When Earl Nehring's wife, Harriet Nehring, helped found Kansas Advocates for Better Care, little did he know that the agency's mission to advocate for those in long-term care facilities would become very personal.
After serving as KABC's executive director for 15 years, pioneering for improved long-term care for elders, Harriet developed Alzheimer's disease. Suddenly, her husband found himself looking to KABC, not as the spouse of one of its key leaders, but as a caregiver in need of support.
KABC armed him with the knowledge he needed to select the right long-term care facility when it came time, then monitor the level of care his wife received while in the facility.
So when the organization asked Nehring, a retired professor of political science at Kansas University, to serve on its board of directors, he gladly accepted as a tribute to Harriet. Since then, Nehring, 90, has contributed so much to the mission of KABC that the organization selected him as its United Way Roger Hill Volunteer Center Volunteer of the Year for Leadership/Board Service.
“The most valuable part of volunteering is you feel like you are doing something useful for your community, and you have the satisfaction of helping the organization improve,” said Nehring, whose wife died in 2007. “Volunteering is a wonderful way to meet new and different people. The people who get involved in nonprofit organizations are usually very interesting.”
“Through his personal care-giving journey, Earl understood the need for support, information and education that families and friends seek in order to provide the best care for a loved one,” said Lenette Hamm, office manager with KABC.
As a result, he launched the Harriet Nehring Educational Fund, which has allowed KABC to train more than 200 caregivers since 2007. He established the Harriet Nehring Memorial Fund. And in 2009, Nehring helped start the KABC Caring Award, which recognizes people who show leadership in improving long-term care in Kansas. Recipients include former U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore and former Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson.