Joyce Sienkowski

Joyce Sienkowski

Special nurse makes a planned gift to fund special award

Joyce Sienkowski

Joyce Sienkowski’s story begins on a farm near DeMotte, Indiana, 90 miles south of Chicago, where opportunities for a young woman born in the throes of the Great Depression were limited at best. But Joyce was determined to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a nurse, and she managed to complete a three-year nursing program in Gary. In 1955, armed only with new diplomas and adventuresome spirits, she and a couple of classmates drove up to Chicago and landed nursing jobs in one day.

Joyce soon married and settled in Morton Grove. And, in 1960, just after Lutheran General Hospital opened, she began work in the emergency department. Ultimately, Joyce obtained both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and rose to the director of nursing position. But she was connected to the ED in various roles—including oversight of critical care and trauma—until her retirement in 2000.

Coming full circle, Joyce was a guest at the summer 2015 grand opening of the hospital’s newly expanded Simms Family Emergency and Trauma Center, which now has patient volumes of nearly 70,000 a year. “I’ve seen a lot of changes,” she says. “And I still admire the staff and leadership of Advocate Lutheran General. They are very caring people.”

Exceptional nursing care is a lifelong passion of Joyce’s, and she recently made a gift to fund a special award for outstanding nurses at Lutheran General. Announced this year during Nurses Week, the Joyce Sienkowski Nursing Excellence Award will offer an annual monetary award to a nurse who provides exemplary service to patients, going “above and beyond” to deliver compassionate, quality care at the bedside. It’s an especially meaningful contribution for Joyce. “I had such a wonderful career there in nursing,” she says. “I wanted to give something back.”

To fund the award during her lifetime, Joyce will make annual cash contributions. To fund it after her death, she considered several types of planned gifts and settled on giving a commercial annuity that was part of her retirement portfolio. She simply made Advocate Charitable Foundation the beneficiary; and at her passing, the money will be invested in an endowed fund to support the award. She documented her intentions with the Foundation by executing a letter of gift intent. “I feel good about the award being funded continuously after I’m gone, and I trust that my intentions will be honored,” she says.

Now a widow with three adult children and six grandchildren, Joyce still lives in Morton Grove—just 10 minutes from the hospital she loves. She remains active and volunteers at both the local elementary school and Morton Grove Community Church. For Joyce, opportunities to give are a blessing. “Giving to others comes back to us a hundred-fold,” she says. “It is through giving that we receive.”