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April 2011

Avila nursing professor loves volunteer work at Rachel House

Lonna Boen's area of expertise while teaching her courses at Avila University is medical surgical nursing. Yet, she's finding that some of the most enjoyable work she undertakes these days lies more in working with an underserved group of obstetric patients.

When Boen isn't busy teaching her courses at Avila, something she's done for the past 17 years, she spends time volunteering at Rachel House, a non-profit, Christian-based, pro-life pregnancy resource center with three locations in the Kansas City area. According to Boen, young women, many living below the poverty level or with complicated social issues, come to Rachel House at first because it offers free pregnancy tests. There, they talk with nurses and counselors about their choices, with a viewpoint toward carrying through with the pregnancy.

"They offer prenatal visits, ultrasounds, and teaching related to prenatal care and care of the infant after delivery," Boen said. "We also work on spiritual life. These girls discover there are people who care about them."

Boen said she learned about Rachel House after noticing a bulletin at her church and speaking with a friend who was involved in the organization. She has been volunteering – she mostly does intake histories of girls when they enter the house – on a regular basis for about a year.

"During the summers, I volunteer one day a week," she said. "During school year, it's about one day a month.

"I just wanted to try it, and after a little while, I just fell in love with it."

It's similar to the love Boen has felt throughout her years at Avila. She moved to the area 17 years ago when her husband was transferred and she'd just finished work on her master's degree in nursing at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She said she has a warm spot in her heart for "the caring atmosphere and Christian-based values and base" that Avila affords.

"I love my job here," she said. "I love working with the students, I love the flexibility. I love the attention paid to students here. It just feels like a community of caring people.

"We have transfers who come in here from other, bigger schools and have commented on the personal, caring touch here."

This is much like the attention Boen gives her students at Avila, and the girls who need her help at Rachel House. AU

Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434