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Home Instead Itasca, IL Featured Care Professional of the Month

Caregiver appreciation is baked into our DNA.
We sincerely value the passion and talent each Care Professional brings to our mission day in and day out.

To thank our Care Professionals for all the amazing things they do, we nominate a person for our Care Professional of the Month award. It’s a small way to show how thankful we are to them for demonstrating compassion and exceptional care to the seniors and families they serve.
Home Instead Caregiver helps senior woman getting out of car
Home Instead Itasca, IL
Meet Our Highly Skilled Care Professionals of the Month
Care Professional Jane

Care Professional of the Month: Jane

Little did Care Professional of the Month Jane know more than a year ago, she would have a divine appointment to assist a faith-based lady for the final 11 months of her life. Referring to her Home Instead® client, Jane revealed: “She told me one day: ‘I had been praying to God for a long time for Him to send me somebody good, and He finally sent me you.’ ”

Pondering her client’s words, Jane reflected on her time with the special client and said: “It touched my heart that she was so very sweet and compassionate. She was my most recent client. I have great memories of baking with her and going on walks with her. I also helped her do her hair and makeup. In addition, I helped her pick outfits.”

Jane’s precious days with her Home Instead client were not unlike her close relationship with her grandmother.

Caregiver Ivy Martin

Care Professional of the Month: Ivy

or nearly two years, Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Ivy M. has been assisting a client whose dementia is nearing “end-stage.” At this challenging point in her life, the 84-year-old former elementary school teacher often struggles to find words if she responds at all to conversation. But one day, the client shocked Ivy with three words that left Ivy in tears. “She held my hand and said, ‘I love you,’ and it overwhelmed me, and I cried for a little bit,” Ivy said.

That occasion was a 180-degree shift from Ivy’s first experiences with the client, whom Ivy lovingly calls “Grandma.” Ivy recalled her difficulty in winning over “Grandma.” “It took a couple of months. She is very stubborn,” Ivy said. “Now when she sees me at the start of a shift, she cries and reaches out for me. I am verbal with her all of the time and just hope to get a few responses. I keep talking to keep her engaged.”

Ivy added: “Her expressions often will tell me everything I need to know, whether she’s happy, sad, surprised or whatever she is feeling. I understand her.”

Caregiver Vasilina Duncan

Care Professional of the Month: Vasilina

Care Professional of the Month Vasilina smiles whenever her 94-year-old client tells her, “I have prayed to God to have someone like you. I feel God has blessed me by sending you to help me.” Vasilina joined Home Instead® of Itasca, Illinois, on Feb. 27, 2023, and almost immediately began assisting the client in every conceivable way as a live-in Care Pro. Vasilina said, “We became friends right away. She says we are a team, and I am ‘a best friend.’ ”

Every morning after the client awakens, she smiles when Vasilina walks into her bedroom to help her client out of bed and start their daily routine. “My client, who is a very sweet lady, craves companionship. She wants to be with me all the time, and she feels my love. When you give your whole life to someone, it just warms your heart to get her love in return,” Vasilina said.

Vasilina’s client is almost always wheelchair-bound and has dementia. She occasionally can stand up and take a few steps with her walker. “As a result,” Vasilina explained, “I do everything for her, including transfers, medication reminders, personal care, transportation and meals. She says she likes everything I prepare for her. I bake, prepare lasagna and make sandwiches and soup, among other things. I am always trying something different. She doesn’t like food from the freezer, and I cannot blame her. She does like chicken pot pie.”

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Care Professional of the Month: Evelyn

Evelyn has a huge heart for helping people – young or old – but she was honest about taking a Home Instead® Care Professional position five years ago. “At first,” Evelyn said, “I was not sure about this kind of job. But I kept an open mind and, as time went on, I could see I was making a difference by taking care of the elderly who need help.”

Evelyn added: “There are seniors who need lots of help, especially those who cannot walk on their own, change their clothes or are bedridden. Some are just able to sit in their chairs and do little else because of their health challenges. I decided to stay with this job because I liked it. I enjoyed helping others. Also, it is my dream to become a nurse.”

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Care Professional of the Month: Patricia

Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Patricia Lara quickly figured out the “why” of a challenging client’s difficult behavior. Patricia cut to the chase: “The client just wanted to feel as if she still mattered.” That’s how Patricia relates to each of her Home Instead clients. She feels that each client is like a family member.

“As far as client memories go, I don’t have a favorite story. I am proud I was able to get along with a client whom almost no one else could win over. We did well. I listened to her needs and made her feel as if she was still in control. That came at a time when everything in her life seemed to be getting away from her,” said Patricia, who has been working with seniors on behalf of owner Kelly Hutchison’s award-winning Home Instead franchise in Itasca for about a year.

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Care Professional of the Month: Sandra

In Sandra Kayitesi’s eyes, her mother is a compassionate hero and a wonderful role model. “I’ve seen my mom take care of her mom. By watching her do so, it sparked an interest in me to also look after the elderly. It was an amazing experience to witness my mom giving back in that manner,” said Sandra, an award-winning Care Professional with owner Kelly Hutchison’s Home Instead® franchise in Itasca, Illinois.

