CAREGiver of the Month

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​​​ ​Home Instead Caregiver

A tradition of great caregiving means that we take care of our own as well as we take care you and your family. 

Home Instead, Inc. recognizes regional CAREGivers of the Year and one special CAREGiver who shows exceptional dedication is the recipient of the national award — The Mary Steibel CAREGiverSM of the Year Award.

This program inspires CAREGivers to strive for excellence. It creates a sense of pride and rewards their hard work, compassionate care and service to others.

​CAREGiver of the Month

​Every month we would like to begin honoring those individuals on our team who contribute a little extra, even beyond the normal exceptional service all our CAREGivers provide. These people inspire us each and every day to do what we can to make the lives of others just a little bit better, in whatever way we can – big or small. Return frequently to see each month's new CAREGiver of the Month!​

February CAREGiver of the Month - Tracy Kearney

February CAREGiver of the Month - Tracy Kearney

Tracy grew up in Hastings on Hudson, NY, and after getting married, she moved to Cortland where she and her husband raised their 3 children. Tracy joined the Home Instead family 4 years ago, and has been one of our most loyal CAREGivers in the Putnam County area since day one. "Tracy is dependable and has a great sense of humor," says Staffer Sue Gannon. After working in property management for 10 years, Tracy decided to make a lifestyle change so that she could be home to spend more time with her family (and pets!). When she was deciding what kind of work to pursue, it was her priority to find a "more nurturing job," and to do something that she truly enjoys. When a friend told her about Home Instead, she had a feeling this would be a perfect fit.

What is so unique and special about Tracy is the lens through which she sees seniors. They are her equal, and she naturally treats them with complete dignity and respect.  A true companion, Tracy loves to hear about their lives and their loves, their history, and their families. "I learn so much from the people I care for. Of course I like to help and take care of seniors, but I also just get so much pleasure from being around older people."  Tracy laughed as she recalled the time a few years ago when she was invited as a guest to join a senior outing to go gambling at Mohegan Sun…they had a great time!

Being a CAREGiver allows Tracy the flexibility to take care of her busy personal life, but even when she leaves work every day, she doesn't stop giving care. She has 3 children, PLUS 4 dogs, 4 cats, a sea turtle, snake, and frogs. She enjoys the outdoors, and her hobbies include knitting and crocheting, dancing, and BINGO!

January CAREGiver of the Month - Alice Freckleton

January CAREGiver of the Month - Alice Freckleton

Born and raised by her grandparents in Jamaica, Alice learned "right from wrong" from her grandmother. She also learned the value of hard work, and has lived her life by the code that if you want to make it in life, you need to work hard. And that is what she has done her whole working life -  holding 2 to 3 jobs simultaneously to take care of herself and her children. Now that her (5) kids are all grown up, and she is grandmother to 18 grandchildren, and she's basically retired, she still holds 2 jobs a day to make ends meet. "By working hard, I have always been able to keep myself independent," she says.

Alice moved to the United States at age 31 so that her children would have a better education and more opportunities. Upon arriving to the US, Alice moved to Yonkers and got a job working in a law firm. Soon after that, she went to school to become a Nursing Assistant. Her first job was caring for elderly nuns in Yonkers. She went on to hold several jobs as a Nursing Assistant between the years 1986 to 1997. It was during that time that her 5 kids and husband joined Alice from Jamaica. Alice's hard work paid off, and she was able to send all of her kids off to college. It was in 1997 that Alice changed course and started working at a group home, where she worked for the next 14 years. And after her retirement, in 2010, she joined the Home Instead team. "I most enjoy working in home care with seniors…probably because of being raised by my grandmother."

At Community Based Services (CBS), where Alice continues to work the overnight shift, Alice has twice received the Worker of the Year award. Here at Home Instead, Alice is a committed, dependable, and well-loved caregiver. "Alice is a dream come true for me," says the woman Alice now cares for 6 days a week. "We made a connection right away!" In the little free time that she has, Alice goes to church, enjoys cooking for her family, and spending time with her grandchildren who range in age from 5 to 26 years old.

December CAREGiver of the Month - Jada Forson

December CAREGiver of the Month - Jada Forson

​Jada was born and raised in Ghana, West Africa. When her 2 sisters moved to the US, it was Jada who looked after her sisters' 4 children. It was Jada they called "ma." After finishing secondary school, she worked as a "beader" for a wedding dress designer in Ghana, but she always knew she would one day join her sisters in the US. And in 2001, at 22 years old, Jada moved to New York. Her sister was working in an assisted living facility in Connecticut, and she was the one to introduce Jada to a career of caregiving. Shortly after her arrival in the NY area, Jada got a position as a private caregiver for a couple living in the same facility where her sister worked. Jada worked for that couple for the next 10 years. After that, she decided to get her GED, and then continued on to become a CNA. Her goal was to continue her education, and in Spring 2017, she graduated from Westchester Community College with an Associate Degree in Social Science and Liberal Arts.

Jada's current plan is to now pursue her dream of getting a nursing degree. Married with a baby on the way, in her free time, Jada loves to cook, and watch crime shows with her husband. While Jada never knew her own grandparents, she approaches every client "like her own" – with love, dignity and respect.

November CAREGiver of the Month - Margaret Rafford

October CAREGiver of the Month - Rebecca Shelly

October CAREGiver of the Month - Rebecca Shelly

From Trinidad, Rebecca came to the United States 20 years ago on vacation, fell in love, and never left. Growing up in Trinidad with 4 sisters and 2 brothers, Rebecca's childhood was a happy and healthy one. As a child she ran relay, played basketball, and walked over a mile to get to school every day. Committed to healthy eating, her family ate mostly from their vegetable garden. Eating well and staying active were and still are a priority in Rebecca's life. As a Home Instead CAREGiver, Rebecca brings her high energy and healthy lifestyle to all her clients. A beautiful smile, encouraging exercise when possible, and making homemade fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies are just a few of the many ways that Rebecca brings joy to the lives of the people she cares for every day. "What I do for myself, I try to do for others," says Rebecca. "She does whatever we ask. Whatever we need. She takes care of my wife and I. I don't know what we would do without her," says her current client of 3 years.

Before senior care, Rebecca worked in child care for about 10 years. Seeking a meaningful change, she went back to school to become a CNA. "I was always intrigued by caring for seniors so I decided it was time for me to follow that passion. I love taking care of people. I love doing this work."  In her free time, Rebecca enjoys spending time with her family, reading, cooking, and, of course, exercise.

September CAREGiver of the Month - Susan Guida

September CAREGiver of the Month - Susan Guida

There is nothing that Susan wouldn't do for her current client of 2 ½ years. Says her client's daughter, "Susan has been the most wonderful companion and advocate for my mother. I live long distance and I can tell when I speak with my mom that she is very happy with Susan's love and care. Susan truly makes a difference in my mom's life and that's important to all of us. She's been such a wonderful addition to our family!"

Born in South Korea, Susan's parents moved to the United States when she was just 2 years old to try to make a better life for themselves. Susan stayed behind with her maternal grandmother and uncle, who raised her for the next 5 years. During those formative years, her grandmother was her "mother", and her uncle was her "father".  At age 7, Susan's mother went to South Korea to bring her daughter back to the US. Susan's immense love for her grandmother is one of the reasons she feels so endeared to the elderly. 

Raised in NJ, Susan's parents worked hard to build a life for Susan and her sister. From a very young age her parents led by example, reinforcing that it takes hard work to achieve things in life. She saw this with her grandmother, her mother, and now, she has passed this work ethic down to her own 2 daughters.

After working as a CPA for 9 years, Susan took a leave of absence to raise her daughters full time. Raised as a latch-key kid, she always knew that she wanted to be home for her kids after school. Despite her own parent's late hours, Susan's mother would come home every night and cook a full Korean meal so that they could all have dinner together. Although she still leaves the Korean cooking to her mother, home cooked meals and nightly family dinners have always been a priority.

