Mission Monday: Getting to Know Chaplain Stephen Payson 258

Mission Monday: Getting to Know Chaplain Stephen Payson


As we move into the giving season, we are highlighting our resident expert in the season of giving, Four Diamonds Chaplain, Stephen Payson. 

Q: Why did you want to join the Four Diamonds team at Penn State Children's Hospital?
A: I came here as a chaplain resident and had the opportunity to be a chaplain fellow in pediatric oncology. My director and the Pediatric Oncology Nursing Manager found that I would be a good fit to continue my work in pediatric oncology. Four Diamonds felt it would be a good thing to have a chaplain on staff caring for Four Diamonds Families.
Q: What are some of the roles and responsibilities of a chaplain?
A:The first role is to care for patients and families, providing spiritual care. A cancer diagnosis presents a great life challenge and sometimes a challenge to spiritual beliefs. Thus, a chaplain is helpful as a sounding board when families are facing cancer. The chaplain also serves the staff community as a caregiver for the caregivers (doctors, nurses, etc.) especially during difficult times, including the unfortunate times when a child passes away. Everyone hurts during these times, including staff.
Q: How do you provide support to families with varying religious views?

A: A professional chaplain is respectful of each person and family and the spiritual beliefs that they hold. A chaplain is trained to ask questions whereby those beliefs can be drawn out to help families face what they're facing in the context of their own belief system.
Q: What do you see as the biggest impact Four Diamonds has has on families??

A: I would have to say that the staff members, particularly the psychosocial support team members such as social workers, child life specialists, chaplain, music therapists that are funded by Four Diamonds, and they are having a huge impact on these families. They are able to walk alongside these families and provide them a sense of support during trying times.
Q: How do you handle tough days when you're working with a patient or family who received bad news or is dealing with grief?

A: There are days that are pretty trying, for sure. As caregivers, we do have colleagues that we can share the burdens that we are carrying including members of the psychosocial team, as well as other chaplains that I can unload some of my burdens onto. They are there for inspiration and to be a shoulder to lean on.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

A: I draw inspiration from my own faith, even though as a chaplain, I don't attempt to impose that which strengthens me on the families that I work with. Having my own devotional time and opportunities to worship outside the context of the hospital keeps me spiritually fulfilled and grounded in the things that I believe to be true.
Q: Why are the efforts of Mini-THON students important?

A: Supporting Four Diamonds has a tremendous impact on the lives of patients and their families not only from the standpoint of research, but also from the standpoint of human capital of staff members, such as music therapists, and chaplains whose positions are Four Diamonds funded. Every Mini-THON dollar raised is directed to these areas and in ways students may not see, but families experience their efforts, and they have a cumulative and profound impact.
Q: What are you thankful for this holiday season?

A: I'm thankful for having recently just moved to Harrisburg, closer to the hospital. I'm also thankful to be traveling to Maine over Thanksgiving where my oldest daughter will be getting married. I'm also thankful for the amazing people that I work with here at the hospital. The gifts and skills and the integrity that they have makes working here a joy for me. Not least of all, I'm thankful for the families whom I'm privileged to meet and care for along their journey with childhood cancer.
Q: What does it mean to you when you hear the words "giving season"?

A: To me, giving season means the season of reaching out beyond ourselves whether with our talents, time or treasure to bring joy and encouragement to the lives of others. According to my own faith, every season is a giving season, but the holiday season seems to draw that out more fully and reminds us of who we are to be throughout the year.
Q: Why would you encourage the community to support Four Diamonds during the holiday season?

A: Childhood cancer is faced not by just an individual, but by many people. It affects the family and those around them. There is no better way for people in that surrounding community to support these families than through Four Diamonds. Four Diamonds provides senses of thanksgiving, joy, hope, and love to those in the Four Diamonds family, so it truly is the best way to support.
Four Diamonds is thankful for all of our supporters, including the over 90,000 students that take part in Mini-THON each and every year. We thank each and every one of you for your continued support!
Blog For The Kids® 11/19/2018 7:00am EST


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