(Change Location)

CAREGiver Awards & Recognition 

At Home Instead®, our success revolves around our CAREGivers℠ – and we know it! We celebrate CAREGivers year-round in many ways: a note of appreciation, recognition in our employee newsletter, perhaps an impromptu office party.
Home Instead Caregiver helps senior man button shirt at home

October 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Gwendolyn N.

Gwendolyn CGoM October 2021

CAREGiver of the Month Gwendolyn “Gwen” Nash believes in prayer, encouragement, a never-give-up attitude and miracles. A Home Instead client believes in Gwen.

Last May, Gwen accompanied her client to a doctor’s appointment for a follow-up on his recovery from a second stroke. “The doctor said his condition improvement probably would top out after six to eight months of physical therapy and home exercises, and then plateau permanently. He was at the six-month mark, so it wasn’t looking good, especially when you consider his in-home physical therapist had stopped coming. When we got home, I asked him about the evaluation. He thought he could get better. I said, ‘Then we will work to get there.’ ”

Fast-forward to August, when Gwen took her client back to his doctor. In amazement, the doctor told her client he’d made great progress. The client replied: “My Home Instead CAREGiver wouldn’t give up on me. Gwen went the extra mile with me.”

That made Gwen’s day, maybe even her year.

“It gives me joy to see the progress he has made. When I began assisting him, he was very weak. I took the routine the physical therapist left him, implemented a few other exercises and my client took off in terms of improvement. While I take pride in what I do, I remind him it’s all about him. I often times call him ‘Rocky Balboa’ and tell him he’s an inspirational champion like ‘Rocky’ was in the movie series. That motivates him to work harder,” Gwen said.

Since Gwen joined Home Instead® of Houston last May, she has found fulfillment. “Being able to be a part of something helpful is huge. Knowing you’ve done all you can to help another person leaves me feeling good. There’s nothing better than to be able to speak positive life-changing words into a person’s life,” Gwen said.

“There can be beauty even when darkness surrounds a person whose life is ebbing away. It’s the ability to make a person feel good even in his or her last days. I’m crying as I say that because it’s making me think of my time as a caregiver for my loved ones who made their transition.” 

Gwen’s family-caregiving experiences no doubt prepared her for her first professional senior-care job. “I was the caregiver for my son who passed from cancer. My mother had a long line of health issues, was wheelchair-bound and was diagnosed with early stage dementia. My godfather had a stroke. Sometimes they were mean, but I knew I could not take it personally. Usually, they just weren’t having a good day at the time,” Gwen said.  

Gwen’s previous job and volunteer experiences were different from what she does for Home Instead. She retired from State Farm Insurance in September 2018 after working there for 26 years as a claims specialist who handled injury and litigation claims. “My intentions were to stay retired for about a year and spend time with my granddaughter, but of course it ended up being a little over two years. After that, I decided to do something different. I prayed about where I should go, especially since I have a love for people and want the best for them,” Gwen said.

Gwen had been involved as a volunteer at a prison as a teacher, as a hospital chaplain and as chaplain with the sheriff’s department. Of course, Gwen’s spiritual faith runs deep. Her favorite Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 9:22: I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Gwen explained further: “With my previous volunteer duties in mind, I knew my next challenge would have to be somewhere I’d be able to help people.”

One night Gwen saw a Home Instead television commercial, and it resonated in her spirit. Gwen called a friend who was a professional caregiver for another company. Her friend previously had worked for Home Instead but left because Home Instead didn’t service her area at that time. The friend gave Gwen great reviews about Home Instead and thought Gwen would be a great fit.  

Gwen mentioned some of the things she loves about her CAREGiver job:
• “I find joy when I arrive and see my client’s face light up as I walk through the door.”
• “I love doing whatever I can to help the client get the most out of my time with him.”
• “I love laughing with the client and be a listening ear when he’s having a rough day.”
• “We laugh when I blurt out something he was thinking and he gives me a strange look and says, ‘That’s what I was going to say! Get out of my head!’ ”

Gwen’s favorite story about her client is that when she calls him ‘Rocky Balboa,’ her client raises his hand in the air above his head like a champion. “There is symbolism or perhaps an irony in that. That is something he couldn’t do when I first got there. Every positive word I speak to him motivates him to want to do more,” said Gwen, who vocalized a favorite saying: “If you’re not on your way to being your best, you’re in the way of your own progress.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


September 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Emily H.

Emily CGoM Sept 2021

CAREGiver of the Month Emily Hartman knew the ins and outs of senior care long before April 2021, when she joined owner Greg-Gomez-Mira’s award-winning Home Instead® franchise that serves Houston and nearby communities, including Missouri City, Sugar Land and Bellaire.

Emily landed at Home Instead as a result of the winter weather catastrophe that enveloped nearly the entire state of Texas earlier this year and caused widespread power outages and huge energy bills. “I was working at an assisted living and memory care facility in Katy in February when the freeze hit. I lost my employment as a result of the winter storm. I was looking for jobs online and kept noticing Home Instead,” she said.

“After I joined Home Instead, I came to appreciate the fact that everyone working in the office has experience with care, so they know exactly what they are asking us to do. Home Instead allows me to work closer to home and provide our clients individual attention as I learn more about them. I love to have conversations with those clients who like to talk.”

Emily, who has worked at several care communities and also served as a family caregiver for her mother, always has had a huge heart for seniors. “I respect and appreciate the elderly. Many of them are so often dismissed, ignored and treated like children who are put somewhere and forgotten,” Emily said.

Recalling her family caregiving experience, Emily said: “Before I went to work at a care community, I took care of my elderly mother when she became bedridden, so I was used to working one-on-one within the home. From my experience, home care is much better for individuals who have lost their independence. The care community where I worked was not large, and I did my best to accommodate the residents as best I could, but unfortunately that’s not the norm for seniors when it comes to being away from home and family.”

Emily has faced virtually every possible senior-care challenge.

“I made a point to learn all the skills necessary to care for someone with various levels of dementia to help them feel safe, comfortable and cared for,” she said. “Some are not making sense when they talk, but they seem to have some sense of purpose for what they are saying, so I go along with them. They seem to enjoy that and feel comforted that someone is listening.” 

In addition to her strong companionship skills and expert dementia care, Emily provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Emily and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence care, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility assistance. By expertly doing so, Emily and other CAREGivers not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

Death is an emotional challenge for senior-care professionals. “I have experienced the passing of many individuals following their heartbreaking decline. It is not difficult to accept and often times I am happy for them because their prolonged and often intense suffering has ended.”

Emily has soaked in rich experiences with Home Instead clients, and she loves their stories and unusual talents. Expressing an awe and wonderment during one particular situation, Emily said: “I was with a client who was a high school music teacher. We were watching ‘Family Feud’ on the television one day and the game-show host asked, ‘If you could collect anything, what would it be?’ My client said, ‘Pianos.’ My lady would often go to town on a piano – she has three – and she is an unbelievably good pianist. It put her in the zone and got her out of her periods of challenging behaviors for a while.”

With a pragmatic foresight and thoughts of positive karma (“as you sow, you shall reap”), Emily added: “I’m doing this, working in senior care, because my day will come and I am giving what I hope to get.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


August 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Samantha G.

Samantha CGoM Aug 2021

Life frighteningly turned on a dime five years ago for Samantha Garcia’s mother. Then, in a domino effect, Samantha’s life also changed when she rushed into a family caregiver’s role. It was a responsibility that was not forced, but instead was embraced from Samantha’s attitude of compassion and empathy.

“In 2016,” Samantha said, “my mother had a brain aneurysm and had to be flown by Lifeflight to a hospital, where she had surgery. By God’s hand, she made it. But she had to have help afterward. In a blink of an eye, I found myself helping with my mother’s care and learning so much in this process. The great news from Mom’s story is that she eventually made a full recovery and has no issues. My sister and I helped for several months. I am glad we were available. There were a lot of prayers at the time, and our family is a family of prayer warriors.”

Samantha added: “Today, I can’t imagine not helping people in need and would do so any day. For me, Mom’s situation reinforced the thought that we all should live every day as well as we can because we don’t have any idea what is ahead for us. Mom was perfectly fine before the aneurysm.” 

When Samantha applied for a CAREGiver’s job with owner Greg-Gomez-Mira’s award-winning Home Instead® franchise, she did not have any previous professional senior-care experience. But that did not matter because of her involvement with the care for her mother and another family member. “I also had previous family caregiving experience with my grandmother. I took care of both of them – my mother and grandmother,” Samantha explained.  

Samantha found Home Instead in an online advertisement. The Home Instead franchise, which serves Houston and nearby communities of Missouri City, Sugar Land and Bellaire, had a variety of openings. “I decided to apply for a weekend position, basically because I thought it would be a great fit for my family's schedule. I also really wanted to see how it would go when I tried this line of work. There was no doubt: I love it,” said Samantha, who joined Home Instead in February 2021.

In August 2021, Samantha was selected as the Home Instead franchise’s CAREGiver of the Month. It is no small honor at the Home Instead office that takes pride in its consistently high-quality service. Greg has owned the franchise for the past eight years.

When asked what she likes most about her job, Samantha said: “I love the fact I can get up every day and look forward to helping someone get through their days a little easier and maybe make their days a little brighter.” 

Samantha admitted to first-day jitters when she started with Home Instead. “When I went to see my first Home Instead client, I was so nervous and anxious. But as soon as I got there, I couldn’t have felt more comfortable than I immediately did with her,” Samantha said.

“We would sit and have breakfast, then she loved watching the ‘Golden Girls’ and sometimes the game shows. We did this faithfully. Overall, I believe you need to get to know your clients as well as you can. I would ask her about her stories. I tried to learn what she liked and didn’t like, and what she formally liked to do.”

For Samantha and her fellow CAREGivers, touching lives impacts their souls, whether they are providing physical help such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders or personal care or if they are offering emotional support in a companionship role.

Samantha is among more than 100,000 CAREGivers worldwide, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead’s purpose. It isn’t hard to see Samantha lives the Home Instead principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


July 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Thereza G.

Thereza July 2021 CGoM

For CAREGiver of the Month Thereza Gonzalez, taking care of one of her Home Instead® client was a slam dunk.

“One of my previous clients was a 6-foot-6 former professional basketball player who also was a star at one of the Division I universities in Texas. It was amazing to see, read and watch his old basketball highlights. Beyond athletics, he’s such a nice guy, an All-American in that aspect,” Thereza said.

“Later in life, with a college degree in hand, the client was a successful businessman, book author and member of several sports Halls of Fame. He is 77 and has Parkinson’s disease. He now has tremors, mobility difficulty and is in an early stage of dementia. He is a fascinating person who had a wonderful basketball career and relives his glory days a lot just as he should.”

Thereza also has been a “slam dunk” as a CAREGiver since January 2021, when she joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s award-winning Home Instead franchise in Houston, an office that serves suburban cities such as Bellaire, Missouri City, Pearland and Sugar Land. “Thereza is sharp and has tons of common sense. She sees solutions to challenges quickly and always aims to please our clients,” said Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia, who announced Thereza had been honored as the franchise’s July CAREGiver of the Month.

Referring to Rebecca and Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Margi Kenny, Thereza said: “I am very grateful to have a wonderful team like Home Instead, especially Margi and Rebecca who gave me a chance to further my experiences in health care. I am new to the senior-care field, but my heart has always been in some form of health care. I was searching for caregiver jobs while I was still working at my previous job. Home Instead was the first company I applied for.”

Thereza explained. “A year before working at Home Instead, I volunteered with another company, and I still volunteer with that company when I have time. My work background has been varied. During my previous job, I was a security guard. I would patrol a warehouse inside and out, check workers in and out and fill out a lot of paperwork. I also volunteer for a summer program for burn victims every year.”

As a family caregiver, Thereza took care of her great-grandfather, who had dementia that progressed quickly soon after it was diagnosed. Thereza said: “He was 100 years old when he passed away. When family members have surgeries, I always try to stop to see them to make sure they are well. I check on them for various things. I want to see if they have infections, if their blood pressure is normal and if they are taking their medications correctly.”

For Home Instead clients, Thereza provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Thereza and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence care, dementia support, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility assistance. By expertly doing so, CAREGivers not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

For Thereza, touching lives impacts her soul, whether she’s providing physical help or offering emotional support in a companionship role. “What I like most about Home Instead is meeting different clients. Most of the clients have had interesting careers and hobbies that always surprise me,” said Thereza, who has focused on Home Instead’s training, processes and procedures of successful caregiving. Doing those things helped her achieve CAREGiver of the Month status.

Thereza is among more than 90,000 CAREGivers worldwide, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead’s purpose. It isn’t hard to see Thereza lives the Home Instead principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


June 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Corliss M.

Corliss June 2021 CGoM

“A crossroads.”

To Corliss, it’s personal: She has empathy for those who have reached their crossroads. Not only does she work for Home Instead®, but she has embarked on a caregiving stint for a third-generation family member. “I took care of my great-grandmother and grandmother, and now I am taking care of my mother. Our family always has firmly believed in keeping our senior loved ones at home, an environment to which they are accustomed,” Corliss explained. That is why Home Instead exists, and Corliss said CAREGivers can become like family members to their clients. Bonds can include relationships where clients also want the best for their CAREGivers.

Revealing one of her favorite client stories, Corliss said: “I could not sleep one night. Later, when I walked in and greeted my client, he said, ‘Corliss, you look tired, sit down and take a nap.’ I said, ‘You don’t pay me to take naps. I’m here to help you!’ We both laughed and went on with our day. The past holidays were very sad for my client. I went by his home and sat with him, we had lunch together and I believe that brightened up his spirits. Always remember ‘crossroads!’ We may all get there one day!”

Corliss had an introspective answer when she was asked what she likes most about her job as a Home Instead CAREGiver. “I feel best about knowing there will come a time where I may need the care I am providing for my clients. That fact makes me want to do my very best for all clients. Every day we grow older and more dependent on others. Be kind and remember this could be you someday,” Corliss said.

Fifteen months ago, Corliss ended her retirement to join owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s award-winning Home Instead franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Pearland. Sugar Land and 17 other Houston-area communities.

Always having operated in the realm of compassionately serving others, Corliss began her work career as a CNA (certified nurse aide) and a certified medical assistant in internal medicine. She added: “On a part-time basis, I started teaching, something I really enjoyed. I taught for 38 years. I decided to retire and found myself very bored. Being able to choose my own hours, I decided to become a Home Instead CAREGiver after I saw a Home Instead television commercial.”

In addition to her strong companionship skills, Corliss provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Corliss and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence care, dementia support, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. By expertly doing so, CAREGivers not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

Corliss is among more than 90,000 CAREGivers worldwide, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead’s purpose and core values. Those core values are: “Honor God in all we do; Treat each other with dignity and respect; Encourage growth in ourselves and others; Build value in our service to others.”

Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia said: “Corliss is an amazing CAREGiver and is facing many challenges with family caregiving. I feel blessed to have her. Corliss is just a very sweet and loving person.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


May 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Allison A.

Allison CGoM May 2021

Who takes care of a former Home Instead® CAREGiver when she reaches the point of need? CAREGiver of the Month Allison Ansley answered the bell for her mother.

“Like I do now,” Allison explained, “my mom also worked as a Home Instead CAREGiver, but she worked for a different franchise. In my spare time, I am the primary family caregiver for my mother. She lives in a different city, so I am somewhat of a long-distance family caregiver.”

Allison is in her first year of working as a CAREGiver for the award-wining Home Instead franchise that serves south-central Houston. Owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s Home Instead office assists seniors in 22 Houston-area communities, including cities such as Bellaire, Missouri City, Pearland and Sugar Land. Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia announced Allison’s CAREGiver of the Month honor. Destiny Wesley is the client care coordinator and office manager, and Margi Kenny is Home Instead’s recruitment and engagement coordinator.

Rebecca said, “The bottom line is, Allison is a really good CAREGiver.” Rebecca, Greg, Destiny and Margi are glad Allison heard about Home Instead from her mother and eventually decided to apply with the franchise that’s a member of a highly successful network founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Paul and Lori Hogan. The Home Instead network is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises throughout the U.S. and 13 other countries.

“My previous experience with caregiving was working for another agency, and I have several years of experience in the profession,” Allison said. “I have good memories of being with seniors. Now that I am working with the elderly, I continue to enjoy listening as they talk about life and tell stories about things that happened to them in the past. We hope that everything will go smoothly, but when tests arise, I enjoy a real challenge and use compassion and empathy to help resolve dilemmas.”

For Allison, touching lives impacts her soul, whether she’s providing physical help such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders or personal care or if she is offering emotional support in a companionship role. Allison’s experience is a big plus, but she said focusing on Home Instead’s training, processes and procedures of successful caregiving helped her achieve CAREGiver of the Month status.

CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence care, dementia support, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. CAREGivers not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom. Allison focuses on each client’s interests and builds relationships by doing so.

“I have a client who absolutely adores dogs and books about dogs,” Allison said. “The client recently moved, and we assisted her in decorating her new home with a ‘canine theme.’ I picked out a few new books for her.”

Allison added: “She and I talk about the therapy dogs we previously owned in life. It helps her to cope because she has been naturally reserved and quiet throughout her whole life, and now we have a topic in common. She enjoys being read to occasionally, and the services she receives from Home Instead help build a lasting bond with the client. I love caregiving as my profession because we truly get a chance to help others.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.


April 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Nikkita S.

Nikkita CGoM April 2021

Credit Nikkita Smith’s husband with a super suggestion.

Nikkita and her husband were watching television when a Home Instead® commercial came on. Nikkita’s husband told his wife, “Baby, you would be good at that job because you love helping people.” Nikkita, who was between jobs at the time, applied the next day at the award-winning Home Instead franchise that serves Houston and other cities such as Bellaire, Fresno, Missouri City, Pearland, Stafford and Sugar Land.

That was five months ago. On April 20, Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia announced that Nikkita had been honored as CAREGiver of the Month by the franchise owned by Greg Gomez-Mira, and where the client care coordinator and office manager is Destiny Wesley. Margi Kenny is the recruitment and engagement coordinator.

Rebecca said, “One of the big reasons Nikkita was selected as CAREGiver of the Month was because she went through a lot with one of our clients, and she handled it like the true professional that she is. Most people don’t know that Nikkita was courageously dealing with her brother passing away from the COVID-19 virus. Nikkita is a very special person and a very kind and loving person. Nikkita’s clients are benefiting from Nikkita’s family caregiving experience with a senior loved one.”

Nikkita noted: “I didn’t have a professional background in caregiving before I joined Home Instead, but I have always considered myself a caregiver. I was a family caregiver for my grandmother, and I am currently a family caregiver for my great-aunt who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.”

For Nikkita, touching lives impacts her soul, whether she’s providing physical help such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders or personal care or if she is offering emotional support in a companionship role. In addition to Nikkita’s God-given instincts and compassion, focusing on Home Instead’s training, processes and procedures of successful caregiving helped Nikkita achieve CAREGiver of the Month status.

“I love being a bright spot in a person’s day. I love the fact that my job helps people stay in their homes. I help keep families together in a sense. That is very rewarding,” Nikkita said. “I had a client and after only a couple of days of service, he and the entire family would greet me in the morning, including the dog. That made me smile!”

Nikkita loves being a part of the CAREGiver team for the Greg’s Houston-area franchise, a member of a highly successful network founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Paul and Lori Hogan. The Home Instead network is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 80 million hours of care annually throughout the U.S. and 13 other countries.

Nikkita is among more than 90,000 CAREGivers, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead’s purpose. It isn’t hard to see Nikkita lives the Home Instead® principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.”

“I would like to thank everyone on the franchise office staff for recognizing me with this CAREGiver of the Month. It feels great when you get confirmation that you are doing things right and that everything is going all right with clients and their families. Being recognized is what so many of us work so hard for because it is an indication of our dedication. The office staff, including owner Greg Gomez-Mira, showed me with this honor they appreciate my efforts. I always have thought the company and the staff at Home Instead are simply amazing.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.


March 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Bolanle "Bola" G.

Bola CGoM March 2021

Bolanle “Bola” Gbagba is an exceptional Home Instead® employee, one who truly merits her March CAREGiver of the Month honor, Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia said. For an example of her commitment, Bola worked eight straight days during the height of the dreadful stretch of horrible February weather. For Bola, who normally works three straight nights a week with her 99-year-old client, it was “no big deal at all.”

Bola said: “I don’t do my job to win awards. In fact, I don’t even know how they pick CAREGivers of the Month.” With at least two straight days of dangerous snow and ice, Bola admitted to “having issues” driving one day to the client. Included in that memorable trip were a ruined tire and three-hour wait for an Uber ride. Summing up the experience, Bola said: “I had to get to work. The client needed me. In addition to employing Home Instead, the client has a private-duty caregiver who couldn’t make it for several days. The client’s got to have someone.”

Bola, who joined Home Instead in September 2018, has served her client for two years. The wheelchair-bound client faces many challenges that arose from a major health episode. “You have to be attentive to her special routine, and there are specific things to watch for. She talks well, and she is quiet, peaceful, happy and relaxed. To me, aspects of her detailed care are not overwhelming. I’ve had other cases like that. I have a good feel for these situations,” Bola said.

Bola became familiar with caregiving and medical attention at an early age. Her mother was a nurse and a midwife. “I have helped people at the start of life and at the end of life. I grew up watching Mom, and I took care of an elderly family member. I know when they need medical attention. I like to help people in general,” Bola said.

Before finding Home Instead online, Bola had worked with seniors while helping her aunt, a registered nurse, who ran a home health care company. “We provided care for clients who were leaving the hospital or rehabilitation care. When COVID-19 came along, my aunt leased out the agency to a governmental entity. She had had the agency for eight years, but she moved on to other things and still is working as an RN,” Bola said.

Bola is glad she found Home Instead, an award-winning franchise that serves Houston, Arcola, Bellaire, First Colony, Fresno, Greatwood, Iowa Colony, Lake Olympia, Meyer Park, Meyerland, Missouri City, Pearland, Quail Valley, Riverstone, Rosharon, Shadow Creek Ranch, Sienna Plantation, Stafford, Sugar Land, Sunnyside, Sweetwater, Thompsons and Westbury. Greg Gomez-Mira is the franchise owner.

“The biggest thing I like about Home Instead is that it cares about its CAREGivers as much as it cares about its clients. There is a high level of attention, and Home Instead has shown that in many ways. They believe in you and encourage you. I think some other agencies don’t believe in their caregivers. They never ask you how you’re doing and what you need,” Bola said.

“Home Instead’s flexibility is perfect. You can easily change your schedule with advanced planning. If you have a sudden illness or challenge come up, they adjust. They’ve got your back. They also call back when you leave messages.”

Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca said: “Bola always has an easygoing attitude. She has handled challenging situations so well and does not stress about things, whether they are big or small. She really helped during the severe winter weather Feb. 15. The client’s home had a generator, so there were no power issues, but Bola still had to get there over the bad roads. She has missed only one shift with us. I am proud of the way she steps up and goes to work.”

Rebecca pointed to Bola’s wise approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic as another commitment to her clients. Rebecca noted that Bola doesn’t take unnecessary risks during the time when she’s not serving as a CAREGiver.

