In October 2011, Libby
Kenney’s daughter suggested that her mother check into becoming a CAREGiver for
the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise
that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including Winchester, Virginia, and
25 other communities.
Heather Kenney, a
psychiatrist in the Washington, D.C., area, had worked with Home Instead Senior
Care employees when they came together on a volunteer project that year.
Heather was impressed with the CAREGivers and told Libby, “Mom, you ought to
look into becoming a CAREGiver because this company is a really special one.
You could be a big help to seniors.”
Libby prayed about it and
joined owner Aaron Blight’s franchise in Winchester on Nov. 10, 2011. “My faith
is very important to me. I believe working for Home Instead is a calling,” said
Libby, who had spent 10 years as a special education teacher before taking a
Tragically, less than a
month after Libby became a CAREGiver, her daughter died at age 38 as the result
of a severe reaction to an antibiotic she began taking for an upper respiratory
condition. “Looking back on it,” Libby said, “I think Heather – through God’s
direction – was taking care of me before she left – at least that is how I view
“With this job, I was set
up in a situation where I could use my compassion to help other people – and it
was something that eased the pain of her death. Being a CAREGiver has helped me
with the grief because while I comfort someone else, I myself am being
comforted. The office came alongside me and told me to take the break I needed,
and I know they are there for me. They recognize the trials and tribulations of
Sadly, Heather’s death
wasn’t the first tragedy Libby and her husband experienced. Their son Brian
died almost exactly five years earlier at age 26 as the result of an unexpected
heart attack. “Both of our children are gone. We have three grandchildren. My
husband and I have great faith, and it has gotten us through this,” said Libby,
a member of the First Baptist Church. “I feel God cried for all of us. Our
faith in God assures us that our children are better off than we are now.
“When I look at my
clients, I believe I have an opportunity to love and nurture them. One client,
a dear lady who is now 98, has offered words of comfort. She tells me that,
‘Someday there will be a reunion in heaven. As for their passing, don’t ask
yourself why because it doesn’t matter why.’ Her husband died long ago, and
there is no one left among her circle of friends.”
Libby believes two
clients were divinely placed with her because of events and situations in which
Libby was perfectly suited to help. One example was a male client who was
discouraged and shaken when he began to go blind. “Helping someone with
blindness is very familiar to me because my father is blind,” Libby noted. “I
knew this had to be a God thing because how many CAREGivers have grown up with
a blind dad?
“My client told me he
wouldn’t know how to deal with going blind. But I knew how to help him. I
showed him the tricks of living with blindness, from how to arrange clothing
and socks by color to many other things. This gave him a sense of independence
and confidence as his sight began to diminish. While he was still visual, he
knew how to begin coping and adjusting.”
Knowing First Aid
life-saving procedures while she was a special education teacher helped Libby
prevent a potentially serious situation when a female client choked while
eating a nut. “I applied the Heimlich Maneuver to get the nut dislodged. I
placed my arms around the chair where she was sitting before applying pressure
because I did not want to injury her. It was a God thing. When I was working in
special education, I had to be prepared for anything,” Libby said.
Libby also has served as
an advocate. One client could no longer attend Sunday morning services. “It is
hard for her to get dressed and ready for life before noon every day, and she
has a walker,” Libby explained. “She misses attending church – she’s a member
of a church that was started in 1728 by her direct descendents.
“I asked her pastor, ‘Is
there any chance the church could occasionally hold a service later in the day
so this very faithful member could attend? The pastor and the church made it
happen, God bless them, so my client can go. My client has amazing insights and
is very funny. She knows many people in Winchester, which is a friendly town.
She feels great when she can engage others, so moving the church service was a
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