Susan volunteered her time at Phelps Hospital in the Silver Spoon program, and also with the Croton Meals Delivery bringing meals to the infirmed as well as homebound seniors. As a caregiver for Home Instead she goes above and beyond for her current client. "I just do for my client what I would want done for myself," she says. Not only does Susan keep the house immaculate, she does the food shopping, meal prep, organizes and accompanies her client to doctor appointments and PT, organizes clergy visits, mail, and helps keep her calendar and home up-to-date and organized. Something else they do together every time Susan is there…have tea/coffee and conversation. Just like family.

"When Susan is with me, I never have to worry. We work so well together," says her client.

August CAREGiver of the Month - Margaret Adarkwah

August CAREGiver of the Month - Margaret Adarkwah

It would be difficult to find a Caregiver more committed and more kind than Margaret. A person who always goes above and beyond, Margaret has an innate ability to provide care and comfort to others. Born and raised in Ghana, Margaret has 2 loving parents, and 11 siblings. It was Margaret's loving grandmother, who partially raised her, who she considers her inspiration to work in the health care industry. The deep relationship she had with her grandmother has provided a foundation that now gives Margaret the ability to provide love and compassion to her clients.

Prior to being an HHA for Home Instead, Margaret was a CNA. She found however that she could do more good caring for people one-on-one rather than seeing many patients a day, and working in home care was a perfect fit.   "I never make it seem like I am working. It's all about relating to the person. And I always try to have a positive attitude, be optimistic, and say something to give people hope," says Margaret. As a result, Margaret always ends up making a real difference in people's lives. She always leaves her mark.

As a Caregiver, Margaret understands that it often takes some creativity, and that there may be some obstacles to getting people to cooperate. After gaining their trust, she has a way of finding out what a client likes to do, or liked to do in the past, and figures out how to incorporate specific activities into their daily schedule. "Games, puzzles, telling jokes & stories, sometimes just looking through old pictures. It's important to give people room to think for themselves. They help me as much as I help them," she says.

Recently married, Margaret's plan is to pursue a degree in Geriatric Nursing, and one day have a family of her own. And if Home Instead ever has a Caregiver Cookoff, Margaret will be making her Ghanaian Fufu and Soup, and classic Jollof Rice (also called Benachin) with Goat Meat!

July CAREGiver of the Month - Sidney Murphy

July CAREGiver of the Month - Sidney Murphy

Born and raised in Arkansas, Sidney moved to Peekskill, NY when she was a teenager. Sidney's whole life has been devoted to working hard and taking care of others. She worked for the VA Hospital for 34 years - a mentally and physically demanding job that she was committed to until it got the best of her. She got her CNA license thru the VA, and it was during her last few years there that she started working part-time at various nursing homes.

Being a hard worker is something that Sidney learned from her mother, and it is something that she has since passed down to her own 2 daughters. "Hard work and commitment are just built into me. Whatever you want in life, you must work for it!" says Sidney. A unique combination of tough and sensitive, and with a good sense of humor, her passions in life are caring her own family, and caring for her clients as if they were her family.

In 2011, Sidney turned to home care and started working for Home Instead. Reliable and hard-working,  Sidney's past experience caring for such a diverse population at the VA, has taught her to be not only an extremely patient caregiver, but also adaptable to any and all situations.  

 "If you really LIKE what you do, you will learn what you HAVE to do to be good at your job," says Sidney. And this is the attitude that she takes with her every day to work. Currently caring for someone with dementia, Sidney understands the importance of taking things one day at a time. As she says, every day is totally different and requires her to be open and adaptable. "I pay close attention at all times to keep my client safe. I know how to anticipate [his] needs." It is for these reasons that Sidney Murphy is July's outstanding Caregiver of the Month!

