A former hospital employee who has devoted recent years to educating and helping families in Africa get health care was recently honored by the Sertoma Club.
Dorothy Zimmerman was selected as the Sertoma Club’s 2018 Service to Mankind Award recipient at a ceremony Saturday evening.
Greg Leech, a Sertoma Club officer, said Zimmerman’s service to mankind, both home and abroad, made her stand out as an ideal candidate for the award.
“Her service is not only community based, but she’s gone to Africa eight of the last 10 years,” Leech said. “Dorothy is absolutely what we were looking for. She has done a heck of a lot.”
The award came as a surprise to Zimmerman, who thought she was going to the banquet just to give a presentation on the former Beatrice Community Hospital building.
After giving the presentation, Leech started describing the person who was going to receive the night’s award, and Zimmerman soon realized she was there for more than a presentation about the building.
“I knew it was their awards dinner but didn’t really think anything about it,” she recalled. “When they started with the award I thought that was vaguely familiar. That’s when I realized I was the honoree
“It was very humbling. You do what needs to be done and see the needs in the community and elsewhere. I’m the type of person if I see a need and there’s something I can do to help, I try to do what I can.”
For eight of the last 10 years, Zimmerman traveled to Zambia where she worked as a nurse with doctors and part of a humanitarian team treating families. When the new hospital was put into service, Zimmerman worked to send equipment from the old building to Zambia, where it could be used.
She also works to educate the residents in Zambia and about healthy eating and what they do to with their resources to lead better lives.
“We have so much to be thankful for and it’s just really an amazing,” she said. “When you realize what people have to live with, it’s just quite a mazing. We have nothing to complain about, especially when it comes to clean water and access to healthy foods.”
Zimmerman went to nursing school in Goshen, Ind. and went on to Bellevue University to receive a master’s degree in public health administration.
Zimmerman began working at Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center in 1969, where she served as the director of nursing until 1976. She was then named the assistant administrator for patient services, a position she held until 2006. At that time she was named the compliance and regulations officer.
Zimmerman was instrumental in starting the annual Beatrice Health Fair in the mid-1980s and continues to be a hospital volunteer, including giving her time at the health fair.
She was the chair of the Beatrice Community Hospital’s capital campaign when the group raised $750,000 to build the current hospital north of Beatrice.
She retired from the hospital in 2008.
Zimmerman is a member of the Beatrice Community Hospital Foundation and is active with the Beatrice Mennonite Church. She served on a variety of church committees through the year and was also a choir member.
She is a past president of the Rotary Club and was previously honored with the Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service from the Rotary International Foundation based in Chicago.
Zimmerman is a member of the YMCA Board of Directors and past board president. She was a founding member of the 429 Factory, a youth center aimed at providing an afterschool program for junior high school students.