Meridian Star

Local News

July 19, 2013

Conner receives high honor

MERIDIAN —     Like any good speaker, Gina Conner came well prepared for her presentation at this week's meeting of the Meridian Exchange Club.

    In addition to mental notes about what she would discuss about the Anderson Regional Cancer Center – where she has worked as a chief radiation therapist since 1992 – Conner also was armed with brochures and other information to distribute to members attending the luncheon meeting.

    However, when Exchange Club member Leonard Cobb called Conner to the podium, she was informed of a change in plans.

    "She doesn't really know why she's here; she thinks she's here to give a program," Cobb said. "Gina, I'm sorry. You are here to receive our highest award."

    Conner is the Meridian Exchange Club's 2013 recipient of the Book of Golden Deeds, the national club's longest running project which recognizes dedicated volunteers who give endless hours of their time and talents toward making their communities better places to live.

    "You have been selected because of your dedicated works. You have shown Christlikeness to others by allowing your love to be shown through not necessarily your words, but your deeds," Cobb said to a clearly shocked and moved Conner.

    "You have provided to our community love and hard work; I want you to know that your hard work has not gone unnoticed," Cobb continued. "You have not solicited for glory, but people have recognized you."

    In addition to her work at Anderson Regional Cancer Center, Conner also actively serves in several local organizations and causes, including the Meridian Civitan Club, the Lauderdale County Habitat for Humanity, the Lauderdale County Relay For Life and St. Patrick Catholic Church.

    "I can't say that I'm speechless, because I came here to speak," Conner said as she expressed her appreciation to the Meridian Exchange Club for the recognition.

    "This really is a surprised. I am really, really humbled and honored to receive this recognition. It's amazing because as I was thinking about today, I remembered that we've been told in Proverbs that you don't 'not do' something when you are given the gift to do," she said. "We're here to serve; to serve others."

    And since Conner did come to the meeting with the intention to talk about the work of the local cancer center, she took the opportunity to do just that, particularly the Cancer Patient Benevolence Fund.

    "The reason it (benevolence fund) came about was because a group of us employees saw that there was a need to have something more done, that we weren't doing enough," she said. "Yes, we were taking care of patients' physical needs as far as their treatment, but there are a lot of other things that go on in life."

    The employees pooled together their money to overcome those necessities – such as providing meals for patients and their families during the holidays, when funds are especially low because they had been used in association with their treatment. As patients' needs increased, so did the need for more funds. Through fundraisers and donations from the community, the Cancer Patient Benevolence Fund has continued to thrive.

    Today, the fund helps patients who receive treatment at Anderson Regional Medical Center get past many more of cancer's hurdles. Expenses the fund provide assistance include medical costs, utilities or rent, transportation to and from treatment, durable medical equipment and tube feeds, breast prostheses, items such as wigs and hats that are often needed by patients undergoing treatment, and other assistance as deemed appropriate.

    "One hundred percent of that money goes to help cancer patients who receive treatment here. None of it goes any place else; there are no administrative fees or other costs. It all goes to help people in our area ... and we have guidelines so that we know that every need is legitimate." Conner said.

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