For the honorees at the 2017 Commitment to Compassion luncheon, which took place at the Muhammad Ali Center in February, performing compassionate acts for others is a natural act.

No one had to ask any of them to go above and beyond what was expected. They didn’t ask for extra compensation, and every one of them was shocked and surprised to win an award for showing compassion as part of their work in health care.

Diane Riff, a nurse practitioner and assistant professor at the University of Louisville School of Nursing

Those who submitted nominations told remarkable stories about these health care professionals, illuminating how each one, in their own way, offered their abilities and assistance to those in need selflessly, with no expectation of reward.

A nomination for Diane Riff, a nurse practitioner and assistant professor at the University of Louisville School of Nursing, said she “brings a sense of connection, non-judgment and acceptance and need for action to all that she does.”

Riff brings her students with her in outreach programs for those in poverty both in Louisville, where she serves the racetrack population at Churchill Downs, and on international service trips with her nursing students.

Another local nurse practitioner, Sarah Daniel, spends part of her off-hours time with MD2U providing companionship for lonely patients, often bringing her dogs into homes to brighten the spirits of patients. She formed a non-profit dog rescue organization as well.

Dr. Jonathan Sayat, M.D., Pediatrician and Associate Professor with UofL Physicians, organizes volunteers from the medical community for an annual event, Healthy Hoops Kentucky, which provides free screenings and consultation to families who have children suffering from asthma.

As part of her leadership of Nazareth Homes Inc., Mary Haynes shows a special compassion that comes from a career in nursing to leading a major expansion of her company’s facilities that care for the elderly.

Dr. Jonathan Sayat, M.D., Pediatrician and Associate Professor with UofL Physicians

Betty Adkins, the Community Resource Development Director for the city’s Department of Public Health and Wellness, remembers the time when she was struggling as a single mother of two with little income. She launched the Shively Area Ministries organization and earned an advanced degree from U of L. In her current position she’s help obtain $50 million in grant money to various non-profit organizations that help people get housing, food and health care.

“Compassion is something that is a value,” she said. “I learned a long time ago that learning from others and offering love and kindness is very significant to who I am as a person.”

Lisa Benner, Transformation Coach at ChooseWell Communities, coaches women in recovery from addiction who have young children, helping them to find safe housing.

She said receiving the award gave her a chance to reflect. “It has given me an appreciation for how we touch other people without realizing it,” she said. “You do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because you want to win an award.”

Hearing the stories of the 2017 Compassionate Award winners shows how health care professionals in Louisville are making a difference in people’s lives. If you know someone with a positive story of compassion for others, help recognize their work by filling out a nomination form for the 2018 award ceremony.

The Commitment to Compassion Luncheon is held to shine a light on those who exemplify true compassion in care delivery and make a difference in the lives of others. The 2018 luncheon will be on Wednesday, February 28. Sponsors for this event include Passport Health Plan, Insider Louisville, and the Compassionate Louisville Healthcare Constellation.

If you have a hero for compassion in your life, please nominate them here: