CAREGiver of the Year Marylee Shields points to an extensive family caregiving background as good preparation for her job at Home Instead Senior Care® of Lubbock, which she strongly views as a mission.
"My husband and I took care of my mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer's, without help from anyone else, so I had had plenty of experience with dementia care. We also took care of my husband's brother, who died last month at 59. He had Down syndrome. While providing care for them, God gave me a perspective or preview of being a CAREGiver," said Marylee, whose husband Rodney is a retired pastor. Together, Marylee and Rodney spent 10 years overseas as church missionaries.
Going back even further in her family caregiving experiences, Marylee said: "When I was a high school freshman, I was helping my mom. She had polio and hepatitis. I bathed her and fed her. I'd take care of Mom and then I'd run a mile to school. Then I'd run a mile back home at noon to help her again. Doing this as a teenager led to a lifetime of service. I am thankful for the privilege to serve others. I had a thankful heart. God has been good to me."
In 2010, Marylee followed two daughters who also worked as CAREGivers for the award-winning franchise that is owned by Tracy and Terry Baugh. Marylee was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in November 2015 and again in October 2017. "My sense of any caregiving situation is, 'Let the client see Jesus in me and hear Jesus from me.' I also pray on the way to work: 'Please let me be the hands and feet of Jesus to my client,' " Marylee said.
"The staff and I would like to point out that one of the many reasons why Marylee was selected as CAREGiver of the Year is that she has a wonderful, consistent track record of extremely strong relationships with her clients. It is clear that's the case even though you would never hear her talk about those special bonds because she is a very humble person. She also has had health issues that would keep a normal person down for a long time. Instead, her concern is for her clients and getting back to them as soon as possible. She is truly selfless," Tracy Baugh said.
As a CAREGiver, Marylee has experienced many memorable moments. Many of them are unforgettable.
Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Juanita Camacho was not surprised Marylee turned the situation from a negative to a positive. "Marylee has a calming spirit about her, and her compassion and kindness pour out in waves from her heart. Our clients and families say Marylee brings peace and calmness to their lives, and they feel secure knowing their loved one is in her capable, loving hands. I could go on and on about how wonderful and great a CAREGiver Marylee is," Juanita said. "She certainly is another of our amazing CAREGivers. She is truly a godsend to Home Instead and our clients. She represents Home Instead to the max."
Pointing out Marylee's genuine spiritual nature, Juanita said: "Marylee is as gentle as God's warm sunshine. She lives the Scripture found in Philippians 4:13, which says, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' Marylee overcomes obstacles with such grace. I am so honored to know this wonderful woman and her very sweet family."
Marylee said she entered a mission field when she joined Home Instead Senior Care. "I have been in ministry my whole life, and I needed another call from God when my husband and I moved from Woodward, Oklahoma. I feel privileged and appreciate the opportunity to help people. Home Instead allows me to minister in an atmosphere of caring and compassion. I feel honored to keep and enhance the dignity of my clients," Marylee said.
There is no proselytizing or even a mention of faith unless a client or family member broaches the subject. "I never tell my clients that I am a preacher's wife. I want them to see God's hand helping them without knowing my background," Marylee said.
"Each day, I walk and talk with God. I would be lost without divine direction. There is a nudging that I feel with every situation. God is my constant help. I don't wait for something to happen before I ask for God's help. I have done a lot of hospice caregiving. I can help the clients make that crossing. It means a lot to me to be given the privilege of showing the love and compassion of the God of all comfort to a person in his or her final days."
She said having a thankful and humble heart has opened opportunities to help others. One day while filling in during a shift at a nursing home and relieving another CAREGiver, Marylee thought of a way to respond to a client's pressing need before Marylee even talked to the client.
"I was just about to knock on the resident's door when I overheard the client say to the CAREGiver, pleading, 'Please call a pastor. I need to have Scripture read to me.' She was a sweet lady who had dementia and was obviously bothered by something. Since I was working the 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift with the client, I knew it would be unlikely I could get a pastor to come that late to the nursing home," Marylee said.
"I sat down and immediately began reciting the 23rd Psalm to her. She calmed down and said, 'That is my favorite verse.' We did other verses and chapters in the Book of Psalms. When we were saying Scriptures, a peace came over the room. She was calmed with The Word, so that is an example that God is still a God of all comforts. I was glad to be a part of the experience."
Said Juanita: "There is no end to what Marylee will do to help others, and she freely gives her heart and time without expectation or condition. I pray that someday I might be as selfless as this wonderful lady."
All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about CAREGiver employment, please apply online call 704-924-9909. For further information visit Home Instead Senior Care.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.