Bola said: “Maybe the worst thing about COVID-19 is the mode of transmission. You don’t know if someone is a carrier because symptoms might not manifest themselves. I have avoided being infected by COVID-19. I’ve had to drop other jobs so I can lower the chance of getting COVID-19. My No. 1 worry is keeping my Home Instead client healthy. It’s hard to have just one job, but it’s a choice you have to make. I use common sense outside of work. I work or generally stay home. I still go out and shop for groceries, but I do it early in the morning when fewer people are in a store.”

Bola, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology, is taking online classes while seeking a clinical research degree. “For now,” she said, “I still prefer to be with Home Instead.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


February 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Roberta C.

Roberta CGoM February 2021

Twice-honored CAREGiver of the Month Roberta Carter is reticent to talk about her achievements and successes with owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s award-winning Home Instead® franchise in Houston. Working “under the radar,” Roberta goes about her job quietly and without fanfare because she’s that kind of humble person who lives to serve and privately savors the many good days with seniors.

Home Instead Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Margi Kenny, however, did not want Roberta’s second CAREGiver of the Month honor to go unnoticed. Because Roberta did not want to announce to the world she’d been honored in February 2021 for her strong, consistent work, Margi did it.

“Roberta admits she’s a shy person, but that poses no barriers when it comes to communicating with the clients, their families and our Home Instead staff. Her gentle nature is well-received,” said Margi, who pointed out that Roberta was first honored as CAREGiver of the Month in December 2018.

Margi recalled when Roberta was hired at Home Instead in September 2017. “We were impressed with her experience. We could easily see that Roberta has a gentle, kind nature by examining the outstanding references that were forwarded to us by Roberta’s former employer and friends,” Margi said.

Roberta’s resume and references never mentioned her background of compassionate work that stretched back to her junior high school days. That’s when her grandmother was afflicted with cancer and Roberta’s family caregiving began. “My grandmother and I were really close,” said Roberta, who was her family’s oldest grandchild.

Roberta followed her heart to jobs where she could use her empathy to help others. For instance, Roberta assisted Alzheimer’s disease residents in a home-health care job for five years. Then Roberta worked for 15 years at a Houston-area hospital where she and co-worker Beverly Penn became good friends.

In September 2015, Beverly joined the Home Instead franchise and shared her thoughts about Greg’s franchise with Roberta. Two years later, Roberta also made the jump to Home Instead and recalled accepting the assignment for her first regular client close to her birthday on Oct. 24. Fittingly, one month after Beverly was honored in November 2018 as CAREGiver of the Month, Roberta was selected for the same award.

Client Care Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: “Roberta came to us by referral from Beverly, and we are happy Roberta applied to work with our office. Roberta has been a very reliable CAREGiver, and her clients really like her because she is very skilled and personable. Clients feel safe with Roberta because of her experience and skill, which in turn, make me comfortable placing her with just about any client, no matter what the need may be. With so many ‘moving pieces’ in the home-care business for seniors, communication is a major key in providing great service, and Roberta does that very well as Margi has noted.”

Margi added: “During Roberta’s three-plus years with Home Instead, she has taken on an array of tasks and provided care to many clients. All of them are unique individuals who have different challenges. There is no cookie-cutter form of care. Roberta does what she has to do, and she does it well. In the office, we appreciate the fact that Roberta is terrific about responding to substitute CAREGiver shifts and needs, and she seems to work well with all clients she assists. Roberta has proved to be reliable for her evening and weekend clients. Roberta is a go-getter!”

Roberta said her No. 1 message to others about Home Instead is this: “I am happy. Things are pretty good. The downer is that it’s tough to lose clients when there is a major health decline, but I value the relationships and bonds.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


January 2021 CAREGiver of the Month: Crystal D.

Crystal CGoM January 2021

Crystal Davis has been honored for the second time as CAREGiver of the Month for the award-winning Home Instead franchise No. 541, located on the Southwest Freeway in South Central Houston. Owner Greg Gomez-Mira's office staff members also selected Crystal for the accolade in January 2018.

Recruitment Engagement Coordinator Margi Kenny hired Crystal in August 2017. Margi recalled: "Crystal had a lot of experience, caring for her grandmother, and some experience in a professional setting. But the real reasons we hired Crystal was that her gentle soul and kindness shined in her outward mannerisms. 'CAREGiver' was written all over her!"

As time went, Crystal began receiving assignments for the care of the more challenging clients, ones who suffered from dementia or behavioral health issues. "Without realizing it," Margi said, "Crystal enhanced her skills in managing agitated behaviors by diffusing and refocusing those clients. She did it all by using her natural, calming manner, or by calling her supervisors for advice. She has the patience of a saint."

Crystal is well liked by her clients and their families because of her gentle nature, hearty laugh and willingness to learn and grow in order to help her clients. She is comfortable asking questions in order to improve. Margi pointed out: "That is why she always gets the answers she is looking for."

Margi explained that not only is Crystal dependable and reliable in meeting her schedule, but she communicates well with the office and rarely misses work. "Those elements create longevity," Margi said. "Crystal was caring for some of the same clients for more than three years until just recently."

Crystal's ability to tune into the clients' needs and knowing her clients prompted her to call the office while she was on duty with her male client. Crystal was concerned he was having a stroke and needed advice from her supervisor.

So, Margi and Crystal, discussing the medical episode on the phone, monitored the client's condition together by using the F.A.S.T tactics to detect if he was having a stroke:

  • F – face: Are the facial muscles droopy? (The client's muscles were not.)
  • A – arms: Does one arm "float away," or can the person raise both arms? (He could.)
  • S – speech: Can the person repeat a simple phrase? (He could not speak properly or say, "today is Thursday.")
  • T – time: If any of these symptoms are prominent, it's time call 911! (F.A.S.T.)

Since the client could not speak, Crystal called 911. The outcome was positive. The client received medical attention and was taken to an emergency room, but the diagnosis was not a stroke. The client had extremely high enzyme levels that could have created their own batch of problems if Crystal had not quickly gotten him the medical attention.

Margi added: "The client and the staff are very proud of Crystal for recognizing something wasn't quite right. We applaud her for calling her supervisor for support to make the best choice for the client's health. That is what Crystal always does – she puts others first!"

Before she was honored as CAREGiver of the Month three years ago, Crystal had regularly entered a celebrity realm at a YMCA branch. That's when she accompanied her client to the regularly scheduled birthday parties for the older members. Crystal smiled when she heard, "I wish I had someone like you to come with me to these parties."

Referring to the 90-minute YMCA get-togethers, Crystal said: "My client loved to have me there with her. It was a big deal for her and her friends, and I got dressed up for the event. All the elderly people knew me, and they were very nice."

It was not unusual to hear YMCA party-goers gush over Crystal for the care she provided for her 85-year-old client nor was it uncommon to see her chat warmly with her client's friends. The client often told her daughter she was fortunate to have Crystal as a CAREGiver, and the client's daughter told Crystal, "Mom loved you. She never wanted to let you go."

Office Manager and Client Care Manager Destiny Wesley was not surprised Crystal was a hit with her client, and the clients' friends and families. "Crystal has been such a joy and brings sunshine into the room since she joined us," Destiny said. "Crystal provides great companionship and personal care assistance, and she makes our clients feel important and that they still have a purpose."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


December 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Ayma T.

Ayma CGoM December 2020

“Ayma Thelus is genuine, kind and caring. She is someone we all can count on!” Those were Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Margi Kenny’s words when she announced Ayma had been honored for the second time as the Home Instead® franchise’s CAREGiver of the Month. Ayma said: “I feel grateful to hear the news. It means a lot to hear my presence has made such an impact. I strive to make the clients happy by speaking to them as regular people, giving them their dignity and offering things they don’t usually bother to ask for.”

Ayma’s second honor came nearly seven years after the first one, and Margi said Ayma’s strong, consistent and compassionate work has never deviated from the top-notch care she has provided since arriving at the south-central Houston franchise in January 2013. “During Ayma’s eight years with Home Instead, she has primarily worked evening shifts,” Margi said.

“She has not worked with a lot of Home Instead clients. Rather, she has had a few long-term stints with the same clients. One of Ayma’s first clients was a bed-bound and wheelchair-bound client. The client also needed most types of personal care in order to stay healthy and remain home. Ayma took care of her for four years, a fairly long time for home care. That speaks volumes for Ayma’s relationship skills and bonding with her clients and her ability to keep them as healthy as possible,” Margi said.

That client, a woman in her 60s, had suffered a stroke and was trying to regain the use of the right side of her body. Ayma not only helped her with activities of daily living but encouraged her as she went through her physical therapy. Ayma recalled: “Some clients aren’t so nice at the beginning because they just don’t know you, but that was not the case with this woman. She loved having me there, and I loved helping her. I let her and her family know I was always there for her in any way I could help.”

Ayma has wanted to help people ever since her childhood days in Haiti, where she attended College Adventiste du Cap-Haitien as a teenager. “It’s like a combination high school and junior college,” Ayma explained. “Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a nurse. I did become a CNA after I moved to the U.S. in 2000, but I got married and had a family before I could work on becoming an RN. This is a good job because I like helping people first, then No. 2 comes the money. I would rather work to make my clients happy – that is the ultimate payment.”

The secret to being a CAREGiver, she confided, “is getting off to a fast start. If you can please someone in the first week, then you generally have won them over and it gets easier after that.” For Home Instead, Ayma has experienced a wide range of caregiving situations, from dementia clients to those who are returning from hospital stays and are trying to regain their independence. Ayma’s demeanor has been a factor in the clients’ recoveries. Client Care Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: “Ayma has the biggest, softest smile that you have ever seen, and it is very welcoming. She is one of our outstanding CAREGivers.”

Ayma’s current evening client and husband cannot say enough good things about her. She has been with them for more than three years. Margi said: “Ayma is as steady and solid an employee as you could hope for. She is rarely late and never misses a shift. Her clients have relied heavily on her for stable, quality care. While she is kind and soft-spoken, her actions speak volumes with her reliability and skills. She communicates with the staff when there is even the slightest change in her schedule or a health issue of which the staff needs to be aware.”

Margi and the Home Instead staff were thrilled when one of their CAREGivers – Ayma’s sister-in-law – told Ayma about owner Greg Mira-Gomez’s award-winning Home Instead franchise. Her sister-in-law suggested Home Instead because she really liked working for Home Instead. Ayma said, “My sister-in-law was right. Everybody in the office is so nice, and the training is good. My job has been a positive influence on my kids, too, because they can see what I do, yet my hours are flexible enough that I am able to spend a great amount of time with them.”

Ayma wants to continue as a CAREGiver, pointing out: “Home Instead is the kind, caring, compassionate and respectful workplace that has allowed me to feel like a member of the family. I love spending time to help people who can’t help themselves.”

Ayma’s Home Instead franchise serves Houston, Arcola, Bellaire, First Colony, Fresno, Greatwood, Iowa Colony, Lake Olympia, Meyer Park, Meyerland, Missouri City, Pearland, Quail Valley, Riverstone, Rosharon, Shadow Creek Ranch, Sienna Plantation, Stafford, Sugar Land, Sunnyside, Sweetwater, Thompsons and Westbury.

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


November 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Christina R.

Christina CGoM November 2020

During the past 16 years, Christina Ruffin's inner drive for taking care of others has evolved from primarily making a living – something everyone must do, of course – to working for a greater purpose. Christina easily could have left the caregiving realm for another field, but caring for others is what motivates her to get up every day.

"I started taking care of the elderly and individuals with disabilities to make money. But, years later, my soul truly has affirmed what I already had been feeling: I love what I do, and now I do what I do because I love my clients. They are like family to me," said Christina, who was honored by Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia as her Home Instead® franchise's CAREGiver of the Month.

Owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead franchise serves south-central Houston, including Arcola, Bellaire, First Colony, Fresno, Greatwood, Iowa Colony, Lake Olympia, Meyer Park, Meyerland, Missouri City, Pearland, Quail Valley, Riverstone, Rosharon, Shadow Creek Ranch, Sienna Plantation, Stafford, Sugar Land, Sunnyside, Sweetwater, Thompsons and Westbury.

