Patricia Funderburk has demonstrated a love for her community whether it has been through her decades-long career as a nurse or as the coordinator of an initiative that protects The T&D Region’s smallest citizens.
Funderburk, a registered nurse, takes pride in her job as the community outreach manager at the Regional Medical Center.
She has educated countless people in her service area on their health and safety needs while also serving as coordinator of Safe Kids of Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun Counties.
She has learned the importance of talking to people "eyeball to eyeball" about their concerns, along with the significance of earning their trust when it comes to meeting not just their health care needs, but listening to their personal stories.
Funderburk's honesty and truthfulness has led to her designation as the exemplification of trustworthiness as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
It is an honor that she did not expect.
"I was startled, but very humbled and appreciated that the work we do is recognized by other people. It's wonderful," she said.
Funderburk said being a trustworthy person is important.
"It is being accountable, doing what you say you're going to do and being sure to do your best at what you do. You don't not try to just skim by," she said.
"I'm in the community and meet the people and hear their stories. I love to be able to sit and talk with people and hear about things that have gone on in their lives health-wise. But a lot of times we are kind of like the bartender. We hear a lot of different stories," she said, laughing.
She especially enjoys the success stories, "of people that we have seen or known that have been very ill and are now healthy."
Funderburk can't afford to be untrustworthy because the members of her community have come to know and depend on her.
"People see me in Wal-Mart or the grocery store and they say, 'You're the nurse that checked my blood pressure,' or 'You're the nurse that came to my church.' And so that makes me have to be accountable everywhere I go. And people need to also be able to trust that I have kept their confidence and am not spreading words or things about them in the community to other people because we do talk about things sometimes that they wouldn't talk to just anybody about," she said.
The daughter of Charles and Frances Davis of Orangeburg County's Bolentown community, Funderburk said her parents taught her the importance of being trustworthy.
"My dad always taught me, 'You have a name and you need to keep it clean and above board,' because you never know when somebody's going to see you and say something about you that maybe you don't want everybody to know," she said.
She added, "My parents are amazing. They raised me and my two brothers to be good citizens, to be Christians and willing to help other people without expecting anything in return as they have exampled for us all of their lives.
"They raised us that whatever we do, if we give our word then we need to follow through with it. So that's certainly the beginning of trustworthiness."
She is the mother of two children, Lucas and Amy, and the grandmother of a 5-month-old grandson. She tried to instill in her children that same values that her parents instilled in her and her siblings.
"They are to be kind to people, to stand by your word. When you tell somebody you're going to do something, do it. Do whatever you do to the best of your ability," Funderburk said.
She enjoys working with a team of individuals at RMC who help her to carry out her mission of educating community members on everything from blood sugar monitoring to child seat safety.
"I really appreciate the Regional Medical Center for giving me this opportunity because I've been a nurse for a long time. I enjoyed the work that I did with patients in the hospital for 30-plus years," she said. And she enjoys her role as a community outreach coordinator just as much.
"I love being able to sit down with people ... to talk to them about questions that they might have that may have been answered by the doctor, but they didn't understand it," Funderburk said.
"That's the beautiful part of what I do and what I love. It's very fulfilling for me to know that I made a little bit of difference in somebody's life," she said.
Funderburk said the Community of Character initiative also makes a difference in the community through the promotion of good character.
"I think it's a good program because it calls attention to people that normally don't get recognized. I think being able to recognize people for the contributions they make to our community is a huge thing. Somebody's watching and hopefully they're seeing good things," she said, smiling.