Legacy Emanuel nurse shows power of not giving up
A mother of four children by age 18, a victim of domestic violence, and a drug addict with stints of prostitution and other crimes, Melonie Powell was in the county jail when she heard a powerful voice speak to her.
“I heard a voice, a voice that wanted better for me,” Powell says. “Was it God’s voice? I don’t know. I do know this: I truly believe my life was saved so I could help save others.”
Soon, she took a series of steps that resulted in a remarkable turnaround –– she is now a veteran trauma recovery nurse at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, a motivational speaker and community volunteer.
She is presenting the “Must Never Give Up” motivational healing and resource fair from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at the Mount Hood Community College Community Theater, 26000 S.E. Stark St., Gresham. This event is free. Powell has arranged for more than 20 community organizations to participate, offering valuable information about the resources they provide.
‘Never give up’
Powell’s motto is “must never give up.” Her story surely gives power to those words. Raised in poverty by a single mom in Minnesota, with a father who never claimed her, Powell began to make bad choices early and often; she was in deep trouble by the time she was a teen.
Escaping her abusive partner, she came to Oregon. The move did little to help her trajectory: She fell back into addiction, had her children taken away and was living on the streets of Portland and eating from garbage cans.
‘Feel all of the pain’
In and out of jail, Powell says she finally landed behind bars in her late 20s long enough to slow down and “feel all of the pain that I had been running from.” This is when she heard a voice urging her to do better. She then wrote a series of letters to a judge, who allowed to go into the treatment program Project Network. (She now volunteers and works there, helping every woman in the program find a primary care provider and understand the importance of preventative care.)
From there, Powell became a certified nursing assistant before appealing to the state nursing board to be allowed to go to nursing school. She earned her nursing degree and was hired by Legacy Emanuel 10 years ago in the Trauma Recovery and Acute Care Unit (TRACU).
Many of her patients have landed in the TRACU because of hard lives, bad choices and addiction. “These people will often listen to me because of what I went through,” Powell, now 45. “That’s one of the reasons why I say I was saved so that I could save others.”
‘An amount of trust’
In the TRACU, Powell works with trauma surgeon Dean Gubler, M.D., whose face on a billboard she recalls seeing while she was living on the streets.
Powell tells the story of Dr. Gubler because it shows how things can change. And because it illustrates the difference that those in health care can make. “We are in a fortunate position,” she says. “We have an amount of trust that is just naturally given to us. We can care for the people of our community before they are in the hospital. But we must first believe that we can make a difference."
To learn more the "Must Never Give Up" motivational healing fair, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media inquiries: Brian Terrett or 503-415-5775