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CAREGiver of the Month - Willa

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CAREGiver Willa Is Perfectly Placed to Help

Award-winning CAREGiver Willa Banks knew how to answer her client’s difficult question.

Client: “I don’t understand why I am still alive. Why, Willa?”
Willa: “I believe God brought us together. God wanted us to meet so I could learn from you. Everything occurs in God’s timing and happens for a reason, and He puts people in our lives for a reason, although we might not know why at the time. ”

Willa assisted her client for 2½ years on behalf of the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including Winchester, Virginia, and 25 other communities. The client passed away last month just days before she would have turned 95. “I called her my ‘Queen’ because she was such an elegant, polite person who carried herself so well,” Willa said. “She always said she never deserved to be called a queen, and she would have fun with it sometimes by speaking in a British accent.”

The client was in hospice during the final month of her life, but her family made sure Willa was there. On the night when her client passed away, the family called Willa. “I wasn't with my client when she passed, but her daughters called me about 11:45 p.m.,” Willa recalled, “and I went to the hospital to be with them because I felt as if they would need me and I wanted to say goodbye to my ‘Queen.’ She will always be my ‘Queen’ and my friend because she was both. 

“Her husband had died years earlier,” Willa added, “and she missed him. After I arrived at the hospital and walked into her room, I bent down to her ear and said, ‘You are now with your husband, and please remember that you will always be my ‘Queen’ and my friend. ” 

“She was a wonderful, humorous woman who had a lot of talents and interests. She told me about painting, and she showed me notebooks full of pictures and other memories about her family that stretched back to the 1900s. She reinforced how important family is to each of us.”

Family is a priority for Willa, who assists her 87-year-old mother and a disabled brother. “Mom helps my brother,” Willa said, “and I help Mom with him. I retired from a bank after working for 38 years. I was seeking a part-time job. Home Instead worked with me so I can help them in the mornings and again in the evenings. My brother uses a walker and has a weakness on his right side. Mom has horrible arthritis and uses a walker, but she does what she has to do. She also has help from others while I am working.

“In addition, I help Mom by doing her grocery shopping and bills, among other things. Mom also took care of Dad, who died of cancer 10 years ago, keeping him out of a nursing home. With Mom as a shining example, I’d say being a caregiver – whether it is for Home Instead or for family and friends – is who I am. It is in my heart.”

It should be no surprise, then, that Willa makes a priority of serving others. She plays a big role at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Winchester as a volunteer who works with the less fortunate and disadvantaged. The church has “Willa’s Closet” that includes donated clothing, including hats and mittens in the winter months. “I prefer to call it ‘Faith Closet’ because without the help of the volunteers and the donations,” Willa said, “there would be no closet.” 

Explaining the ministry, Willa said: “We provide showers on Wednesdays for those who need them, and we also furnish coffee and snacks. We schedule big breakfasts at key times during the year, such as at Christmas. We also reach out to the community to partner with people and businesses who donate clothes. It is no coincidence, perhaps, that I found out about Home Instead through a church friend who worked for the franchise. I know my faith is a great help with being a CAREGiver. As a norm, I ask God to get me through the day, to be considerate, willing to listen and understanding, and just in general do the best possible for my client. I always try to treat others the way I would want to be treated.” 

Willa’s favorite Bible verse (Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”) may explain her energy level for caregiving and volunteering. “I think the verse gets to the heart of what I do,” she pointed out. 

“I will be 70 in three years, and perhaps that is my goal – to go on for three more years, but you never know. It depends on how I hold up physically and emotionally. If I am going to help someone, I need to always be in a positive frame of mind. 

“After my last client died, the office called and told me ab​out an 84-year-old client. She is so sweet. She wants to take care of me, cook for me, please me and even asks if I need a nap. I have to remind her I am there to help her. I keep getting these wonderful people, and I wonder how. I believe God is the One who is responsible for arranging me to be with all of my clients.”

All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call 540-722-8750 or apply online. For further information about our home care services, please visit Home Instead Senior Care​.


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