Victoria Osei, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital, received a special dream home makeover on the “The Drew Barrymore Show” last month for her community service in Long Island and Queens.
Osei, a resident of Uniondale, came home to a newly renovated kitchen, along with a living room and dining room upgrade, designed by Barrymore on Nov. 5.
“Sometimes I look at it and say, ‘Is this real? What did I do to deserve all of this?’” Osei said. “My kitchen was so tiny — it was a living room and dining room all together, but it’s divided by walls and closets. It has been transformed into this beautiful space with new appliances, and I am truly grateful and humbled by it.”
Osei wasn’t told she was receiving the home makeover until she was in the live audience of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” which she attended with her two daughters.
The renovation took about three weeks, the last of which she was put into a hotel so she would not see the finished remodeling. Tyson Food is also supplying Osei with a year of food.
On the day of the reveal, Osei was amazed by Barrymore’s appearance in front of her home, she said.
“I didn’t know she was going to be there. I really admire her. She’s so humble and down-to-earth. I really connected with her right away,” Osei said.
According to Osei, her director at LIJ Forest Hills had reached out to the show’s producers, who were searching for nurses who gave back to their community.
With four more years left until her retirement from LIJ Forest Hills, Osei says her dream is to open a clinic in her native country of Ghana in a village where the need is dire.
“I am overjoyed and pray this will open more doors for me. When I retire from my regular job, my new job will start and I will have more time to work with the homeless and elderly,” Osei said.
As an assistant nurse manager at LIJ Forest Hills medical/surgical/inpatient hospice unit, Osei has had the opportunity to work with the sick and elderly.
During the spring of 2020, her unit was converted into a COVID floor, and Osei provided leadership and support to her fellow registered nurses, demonstrating great resilience as she worked alongside her staff during that challenging time.
“We handled it well and our staff came together and worked tirelessly providing the best care possible for our patients,” Osei said. “The most rewarding part about being a nurse is knowing you’ve done something for them, and it’s the best feeling ever to see them discharged and go home healthy.”
Outside of work, Osei is active in the First Presbyterian Church of New Town in Elmhurst, where she leads her fellow church members to serve the less fortunate in their community through food and clothing drives. She also works with the New Life Community Center, a homeless shelter and clinic, also located in Elmhurst, organizing coat drives, managing the distribution of donated clothes and distributing canned goods to homeless shelters.
On Thanksgiving, Osei and her church members delivered baskets of canned goods and fresh fruits to the homeless living on the streets. She has also helped LIJ Forest Hills organize a back-to-school backpack drive in September, donating a total of 30 backpacks with supplies to the New Life Community Center.
According to Osei, her passion to help the less fortunate and the elderly stems from her relationship with her late grandmother, who took care of her until she immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana in 1978.
“I never had the chance to give back to her. I have learned everything from her — she was a giver. In our house, she used to take people in need. She was always busy cooking and giving food to people,” Osei said. “My grandmother would always say, ‘When you cast your bread upon the waters, it will come back to you in many floats.’ I grew up seeing that love in my life, and I’ve always wanted to give back.”
By doing good deeds for others, Osei says it gives her a sense of joy.
“I really do love God, and his son, Jesus Christ. And I’ve seen when you give to people, it’s so fulfilling. I’m not rich, but I’m so content with life doing something that makes other people happy,” Osei said. “If more people can do just a little something like that, the world would be a better place.”
Additional reporting by Alicia Venter.