CAREGiver of the Year 2015

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Sherry Hanson Miller is our unsung hero.  She has truly devoted her life to taking care of others.  She has raised four children, spent her career as an LPN caring for elderly patients in a nursing home, and has dedicated her retirement years as a caregiver for Home Instead Senior Care Appleton.

As I read the letters from her clients and their families, the appreciation that they have for Sherry being a part of their lives becomes apparent.  Jeanette, the daughter of our client Al and Nancy writes, “We are so thankful that Sherry has been there to do her job because it’s not just a JOB!  She truly cares for and loves the people that she is assisting and that certainly makes her special.  Sherry is more than a caregiver, she has become a friend to our parents and continues to go above and beyond.  Sherry has truly been there for them in so many ways that we can’t even express how thankful we are.”

Working with Sherry, I quickly saw the passion that she had for her clients.  I would look forward to her visits in the office because she always had a new story to tell.  We get to hear about the favorite meals and snacks she makes to bring to her clients, her winning streaks at the casino’s or stories about her beloved dog Maggie.  Sherry is always willing to help pick up shifts and take on new clients.  She has a passion to help our clients on hospice and will routinely ask for those shifts.  And what scheduler doesn’t love to hear “I’ll take a weekend shift if you have any?” She is such a blessing to work with.

Sherry and her client Effie have been together for five years.   Effie quickly stated that “Sherry started as my caregiver and now we are good friends as well as co-workers.  We work together.  I look forward to her visits and I’m still trying to talk Sherry into bringing her dog someday.  Sherry brings me little treats every week.  It’s always something different and she always makes that fun. She is always thinking about something new that will make me happy.  Sometimes I know I’m a little grumpy and don’t feel good, but that never bothers Sherry. She is so caring, compassionate and is just a good person to me!”

Sherry recently lost a client, Bernice that had to go to an assisted living home.  Bernice’s children told us that Sherry has a way of making people feel like a “guest” in their own home, all the while maintaining a delicate balance of allowing her client the dignity to also feel like the hostess.  This art is such a delicate balance, and can only come from one so introspective and compassionate as Sherry.  When Bernice no longer needed a CAREGiver, the family said “Sherry is a one-of-a kind, fun loving soul who we will miss, but hope to share with the next lucky client who needs her!”  Even though Bernice is no longer with Home Instead I know her relationship with Sherry will continue.

Sherry & Bernice

Sherry derives pleasure in sharing the successes of her clients’ progression with the whole office.  One afternoon Sherry came into the office to show us pictures her client Carol, who suffers from dementia, had drawn for her.  Carol  had been somewhat withdrawn, not able to communicate in anything other than simple, one word exchanges.   Carol had previously been a self-taught artist, and still has a passion for art.  Sherry encouraged Carol to draw again, creating a bond between Sherry and Carol.   To Sherry’s surprise, Carol was able to communicate her feelings toward Sherry by writing words on her newly created artwork.    Carol wrote “Nice lady”, and “Like You”.  These precious few words meant that Sherry was reaching Carol, and helping her engage.  The tears were shining proudly in all of our eyes that day.  How wonderful to know what she really means to a client who isn’t able to freely express herself like she once could.  Carol’s husband said “What can I say about this lady that would really give her the credit that she deserves?  I don’t look at her as a caregiver, rather a friend who stops by each week to keep my wife company and do girl talk for a few hours.”

Sherry’s youngest daughter Kirsten isn’t surprised that her mom is being honored as Caregiver of the Year.  She has watched her mother take care of people her whole life.  Sherry has cared for her immediate and extended family, her residents in the nursing home, and now her clients through Home Instead since 2006.  Sherry would work with her clients here, drive to take care of an ill out of town sister, and then drive back to Appleton to return to her Home Instead Clients.   She has always been a loving, helpful, devoted mother, sister and grandmother. 

Sherry & Kirsten

We hope that Sherry really knows how much she is appreciated.  She is humble, doesn’t accept much praise, and doesn’t see what she is doing as extraordinary.  Sherry’s caregiving goes far beyond “a job” for her.  Sherry has shown us that it has been a mission her entire life to completely give of herself to others.  We nominate our unsung hero Sherry Hanson Miller as Caregiver of the Year.  Sherry is a caring, compassionate, devoted caregiver, who unbeknownst to herself, has made such an impact on her clients’ lives. 

You can see more pictures from this wonderful recognition event on our Facebook page!

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