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Des Moines, Iowa
A good deed led Charles Ripley of Des Moines, Iowa to make caregiving a successful career long after he had retired from other jobs. "I became interested in caregiving when I took care of a friend with emphysema," Charles said. "I'd pick him up and take him to dinner and I'd drive him where he needed to go. When he couldn't take care of himself, I helped him find a nursing home."
Charles spent much of his earlier careers in hospitals, including 10 years at an Iowa veteran's hospital where he was a tenant who monitored patients at night and another 36 years at an Iowa medical hospital where he worked for an appliance company.
Charles said that caregiving came naturally to him because of the loving relationships he had with his own family of three brothers and four sisters. "I like giving the kind of love I grew up with. I just get pleasure from helping other people." One of Charles' daughters, a former Home Instead CAREGiver, referred him to the company.
A franchise owner and several clients and their families nominated Charles for the CAREGiver of the Year, in honor. "I always joked with Charles that he must be related to 'Believe it or not Robert Ripley,'" said the wife of a client. "He was just unbelievable - so compassionate, caring and he was always in a happy mood. While he was hired to assist my husband, I truly enjoyed his visits just as much. My husband, with Charles' help, made several benches for the deck. Then came my benefit: I was free for two or three hours to shop or have coffee with a neighbor. Only a family caregiver can really understand how important that is."
Here's what a facility administrator had to say about Charles' extraordinary ways: "Charles' three-hour weekly visits were the highlight of the week for an older gentleman who spent most of his life in care facilities. Charles discovered our patient liked to eat out and drive around and look at parks, ponds and lakes. Our patient had never roasted marshmallows before he met Charles. I believe the two of them went to every park in the county to roast marshmallows and to every restaurant in town!"
Former franchise owner Paul Storbeck said that empathy set Charles apart from other CAREGivers. "When you met Charles for the first time he became a part of your family," Paul said. "Because of his World War II experiences, Charles was able to relate to many of our clients. We definitely got more than we asked for when we hired Charles. He went beyond scheduled hours or required tasks to ensure a client's well-being.