When you think about the characteristics of a hero, what do you think of? Integrity, passion, courage? Mickey James Hollander, a nurse, veteran, poet, and member of Connexus Credit Union checks each of those boxes.
Mickey has spent the majority of his life helping others, but what he has done recently is truly an inspiration to all of us at Connexus.
In March, Mickey was working as a nurse at Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, Wis. But one phone call later, Mickey was in his car heading to the New York City area to help care for COVID-19 patients at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital.
“I got the call from a friend of mine in New York,” Mickey said. “They said ‘look, you will make money here. You’re a nurse. You’re good. What are you doing in Wisconsin? We need you here.’”
Without a second thought, Mickey and his dog, Russia, were on their way.
Connexus played a special role in Mickey’s journey. A few days before Mickey received the call that led him to New York, he made an important financial decision.
Like most recent graduates, Mickey was burdened by high-interest debt. When he became a member in March 2020, the Connexus representatives that worked with Mickey had an idea to help.
“When we saw his credit report, we noticed he was paying several different creditors,” Connexus employees Kaelyn Weidner and Hannah Gruber said. “We talked to him about a personal loan for debt consolidation and we ended up paying off several credit cards. We cut his payments down by $55 a month and planned to pay the debt off way sooner than expected.”
This new Connexus membership came at the perfect time because, according to Mickey, he never would have been able to go to New York without taking control of his finances first.
“I was too strapped trying to figure out how I make my finances work,” he said. “I wouldn’t have put my hand up to do something like this knowing that I had financial worries to come back to. You can’t provide care or love to someone if you don’t do that for yourself.”
Thanks to that financial fix, Mickey has been able to provide care and love to hundreds of patients in New York.
As the heaviest hit state in terms of both cases and deaths, New York is a dangerous place, especially for healthcare workers on the front lines. But this wasn’t Mickey’s first experience with danger.
Mickey has served in two wars, including as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne as part of Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait.
That experience paired with his medical knowledge made him feel well prepared to combat the pandemic, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come when he arrived in New York.
“I have the education and the confidence to be intelligent and work in the face of a virus,” Mickey said. “What I wasn’t prepared for was the absolute devastation that this virus has played in this community and at the hospital. It was worse than a war zone.”
Like many hospitals in the U.S., conditions are difficult to cope with. With long hours and constant care giving, Mickey has witnessed the pain, fear, and loss that this pandemic can cause. But that won’t stop him.
“We’re a professional unit that is doing it’s best to take care of people,” he said. “This is why we became nurses.”
With the integrity, passion, and courage he’s shown throughout this pandemic, Mickey truly is a hero. But he has one trait that makes him rise above the rest — humility.
Mickey recognizes that his choices were only possible because of the people that have helped him along the way. Without his great teachers, his friends on the east coast, and the Connexus employees who helped him handle his debt, Mickey wouldn’t be where he is today — working tirelessly to help others.
“Everybody has been instrumental,” he said. “It hasn’t been me at the forefront of anything. I just want everyone to know that if they are feeling insignificant, if they are feeling that they’re not part of this, it’s not true. I am here because they did their jobs. That’s why I had to reach out and say thank you.”
Due to the unbelievable efforts of doctors and nurses like Mickey, lives are being saved every day. So from all of the employees and members at Connexus Credit Union, thank you, Mickey.