Dearborn, MI (PRWEB) August 08, 2014
Shama Mehta didn’t expect her life to change the day she interviewed for a volunteer services position at Oakwood Hospital – Dearborn. After being downsized from an administrative position with her previous employer, she knew she wanted to work in an environment where she could help other people. Mehta, a 30-year-old devout Hindu from Livonia, never considered chaplaincy and she certainly wasn’t prepared for how the journey would impact her life.
The journey started when Beverly Beltramo, director of Oakwood’s Spiritual Support program, suggested Mehta visit with a patient.
“Until that day, I had never stepped foot into a patient room. I didn’t know I could do it until I did,” said Mehta. “The first time I did, I knew this was an opportunity for me to use my talents in a new way – an opportunity to help people.”
A naturally enthusiastic, ambitious and positive person, Mehta has since completed her training as a hospital chaplain and is taking the final steps to receive her certification as a Board Certified Chaplain. She is now a permanent member of the Oakwood Spiritual Support staff, making it only one of two programs in in the entire country whose commitment to diversity has resulted in having Clinical Pastoral Education certified chaplains in each of the four major faiths: Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish.
“Chaplaincy is about honoring each person and their uniqueness,” said Beltramo. “Every single person we see, patients and employees alike, is unique.”
“The more I do this work, the more I learn about other traditions. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m just happy to be a small part of it,” Mehta added.
She is helping others learn, too. Mehta is the first student of the first Hindu Divinity for chaplaincy program in the United States. This is a program she is helping create as part of a joint Hindu American chaplaincy initiative with the Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference and Hindu American Foundation.
“This is a chance to serve in an entirely new way. I am nervous, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be the first to admit that when this all began, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was incredibly anxious and didn’t know what it all meant. I spoke to my parents and they encouraged me by saying what better way to be the best Hindu you can be.”
With many years of work as a chaplain and as the leader of the team, Beltramo is proud of her richly diverse staff and their efforts to meet patients where they are. In addition to patient care, Beltramo and the spiritual support team are also responsible for the new sanctuary housed inside Oakwood Hospital and they’re in the midst of joining with the local interfaith community in southeast Michigan to host a prayer service for frontline caregivers and healthcare workers.
“Prayer is something we can all do together – it has real power to it.”
The prayer service will be held at 7pm on Thursday, Aug. 14. Advanced registration is requested by calling 313-982-5698.
The service is especially meaningful for Mehta since her mentor – a certified Hindu chaplain from California – will also be in attendance.
“We are trying to put a whole new perspective through the creation of the Hindu divinity program. The opportunity exists for us to help make a small contribution to a brand new program. With her experience and mentorship, I know we’ll get there.”
As for Mehta, she is working every day toward building her confidence as a chaplain and becoming the best version of herself she can be. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to Hindi music, keeping up with old friends in social media and in finding comfort through her faith and with her family.
“As Hindu faith teaches, the truth is one and the paths are many. I feel blessed to be serving patients and their families. I truly believe genuine chaplaincy transforms both the patient and the caregiver. Oakwood gave me the opportunity to do what I love without compromising me – they accepted me for who I am. So yes, given all of this, I feel blessed to be of service to others. I strive to go to bed happy, wake up happy and I am a better person now than I was when I started here.”
For more information about Oakwood Hospital – Dearborn, Spiritual Support Services or to see a video showcasing the new and improved Sanctuary, visit http://www.oakwood.org.