Jefferson Awards: Kalida's Buss guides pregnant women

Mar. 15—KALIDA — Joyce Buss proudly shows young mothers their child's first heartbeat during ultrasounds as a nurse sonographer volunteer for Heartbeat of Lima and Putnam County.

Her 11 years with the organization all started with a "no" from Buss, one of the 10 winners of this year's Jefferson Awards for Public Service.

"Right when I was retiring, I got a call from a board member who knew I was a nurse," Buss said. "They were getting an ultrasound machine, and would I be interested in taking the training? I said, 'No, I'm going to retire.'"

That no didn't remain for very long for the retired nurse from Lima Memorial Health System. As it often has, her Catholic faith guided her where she needed to be.

"The Holy Spirit got ahold of me," Buss said. "Three or four days went by, and I really started thinking about it, praying and discerning about it."

About three weeks later, she called back and started volunteering in a new way, performing sonograms with expecting mothers. She follows through with them during parenting classes she teaches as well.

Buss makes a huge difference in their lives by helping them see they are "a special individual and cared for," Cindy Fitzgerald wrote in her Jefferson Award nomination for Buss.

"Joyce welcomes the young ladies and helps them during a time when they may feel perplexed in uncertainty or insecurity," Fitzgerald wrote. "Many of the young ladies that Joyce encounters are scared and worried, and they do not know what to do when they [discover] they are pregnant."

Buss says she has seen miracles happen in her time inside the ultrasound room.

"We've seen women come in that are abortion-minded that literally have changed their minds in the ultrasound room," she said.

The parenting classes have also been brought to the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation Center in Lima. Buss also helps out at her church, St. Michael Catholic Church in Kalida, and has been on several mission trips, including ones to Appalachia and to Tanzania with her husband, Bob.

She's also been a volunteer with Putnam County and Hospice since August 2017.

"Joyce demonstrates a spirit of service and a heart filled with compassion as she visits hospice patients," Kathy Rellinger, the hospice volunteer coordinator, wrote as part of the Jefferson Award nomination. "She greats each patient with a warm smile and words of comfort and easily establishes a trusting relationship."

It's all a matter of being willing to help, even if her first reaction to the Heartbeat opportunity might have been a "no."

"My husband and I both do a lot of volunteering," Buss said. "It's fulfilling, and I honestly believe God calls you to do that. ... God has a plan, and to answer it is just very, very rewarding."


The Jefferson Awards honor 10 individuals for their community service. There will be an awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, at the City Club in downtown Lima. At the ceremony, one of the winners will be selected to represent the region at the national Jefferson Awards dinner in Washington, D.C. Read about other winners at

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.