Alum found her calling as a chaplain to frontline workers

March 4, 2022

ALUMNI

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought much-needed attention to the frontline medical workers who take care of us in times of crisis. But who takes care of the frontline workers?

Dorie Griggs, a 1981 grad, is one of those people. As chaplain at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta, Griggs works with patients and their families as well as hospital staff — doctors, nurses, administrators, or anyone who can use emotional and spiritual support in hard times.

Griggs started with the hospital in December 2020, just as the brutal winter wave of the pandemic threatened to overrun the American health care system.

“It's been very difficult in the past year or so, because people have been so sick,” Griggs said. “When someone dies, it's heavy on everyone — the families and the hospital people, too.”

Chaplains at Saint Joseph’s are directly integrated into the care that patients receive, Griggs said.

“We're really considered part of the team by all the medical professionals,” she said. “When there’s a death, we're there talking with the family and walking them through the process.”

Griggs entered the caregiving field in a roundabout fashion. After a busy career in the sports information field — she started as a student manager with the Richmond men’s basketball team in the 1970s — Griggs turned to what she considers her true calling. In 2002, Griggs graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia. Ever since she’s been working with nonprofits and in various chaplaincy roles.

Griggs’ life of service isn’t limited to a hospital setting. She recently completed five years as a chaplain with the municipal fire department in Roswell, Georgia, and has worked with organizations that provide support to other first responders.

“When I was first out of seminary, I developed a model chaplaincy to journalists,” Griggs said. “Especially journalists that cover traumatic events — they need support, too.”

Griggs was recently recognized for her work in the community. She is one of 15 honorees for this year’s Tribute to Achievement award, given by LiveSafe Resources, a nonprofit in Cobb County, Georgia. 

Griggs said that her chaplaincy work has given her a sense of purpose and usefulness amid the chaos of the pandemic. 

“I'm an extrovert so I get my energy from being around people,” she said. “You know, we’re here for people of all faiths or no faith at all. It really is a calling.”