CAREGiver of the Month - Gillis

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Spend a little time with award-winning CAREGiver Gillis, and it isn’t difficult to see the source of her inspiration, a power that spurs her to care for others.

“My faith is in Jesus Christ, and He has anointed me with His unconditional love and His perfect peace. I always treat people as I want to be treated, not as they treat me,” Gillis said. “I love people, and children and seniors have a special place in my heart. It’s not a chore, because I feel it’s a pleasure to help and do my best to generate a smile and contentment.”

The Kenner resident’s unlimited reservoir of compassion has not gone unnoticed – Gillis was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.

“It is her sincerity and natural charisma as a person that really makes her stand out,” said Fay Kelting, the franchise’s CAREGiver development specialist. “She is genuinely a beautiful person inside and out, and her clients just love her. She has always been a great CAREGiver but during the last six months or more, she has really blossomed into one of the greatest CAREGivers.”

Gillis, who has been a CAREGiver for the past five years, loves to meet seniors, helps them live to the fullest and enjoys their stories. A 71-year-old female client especially touched Gillis.

“She had had brain surgery because of an aneurysm, but was still full of life and felt she could do what she always could,” Gillis recalled. “I had her as a client only a few weeks before her passing.

“She loved to go outside, so I would take her for long rides in her wheelchair. One day as we were sitting on the couch, she commented wistfully, ‘I wish I could read my Scriptures.’ So I asked her, ‘Would you like me to quote Scripture?’ She nodded and said, ‘You are one of the nicest people I have ever known.’ I replied, ‘I am glad we met.’ Later, I felt very humbled to receive a call inviting me to her funeral service that was private, just family and close friends.”

Gillis’ first caregiving experiences came about 20 years apart. She didn’t actually see herself as a caregiver when she moved back to Texas in 1984 to help her mother for five years before she passed away in 1989. “Then I was a family caregiver again,” Gillis said, “and this time it was in 2007, when I took care of my husband who died in September of that year.”

In January 2008, she was laid off after 15 years with an insurance company. She didn’t allow her trials and tribulations to get her down. Quoting from an unknown author, Gillis said, “Life is like melted butter – once things cool down, it can be reshaped.”

Gillis spotted Home Instead in a newspaper ad about a year later and found fulfillment as a CAREGiver. She now has two clients, both of whom have dementia. “I plan carefully every day I have them,” she said, explaining that consistent routines provide the highest amount of comfort.

Beyond her faith, Gillis believes her success is tied to the support she receives from franchise owner Lisa Rabito and her staff. “Lisa’s franchise is first rate. She has done a great job of striving for excellence in caregiving,” Gillis said. “Lisa is so sugar sweet, which means all of the staff is just like her, truly a reflection of the leader. When you put those things together, they find the same kind of CAREGivers – people who are sweet and want to help someone else.

“I am humbled to be a part of a great team of what I call ‘Lisa’s Angels.’ ” ​


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