June CAREGiver of the Month - Bernadette Leon

June CAREGiver of the Month - Bernadette Leon

This month we honor Bernadette Leon as Caregiver of the Month. Bernadette has been a dedicated caregiver for Home Instead for 18 years! Committed, patient, and passionate, Bernadette puts her heart and soul into caring for the elderly. "My mind has always been with older people. I just fell in love with taking care of the elderly. It's a joy. It's a godsend," says Bernadette.

Bernadette, born and raised in St.Lucia, West Indies, is from a loving family, and 1 of 7 siblings. At 17 years old, she moved to Brooklyn to come live with one of her brothers, and she has been here ever since. After working in a factory in Brooklyn, and then as a nanny in Westchester, she started her career as a caregiver. Luckily she found Home Instead, and here she has been ever since.

It was on one of her visits back to St.Lucia that she met her husband. In a loving marriage now for 10 years, he understands her dedication to caregiving. Currently, Bernadette has been a live-in caregiver for the same person for 4 years. And when she has time off, she and her husband make the most of their time together – going to church, cooking, cleaning (she loves to clean), maybe enjoying a day on Coney Island. Family has always been most important to Bernadette, and this value is the reason why she takes care of every client as if they were her own mother or father. 

Bernadette doesn't like to sit still, and always finds a way to keep busy and make herself useful. She loves music, and loves to dance. For her current client, she puts on her own little "Broadway show" incorporating Yiddish words, and, of course, dancing. Her enthusiasm and energy keep the spirits up, and a keep a smile on whoever is lucky enough to be in the room.

"It's not just that she works for me. I love her so much. I haven't got enough adjectives to describe Bernadette," says her current client. "She's my helper, par excellence! And sometimes she makes me laugh so hard that my belly hurts."

May CAREGiver of the Month - Elizabeth Ritter

May CAREGiver of the Month - Elizabeth Ritter

Elizabeth is from Johannesburg, South Africa, or, as some prefer to call it – Joburg, or Jozi. A caregiver in Jozi, Elizabeth was caring for a family when, in 1993, the person needed to come to the USA to have surgery. Elizabeth accompanied the family to the states, and, thankfully, she has lived here ever since.  She went to school and got her HHA, and soon after, her CNA.

Elizabeth loves her job caring for the elderly and she can't imagine doing anything else. "I have always loved helping people, and I truly love my clients," she says.  And as a result, Elizabeth becomes "part of the family" of most people she cares for, together celebrating holidays, birthdays and special occasions. Once, for Christmas, Elizabeth made hand knit scarves for the family members of her client because "if you make something handmade, it makes people happy," she says.

Soft spoken, kind, and compassionate, Elizabeth takes life one day at a time, and is more of a listener than a talker.  Quick to smile and laugh, her easygoing nature has a way of putting people at ease; a past client nicknamed her "super woman." Often working 2 or 3 jobs, hard work is habit for Elizabeth, and she would have it no other way. "When I am working, they are my second family," she says. But when she does take time to go home, her way of relaxing is to clean house, and listen to classical music. "Music is my company!"

April CAREGiver of the Month - Geraldine Gordon

April CAREGiver of the Month - Geraldine Gordon

"I'm not much of a talker," says Gerry. "I just show up and do my work. My work speaks for itself."

I told Gerry that we couldn't just leave it at that because she is being honored as CAREGiver of the Month, and we need to let people know what makes her so special. A CAREGiver for more than 40 years, providing care for the elderly has been Gerry's life since she was a teenager. Born in Alabama, southern hospitality is in her blood. As a young child, she moved to Westchester with her parents and 6 siblings. Her Auntie worked in a nursing home and played a big role in Gerry's love of eldercare. Hard working, dependable, and energetic, Gerry currently works for Home Instead, as well as a nursing home, AND a group home for mentally challenged adults. Why work in so many places? "Because it's in my heart to care for people. And having a big heart is what keeps me young!" she laughs.