Sandra, who began her professional senior-care career in 2015 and has worked for multiple care communities, joined Home Instead about a year ago. “I found out about Home Instead through social media – Facebook – and it seemed like a nice place to work, so I applied there,” Sandra explained.

Louisa Milligan

Care Professional of the Month: Louisa

Sooner or later, everyone needs a Louisa Milligan, a person who is ready to step in and help when a need arises. That has been the story of her life. Consequently, serving as a Care Professional for Home Instead® of Itasca was the perfect job fit when Louisa joined owner Kelly Hutchison’s award-winning franchise almost four years ago.

Senior care is Louisa’s specialty, but over the years, she has been a nanny for several families, caring for newborns and elementary school-age children. She started working in hospitals early in her career in Texas as a nurses’ aid and did that for many years. Louisa worked with adults and the elderly, providing care during their stays in rehabilitation. Daily patient care included taking vitals, going on walks with patients, providing meals and nutrition and more. During the past 15 years, Louisa has been working in retirement homes and home care. 

Uy Fitz

Care Professional of the Month: Uy

Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Uy Fitzgerald has never forgotten about growing up in his native Philippines, where he displayed a heart of gold for family members who needed help. The truth is, Uy was a family caregiver for his senior loved ones, not unlike what he does now professionally for his award-winning Home Instead franchise in Itasca, Illinois.

“When I was a kid, I used to run errands for my grandma and grandpa. I did whatever they wanted us to do. I bought and delivered the things they requested, scratched their backs, brought a glass of water – just about everything you can think of that a kid can do for his grandparents’ welfare,” said Uy, whose hometown is Quezon City. Uy studied at the Far East Air Transport Incorporated University in Manila, which also is known at FEATI University.

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Care Professional of the Month: Latonya

Latonya Glass had set her sights on a career in the culinary arts profession, but she ran into detours that took her into family caregiving, as well as private-duty assistance. Nearly three years ago, when Latonya was looking online for a second job, she recalled her caregiving roots and thought to herself, “Let’s give it a try.” Latonya landed with owner Kelly Hutchison’s award-winning Home Instead® franchise in Itasca, Illinois.

Her two jobs encompass Latonya’s two passions. “I am also a chef and have been in the profession for about 37 years,” Latonya pointed out. Of course, something else was cooking for Latonya, who explained: “As far as my family-caregiving experience goes, I started with my mom, dad, granny and sister. I also helped my best friend with her mom and uncle until they passed away. After that, I moved on and started my career doing what I wanted to do.”

Agnes

Care Professional of the Month: Agnes

Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Agnieszka Szymanik is known to most of her clients as “Agnes.” Twenty-three years ago, when the Polish native started her “American adventure,” as she calls it, Agnes began picking up other first names during her professional senior-care journey.

“Most often I took care of people struggling with memory who didn’t really know who I was and where I came from. As a result, they often thought I was their daughter or granddaughter and called me by their loved ones’ names. That’s why I had many names in America. I was Margaret, Angie, Gloria, Gladys, Alice and many others. All of those names contribute to my personal history but most of all, I am still the same Agnes,” said Agnes, who joined Home Instead of Itasca three years ago after finding owner Kelly Hutchinson’s award-winning franchise online.

Agnes’ “American Adventure” is a unique one that began in April 2000. “That was the first time I flew from Poland to Chicago to visit my mother. Of course, I was looking for a job, but it wasn’t difficult for me because my mother worked as a caregiver for the sick or the elderly, and I had been taking care of my beloved grandmother for three years in Poland. So, of course, I took a caregiver job. Since 2000, I have taken care of many people. I remember names and places. I worked in Wisconsin and Florida, but most often in Illinois near Chicago,” Agnes said.

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Care Professional of the Month: Tamara

Before entering professional senior care, Tamara had worked in office positions, including accounting and financial departments, in her Russian homeland. Then came a family caregiving challenge of the highest difficulty. All Tamara could do was react as each unique day arrived.

“When Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I took care of her for seven years. Without having any experience and knowing nothing about Alzheimer’s, I should have read about the disease and learned what to do. Sometimes I really did not know what was going on and how to help her. For me, it’s all different now as a professional, because I look at my clients and understand their needs. At the same time, I always remember my mom,” Tamara said.

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Care Professional of the Month: Gloria

For nearly 15 years, two-time Care Professional of the Month Gloria Gentle and her clients at Home Instead® of Itasca, Illinois, have almost always been matches made in heaven. “I’ve always told the office, ‘Give me the most challenging ones. I enjoy winning them over.’ Of course, I don’t always face difficulties. I wish to say I’ve had many fulfilling experiences,” said Gloria, whose sterling caregiving track record also includes the 1998 employee of the year at a different home-care agency.

 

To find the origins of Gloria’s amazing life of caregiving, one must go back in time more than 40 years and then travel to Central America’s smallest country. By vehicle, it’s about 2,800 miles from Gloria’s award-winning Home Instead office in a Chicago suburb to Belize City. It was in Belize where a young Gloria combed her great-grandmother’s gray hair and helped her shower. With Gloria joining in, the combined family caregiving efforts were highly successful – Gloria’s great-grandmother lived to the age of 106. “I would get her out of bed and into the sunshine, and she appreciated that,” Gloria recalled.