Christina found Home Instead when she saw a television commercial for the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors. Home Instead's network consists of more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises in the U.S. and 15 other countries. Christiana's office is a member of the successful network founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Paul and Lori Hogan.

The Home Instead employment process was a quick one for Christina. "I filled out an online application, received a call from the Home Instead staff, went in for the initial training and orientation and started working the next day. I was between jobs at the time, and getting hired by Home Instead was absolutely the right timing and a blessing for me," Christina explained.

Christina's professional caregiving career began during her college years and was a necessary source of income. "When I think of my background, where I've come from and where I'm going, I would have to admit I'm not going to get rich. But I have a wealth of memories and receive a lot of satisfaction from being able to make someone's day a good one or even a great one, whether it's companionship or supplying the needed assistance. It's just a pleasure to work with all the clients with whom I have come in contact," Christina said. 

"What I love most about my job is providing a service to someone who doesn't have family and friends who can help or if the client's physical ability does not allow him or her to take care of himself or herself. Being a CAREGiver takes a special type of person because you must have a caring heart and a lot of patience. I love how a client anticipates my arrival and is ready to have a conversation or have coffee with me. The clients also sometimes are antsy about having me help them with whatever duties are involved with making their life better."

In addition to her strong companionship skills, Christina provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Christina and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence care, dementia support, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. By expertly doing so, CAREGivers not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

Christina added: "I don't have just one favorite client story. All of my clients were great, and it is just a pleasure to have worked for them."

For Christina, touching lives impacts her soul, whether she's providing physical help or if she is offering emotional support in a companionship role. Christina is among more than 90,000 CAREGivers worldwide, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead's purpose. It isn't hard to see that Christina lives the Home Instead® principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


September 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Lucretia A.

Lucreita CGoM September 2020

Getting out of the house for a breath of fresh air is something most people take for granted, at least for folks who are healthy. But for two seniors, it meant the world that CAREGiver of the Month Lucretia Anderson eagerly jumped at the opportunity to get one of them outside and into the warm, filtered South Texas sunshine for a different perspective on life. Perhaps it was a small, seemingly insignificant act, but it was an impactful day for Lucretia's client and his wife.

Lucretia's client had undergone surgery and later suffered a fall that had immobilized him. Because of his poor physical condition and his wife's declining health that did not allow her to fully assist him, the client hadn't been able to go outside their home for a long while. One day, the client's wife softly said, "I wonder if my husband could just go outside for a little while?"

"When I heard that," Lucretia recalled, "I secured him in his wheelchair and took him up and down the street. He was so happy, and I emphasize that with a sentence punctuated with an exclamation mark. When we came back inside his home, his whole demeanor had changed."

Speaking with a bit of emotion, Lucretia added: "I was happy that he was happy. Just the little things you do for someone can mean so much."

Lucretia has assisted seniors for the award-winning Home Instead® franchise that serves south-central Houston for almost a year. Representing franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira and Client Care Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley, Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia announced recently that Lucretia has been honored as a CAREGiver of the Month.

Explaining how she found her way to Home Instead, Lucretia said: "I came across Home Instead by way of its website, even though I previously had seen commercials for Home Instead on TV.  At the time, I found myself in between jobs. I was looking for something where I could still be a help to people without going back to medical-clinic work, but I wanted a job with more flexibility. Of course, I had previous experience in a clinical setting, but I also desired more personal experience, which is what Home Instead is all about."

When she was younger, Lucretia had the opportunity to be around her grandparents and see what challenges they experienced day to day. Lucretia recalled: "My grandparents tried to take care of themselves as best they could."

She added: "I want to help care for people and do my part in helping them age with dignity. I believe working for Home Instead gives me that opportunity."

For Lucretia, touching lives impacts her soul, whether she's providing physical help such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders or personal care or if she is offering emotional support in a companionship role.

Lucretia loves being a part of the CAREGiver team for the Houston franchise, a member of a highly successful network founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Paul and Lori Hogan. The Home Instead network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 70 million hours of care annually throughout the U.S. and 13 other countries.

Lucretia is among more than 90,000 CAREGivers, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead's purpose. It isn't hard to see Lucretia lives the Home Instead® principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart."

"I love the satisfaction I receive in knowing I assisted in someone's care and helped put their family's mind at ease in knowing their loved one is being cared for when they can't be there with them," Lucretia said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


August 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Dean N.

Dean CGoM August 2020

Dean Nwokey isn't the average college student who finds just any available summer job during the three-month break from classes. For the past two summers, Dean has worked for owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Sugar Land, Missouri City and 19 other cities.

Since Dean is a client favorite, it was no surprise when Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia announced Dean had been honored as a CAREGiver of the Month a few weeks before he returned to classes at American International University in Boston. Dean is studying for entry into the occupational therapy field.

"Last year, I saw Home Instead on Indeed.com. I wanted to find a summer job that was going to be the right fit for me in terms of flexibility, so I could work part time. The Home Instead staff is welcoming, and they were good about allowing me to take a little time for vacation," explained Dean, who has entered his fourth year of college.

The Home Instead Senior Care office receives a lot of requests for Dean, especially from one couple because Dean is so good at role-playing with the husband. The 85-year-old former business manager has Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia. As a result of the effects of the dementia, the client still sees himself participating in daily business meetings.

"I've worked with him both summers. When I first came in, he would say, 'Shhhh! A meeting is in progress.' I've literally sneaked into the room trying not to disturb 'the meeting' to simply ask, 'Your wife wants to know if you want an orange.' I understand him and the challenges he now faces. You can see he was a down-to-business businessman because he can be stern. He does have times where he's flexible. He addresses me as co-worker, intern, even sometimes as the actual CAREGiver, saying, 'Dean, go ahead and go on break,' " Dean said.

"He wants things done in a particular order. A routine means everything, and I am fully aware it's comforting to not only those with dementia, but to us all. His routine is, 'I want to walk, then shower, then I will eat breakfast.' His wife's routine is this: She wants him to eat breakfast, shower and then walk. I have to honor his independence, just as I would want someone to honor my autonomy."

With Dean's assistance, the client takes slow walks. Dean's background and education in occupational therapy comes in handy. "That's one reason they wanted me to be his CAREGiver. I push the idea of walking, otherwise he'd be in a wheelchair. Like many other things, if you don't use it, you lose it in terms of functionality," Dean said.

"The family likes the idea of my ability to softly insist that he walk. I quietly say, 'No wheelchair, let's walk.' I facilitate the walking in such a way that he's literally following my lead. It came about by a very careful trial and error. I'll say, 'Hold me here with one hand and hold me there with another.' He's not the biggest guy, but neither am I. I do it for as long as his motor skills remain kicked in. His leg strength is good."

The client's family always lets Dean know that he is appreciated – with complimentary words and a selection of garden vegetables. The last time Dean worked a shift with his client in August, the client's wife said, "We will miss you."

Dean explained, "I usually worked Monday through Friday, but it's whenever they needed me. They requested certain weekends. The daughter is involved with close-in care and visits a lot, so we synched up care with the entire family. It's safe to say we all bonded. I miss them. It is hard to stay in contact with them because my schedule is so busy, but I try to write a note to them on occasion and mail it. We will meet again. Maybe next time I visit Texas. It's all in due time."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


July 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Ester A.

Ester CGoM July 2020

As Ester Ajileye was being honored for the second time as a CAREGiver of the Month for owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Houston, Ester shifted the spotlight from herself to a special client.

Ester said: "I want to dedicate this award to the late Ms. Helen. She was the best client I ever worked for. She motivated me – and continues to motivate me in spirit – to aim higher and set a goal for myself. Her death shocked me. May her soul rest in peace. I'll never forget Ms. Helen."

According to the 95-year-old client's July 12 obituary, Helen was an outgoing, vivacious person who not only impacted Ester, but many others in her Missouri City neighborhood. An excerpt from the obituary read: "To her neighbors, mailman, yard man, nurses, CAREGivers and others, Helen was known as 'Granny' of Lexington Point and for over 30 years was often in front of her home to carry on a conversation with all of them." Ester was a recipient of Helen's love, which she spread abundantly.

For the opportunity to serve Helen and other clients, Ester said: "First of all, I'd like to thank the wonderful Home Instead Senior Care staff.  They are the reason I'm still working for Home Instead. I've also had the honor to work for great clients like Ms. Katie and Ms. Julia in December 2019 and from July to September in 2020."

Ester added: "My experience helps me in caring for Ms. Julia. To God be the glory – she recovered quickly. I also want to thank those clients for treating me like their family. I would like to say my studies and work are the challenges I am facing. It is not easy. Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, I heard about the virus in February when I traveled in Washington, D.C. So, when I came back, I started wearing my mask and stay home when I don't have to work. That is out of abundant caution and consideration of my clients with the aim of keeping them safe."

Ester was first honored as a CAREGiver of the Month in May 2017. When she moved to Houston in 2015, she shifted careers. The graduate of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, who earned a bachelor's degree in French linguistics, always had been a people person. Ester can fluently converse in English, Hindi, French and Arabic.

She had served for five years as a detective and safety officer for a multinational company, where Ester was praised for being a hard-working, diligent professional. In Houston, where she was reunited with several family members, Ester found senior care. She worked first at a seniors' group home and then as a CAREGiver at Home Instead Senior Care.

"I started with Home Instead Senior Care in mid-October of 2016," Ester recounted, "after a friend referred me to the company. I had gone back to school and had my weekends open, so working for Home Instead Senior Care at those times was a good opportunity. This is a most interesting kind of work, one on one with someone. The Home Instead training was good and very useful, but it was mostly a review because I had gained senior-care experience and a CNA license before I joined Home Instead. I have learned a lot about dementia care, and I try to maintain the ongoing training with Home Instead, which is good."

Ester doesn't anticipate an end to her service to others. "I would predict a positive bright future by the grace of God. Thank you to all the professional and caring staff members at Home Instead Senior Care," Ester said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


June 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Helen K.

Helen CGoM June 2020

Long before the appearance of the COVID-19 virus, polio struck fear in the hearts of Americans. One of CAREGiver of the Month Omoenuwa "Helen" Kunu's Home Instead Senior Care® clients remembers the polio epidemic that first started in the United States in 1916 and peaked in 1952. Of the 57,628 reported polio cases, there were 3,145 deaths. Polio is a viral disease that affects the nervous system, causing paralysis, and it generated widespread fear before Jonas Salk developed a vaccine.

COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus disease, began sweeping across the globe as early as December when it first appeared in Wuhan, China. It was labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. Stress concerning COVID-19 may be justified because seniors are among the most vulnerable. Rather than hearing about concerns from their clients, many CAREGivers have been lifted -up by their clients' perspectives and words of encouragement.

"One of my clients told me a story about how she grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. It was interesting how she noted that there was an epidemic – polio – during that time as well. She compared her experience then to the coronavirus pandemic we are experiencing now," Helen said.

"My client also discussed how she has been a devout Christian from a young age and how her faith has shaped her outlook on life and others. At the same time, it was very interesting to me to learn from her experiences."

Owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise provides an ideal service, a stout front line of defense for its clients and their families. The office staff and its CAREGivers have been aware of COVID-19 since January.

Not many protocol changes were involved in coming up with a game plan to battle the virus because Home Instead Senior Care franchises always have taught and practiced excellent hygiene protocol related to hand washing and every other precaution involving infections. Procedures were reinforced, and masks were added. The franchises make sure CAREGivers are all stocked with PPE (personal protective equipment). While CAREGivers wear masks, they also use disposable surgical gloves and wipe down surfaces.

