Geraldine Thompson: A Spirited Leader
Geraldine Thompson grew up in a family with a long-standing commitment to public service. She often reflected on her grandmother's words, "Hard work, courage, and patience make you change things." As a child, Geraldine displayed the same energy that would be her trademark in later life. She was an avid sportswoman until she contracted tuberculosis in young adulthood, which became a lifetime battle against illness and possibly an additional motivating factor in her concern for the health of others. Mrs. Thompson had a lifelong love of children, education and social service, and was instrumental in arranging the first school program for migrant workers and their children in Freehold. Beaconed by her daughters to visit a home of a sick family outside of Brookdale farm, Geraldine discovered that the family had the violent cough of tuberculosis. She immediately ministered to their care and It was from this moment that she began her fight against tuberculosis and the creation of a tuberculosis hospital and chartered the course for a county nursing service.
Under Geraldine Thompson,s leadership, the Monmouth County Branch of the State Charities Aid and Prison Reform Association of New Jersey was founded with the guiding principle 'Not to build an organization but to plant one and to help it grow.' And, grow it did. From a one-county agency, known over the years as Monmouth County Organization for Social Service and then Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey to a statewide provider, as Visiting Nurse Health Group. From an initial budget of $15/ week, under her leadership the organization has grown to a $100 million budget. Where once it touched a hundred people annually, today it is over 120, 000.