Over the years, Gerry's clients and their families have only had the nicest things to say about her. "It's always hard to find a substitute to fill her shoes when she takes time off (which she rarely does)," says Home Instead Office Manager Angela Halstead. The daughter of Gerry's current client remembers the time that her mother went away for a few days to visit a relative, and her father was worried that Gerry was going with her. "She just makes all of us feel secure and comfortable. Gerry does everything with so much love…my parents absolutely love her. She's truly a blessing," says the daughter.

Always a peacemaker, Gerry is kind and patient. When things get chaotic, she can be counted on to juggle everything, stay calm and get things done with a smile. In addition to being a CAREgiver, she enjoys spending time with her large extended family, listening to gospel music, and Southern cooking. Her specialties: cornbread stuffing, fried corn, fried okra, and naturally, fried chicken. You can take Gerry out of the south, but you can't take the south out of Gerry!

March CAREGiver of the Month - Maudlyn Edwards

March CAREGiver of the Month - Maudlyn Edwards Maudlyn has been a tireless and conscientious worker her entire life, and we feel privileged to have her as part of our caregiver team! Born and raised in Jamaica, Maudlyn was raised by her father, aunt and grandmother. At 16, she began working in a pastry shop, a passion that sticks with her to this day, and of which all the people she cares for definitely reap the benefits. As a single mother with 7 children to raise, Maud was always eager to do odd jobs, and by nature was determined and willing to learn just about anything. “I needed to be multi-talented to support my kids,” she says. “If a house had to be painted, I could paint it.” With a laugh, she continues that she had to stop the painting when a bucket of oil paint fell over her head while painting a ceiling, forcing her to shave off all her hair.

Maudlyn always knew in her heart that she wanted to work with either babies or the elderly. It came naturally to her. And in 1990 she enrolled in nursing school to pursue her calling. All the while, she worked hard to support her family – first owning her own hair salon, and after that, her own clothing store. She has always been the type of person that could do anything she set her mind to. In 2008 she finally finished nursing school, and then graduated in 2010 as Valedictorian. Soon after, she would travel on a working visa from Jamaica to Virginia for 4 months at a time to work as a live-in caregiver.

In 2012 Maudlyn became a permanent resident and moved to NJ. She worked as a caregiver in Baltimore until someone told her about Home Instead, and we have been lucky to have her with us ever since. “I can’t say enough good things about Maud,” says staff coordinator Sue Gannon.  “She’s genuine, reliable, our clients adore her, and she always does whatever it takes to make people happy. She brings an energy to the table that’s contagious.”

Maudlyn has also been a member of the Kiwanis Club since 2005 – a global volunteer organization that serves children, teens and adults living with disabilities. She has dedicated her life to not only raising her own children, but also helping people of all ages in need. An avid cook with a green thumb, Maud also takes care of her garden almost as passionately as she cares for clients. “I say good morning to my plants. I inspect them every day. And I also ‘put them to bed’” she says. For her current client, whom she has been living with for several years,  she’s growing tomatoes, garlic, celery, beet room, and herbs.

“I love every person that I care for. They are my #1 priority and I always give them 2000%! When I have a few days off I worry about them,” says Maud.

February CAREGiver of the Month - Brenda Sebastian

February CAREGiver of the Month - Brenda Sebastian

​Brenda has been with Home Instead for nearly 6 years, and it didn’t take long for her to become a caregiver loved by all. Born in Antigua and raised in St.Thomas, her family followed the Caribbean tradition of many families where children are temporarily raised by their grandmothers so that mothers can find work and a better life somewhere else. Brenda’s grandmother not only took care of Brenda, but her other grandchildren as well, while her mother moved to St.Thomas to build a business of her own.  After an accident landed Brenda in the hospital when she was just five years old, her mother made the decision that it was time for Brenda and her 3 cousins to join her in St.Thomas.  

Brenda has always been a hard worker, both in school as well as jobs, an education being her number one priority. Starting at just seven years old, she worked every day after school helping out her mother in the bodega that she owned. Independent, smart and determined, Brenda began driving at age 12, causing much confusion for the local police when she finally got her driving license at age 16!

