Alzheimer’s disease has robbed Sandy Kowalski of much of her life. It has stolen her energetic personality, her determination, even her contact with the outside world. But it can never take away Sandy’s accomplishments.

Her work, especially in the field of community health, will have an influence on LaPorte County for years to come. And when Sandy’s husband Stan established the Dr. Sandra Calkins Kowalski Scholarship Fund through the Unity Foundation, he created an unassailable legacy that will offer opportunities for future generations to walk in Sandy’s footsteps.

Sandy was a nurse who dedicated her career to community health, which is difficult and unglamorous work. Rewards and recognition are few, but her achievements were many. She worked tirelessly to help launch the Open Door Health Center, and was invited to speak about it across the country. She was the second nurse hired by the Visiting Nurses Association of LaPorte County, and would become a VNA advisor for 30 years. Through VNA, she was a key figure in bringing hospice care to the county.

While she taught nursing at Purdue North Central, and then for 23 years at Valparaiso University, she involved her students in community nursing experiences, and created community nursing courses. She also served on the boards of the VNA, Concerned Citizens for the Homeless, Minority Health Coalition and Stepping Stone Shelter for Women. Her work was always done on a volunteer basis.

This year, Stan established the fund to provide support to Purdue North Central in the education of students pursuing an undergraduate degree in nursing, with an emphasis on community nursing or public health. This became Unity’s first fund designated specifically for PNC, which means that donors who want to support both organizations don’t have to choose-one donation helps PNC and Unity at the same time.

Perhaps Sandy’s ultimate contribution will be to inspire future healthcare professionals. The fund would then help bring her inspiration to fruition.

Stan said, “I want scholarships to be available for students who truly have the capacity for compassion that Sandy has. Nursing is what they should be doing.”

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