Helen said joining Home Instead Senior Care was the best decision she could make in the fall of 2019, especially since Home Instead is a highly esteemed senior-care company. Helen said: "I have worked as a senior-care professional for two years, including about eight months with Home Instead. I am a CNA, and I am taking courses to become an occupational therapist."

Helen added: "I first heard about Home Instead from my sister, who is a nurse practitioner. I needed a job that would be flexible with hours, so I could also attend school. I have always enjoyed volunteering for the elderly in my community."

Helen was honored as the franchise's CAREGiver of the Month for June. "I appreciate the recognition the franchise has given to me. It really means a lot to me," Helen said.

"My favorite part of being a CAREGiver is listening to my clients, forming connections with them, and being able to see them smile in comfort at the end of the day. Their appreciation for my patience, encouragement, and companionship makes me happy."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


May 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Donna G-C.

Donna CGoM May 2020

There may be no higher compliment for CAREGiver of the Month Donna Gentles-Clarke than to be considered a family member. Her 89-year-old client believes Donna is her daughter. "It makes me feel good. I get along very well with her daughter and other family members. Her family appreciates me. My client also likes the fact that we share the same first name," said Donna, who has served the widow for about eight months.

The two also have a spiritual bond. "She is strongly faith-based. I pray with her every day when I come in. She likes her Gospel music and has a lovely singing voice, so I play the music for her. She was very, very active in her church," said Donna, who holds five 12-hour shifts a week with the client who receives 24/7 care from owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Houston.

When Donna is not with the client, she frets. In the evenings when Donna leaves, the client hugs her, cries and asks, "Will you come back?" Donna is careful not to mention when her back-to-back days off arrive in order to alleviate stress. "Her memory comes and goes,"  Donna said. "When tough times come, I know how to deal with it. For one thing, I keep quiet and calm. Then I ask how I can help her. She comes back around. She says, 'I love you, and I am sorry if I upset you.' "

Donna's client, who uses both a walker and wheelchair, is an active senior. "She spends very little time in bed. There are no naps. I take her outside for sunshine — we call it 'Vitamin D time.' Sometimes we drive over to the park and watch people," Donna explained.

They have a good, consistent morning routine when Donna arrives. The preparations include personal care, breakfast and dressing, which is important to the client. "Looking good has never left her memory. She really likes to dress up and look good. I help her with such things as her earrings and fix her hair. She knows exactly what she wants, including outfits, lipstick and makeup, earrings, hair, everything. She had dressed very well for her secretarial career. Sometimes she tells me she worked very hard," said Donna, who pointed out that the client's daughter from Houston and son from Arkansas visit often.

As they age, some seniors tend to lose their appetite, but not this client, who loves Donna's good meal preparation. "She has a good appetite and likes 'proper food,' such as steak, fish and chicken. I make her food from scratch. Every evening, she has a bowl of ice cream," Donna said.

Donna's detailed, compassionate and skillful approach to care made her an easy choice for the franchise's CAREGiver of the Month in May, Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia said. With Donna, the franchise added an exceptionally experienced senior-care specialist when she joined Home Instead on her birthday, Jan. 8, two years ago.

Donna was a CNA for eight years in her native Jamaica before she moved in 2013 to New Jersey, where she worked in home care. It is in New Jersey where Donna's son just graduated from the Rutgers University medical school. He also graduated with a bachelor's degree from Rutgers after receiving a scholarship. Donna's 19-year-old daughter just finished her second year at Rutgers, where she is pursuing a medical research degree. "I am very proud of both of them," Donna said. "They are going to have careers where they will be helping people."

That is exactly what Donna did before she became a CNA. "When I was growing up, I did child care. I also went to the hospital and helped while growing up. I grew up wanting to be a CNA. When I was 19, I was taking care of my grandmother. We were living in the same house together, my grandmother, my mom and me," Donna explained. "Later, I took care of Mom for maybe 11 years. She had a hole in her heart and also had Alzheimer's. I took care of her until 2003, when she died."

Donna said she is happy and comfortable with Home Instead Senior Care. "It is a very good, nice and caring company. I like the way they put you on the job – making CAREGiver-client matchups – and how they make sure you are in a safe environment. The office also calls and checks up on how things are going with the client. They drop in and see you and the client, and I like that. Greg is a very good boss. They are all good people in the office," Donna said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


March 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Obianuju "Uju" E.

Uju CGoM March 2020

CAREGiver of the Month Uju Ekwomadu knows life is a series of adjustments. Generally speaking, as we age, it is harder to adjust to abrupt twists and turns. Uju empathizes and compassionately helps her Home Instead Senior Care®  clients who face such challenges.

Uju is assisting an 89-year-old client who lost her husband, 90, in September 2019. As the husband’s CAREGiver, Uju was with him when he died. Their daughter said, “Uju was a true professional when my father passed.” Family members then asked Uju to take care of their mother, who was hospitalized at the time of her husband’s death. 

As the wife travels the difficult, uncharted path of being a widow, Uju has been with her every step of the way. “Before she left the hospital, I helped her. She is sharp. She returned to her home and doesn’t want to move,” Uju explained. “She understandably has had a lot of emotional problems after her husband’s death, but she’s getting better.”

The client had 24/7 coverage during her first two weeks after returning home from the hospital. “She needed full-time care then. She’s made big gains emotionally,” Uju explained. “Previously, I was with her Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now it’s Mondays and Wednesdays, and I help her from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Now she is stronger and is better at doing things by herself. With personal care, I stay close by. She doesn’t like using a walker, but I remind her because she is a fall risk, and I take preventative measures.”

Whenever the client finds herself in a down mood, Uju lets her know she’s blessed. “I mention she had 70 years of a great marriage. She’s had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Then she agrees and says, ‘I am blessed,’ Uju said.

The client, who had begun to venture out with Uju’s help, now stays home because of the COVID-19 virus. “One of her daughters is in nursing, so the client understands the COVID-19 situation. We talked about it to reinforce the importance of staying vigilant,” Uju said. “However, the client watches the TV news channels and undergoes emotional stress from taking in too much COVID-19 coverage. In addition to the general day-after-day coverage, she’s got investments and wants to watch how the stock market is doing. I let her know, ‘Let’s watch just a little and turn the channel.’ ”

If the client has had an overload of COVID-19 coverage, Uju said: “I am able to talk her down. I’ve suggested not watching the all-day television news so much. I told her it wasn’t good for her.  I don’t want her to worry about it. I’ve said, ‘Let’s turn it off and look for another channel.’ So, she watches more Hallmark Channel movies.”

Uju also is working with a client who will turn 99 in May. “It’s going fine. She is a new client. I am helping her on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” Uju said.

The patchwork of assignments works well for Uju, whose goal is reaching medical school. “I am continuing with online classes, so the coronavirus hasn’t shut down my class work. When you’re busy and something like this comes up, you’re naturally surprised. I am following up on college education in my native country of Nigeria. My goal is to get into medical school and become a neurosurgeon. I am doing my best and am hopeful,” Uju said.

She praised the Home Instead Senior Care office staff for matching her with such compatible clients. Uju joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s Home Instead franchise during the summer of 2019 and was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in August 2019. Her second CAREGiver of the Month award was announced in March 2020 by Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia.

Client Care Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: “Uju has proved to be a gem. We’ve received rave reviews about Uju. That’s why she is CAREGiver of the Month.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


February 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Omazelle "Oma" T.

Oma CGoM February 2020

When Omazelle "Oma" Terry retired five years ago, she admitted: "I was tired of computer screens and pushing pencils."

Oma had worked for more than 40½ years, and she had several successful jobs in the medical field where she had gained a great deal of experience. At one job as a hospital unit secretary, her managers noticed Oma was good with numbers … really good. At age 45, she went back to college and got an accounting degree at the University of Houston. "Accounting was the quickest way to a degree," Oma said, "but my first love was helping people."

After retirement, Oma was bored. She volunteered for a food pantry ministry. "It was enjoyable and rewarding. Then I saw Home Instead Senior Care® in an online advertisement. I thought, 'Why not try?' " Oma recalled.

Home Instead's recruiting and engagement coordinator, Margi Kenny, called and asked Oma to come into the office July 9, 2019. "Margi must have liked me. She called back and asked me to start training and orientation. I was amazed," Oma said. "By the way, the training was very helpful. I always go to the ongoing training. You can never know enough. Things change all the time, and I try to absorb everything."

Oma also praised the schedulers at owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise. "Every time I take an assignment, it feels like it was tailored for me. I like to touch lives. I'm happy I can make the clients and their families happy. Nothing can take the place of the smile on their face. I want to be a ray of sunlight in their day. I always ask when I come in, 'What can I do to help you?' "

Those were Oma's words at age 8 after she began helping an aunt who could not walk because of rheumatoid arthritis. "I never minded helping my aunt, who was in wheelchair. My grandmother raised us, and we were her only grandchildren. We helped Grandma with Aunt Edie," Oma proudly said. "I learned everything: helping with a bed pan, all the personal care. It was our way of life. I want to help people. I could have been a great nurse, but that was a no-go because I couldn't stand the sight of blood when I was younger."

No matter where Oma has worked, she's been known as "a people-person" who sticks up for the underdog. She found herself in that role as a CAREGiver. "You have to be that voice for them. I know when things can be better, and I won't hesitate to say something to our office and get the ball rolling," Oma said.

Such was the case for a shy client who has lived in the same apartment for 33 years. "There was a leak in her closet that came from another unit, and it was managed badly. She moved all her clothes in the living room and kept them there for some time. She is not pushy. She told me, 'God told me to wait,' but I called our office to see if they could help it along. She'll put up with a lot," Oma said.

Not long after Oma started helping the client, she quietly asked, "Could you clean my refrigerator?" Oma took a close look and recalled, "She really needed that. It took a significant amount of time, but it was worth it. She tries to do so much on her own, and she is so proud and so independent," Oma said.

"She uses a rollator walker, and she'll walk a half-mile and cross two busy streets on her own to go to her neighborhood drug store. There is no dementia – her memory is good. I am with her only once a week, and she out there sitting in her lawn chair while she waits for me."

Referring to clients in general, Oma said: "You learn so much from people. It is an eye-opener.

My client knows how to survive, and I listen to her. She is very polite, the sweetest thing. She ends everything with 'thank you.' "

Speaking of her Home Instead Senior Care franchise, Oma said: The company is so caring. I've never been with such a caring company. They make me feel appreciated. I don't know why I didn't find them earlier. The best part of our CAREGiver meetings is that Greg stands outside and greets us as we go in. He knows all of us by name. We're not just a number."

She added, "As long as I can be of help, I'll continue. If I can do what a client needs, I'll be there. My job is so rewarding. I feel needed, which is the best feeling ever."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


January 2020 CAREGiver of the Month: Jennifer M.

Jennifer CGoM January 2020

Jennifer Martin's 90-year-old client passed away in January, and the twice-honored CAREGiver of the Month will never forget her client's devotion to her family … or the two-hour dollar poker games she loved to play with 11 longtime friends each Tuesday at a Luby's cafeteria.

"The Luby's workers knew my client and her friends well, and they'd unlock their doors at 8 a.m., let us in and lock the doors again. My client and her friends occupied a cordoned-off section, where they rotated among the tables and played poker until 10 a.m., when the restaurant officially opened. Then we'd all go eat and clear out about 11 a.m.," Jennifer explained.

"My client's friends were about her age, and they were mostly people who worked with my client. She was a school administrator. They did everything together, including celebrating each other's birthdays. At another location on a different day, they'd get together for another kind of game where they played for quarters, so we'd take a roll of quarters. At the end, someone claimed the pot and then they had Danishes, salads, tea and wine set up. It was enjoyable."

Working for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Sugar Land and 19 other cities, Jennifer assisted the client on weekdays and some weekends with shifts that ran from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. "I enjoyed her. She was a good lady.

We went places. When I first started with her, she got around on a walker," Jennifer said.

Sadly, the client's health began to decline and she went on hospice about a month before she passed away at her home in January 2020. "She started getting really weak. Her friends came by and visited. They were all best of friends and great people," Jennifer said.

In December, the client persuaded her pregnant granddaughter to reveal whether she was having a boy or girl, a fact that was meant to be kept secret until delivery. "She told her granddaughter she might not live long enough to be around for the birth. The granddaughter finally gave in, so my client was the only one who knew other than the mother and dad. My client was so happy; she declared: 'I'm not going anywhere,' " Jennifer recalled.

"She wanted to live to see her first great-grandchild, and she made it. She held the baby and had pictures taken with her great-grandson. She died four or five weeks later. I was with her earlier on the day when she died. I felt bad when they called with the news she had died, but I knew she was no longer in pain, and she was with the Lord."

Jennifer has known the joys and sorrow of being a CAREGiver since May 2011. She was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in January 2015 and five years later in January 2020 by owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise. "I enjoy working for the whole staff, including Greg, Destiny and Rebecca," said Jennifer, referring to Client Care Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley and Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia. "I like what I do. I never get burned out."

Before joining Home Instead Senior Care, Jennifer had worked for five years in a nursing home during a health-care career that has spanned 41 years. "At the nursing home where I worked," Jennifer recalled, "I would be responsible for as many as 28 patients. There wasn't much time to sit with them. If you tried, you might be in danger of falling behind with routine care. But there were always at least two or three patients who didn't have any visitors, and I tried to spend more time with them to provide companionship."

Referring to Home Instead Senior Care, Jennifer said: "I'm not going anywhere else. It was meant for me to do this. When I was little, someone said I would do this kind of work. They were right."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


November 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Joy C.

Joy CGoM November 2019

Joy Chibuzo was excited about her 18-year-old son's recent high school football achievement. Smart Chibuzo, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound nationally ranked lineman, signed Texas A&M's scholarship papers after choosing the Aggies over Alabama, LSU, Nebraska and many other nationally prominent college programs.

At nearly the same time, owner Greg Gomez-Mira and his staff at the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Houston were equally excited about honoring Joy as their CAREGiver of the Month. "Joy is a very hard worker and will jump at anything we throw at her," Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia said, referring to Joy's unending compassion and fearless attitude about accepting challenging clients. If there were an All-America CAREGiver honor team, Joy would be on it, the Home Instead staff contends.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley was more than happy to see Joy return to the Home Instead Senior Care franchise in October 2019 after a long hiatus since her original 2004 starting date. Joy is a longtime CNA who had been working at an assisted living community before she heard about Home Instead. Joy recalled: "A co-worker told me about Home Instead's one-on-one care. I thought that would be great. Care community employment is really hard work. You have to be really, really quick to keep pace. There's not much time to converse with the residents."

Joy added: "I left Home Instead and Houston to work for a Defense Department contractor in Afghanistan for about two years. I also spent another two years in Africa with my mother. She had health problems that we got squared away with the right meds. Right now, while I am working as a CAREGiver and holding down another job, I am also studying and have a goal of earning my Bachelor of Science in nursing. I've had two years of prerequisites."

Home Instead Senior Care sends Joy to several different clients, some three times a week and some once a week. In all, she has helped six clients. Joy said: "The clients always want me to come back, so I feel good. Most of my shifts are night shifts."

Joy downplayed references to challenging situations, including assistance for a 24/7 client who is in her late 80s and lives by herself.

"I have a way of working with her. She's confused when I come to work at 8 p.m. After trying to sleep, she wakes up every two hours. We have a special bond – she loves God and sang in her church choir, and I have talked to her about God. Spiritual discussions help her sleep – I've told her: 'Jesus is with you and me,' and I also say: 'I am here for you. Trust me.' I hold her hand, pray and sing. They've been sending me ever since I first filled in with her. I'm usually with her two to three times a week."

In December, Joy assisted a client who came home from the hospital with a knee replacement. "She needs to move around, but it's hard for her. She has physical therapy once or twice a week; her husband has wanted me to help with her home physical therapy exercises. She just needs to get her back on her feet. She is a very wonderful client, and her husband is nice," Joy said.

When Joy was asked to share special client memories, she said: "Every day is great. When clients or their family members call the office to pass along their thanks, I feel special. I am very comfortable being a CAREGiver. I'm able to provide one-on-one care and give the clients what they need. It's the way I want to work. I like to have input into someone's life."

She added: "Probably my biggest recent thrill – my husband's, too – was seeing our son get the football scholarship. It was a hard decision for him. There were many schools who wanted him, and he prayed about the decision. I like the close distance to the College Station-Bryan area, where Texas A&M is. My husband, our 16-year-old son and I are proud, blessed and thankful."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


October 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Ifeoma "Ify" R.

Ify CGoM October 2019

Most of the time, CAREGiver of the Month Ifeoma "Ify" Reynolds allows her actions and work ethic to speak for herself at the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Pearland, Sugar Land, Sweetwater and 17 other communities.

Franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira said: "Ify is a phenomenal CAREGiver, among the best. We are happy with her and honored to have her on staff. She's a wonderful chef, and we know that firsthand because she has brought food to the office."

Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia said: "Ify has a great attitude about life and work, always so full of respect and full of good, positive energy. She is among our crew of workaholics, and Ify is just fun to be around when she comes into the office."

With Ify, Home Instead Senior Care has benefited from an experienced and skillful care-industry worker who previously held a job at Parkland Hospital in Dallas for four to five years. As a family caregiver, Ify took care of her husband, who sadly passed away six years ago. "After my husband began treatment for cancer, I spent two years taking care of him," Ify explained.

Ify joined Home Instead Senior Care in January 2019 after one of Ify's friends told her about Home Instead Senior Care. In October 2019, Ify was honored as the franchise's CAREGiver of the Month.

Ify has three regular clients, two ladies and a gentleman. One of her clients is 98 and receives 24/7 care from Home Instead. "I've been helping her for about six months. She is a wonderful client who is mostly bed-bound except when her son takes her to church in a wheelchair. She is not on hospice," Ify said.

"She grasps my hand when I come in at 7 o'clock at night. My shift ends at 7 a.m. I help her Monday through Wednesday. She receives a bed bath. We communicate well. Three times during my shift, she thanks me. She's very appreciative. There are prayers because she has a deep faith. After her son takes her to church, he takes her shopping and goes to restaurants."

In addition to strong companionship skills, Ify provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Ify and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence, dementia support, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. By expertly doing so, CAREGivers not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

CAREGivers such as Ify are among the reasons Home Instead Senior Care of south-central Houston is a highly acclaimed in-home senior-care franchise. Ify and other CAREGivers have the opportunity to take part in the Home Instead Senior Care network's Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program.

CAREGivers who are trained in the CARE program have a passion to work with Alzheimer's clients and receive ongoing training and testing to enhance their already outstanding care techniques. Ify's patience, kindness and compassion always have been on display.

The Home Instead program offers a personal approach to taking care of seniors with Alzheimer's disease at home – where 60 to 70 percent live, according to the Alzheimer's Association. It is a unique program that has received acclaim and endorsements from experts. CAREGivers can help with establishing a regular routine and restoring the simple pleasures of life, among the best non-medical treatments for the disease.

Ify is among the more than 80,000 CAREGivers in the Home Instead network who live the Home Instead Senior Care® principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


September 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Jessica B.

Jessica CGoM September 2019

Whether it's physical or spiritual assistance, CAREGiver of the Month Lillian "Jessica" Baker has never stopped going full bore when helping her clients. Last summer, Jessica tapped into her strong faith and joined others in support of a hospice client who was battling cancer.

"The client had been active in her church. People from her church came to pray for her healing, and I prayed alongside them. That was my first client where people came in and prayed," Jessica said, admiring their faithfulness and the client's strong spirit. "She was a nice person whose body was worn down by age and illness. She was fighting, still talking and still doing everything she could. We all felt a loss when she passed away. She is in a better place."

With such compassion and devotion to her clients, it's easy to see why Jessica has been honored four times as a CAREGiver of the Month at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Sugar Land and other cities. Jessica always has been immersed in faith-based servanthood. Her longtime church is St. Benedict the Abbot Catholic Church in southwest Houston, where her heart has been on display for more than 40 years as an active member and regular volunteer.

Among her work with several church service organizations and as an usher at St. Benedict, Jessica is an honored Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary.  The group involves families in the church and community activities by promoting civic improvements, developing youth and providing social intellectual and charitable fellowship for its members. "We reach out to those in need," Jessica said.

Jessica joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead franchise in the fall of 2013. She was selected as CAREGiver of the Month in April 2015, July 2016, July 2018 and September 2019. Scheduling Coordinator Rebecca Garcia said: "Jessica has a great attitude about life and work, is always so respectful and is full of good positive energy. She works hard and is fun to be around when she comes into the office."

This fall, Jessica has been assisting three regular clients. Jessica chuckled when she mentioned one client's never-stop-pace.

"At age 89, she's the oldest of my regular clients. She gets around well, and her mind is good. Lord, she has more energy than I have," Jessica said. "She is a spunky lady who loves to be on the go. I take her to the beauty salon on Fridays, and I'm also with her on Thursdays. We've gone shopping. Among her activities, she's a church greeter like I've been. She's a widow who lives on her own. I fix dinner before I leave at 6 p.m. When we kick back, sit and talk, she often talks about family. She is proud of her three sons who are successful. They all visit. One son lives in Houston, is a lawyer and takes care of her business."

Jessica's other clients have dementia to varying degrees. "I can't get them out much. They are very nice. I feel I am still getting to know them because I haven't had them long," Jessica said.

Jessica likes her job and her church volunteering. "I want to keep going as long as possible with what I am doing. In addition to Home Instead, I am still ushering at the 8:30 a.m. services at my church on Sundays," she said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


August 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Obianuju "Uju" E.

Uju CGoM August 2019

The grateful daughter of a client had high praise recently for CAREGiver of the Month Uju Ekwomadu. She was with the daughter's 90-year-old father when he took his final breath last September. "Uju was a true professional when my father passed. She kept her composure and was very calming at that time of his passing," said the daughter, who was called to the house when Uju sensed his time was near.

The daughter then asked the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care®  franchise in Houston to send Uju to take care of her 88-year-old mother, who had been hospitalized at the time of her husband's death. Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "Uju has proved to be a gem. We've received rave reviews about Uju. That's why she is CAREGiver of the Month."

Specifically, Destiny pointed out: "The daughter said her mother loves Uju. She said Uju is like a breath of fresh air. Uju provides great companionship for her mother, and they laugh throughout the day.  I was ecstatic to hear those comments, because Uju is a relatively new CAREGiver. Uju has demonstrated great communication skills and a servant's heart since she joined us at the start of August."

If there is a consolation in losing a client, Uju said, it is the fact she now has the chance to care for his spouse on behalf of owner Greg Gomez-Mira's Home Instead franchise. "She loved him dearly. Needless to say, it was not easy for her when she finally returned home from the hospital. I was happy to be with her," Uju said.

"Her husband had Alzheimer's disease and was in hospice. I enjoyed taking care of him. He would get ruffled sometimes, and his behavior needed redirection. But I understood his frustration, and I would just stay with him and talk. He didn't sleep much at night, and I'd try to wake him at 10 or 11 in the morning to get him to eat. He was really weak. On the day he passed away, I recognized the signs and called his daughter and had her come."

The widow is sharp and has a good memory, but she was weak when she came home. "Every three hours, I offer her something to eat. Usually, I offer yogurt or some other nutritious food. I am trying to get her the calories she needs," said Uju, who also helps with the pet dog.

"We watch TV, including the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movies. She was not used to so much activity when she came home, but she has gotten stronger. She uses a walker. She said I remind her of her daughter when I am so cautious with her as she uses her walker. I admit to being protective of her. When she returned from the hospital, I also helped with personal care."

As the client has gotten stronger, she has wanted to get out and go shopping. "We take the wheelchair with us if she shops for a long time. If it's not a long time, we use the walker," Uju said. "I've taken her shopping for groceries, clothes and home goods. She likes to go to different shops and businesses. I am learning about all forms of shopping from her. She was sharing shopping strategies that include coupons. There is a science to shopping."

She praised the Home Instead Senior Care office staff for matching her with such a compatible client. "They work hard to find the right clients for us CAREGivers. That is a very important part of the process. Once we're matched with a client, the office checks in with us right away to make sure everything is going well." Uju explained. "In general, I like the office staff, which is so friendly and interested in me personally. They try to be accommodating."

A medical career is on the horizon for Uju, who already has shown a great bedside manner with her clients. "I am taking online college classes to follow up on college education in my native country of Nigeria. My goal is to get into medical school and become a neurosurgeon. I am doing my best and am hopeful," she said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


July 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Charlee G.

Charlee CGoM July 2019

The 50-something client is in a wheelchair, but she refuses to surrender to Lou Gehrig's disease, so CAREGiver of the Month Charlee Guillory tries to make sure the client enjoys their days together. The client told Charlee, "I don't want ALS to control me."

"She also told me she just wanted to go 'somewhere,' and I was more than happy to oblige," said Charlee, who was the client's first CAREGiver from owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston and other nearby cities such as Bellaire, Missouri City, Pearland, Stafford, Sugar Land and Sunnyside.

"We went to Target, walked in the park, had a spa day and went to a restaurant. She really lit up, was thrilled and told me, 'I haven't done something like this for a long time.' We had a great lunch and a really good time."

Charlee helped the client during five-hour shifts from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. "I originally went on a one-time random shift, and I ended up going back Monday through Friday after she requested me. We did something every day. I got her out in the fresh air. We went grocery shopping. She was excited to get out," Charlee said.

The client, who lives with her husband and son, has lost her mobility from the waist down. Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe.

Charlee has been involved in just about every imaginable caregiving situation and is perfect for each challenge. Charlee, who's been a CNA for seven years, joined Home Instead Senior Care in January 2018 as a part-time employee. She schedules her CAREGiver shifts around her fulltime hospital job in a wound-care wing. Charlee also worked in a nursing home and for a different in-home care company before joining the hospital two years ago.

Charlee works at the hospital every day of the week except Tuesdays and Thursdays, taking 7 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shifts. For Home Instead Senior Care, Charlee works on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and sometimes on Mondays. "I saw Home Instead Senior Care in a television commercial and became interested in them," she said.

Helping people in two jobs is not fatiguing for Charlee. "I've always been a high-spirited, get-up-and-go person," she said. "I have the compassion and caring that help me succeed in what I'm doing. The Home Instead scheduling is perfect. They call when I'm free. I generally work fill-in shifts."

Charlee was not a family caregiver when she was younger. "Actually, my thing was helping animals. I helped my dad with his farm near Pearland. I assisted with any or all animals, and I loved going to livestock auctions. My dad is still farming, working with an uncle. I thought about going into veterinary science, but didn't follow up on it. I have served as a temporary foster owner for cats and dogs. I want to start back at some point. I have a family to worry about now. What I am doing is fulfilling," she said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


June 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Jennifer G.

Jennifer CGoM June 2019

Jennifer Gordon works part time for Home Instead Senior Care®, but she makes every minute count in an exceptional way. That is why Jennifer has been honored as CAREGiver of the Month for the award-winning franchise that serves south-central Houston and 22 nearby communities, including Bellaire, Sugar Land, Missouri City and Stafford.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "Jennifer is such a source of compassion and strength for our clients and their families. She is mild-mannered and a little soft-spoken, but at the same time she is a beaming ray of sunlight. We're happy to have her on our Home Instead team. In addition to her God-given caregiving instincts, Jennifer has great communication skills and is a very punctual CAREGiver. She is compassionate and represents Home Instead Senior Care very well."

Jennifer has been serving seniors on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care for a year and six months. Jennifer described how she found owner Greg Gomez-Mira's franchise: "One of my friends, who was a Home Instead Senior Care employee, referred me to the company."

She added: "I love my job at Home Instead, and taking care of others is what I do. I love helping others because I know one day I will get old and will want someone to take care of me like the way in which I take care of my clients."

Home Instead Senior Care "is definitely a great place to work," Jennifer said. "I love working for Home Instead because they make you feel like you're a family member. I also love how Home Instead recognizes their employees' good work, and I love how Home Instead is thoughtful in thinking of their employees by sending cards on their birthday and holidays.

In addition to her strong companionship skills, Jennifer provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. Jennifer and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence, dementia support, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. By expertly doing so, CAREGivers not only assist their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

To build on their knowledge and experience, Jennifer and other CAREGivers are offered the opportunity to complete the Home Instead Senior Care network's Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program.

CAREGivers who are trained in the CARE program have a passion to work with dementia clients and receive ongoing classroom training and testing. The Home Instead Senior Care program offers a personal approach to taking care of seniors with dementia at home – where 60 to 70 percent live, according to the Alzheimer's Association. It is a unique program that has received acclaim and endorsements from experts.

Jennifer pointed out: "I will continue to work for Home Instead because we're not just workers, we're family. My life is based on my faith, and it's great to work for a company that has the same faith-based beliefs."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


May 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Adrianne L.

Adrianne CGoM May 2019

¿Hablas español?

No, CAREGiver of the Month Adrianne Lewis didn't speak Spanish, at least not very well. That's why she asked the Home Instead Senior Care® office staff to help her find a class where she could learn enough Spanish to communicate better with her client.

Enter the award-winning Houston franchise owner, Greg Gomez-Mira.

"Greg had me come to the office. For about an hour, he taught me key words and phrases that would be helpful in communicating with the client, who speaks some English but switches into Spanish during conversations and mixes the two languages," Adrianne said.

"I now also have a phone application that teaches me Spanish, and the client and I both use it, so I improve my Spanish that way. I've learned so much, or as you might say, 'mucho.' "

Adrianne's initiative to better serve her clients is one of many reasons why she has made such a big splash at the south-central Houston franchise since she started in February 2019, said Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley, who announced that Adrianne had been honored as CAREGiver of the Month for May.

Destiny said Adrianne is a hard worker and has become one of the franchise's go-to CAREGivers. "She calls the office often to see if she can help us fill any extra fill-in shifts, and she communicates well with us," Destiny said.

"In fact, Adrianne was recently awarded our franchise's Life Saver Award because she consistently helps in emergency situations. I have really enjoyed getting to know Adrianne in the short time she has been here. She has the skills and versatility to cover companionship cases as well as personal-care and dementia assignments. I am ecstatic to have her on board!"

When asked to describe her background, Adrianne said: "All I've ever done is senior care." She pointed out: "I don't like working in nursing homes. One-on-one care is far better for the seniors. Seniors, especially those with dementia, deserve one-on-one care. It's important to have the same CAREGiver, if possible, with a client. I feel the seniors need the same person so they can be comfortable and develop trust and bonding."

The Houston native worked for a Home Instead Senior Care franchise in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for about two years before moving back to Houston in December 2018. Adrianne also was selected as a CAREGiver of the Month at that franchise.

Adrianne said: "I knew everything I'd have to do for our company when I joined the Houston office, and they put me to work right away. I understand scheduling dilemmas and have volunteered to help even during my days off when they run into urgent needs." While en route to the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown one day, Adrianne turned her car around to take a shift when no one else was available.

"I want to go to fill-in shifts because when I think about their situations, I think, 'They could be my grandmother,' and I'd want someone with them," Adrianne explained. "I love my Home Instead office team. It's my second home. I go and sit with them sometimes."

With her 86-year-old Spanish-speaking client, Adrianne said: "Every day is a new day. My theme is 'just go with it.' I am careful and always compassionate because there's no reason to even come close to agitating her. If she would tell me the sky is green, I'd confirm it and say, 'It's a pretty green.' "

The client is completely bed-bound and needs sponge baths and personal care. Since she cannot eat very easily with her hands, Adrianne feeds her. "It's hard for her to hold a spoon. I'm all for independence and allowing a client to try to do as much as she can for herself, but she just really struggles with it," Adrianne said.

The client's family appreciates Adrianne's careful, skilled care and companionship. The client has told Adrianne, "I love you. I'll see you tomorrow." Predictably, the days are up and down.

"One recent day was good. She was more upbeat, and she called out my name. It was sweet, because I didn't know she knew my name. It doesn't hurt me if a client can't remember my name because that is common. I was just surprised when she said, 'Adrianne.' Now we have even more to chat about because of Greg's Spanish lesson and my phone app. It's always about the client – there's no other way."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


April 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Linda S.

Linda CGoM April 2019

Linda Stevens is a quick study.

Fewer than six months after joining the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land, Linda was honored as CAREGiver of the Month. Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said it wasn't difficult to single out Linda as one of Home Instead Senior Care's outstanding employees.

"Linda studies her client the first day or two. After that, like magic, Linda has a routine down for him or her," Destiny said. "In the short amount of time Linda has been with Home Instead Senior Care, Linda has proved she is a gem and definitely experienced in the senior-care field."

Destiny added: "Linda has the patience, understanding and nurturing nature to care for the most challenging clients. She is punctual and is a great worker. We are elated that Linda joined our team, and we also are pleased we have been able to match the clients and find the appropriate time slots to meet her scheduling needs. Linda has been busy as a family caregiver as well as serving our clients in a superior way. We'd like to recognize Linda for her huge heart."

In addition to her strong companionship skills, Linda provides safety assurance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and transportation and errands. In addition to those services, Linda and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence, dementia support, cognitive impairment, hospice support and mobility. By expertly doing so, CAREGivers not only assists their clients, but help their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

Home Instead Senior Care's guiding principles are also emblazoned on its employees' hearts: "CAREGivers demonstrate their commitment to their clients by honoring God in all they do; treating their clients and their families with dignity and respect; embracing personal growth in an attempt to continually improve the quality of their care through franchise training; and building value in their service to others."

Owner Greg Gomez-Mira's Home Instead Senior Care franchise has been recognized as one of the best in-home companies for elder care. One reason is that Home Instead Senior Care not only hires quality employees, but the franchise office personnel trains them well.

To build on their knowledge and experience, Linda and other CAREGivers are offered the opportunity to complete the Home Instead Senior Care network's Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program.

CAREGivers who are trained in the CARE program have a passion to work with dementia clients and receive ongoing classroom training and testing. The Home Instead Senior Care program offers a personal approach to taking care of seniors with dementia at home – where 60 to 70 percent live, according to the Alzheimer's Association. It is a unique program that has received acclaim and endorsements from experts.

The Home Instead Senior Care approach of encouragement and assistance helps those with dementia and their family members cope with the challenges of memory loss. CAREGivers such as Linda also provide assistance with establishing a regular routine and restoring the simple pleasures of life, among the best non-medical treatments for dementia. Clients' families truly recognize how much assistance Linda provides, and she is in demand.

Linda loves being a part of the CAREGiver team for the Houston franchise, a member of a highly successful network founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Paul and Lori Hogan. The Home Instead Senior Care network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 70 million hours of care annually throughout the U.S. and 11 other countries.

Linda is among more than 80,000 CAREGivers, and she has helped add to those numbers because of her strong belief in Home Instead's purpose. Destiny explained, "Linda deservers our congratulations, and we wanted her to know we appreciate her dedication to 'Living Home Instead.' "

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


March 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Maria S.

