I have been profoundly affected, both personally and professionally by Dr. Patricia Keener. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Keener for the first time when I taught my first Safe Sitter® Instructor Trainer class. Needless to say, having the founder of the program monitor, critique, and evaluate your first class was extremely intimidating and I was very nervous. What I learned from this experience was immeasurable and has positively influenced my life to this day.

First, I need to share that I live in New Jersey and the year was 2001. My class was scheduled to take place in Providence, RI on Friday, September 14th. On September 11, 2001, the tragedies at the World Trade Center in New York City, Washington D.C., and in Pennsylvania took place and forever changed our world. I worked at a hospital at the time and we immediately were notified to put our disaster plan in place. As the day progressed, we realized we would not be needed due to the devastation and the lack of survivors. We all knew someone personally affected by this tragic event that unfolded that day.

What does this have to do with Dr. Keener and Safe Sitter®? Since air travel was suspended in the United States, I thought my class would be cancelled. I could drive to Rhode Island, but Dr. Keener needed to fly. On one of the first flights to fly in US airspace after this unthinkable event, Dr. Keener made her way to Rhode Island. She felt that it was more important that we continue with the schedule and not disappoint the participants and hold the class. While I worried about her flying, she seemed to feel this was minor, Safe Sitter® was more important. Classes were scheduled for children in the upcoming weeks and she did not want to disappoint anyone. They, the children, were much too important and any risk to her was minor.

I thought about this as I drove up the New Jersey Turnpike and could still see the smoke billowing from the Twin Towers site. This was someone who truly was putting what she believed in before everything else. I had been teaching Safe Sitter® for nearly ten years prior to this and admired the program but this was something else. To believe in something so completely was beyond admirable and I was even more anxious to meet this woman.

My experience teaching my first Instructor class was one of the most positive I have ever had. Dr. Keener shared her insights, suggestions, and was an inspiration to not only me but to the participants in the class. Her compassion for children, her dedication to keeping children safe and supported, and providing instructors with medically accurate information was evident from the first time we met. Over the years, meeting at our regularly scheduled retreats, she continued to share her expertise and love for children.

Teaching Safe Sitter® has been one of the most positive aspects of my professional career. Dr. Keener showed me how to care deeply about an issue and to work to make a positive difference in families’ lives. I have dedicated my life to improving the health of women, children, and families. She taught me that one person can make a difference. Safe Sitter® has also been an important part of my life personally. My children, children in our family, and children in our hometown have been positively influenced by this program. We laugh at times because we view this program as a rite of passage for children in our community. Basic tenets of the program include life skills that are not seen or learned in other ways. Without Safe Sitter® I do not think my children would have grown up to be the responsible young adults that they are today.

Thank you, Dr. Keener. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to meet you, teach with you, and share time with you. To this day I feel honored to have been chosen by you to become an Instructor Trainer and I consider you not only a colleague but a mentor and most importantly, a friend.

Robyn D’Oria MA, RNC, APN