Photo above, Libby Schultz, a nurse at United Memorial Medical Center, spends her free time as a flight instructor at Akron Airport.
National Nurses Week is celebrated every May 6-12 throughout the country, and at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, three nurses with unique hobbies are being highlighted.
Shanda Williams, of Stafford, Libby Schultz, of Akron, and Jennifer Leffler, of Varysburg, all combine their hobbies with their love of nursing.
Williams, an ER nurse who is in her 21st year at UMMC, makes shadow boxes; Schultz is a pilot and flight instructor at Akron Airport; and Leffler makes maple syrup.
Williams has always liked to do creative things. She initially went to school for fashion merchandising, but realized she couldn’t make a living in Genesee County doing that, so she decided to study nursing. When COVID-19 shut everything down, she was looking for something to do.
“I’ve always loved the old vintage things you don’t see anymore,” Williams said. “And I like to go to estate sales.”
She describes her creations as mixed media. Interesting graphics, old book pages, rhinestones, old flowers, junk beads and vintage frames all end up as one of her works of art.
“If something is not the right color, I paint it, maybe gold or silver,” she said. “If it’s missing chunks, that’s even better. It adds to the aesthetics.”
All her subject matters have angel wings incorporated, she said. She makes her own.
Much of her work she gives away, but she’d like to find a shop where she could display her creations for sale.
Schultz at 38 has only been a nurse for two years, but she has had an illustrious career as a pilot.
“I get to do my two loves – flying and caring for people,” Schultz said.
After high school, Schultz attended Delta State University in Mississippi, where she got her bachelor’s degree in Commercial Aviation. She has always loved airplanes and got her private pilot’s license in 2001 at the age of 20.
Flying was in her blood and in her family. Her father was in the Air Force, but not as a pilot. He served in security and the family lived on Air Force bases, including Japan. It was there that a friend of a neighbor, whose dad was a pilot, took her for a plane ride, and she loved it instantly.
“I loved fighter planes, and I still go to every airshow I can,” she said.
Schultz was accepted into the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs with hopes of becoming a fighter pilot, but issues with her eyesight put an end to that. When she graduated from Delta, she had her flight instructor’s instrument rating and multi-engine and commercial ratings. Then she moved to Memphis, Tenn.,where she began instructing.
“After a while, I needed to do something else, and wanted to fly big planes,” she said. “I got a job flying Lear jets for a construction company from Canada, based in Buffalo. I came to Western New York for that job and flew for them for six years.”
Schultz also has her airline transport certification and flew in that capacity until the company shut down. Then she went to the airlines but soon realized being gone all the time and traveling was not for her now that she had gotten married.
She said she had registered for nursing school after leaving the Air Force Academy, but switched to aviation after seeing the pilots and planes.
She got her bachelor of science in Nursing in 2019 from the University of Buffalo School of Nursing. She said she graduated just as the coronavirus pandemic was picking up.
“Right now, I prioritize nursing, ” she said.
But she works the night shift at United Memorial so she can fly during the day. Her goal still is to own her own airplane and have a grass strip.
Leffler can stake claim to the sweetest hobby. She and her husband, Zebulun, have their own sugar shack and make maple syrup.
Leffler has worked in the ER at United Memorial for 12 years. She grew up helping her dad collect sap on their farm.
They boiled it down on an old wood-fired evaporator. Most of it was for their family, but some they sold at a stand in their yard.
“That was my first job,” Leffler said. “That was how I earned my allowance growing up.”
She said when she married Zebulun, he had an engineering mind and used his knowledge to install a high-vacuum pump on their lines in the woods.
The woods operation uses wet-dry lines for both main and secondary lines with a modern dry running vacuum pump operating at up to 27-inch mercury.
“Our woods are on a hill and the sap runs by the vacuum pump, which pulls the sap from the trees,” Leffler said. “That gives you a higher production.”
The Lefflers have 4,400 taps.
Their sugarhouse also has a reverse-osmosis machine to take water out. This ultra-high-efficiency evaporator cuts down on the time needed to boil down the sap, she said.
They use UV lights for treating the incoming sap. It is pumped underground 2,400 feet to the sugarhouse from the collection shed at the bottom of the woods.
During Maple Weekends in March, they serve waffles with maple syrup as well as giving tours of the sugarhouse.
Leffler said their Varysburg farm is a good area for maple syrup. She said weather and soil all affect the taste and syrup from one area can taste different from another.
“When I’m not at the hospital, I’m helping my husband,” she said. “In the fall, we check the lines for damage done by deer or squirrels, and in January we start tapping the trees and preparing to collect the sap until March. Then I run the evaporator.”
In addition to pure maple syrup, they make granulated maple sugar, including maple sugar shapes, and maple cream in a commercial kitchen at their Over the Hill Maple farm at 2089 Maxon Road.
“I don’t ever plan to give up nursing or making maple syrup,” Leffler said. “They are a good balance.”
Williams added that the hospital has planned activities for the nurses every day during Nurses’ Week.
“Rochester Regional Health celebrates their nurses in a big way,” she said.
On Friday, the administration cooked breakfast for the nurses. One day they received a bag of cookies from Deb's Bakery inside Harrington’s Produce and Market Cafe on Clinton Street Road in Batavia. And on other days a basket raffle is planned and a food truck will be on site at UMMC.
Wednesday, May 12 is International Nurses Day.
Submitted photos top and bottom; inset photos of farm sign and maple syrup bottle courtesy of Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism.
Below, Shanda Williams, of Stafford, with a couple of her shadow box creations, and more of her art work.