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Sep 25, 2020

Home Instead Announces 2020 CAREGiver of the Year

HISC Caregiver and senior man laugh while sitting on couch at home.
Maria "Dani" Frank of Whitehall, Pennsylvania., is the 2020 Home Instead North American CAREGiverSM of the Year. For Home Instead, the world’s leading provider of in-home care for older adults, there is no bigger accolade for the organization’s more than 65,000 professional CAREGiversSM.

“She is the CAREGiver everyone wishes to have,” explains Kimberly Koze D’Amico, owner of the Home Instead office serving Allentown and Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Frank, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1974 from Portugal with only the belongings her family could fit in their suitcases and $500 in their pockets, has spent her life in consideration of others. In addition to 20 years with Home Instead, she has worked at her local hospital, returned to Portugal to care for her ailing parents and extended family, and even cared for own husband until he passed of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2013.

“When I have a client, I always put myself in their place,” describes Ms. Frank. “I take care of them the way I want to be taken care of or the way I’ve cared for my family. Everything I’ve gone through in my life – losing mom and dad, losing my husband – this job gives me strength to keep going and lets me know that life is truly worth living.”

That inspiring, selfless spirit is not lost on the estimated 100-plus clients Ms. Frank has cared for in her tenure as a Home Instead CAREGiver, especially one of her most recent and beloved clients, Mae. Shortly before she passed, Mae shared in her own words what Ms. Frank meant to her when Mae nominated her for this very award.

“I knew right away when I met Maria that she was going to help me. Now I wait at the window, watching for her to come in the evening. I don’t ever worry because I know Maria will always be here. When my angel Maria comes floating in the front door, I know everything will be alright.

“I’m tired more these days and I’m having a harder time with everything. I don’t want to go to the hospital anymore. Whatever happens to me in the end, I wish I could take Maria with me. I hope she will just stay with me and take care of me. She tells me she will always be here with me. I feel better when Maria is with me and I know with her here, I will be able to stay at home until the end. She helps me to not feel so afraid.”

Ms. Frank spent Mae’s final hours with her. And keeps Mae’s words from her nomination with her as a treasured gift.

“They developed a pretty close personal relationship,” recalls Mark, Mae’s son. “To my mom’s understanding, Maria was Home Instead.”

For Home Instead, today marked the first time since the award’s inception in 1997 that the highly anticipated announcement of its recipient was made virtually.

“While these times have changed how we traditionally celebrate our CAREGiver of the Year, it doesn’t change the absolute joy and honor we feel in recognizing Maria,” said Lori Hogan, co-founder of Home Instead Senior Care. “Maria is a shining example of the tens of thousands of CAREGivers like her, who make up the heart and soul of our organization. And today, more than ever, it’s important we rejoice and acknowledge all they do to keep our loved ones safe at home.”

Home Instead CAREGivers help seniors remain independent as long as possible in the comfort of their own homes or in care communities as they age, providing services and companionship, from meal preparation and medication reminders, to personal care and Alzheimer’s care. Ms. Frank was selected for the network’s top honor among eight regional finalists, all nominated for demonstrating compassion and exceptional care to the seniors and families they serve.

“I have no words,” Ms. Frank said, “When I found out, I was so shocked. I never in my life expected something like this to happen to me … but this just means so much.”

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