroit-West 65th neighborhood. She agreed to give it a try because she wanted to keep active, but said she would give it two months.

Her two-month trial lasted almost 20 years.

Sister Betty lights up when talking about the interesting people from all walks of life and all areas of the city who came into the thrift store, where shopping sometimes took a backseat to conversation.

“Many people just wanted to talk and I was there to listen. At times, I even sent them down the street to the church so they could talk to the priest. I had more fun there and learned so much from the people I served,” she said.

After the thrift store closed, she ran into one of her regular customers who gave her a big hug and said, “We miss you honey.” Sister Betty realized she needed to get back out there and use her natural gift of listening and ministering to those in need. She began visiting homebound neighbors and those in nursing homes, listening to them and keeping them company.

Sister Betty first came to RHC for rehabilitation after surgery. During her temporary stay, she said she met wonderful people and quickly made friends. When it was time to return to RHC as her permanent home, she already knew a few people and made a point of meeting as many more as she could. She went down the halls, knocked on doors and introduced herself.

“So many were worse than I was and they seemed to be comforted by my visits. I have been blessed to get to know so many people and call them my friends,” she said.

Sister Betty makes sure to meet all new people who arrive at RHC and often gets to know the families of residents as well.

“They are so thankful. You just do not realize what you do for them, but they tell you how grateful they are. One family even brought me to a Cleveland Indians game and we sat in a loge. It was wonderful,” said Sister Betty.

Sister Betty shares her room with RHC’s oldest resident, who is 106. She sees it as blessing to have her as a roommate, helping out where she can and setting out her clothes for the next day. “It is good to give back to someone who did so much for her community.”

Regina Health Center Board member Sister Miriam Erb, CSA, knows how important Sister Betty is to RHC and vice versa. “Sister Betty founded her own ministry of caring for her fellow residents here at RHC. She is living life fully in her retirement.”

Regina Health Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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