SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In December, we asked you to nominate the remarkable women in your life for some special recognition. We received many incredible nominations from all over KELOLAND. Now we’ve selected four finalists and will be sharing their stories with you every Tuesday this March.
Our next 2021 Remarkable Women nominee is Maddie Borah.
“I love Fridays,” Maddie said.
You’ll find Maddie Borah at the W. H. Lyon Fairgrounds nearly every Friday lending a hand at the Faith Temple Food Giveaway.
“There’s a deeper connection than just getting food, it’s about building those relationships and having those conversations,” Maddie said.
Relational interactions Maddie is helping to teach the next generation of nurses.
“What my students are expected to do when they go out on Fridays is to come out with an open heart and an open mind and a willingness to serve,” Maddie said.
For the past five years, Maddie has taught dozens of students through public health clinicals every year.
“Most of my clients are indigent or uninsured, some of my favorite clients are homeless, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not a person anymore. And I think they lose some of that humanness just due to their circumstances. So, making them understand that they’re important and they’re not just another patient on the docket but they’re a human being,” she said.
It’s a population Maddie has worked with throughout her life, in several different roles.
“Through high school, I worked as a 911 dispatcher,” Maddie said.
After spending many years in EMS, she went through fire training to become one of the first females to work for Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.
“I miss firefighting a lot,” Maddie said.
She spent most of her firefighting days working at the downtown fire station in Sioux Falls.
“I loved working downtown because I got to work again with that population,” she said. “They taught me so much about life and life on the streets, that just really encouraged me to go onto nursing.”
Becoming a nurse brought her lifelong work with emergency services full-circle.
“I started in nursing school when I was on the fire department, I wanted to be the head of EMS,” Maddie said.
But an injury took her off the fire department and onto the nursing floor at Avera McKennan for nearly 15 years; then a higher calling came along.
“I’m actually a licensed pastor as well,” Maddie said.
She now combines both callings as a faith community nurse.
“Being a faith community nurse, you have that opportunity to build those relationships and work in areas of their life that sometimes get missed, like the socioeconomic or the spiritual or emotional components that we don’t necessarily address when we’re trying to fix their acute illness,” Maddie said.
Maddie is teaching future nurses how to care for more than a patient’s emergent medical needs.
“It’s really about building relationships and getting to know that individual as opposed to just doing their blood pressure or just going through their med list. It’s learning to be able to communicate on a deeper level than that,” Maddie said.
Before the pandemic, Maddie and her students would have a free health assessment table set up at the food giveaway every Friday. Her students also spend a week living off of the food their patients receive at the giveaway.
“When you’re trying to teach them about their new diagnosis or helping them be more compliant with their diabetes, you now have real-life experience that, this is their food, and you can teach them in their realm of reality,” Maddie said.
“Growing up our house was always the house that the neighbor kids came to, didn’t matter how many of us was there, she was always like, who’s eating? She’s always making sure we were fed,” Maddie’s daughter and nominator Danielle Palmer said.
Danielle says her mom’s heart for helping comes from a deeper understanding.
“I think it came from being a single mom and being in a huge family, she’s the youngest of 11, I think growing up it had to be hard,” Danielle said.
“There’s a stigma that really settles in when you talk about poverty or those that are poor,” Maddie said. “It is so important to me to break that stigma. It could be you.”
A compassionate heart for others that makes her truly remarkable.
“My mom is a super easy-going woman, she’s very warm and welcoming, if you ever needed anything, just ask her, she would never tell you no,” Danielle said.
Maddie has done a lot for people all over KELOLAND throughout her life. She grew up near Ipswich but has spent the past 30 years in the Sioux Falls area. She is now also a big part of the Dell Rapids community where her husband is the pastor of a local church.