A third-generation "Good Samaritan," Abby Stukenholtz, RN, BSN, is living out her calling with the Society in Auburn, Nebraska.
“Good Sam has been my whole life,” Abby says. “I enjoy caring for people. I love trying to help make people better even if it’s just with a smile.
"Today, the nurse of 23 years is flanked by her mom, Linda Nies, at the Good Samaritan Society - Auburn assisted living.
“We were taking (Abby) to the nursing home when she was like 15 months old. All the nursing home people, of course, they loved that little girl,” Linda says.
Residents still do.
“They’re very caring," assisted living resident Helen Moody, a family friend, says. "Very caring and dedicated."
A home health nursing supervisor, Abby oversees seven nurses covering eight counties.
“Good Sam is kind of taking over southeast Nebraska here with home health,” Abby says. “And we’re hiring five more. We’ve got a large crew taking care of lots of people."
Losing her father was 'devastating'
Darrold Nies, Abby’s dad, actually started the home health operation in this community.
“He was very big and lively, full of life,” Abby says.
Darrold was the administrator at the nearby long-term care location. He was recruited at a young age to the Society by Abby’s grandpa Bob McCain. Bob spent time as the administrator at Good Samaritan Society - Newell in Iowa.
“At 20-21 years old he started, (then worked there) until the day he died,” Abby says. “His picture hangs out in front of here, of Longs Creek (assisted living), because he helped build this place."
“He knew every employee’s name; he knew their family. He knew every resident in there; he knew their family."
On a Sunday afternoon in 2003, surrounded by loved ones, Darrold had a heart attack.
“It was devastating. It was really devastating,” Abby says. “I was 28. I had two little kids at the time. Two little girls. My youngest sister had just graduated from college."
Abby performed CPR but couldn’t bring him back. He was 49.
“After my husband died, people were just wonderful,” Linda says. “They just all came around us after he passed. When you’re a young person like that, you touch so many people’s lives that you have no idea.
"So many came to Darrold's funeral, the church had to put up a screen in the basement so everyone could watch.
'She's so strong'
52 at the time and needing health insurance, Linda started working, officially, at the Society, first at the assisted living before switching to long-term care.
“I did exercises in the morning. I did devotions,” Linda says.
From a med aide to the activities department, Abby is proud of how her mom got involved.
“She’s a trouper. She’s had some hard stuff. Of course I’m crying,” Abby says. “She’s been through a lot but she’s so strong."
Linda credits Society residents with lifting her up.
“The women around here, at that point in my life, they just meant so much to me. They were widows that had been widowed for 40 years, 30 years. They really were a blessing to me and really helped me through those early years,” Linda says.
Years of watching her husband serve residents meant she already knew the mission inside and out.
“It was a ministry. We treated it like that. It was our job to do for people,” Linda says.
She retired after eight years.
“Being the Good Samaritan is the goal, it’s the mission, it’s what you want to achieve in life," Abby says. "You want to be that person that stops and helps the person along the way. You want to shine God’s light through yourself to others. It’s everything. It’s what my life is based on."
'Wish Good Sam another 100 years'
Serving in South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas and Iowa, Abby’s family found out many other lives were dedicated to the Society’s now 100-year history.
“All of them kind of had that sense of, we want to do something great here. I just couldn’t think of any other place I’d rather work,” Linda says. “I sure wish Good Sam another 100 years."
Honoring her husband's service and memory is an annual golf tournament, in Darrold's name, benefitting the Society.
It's also represented in Abby's day-to-day.
“My husband’s so proud he’s a fifth-generation farmer but I’m a third-generation Good Samaritan worker and that’s cool too. That counts,” Abby says.
A few more family connections to note feature Abby's grandmothers: Genevia McCain served as a Society office manager and dietitian. She also lived in an Alzheimer's unit at the Good Samaritan Society in Auburn.
Abby's other grandma, Frances Nies, lived at the Auburn assisted living for a few months followed by nine years at the long-term care location.