Weekend Bonus: VA Nurse’s Breakthrough Book; A Boomer Army Emerging for Nonprofits; Author Wins Contest, Recovers Inner “Popular Girl”

Stoic no more:
When Veterans Administration nurse Drea Horton was in nursing school, she told Stars and Stripes this week, “they teach us not to cry, to be the stoic helper.”  So Horton, 45, found another way to talk about the wounded warriors who fill her life: her newly published book of poems.

Horton said she’s been writing since age 11, but abandoned the craft
while she embarked upon a career of nursing, married and raised two
daughters and a son. Now, with her children grown and the marriage
ended, she has picked up her pen and returned to her first love —

“Her Stars and Stripes, A Nurse’s Diary”  [is] full of prayers and thoughts for the men and women who pass through those VA hospital halls where she has toiled for the past 10 years. Nursing can be a frustrating life, she said, especially in VA hospitals.

“We have a lot of homeless veterans here,” she said. “They came back from the war, got discharged and then couldn’t find a job. We patch them up, get them a place to live and do everything we can to get them back on their feet. But just a small percentage actually make it.”

Doing well, then doing good: A few weeks ago, we posted in Newsmix a piece about agencies finding jobs with local nonprofits for unemployed boomer women, often at minimum wage. This week, the Dallas Morning News reports that according to a
recent survey by Civic Ventures and the MetLife Foundation,  “About
three-fourths of the nation’s 78 million boomers plan to work beyond
the traditional retirement age, with as many as half saying they’re
interested in jobs that help others.”
And many bring executive skills to the job:

As head of an executive search firm, Gwyneth Lloyd had built a successful career matching employers and employees. So when she became chief program officer for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas this spring, she knew it was the perfect fit.

The 54-year-old Dallas resident has raised two daughters, counseled young mothers in India and mentored businesswomen early in their careers. At the Girl Scouts, she’s channeled that lifelong interest in nurturing girls and young women into a vocation she hopes will make a difference for 42,000 girls.
“When I was growing up, I never lacked for confidence,” she said. “I want every girl and young woman to have that same kind of self-esteem.”

The nonprofit’s chief executive, Colleen Walker, said she values Ms. Lloyd’s management expertise as much as her passion for her work. “More than ever, our supporters expect results from their investment, and Gwyneth’s solid business practices have helped make our organization more accountable,” Ms. Walker said.

A different kind of literary success:
Like many brainy kids, author Ericka Lutz, fiction editor at LiteraryMama.com, learned early that she wasn’t going to be one of those “popular girls” in school. Instead, she went on to write ten nonfiction books (including) On the Go With Baby and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Stepparenting) as well as numerous short stories essays and novels. But this summer, writes Lutz, a competition at the Red Room (known as “the literary equivalent of MySpace”) suddenly roused her long-suppressed desire to win a popularity contest:

I stayed in first place and thought about what it would be like to win. It would be World Ericka Day! I’d run up the stairs like Rocky Balboa and stand at the top leaping and pumping my arms in the air! I pictured what I’d wear to the fancy dinner — part of the contest winnings.

Then on the last day of the contest, the fun stopped. The author who’d been in third place all along — a friend of mine — surged ahead, and I sunk to second. Power and need roared through me. Losing was inconceivable, devastating. “I need to win,” I said. “I need this.” And this little red caboose shifted from “I think I can,” to “I will, damn it!” and I became a huge freight train thundering through.

— Chris L.