In 1984, when Brenda was 18, she moved to the Bronx to live with her father and attend college where she pursued business and marketing. She went on to work first at Woolworths Department Store, and then to CHASE Bank where she worked up the ranks and continued working for close to 19 years. Even at the bank, Brenda was always there to lend a hand to the older customers when they needed it. However, when her mother fell ill in 2009, Brenda decided to follow her dream and get educated in the health field. She knew that she wanted to work with the elderly so she went back to school and got certified as a CNA and HHA. “When you get older, there’s not much you can do about it. Seniors have been through so much in their lives, and everyone needs TLC,” says Brenda. “I enjoy working with the elderly the most because I don’t like to see them ill-treated or taken advantage of, and it’s where I see that I can do the most good.”

Everyone who Brenda has cared for gets the perk of experiencing her outstanding cooking. For her current client of several years, Brenda has mastered kosher cooking and she now makes a mean Shabbat dinner. On her own time, she mostly cooks West Indian dishes from Jerk Pork and Stewed Chicken to Oxtail and Rice and Peas. She also enjoys traveling, cruises, throwing parties, family gatherings and reading.

“Brenda is one of our most reliable caregivers. Dependable, conscientious, kind, and a great sense of humor,” says Office Manager Angela Halstead.

January CAREGiver of the Month - Carol Pihota

January CAREGiver of the Month - Carol Pihota
Carol has earned 2017’s first CAREGiver of the month because she is one of our most committed and reliable caregivers in Northern Westchester and Putnam County. “Carol is my go-to caregiver when I’m in a pinch, or need someone to fill in on a moment’s notice. She’s always dependable and willing to go above and beyond, even when it’s inconvenient or out of her way,” says Staff Coordinator, Sue Gannon.

Born and raised in Westchester, Carol was a school teacher in the Catholic school system for 30 years (4th grade was her all-time favorite). After retiring from teaching about 6 years ago, the natural next step for her was to be a caregiver for seniors. Where does she get her energy? Thanks to teaching for so many years, Carol says “the kids kept me young!” Carol uses that same maternal instinct she used in teaching to be the naturally gifted caregiver that she is.

People often tell Carol when they first meet her that they feel like they already know her. It’s that first impression that makes people warm up to her so quickly.  Two things that clients and their families notice immediately upon meeting Carol are 1. her genuine personality, and 2. her love of being a caregiver.  It’s her nature to go above and beyond to make her clients happy, and do whatever is necessary to make them smile, and also take care of their basic needs. It was not only her teaching career but also her life experience that prepared Carol for caregiving. Carol adored her grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s, so much that she took a 5-year leave of absence from teaching to care for her. Carol’s baptism-by-fire exposure to Alzheimer’s have made her the empathetic and experienced caregiver that she is. She also helped to take care of her uncle who had Leukemia.

Also a volunteer for 6 years in the Emergency Room at Lockport Memorial Hospital in Lockport, NY, Carol was nicknamed “the Angel.” Though only a volunteer, she came to be the extra pair of hands in the ER, as well as the liaison between the doctors, patients, and families. And when Carol first started working for Home Instead about 4 years ago, it was this all-in approach that quickly earned her a reputation out in the field. “Once clients have had Carol as their caregiver, they always call and request her again,” says Sue, who staffs Northern Westchester and Putnam County. “I send her to the most challenging cases because I know that if Carol can’t do it, nobody can!”

“I love what I do. Even when I stop working for my clients, I grow so attached that I often continue to visit them -they become part of my extended family,” says Carol.

December CAREGiver of the Month - Keitha Campbell

December CAREGiver of the Month - Keitha Campbell
​​As a child, Keitha had dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Specifically, to be a designer of beautiful gowns. She applied and got accepted to NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology, however, as she graduated high school in Jamaica at age 16, her mother felt she was too young to be on her own in the Big Apple. Though her career took a different path, Keitha has still managed to acquire a closet full of fancy gowns! 

