By Jackie Drake
Barbara Lee ’80 of Greenville was recently honored by the United Network of Organ Sharing for her work in the community as an organ donation advocate.
Lee received the 2014 National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence at the UNOS board meeting this past summer. Lee was chosen out of many nominations from organ procurement organizations across the country.
“I’m still trying to come back to reality,” she said. “I knew I was nominated, but I had kind of forgotten about it until I got the call and I thought ‘wow!’ I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I got there.”
Lee is a clinical social worker at Vidant Medical Center, where she has worked for more than 20 years. She has volunteered with Carolina Donor Services, a federally-designated non-profit organ and tissue donation organization, for more than 10 years. She also started the Eastern North Carolina Donor Impact Project to educate African American and Latino communities about the need for minority organ donors.
“What I do is not done for recognition,” she says. “I love what I do. I love working with the patient populations and seeing the life-changing benefits of organ transplants.”
She continued, “In this part of the country, with so much kidney and cardiac disease, there is such a need for organ donation and making sure people are aware of how they can help.”
Originally from Atkinson, NC in Pender County, Lee came to ECU on the advice of a high school teacher. She’d heard good things about ECU from a relative in Kinston. “I stepped out on faith,” she said. She says ECU prepared her well for her career and she loves to show her Pirate pride.
“I love being in a town with a college atmosphere,” she says.
Lee is a football season ticket holder and stays involved with the School of Social Work by serving on boards and speaking to classes. She was named the school’s distinguished alumna in 2012.