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Columbia, South Carolina
CAREGiver of the Year Sandra Golden has been shining since she joined the Home Instead Senior Care caregiving team in Columbia, South Carolina. Known as the "golden girl" by her clients, Sandra has brought happiness to many older adults who have come under her care.
Several of Sandra's clients had recently moved to the area to be closer to their adult children. They couldn't have asked for a warmer reception. "I feel I make a big difference in the lives of my clients and they give me many blessings in return. Multiply that by the thousands of CAREGivers doing the same job, feeling the same way, and it's an awesome thought. CAREGivers are making lives better every day for people like our parents and grandparents. And this does my heart good."
After rearing two daughters who are now in their 20s, Sandra was in the enviable position of "picking and choosing" what to do with the rest of her life. It didn't take long for her to spot the Home Instead Senior Care advertisement. She had helped care for her grandparents, and remembers one woman in particular who helped care for her grandmother, then soothed her distraught grandfather after her grandmother died. "I thought, 'I have a heart like that, I know I do!'"
In spite of her eagerness to begin caregiving. Sandra admits that both she and her first client, Elise - who moved to the Columbia area from Georgia to live with her daughter - were apprehensive. "But before we knew it, we were fast friends," Sandra said. Sandra remembers one day in particular, when Elise was feeling good and wanted to give something back to her family. Together, she and Sandra collected ingredients for a dinner that was on the table when her daughter's family arrived home. "Elise went on about how good that had made her feel," Sandra said. "It made me feel wonderful, too."
When Elise died, Sandra traveled to Georgia for the funeral. "Sandra's presence there meant more to me and my family than words can express," wrote Elise's daughter. "It gave me a sense of closure to meet the people of the church and to know what a contribution my client had made," Sandra added.
"The caring and open-minded seniors I've come across have made me a better person," Sandra said. "I pray for my seniors at night and ask God to give me the same attitude that they have should I live to be their age."