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Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton memorial awards – celebrating their care and compassion

On the left, a photo of Heather O'Brien, VON's logo in the middle, and to the right, a photo of Kristen Beaton
Heather O'Brien on the left and Kristen Beaton on the right.

Creating new legacies

Together, the families of Heather O'Brien and Kristen Beaton, the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) and NSCC Alumni Relations are celebrating the lives and legacies of Heather and Kristen by establishing annual awards in their memory. The awards will support two graduating Practical Nursing students through the Heather O'Brien – VON Memorial Award and two Continuing Care students through the Kristen Beaton – VON Memorial Award.

"Kristen and Heather embodied the spirit of VON as warm, kind and compassionate care providers who always offered the highest quality care to their clients. Their loss has left a hole in our lives, and we will never forget them," says Jo-Anne Poirier, President and CEO, VON Canada. "We are pleased to be able to recognize both Heather and Kristen through these memorial awards and find comfort in knowing the awards will support students who will carry on their memories as they embark on their professional journeys of caring for others."

NSCC President Don Bureaux agrees. “What a tremendous way to honour the loving memories of Kristen and Heather who devoted their lives in service to others. While their legacy lives on in their families, the memorial awards will also ensure their loving spirit lives on in those for whom the funds will support and lift as they prepare to step into their path and this caring profession.”

Heather O'Brien

Heather was a caring mother, wife, grandmother, nurse and beloved community member. She was a natural-born healer who deeply cared for others, making her the perfect fit for her work as a VON nurse for nearly 17 years.

"Our mother believed that knowledge is power, and that education, mixed with equal parts of compassion, is what made an incredible nurse. She made an incredible change in the lives of many, and her legacy lives on. Receiving an award in her name would certainly be an honour," said the O'Brien family.

Kristen Beaton

Kristen was a devoted wife, mother and CCA with VON for over six years who always wanted to leave a smile on everyone's face. She loved her VON clients like they were family, always going the extra mile to care for them.

"My hope is that, out of something truly terrible, we can see something positive. In the future, I want my son to be able to read about the difference his mom made, the change and the good she created. When he searches for her in the future, he won't just see the bad – he'll see the incredible person she was and the impact she made. I hope this inspires others to be like the kind, caring and compassionate person my wife, his momma, was," said Nick Beaton, husband of Kristen.

Four healthcare graduates supported

Their legacies in healthcare will live on with the awards recipients, whose service, commitment, acts of care and compassion have gone above and beyond the call of duty, just like Heather and Kristen.

"In 2017 I had a family member at the end stages of cancer. Being present with my family for this time and seeing VON and home care come in made me realize what I wanted to do… That day I went home and applied to the Continuing Care Program at NSCC.” says Courtney S., recipient of Heather O'Brien's award. “There are truly no words to describe how thankful I am. I am extremely humbled to be one of the first students to receive this award.”

Thank you to VON and NSCC Alumni Relations for supporting these awards and to the families of Heather O'Brien and Kristen Beaton for allowing these awards to honour the amazing people that they were. Below are the 2022 recipients of their awards:

  • Chloe P., Recipient, Heather O’Brien – VON Memorial Award, Practical Nursing, Burridge Campus
  • Courtney S., Recipient, Heather O’Brien – VON Memorial Award, Practical Nursing, Ivany Campus
  • Syreata P., Recipient, Kristen Beaton – VON Memorial Award, Continuing Care, Shelburne Campus
  • Lexie M., Recipient, Kristen Beaton – VON Memorial Award, Continuing Care, Truro Campus

Return to Summer 2022 Update

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