There is nothing more important to Keitha than family, especially being a mother. She takes great pride in being a role model for her 2 sons, and works hard to give them the best life possible. Born and raised in Jamaica, Keitha was very close with her grandmother who lived with them, and also with her own mother. It was her mother’s words of wisdom that to this day have guided Keitha in all of her jobs: no matter what it is that you do in life, do it properly and get the job done no matter what it takes. As a Sagittarius, this advice comes naturally to Keitha - once she sets her mind to something, or sets her mind to doing something for someone else, she will do anything to achieve that goal. This is an attribute that makes Keitha such an outstanding Caregiver. 

An unexpected path from fashion, Keitha’s open mind and nurturing personality led her to become first, a preschool teacher, and after that, to work with developmentally disabled adults. But she always had an affinity for older people, which is how she ended up at Home Instead more than 10 years ago. 

From Keitha’s perspective, her role as Caregiver is to bring older people a “fresh outlook” on life. “I like to do whatever I can to get seniors to live their lives to the fullest,” says Keitha. Optimistic and always enthusiastic, Keitha has the unique ability to transform thoughts into actions, and once she sets her mind to something, or sets her mind to doing something for someone else, she will do anything to achieve that goal. “’Keith’ is truly my lifesaver. She always takes me out and keeps me busy. And when I forget something, she remembers for me,” says one of her current clients. 

Nicknamed “Kitten” for her love of cats, Keitha’s plan after her second son heads off to college, is to finally become a Cat Lady – she’ll start with 2 but who knows. Typical Keitha to want to continue her mothering, and never stop being a caretaker. 

“Keitha goes above and beyond,” says Staff Coordinator Angela Halstead. “In addition to working her own shifts, I can always count on her to fill in and be there when we need help.”  

November CAREGiver of the Month - Dominic Davis

November CAREGiver of the Month - Dominic Davis
​November is National Caregiver Month, and Dominic is the ideal recipient of this month’s Caregiver of the Month Award. Born and raised in the Bronx with 8 brothers and sisters, anyone who knows Dom knows that he is a die-hard Yankee fan.  “I grew up right across the street from Yankee Stadium, and everyone in my family worked there at some point or another. The pin-stripes literally put food on our table,” says Dom pointing to his large Yankee insignia ring. 

For Dom, family values have always meant more to him than anything else. Raised in a close-knit Italian family, his interest in working with seniors began when he was just 10 years old while helping take care of his grandfather. In high school he took nursing classes, but then chose not to pursue it any further.  That is, until many years later, after working in the publishing field for many years, when he decided to go back to the profession that he feels was his “calling.” 

Dom moved to Westchester in 1985, and in 1991, was the victim of a terrible car accident that left him with multiple injuries and years of recovery. The turning point was in 1996 when his mother had a dream before she passed away that Dom fulfill his dream of being in the health field. And thanks to that dream, Dom fully committed himself to being a Caregiver. He has been with Home Instead for 11 years now, worked with close to 20 clients, and has proven himself to be the Caregiver of All Caregivers.  

Dom does his very best to bring a positive spirit and a laugh (he calls it a “belly chuckle”) to all of the people he cares for. “Even on Dom’s worst day, he always keeps his sense of humor. He can bring anyone out of a bad mood,” says Staff Coordinator Sue Gannon. Dom has a daily affirmation to do whatever is in his power to make the person he’s taking care of pain free. He admits that as a full-time caregiver for older people, he does get discouraged at times. “To be good at this job though you need to be in it fully. There’s no half way. And getting discouraged at times is all part of the job.” 

Music, acting, and entertainment are also a big part of Dom’s background, and he uses these talents as a vehicle to understand and communicate with seniors who may no longer be able to use their words. But it is Dom’s strong family values that really make him so good at what he does, and so fully committed to each and every person that he cares for. “You are never going to good at what you do unless you treat your clients like family.” And as a Caregiver, Dom’s family just keeps on growing.

