We are delighted to introduce Gary Rhymes, MSN, RN as a member of our volunteer team. He has been working as a nurse for 19 years with the majority of his career in the care of children. He began his career in Labor and Delivery, then went on to Adolescent Inpatient Psych, and has now worked in Pediatric Surgery at The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital for the past 13 years. Gary recently completed his Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on Health Systems Management and hopes to use his education to become a V.P. over Perioperative Services in a stand-alone pediatric hospital or oversee a pediatric healthcare organization. When he is not working, Gary enjoys reading and listening to music (specifically from the Brazilian and bossa nova genres). His love of music has been inspired by his grandmother, who was a jazz singer and a featured artist for the Count Basie Orchestra and was also was a member of The Floyd Morris Trio. .
Gary was introduced to Fresh Start Caring For Kids Foundation by a co-worker, LaTonya Anderson, while the organization was still in its infancy. Gary says, “When she told me of the concept behind Fresh Start, I knew it was a match for me. I truly enjoy caring for children, and the idea that there are children in our own state/country who are being denied surgery that could provide life changing results was very disheartening for me to hear. So to be able to be a part of a process where we could provide these children with much needed surgery to help restore/build their confidence was a natural decision for me.”
Gary’s role during Surgery Weekends in Chicago have evolved over time. He says, “When we first started, I was a Team Lead and one of the Charge Nurses. I would make sure that the surgeons had what they needed for the surgeries and work with supply chain and CSP [Central Sterile Processing] to ensure that everything was here for the surgery days. I would also provide breaks and lunches for our volunteers in the operating room and just go around making people smile and laugh. I eventually moved on to be a Manager and would sit in planning meetings, round up volunteers and schedule them for the weekends, promote the program, and come in to make sure that things ran smoothly from the operating room side of the operation.” Gary says that he volunteers his time to “make a difference in children’s lives that will hopefully help them develop and build the confidence they need to grow up, become productive members of society, and eventually give back.”
“There are many people in this world who view plastic surgery as something that is selfish, cosmetic in nature and is, thus, optional. This thought process shapes how many insurance companies view these surgeries, even for cleft lips and palates. For children who are born with congenital defects or were otherwise disfigured through an outside act, these procedures performed by the volunteer Fresh Start surgeons and staff are not optionAL; they are a necessity. They build confidence and, for some of our patients and their families, it gives them hope in an otherwise hopeless situation.”
It is Gary’s hope that Fresh Start Caring For Kids Foundation reaches every neighborhood in Chicago, especially the neighborhoods that are most underserved and are often overlooked. He recognizes the importance of getting “into those underserved areas, treating the children, thus introducing not only the children but members within the communities to the fact that there are people who care about them. There are more opportunities in this world to improve not just the child’s life but that of his/her family and the people within his/her community.”
On behalf of Fresh Start Caring For Kids Foundation and our patients, we are incredibly grateful to have Gary Rhymes as a member of our team and an advocate for our organization.