AMBLER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The COVID-19 pandemic put the spotlight on the many ways nurses contribute to every community's health. It also showed the importance of maintaining our mental health.
One winner of the Independence Blue Cross: Celebrate Caring Campaign has dedicated her career to better mental health.
Although Bonnie Sandy started in nursing at the age of 16, her brother's battle against schizophrenia changed the direction.
"My brother became more sick back about eight years ago and he ended up committing suicide," she said. "After I got over the grief, I really wanted to work in mental health. I felt like that was something that was a calling and I knew that I could help a little bit."
Bonnie is a licensed practical nurse at the Horsham Clinic, an inpatient and outpatient facility in Ambler, Montgomery County. She primarily works on dispensing medication.
"But I do work the floor. I'm part of the treatment, planning and just being out there," she said.
Her outgoing personality puts patients at ease.
"I try to see the positive everything, I have a very strong sense of humor - that keeps me going," said Bonnie.
Her ability to relate to anyone and everyone inspired the former co-worker who nominated Bonnie for the award.
"To see her in action was just such a joy. And I always wanted to emulate Bonnie, I really tried," said Paula Heaton of North Wales.
Bonnie's life of service also inspired her children. Her daughter is a local hospital administrator, while her son is in the Army overseas.
Independence Blue Cross says that Bonnie's work is especially important, given the stressful times.
"All of us would be hard-pressed to not know somebody within our families or community that hasn't been affected by mental and behavioral health," said Koleen Cavanaugh, the Vice President for Marketing at Independence Blue Cross.
Bonnie believes health care workers themselves have been under particular stress.
"All of us who take care of others, we need to take care of ourselves," she said.
To honor her brother, Bonnie is donating the $2,500 from Independence Blue Cross to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Montgomery County.
She says she's honored, but very humbled, to have won the prize.