October CAREGiver of the Month - Judith Hedlam

October CAREGiver of the Month - Judith Hedlam
A live-in caregiver for close to 30 years, Judith has devoted her life to taking care of the elderly.  Anyone who meets Judith is immediately struck by her kindness, soft caring voice and her gentle manner. It is clear that she is a deeply compassionate person, and that she takes her role as a caregiver seriously. 

Born and raised in Jamaica, Judith came to Brooklyn, New York seeking a better life. After taking care of her mother in Jamaica, working with the elderly was a career that came naturally to her. 
When asked what has kept her going working as a caregiver for so many years: “You have to love a job before you can stick to it,” says Judith.  “I love the people that I take care of, and I do whatever is needed to make their lives more peaceful. And also, the love and appreciation that I get from the families makes it all worthwhile.”  To this day, Judith still keeps in touch with the families of the people that she’s cared for over the past 30 years. Why? Because she becomes part of each and every family. 

Judith recounts the time that one family flew her to Florida to meet their father, who was in the hospital, and who they described as “a very difficult man.” As soon as she stepped into the hospital room they bonded, and immediately knew that they would be a good match. She cared for this man each and every day for 2 years, and was with him every moment as he battled cancer. 

Judith believes that whatever you do in life, you need to be fully committed. And committed she is, to every person she has every cared for. Judith has been living with and caring for her current Home Instead client for 9 years. As the client’s daughter recalls, “Judith took care of my father when he had Parkinson’s, and now she’s been caring for my mother. My father built our house with his own two hands, and thanks to Judith, my mother is still able to live there. We are so fortunate to have her in our lives – she is a true angel.” 

Judith loves to garden, cook, do puzzles, and keep in close touch with good friends. And no matter where she wakes up in the morning – in the home of someone she is caring for, or in her home in Brooklyn with her now grown daughter – the one thing that she never forgets is her roots. 

In the words of the daughter of one of her past clients, and engraved in a watch that was given to her as a gift, Judith Hedlam is the “Best Caregiver.”

September CAREGiver of the Month - Paulette Legister

September CAREGiver of the Month - Paulette Legister
September's CAREGiver of the Month is an intelligent, warm, funny and caring woman who has been a natural caregiver her whole life. She has a contagious laugh, a bright smile, positive attitude and an interminable energy. Coming to America from Jamaica at 19 years old to live with her aunt, her family and friends had already nicknamed her Mother Theresa because of her natural ease with people, and her desire at a young age to care for others.  

Children were Paulette’s first love, and when she came to the US, she began working as a nanny. Paulette remembers how rough she had it growing up in Jamaica, and she wanted to take that experience and do what she could here in America to take care of others people’s children to make their lives easier and better. 
Not only was she adored by the family she was working for, but she was also always there for the other children in the neighborhood.  “They would come knocking at the door, and I always invited them in for milk and cookies. I will never forget the young boy next door who asked me to marry him!” Paulette recalls. 

After taking care of children, she went on to have a long career on Wall Street. Paulette then chose to continue her work as a caregiver, and went to work with the mentally disabled. It was during this period that she especially enjoyed working with the elderly, and luckily for us, she decided to join our Home Instead team. 

Things just come naturally to Paulette. “No one teaches me…things just come to me,” she says with a smile.  For example, she never formally learned how to garden, yet she instinctively knew how to grow a robust garden of flowers, fruits and vegetables for one of her Home Instead clients. Although she is no longer with that client, the garden is still thriving to this day. It is in this way and so many others, that Paulette makes a true and lasting impact on people’s lives.  

“I have the most fun with Paulette. We dance and sing and talk every day. She brings so much joy to my life,” says her current client of nearly 2 years. “My life wouldn’t be the same without Paulette.”
“Paulette goes above and beyond with all of her clients! She deserves the honor of being Home Instead’s FIRST CAREGiver of the Month,” says Staff Coordinator Sue Gannon. 
Paulette is married and has 5 children and 8 grandchildren.

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