Maria CGoM March 2019

CAREGiver of the Month Maria Solache has aced her opening assignment with owner Greg Gomez-Mira's Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves south-central Houston. Maria's assignment has not been an easy one, but she has handled it with compassion and grace.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley explained: "Maria accepted a real challenge. She did not have a lot of experience with dementia clients, but we tried Maria with one who had asked quite a few CAREGivers to leave. I was reluctant to place Maria with the client – I was honest with Maria about the situation, and she said, 'I will give it a try.' Maria has done an excellent job caring for the client. Not only that, but Maria has been very reliable, has a wonderful attitude and is a great communicator."

For the past five years, Maria has worked as a full-time medical assistant at an OB/GYN practice on weekdays. A certified medical assistant and a certified nursing assistant, Maria also provided part-time private-duty caregiving before she applied at Home Instead Senior Care in late March. Maria is a weekend CAREGiver, serving primarily as a companion for the client, who resides in a care community. Maria also helps the client with some personal care, including teeth brushing, hair combing and clothing changes. Maria's biggest challenge is comforting a widow who sometimes wonders where she is and when her husband will come for her.

Maria is happy to help the client and has a heart for her. "Other than helping my late grandfather for about a year after classes when I was in middle school, this is my first extended time with someone who suffers from dementia. Actually, my grandfather never formally was diagnosed with dementia, but he clearly had memory problems. I spent a lot of time with him. As far as my client is concerned, I've observed others in the care community who probably have more difficulty with dementia. But she definitely has days when she struggles," Maria explained.

Maria has extensively researched dementia and the disease's behaviors since joining Home Instead Senior Care. Destiny said: "It's evident that Maria has a good deal of wisdom and common sense when dealing with different situations, and she is a great 'people-person.' "

Maria uses refocusing techniques to turn around negative situations. When the client asks about her husband, Maria says she is not sure and doesn't know his status. "I'll try to redirect her by changing the subject. If she persists, sometimes I will step out of her room for a minute or two, which is like pushing the reset button. It is a way to enable her to forget what she had been talking about," Maria said. "Sometimes she says, 'I need to know where I am.' I let her know she's around people who care for her and want the best for her."

Another goal, Maria said, is to try to keep the client as active as possible, physically or mentally. "We don't want her sleeping all the time. If I can move her around the halls in a wheelchair and get her outside, that's good. Many times, she likes to go outside and will stay there two to three hours at a time," Maria said.

Maria has learned as much as she can about her client so she can engage her in conversation. "There is a garden area, and she likes to talk about flowers and trees. Her father and grandfather had gardens that were full of flowers. She's 50-50 on whether she'll talk a lot or choose to remain quiet. A couple of times when I've engaged her, she tells me about her life," Maria said.

Maria's fast start with Home Instead and her successful tenure as a medical assistant are the result of her interest in helping others and a longtime desire to work in the medical field. Asked if helping her grandfather sparked her career path, Maria said: "I always had thought about a medical career, even before working with my grandfather." With a chuckle, she said, "My real inspiration came from watching 'Grey's Anatomy' (a TV medical drama series that began in 2005)."

She added: "Home Instead is a good fit for me. I needed a second job, the office is flexible with assignments and I get to use the skills I already have as well as picking up new ones."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


February 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Jamie G.

Jamie CGoM February 2019

Every Monday evening, Jamie Guidiglo receives her weekly warm reminder of why she's a CAREGiver for Home Instead Senior Care® of Houston. Her client's words touch the CAREGiver of the Month's compassionate heart. After Jamie asks him how everything is going, he says, "It's good now. I missed you during the weekend."

Jamie said, "Every night with my client is a good night, all five weeknights. When he repeats how much he missed me, it's real sweet, refreshing and an eye-opener." Less than two months after Jamie began assisting the mid-70s client, he asked the Home Instead Senior Care office if Jamie could come on the weekends, too. "That was nice, and it surprised me. Right now, I'm still taking care of my mother as she recovers from her medical condition. We'll have to see how the coming weeks play out," Jamie said.

Jamie joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira's Home Instead Senior Care franchise near the end of June 2018 after an online job search. The award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. "Home Instead is located in the same building where one of my mother's doctors has an office. I walked in and applied," said Jamie, who worked as a CNA for 12 years at the nursing home and rehabilitation center where her mother is undergoing physical therapy. Jamie praised Home Instead for "doing a good job of matching me with clients. I appreciate their efforts."

Jamie was honored as the franchise's February CAREGiver of the Month. While announcing the award, Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "Jamie has been with us for just under 10 months and has proved to be an awesome CAREGiver. She is energetic, reliable, skilled and very knowledgeable. Jamie communicates great with the clients, as well as with the office. She knows what she is capable of doing as well as knowing her limitations. She gives 110 percent and represents herself and Home Instead Senior Care in excellent fashion."

Jamie's 110 percent effort with her regular client includes four-hour weeknight shifts after his family has helped him during the day. She is his only weekday CAREGiver and assists him with the physical therapy and stretching he needs for an ongoing medical condition. "His muscles will 'lock up,' and there is a lot of stiffness. I help him put on a brace at least twice a week that is helpful but somewhat uncomfortable. He doesn't like it, but he'll do it, telling me 'OK, you're right.' He is a really nice guy," Jamie said.

Referring to his medical condition, the client tells Jamie, "It is what it is. Each of us has just a certain number of years to live." But Jamie encourages him when he is discouraged: "I tell him: "You're still in your home. You can still move around. You still have your mind. You just need a little bit of help. I can easily do what you need."

At least once a week after Jamie has prepared dinner for the client, she plays his favorite music over his wireless speakers. "He likes the oldies – 1950s and 1960s music, Elvis and some country music – as well as the ethnic or cultural music from his country," Jamie said. "When we put on music, it helps his mood. We sing along with the music sometimes. I'd say we are both tolerable singers, but he once kidded me, 'I think you need to keep your 'day job.' Once the music got him so excited that he couldn't sleep very well. He told me the next day, 'My brain was racing, my mind was active.' "

Jamie has learned a lot about her client's native country through his stories, music and TV programs. "He can speak four languages, and his English is fluent," Jamie said. "Getting to know a senior well is not something you can typically do as a CNA in a care community where you are quickly moving from resident to resident, maybe 15 for a shift. This is the huge advantage of one-on-one care."

Jamie's goal for the spring and summer is to get her client out of the house. It's not something he has done with the exception of physical therapy and medical appointments.

"I told him, 'We should get out just for the fresh air and a change of scenery.' He said, 'That's true. I haven't even been on my doorstep for a long while.' Maybe we'll go out, even if it's just down the block and back. I'll have to ask the family and the office for permission. He's going stir-crazy, and this is one more thing that'll make him happy. That's why I am here."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


January 2019 CAREGiver of the Month: Enoobong B.

Enoobong CGoM January 2019

Enoobong Baker traveled to America to help her ailing father during his time of need – he was hospitalized for nine months in Houston while battling with prostate cancer. Enoobong, who had helped her father run his businesses in Lagos, Nigeria, immediately fell in love with health care, a possible career where her compassionate and empathetic personality could thrive.

"My father did the research and felt his best chance to beat cancer was here in Houston. I learned a great deal about medical care after I came to Houston. Someone I had gotten to know when I was visiting my dad in the hospital recommended a private-caregiving job with the family. So, I went to work for them to help take care of the family's three children who had disabilities of varying degrees. I was their 24/7 private-duty live-in caregiver for about a year. I did all aspects of care, including the use of a Hoyer lift. I did very well with the children, and the family was grateful," Enoobong explained.

Enoobong then went to school to become a certified nursing assistant, earning her certification in December 2017. While she was finishing her class work, she began an online job search and also talked to classmates. One suggested Home Instead Senior Care®, so Enoobong applied at the award-winning Home Instead franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. Owner Greg Gomez-Mira's Home Instead franchise is known for its quality training and innovation, and has a huge heart for seniors. For Enoobong, the job was a perfect match.

The Home Instead Senior Care office couldn't be happier with Enoobong's work. Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "Enoobong has been such a wonderful addition to our agency! She is an extremely hard worker and is very compassionate. Enoobong is very responsible and prides herself on being on time and is always looking for more work. I truly believe if I would give Enoobong 80 hour of work in a week, she would take it."

Praising Home Instead Senior Care's training, Enoobong said, "It has helped. Destiny and Margi Kenny, our recruitment and engagement coordinator, are great."

Enoobong has one regular client and is part of a 24/7 care team for a widow who is in her 80s. Enoobong works four nights a week and takes some fill-in shifts. "My job is very good, I am happy with it and I am very comfortable," Enoobong said. "My client makes me happy. She is very nice, and I've never had problems. Her family likes me, too. I've been with her two months and it is going well."

Sadly, after Enoobong's father went back to Nigeria, he passed away Jan. 25, 2017. "My father decided to continue his follow-up medical appointments in India, where health care costs less. I went back and forth to be with him, and I liked helping him. However, his health failed and we lost him," said Enoobong, one of five children who had traveled extensively for her father's businesses.

Enoobong's days of frequent travel might be over because she likes Houston and plans to put down roots after getting married. She's also planning a medical career. "I am starting school in April to earn an LPN certification, which will take about a year. This will work out nicely with my Home Instead Senior Care job because I like to work night shifts," Enoobong said.

Destiny is happy that school and caregiving will dovetail nicely in Enoobong's busy life so Home Instead Senior Care can keep her as long as possible. "Enoobong has such a wonderful spirit about her and is just an overall lovely person," Destiny said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


December 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Roberta C.

Roberta CGoM December 2018

CAREGiver of the Month Roberta Carter traces the genesis of her passion for senior care to her junior high school days. That's when her grandmother was beset by cancer and Roberta's family caregiving began. "My grandmother and I were really close," said Roberta, who was her family's oldest grandchild.

Roberta followed her heart to jobs where she could use her compassionate heart to help others. For instance, Roberta assisted Alzheimer's disease residents in a home-health care job for five years. Then Roberta worked for 15 years at a Houston-area hospital where she and co-worker Beverly Penn became good friends.

In September 2015, Beverly joined the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. Beverly shared her thoughts about owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning franchise with Roberta. In September 2017, Roberta made the jump to Home Instead Senior Care and recalled accepting the assignment for her first regular client close to her birthday on Oct. 24.

Roberta and Beverly have stood out as outstanding CAREGivers. Fittingly, one month after Beverly was honored as CAREGiver of the Month, Home Instead Senior Care selected Roberta for the same award in December 2018.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "Roberta came to us by referral from Beverly, and we are happy Roberta applied to work with our office. Roberta has been a very reliable CAREGiver, and her clients really like her because she is very skilled and personable. Clients feel safe with Roberta because of her experience and skill, which in turn, make me comfortable placing her with just about any client, no matter what the need may be."

Destiny added: "Roberta is a great communicator, which is greatly appreciated. With so many 'moving pieces' in the home-care business for seniors, communication is a major key in providing great service." Roberta said her No. 1 message to others about Home Instead Senior Care is this: "I am happy. Things are pretty good. The downer is that it's tough to lose clients when there is a major health decline, but I value the relationships and bonds."

Roberta praised the CAREGiver-client matching process that placed her with a 94-year-old client who loves professional football as much or more than Roberta does. "We get along so well. We have common interests. She's got her ways about her, and I just got used to her. She's a very sharp widow who lives alone at home and especially enjoys her Sunday afternoons in the fall, and I'm there during those times."

The client has had three close ties to pro football. "She loves to talk about the past," said Roberta, who savors the stories and her client's insight to football. "In addition to Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., I am with her on Saturdays and whenever she needs weekday assistance.

Roberta helps the client bathe, washes her hair and helps with meal preparation for lunch and supper. "She doesn't like to shop, so she sends me for shopping. I have taken her to the bank and once to a medical appointment," Roberta said.

While Roberta and the client enjoy the companionship times together, Roberta was saddened by the loss of a 93-year-old client who died unexpectedly two months ago. "It was a shock. His wife put him in bed and checked on him a few hours later, and he was non-responsive. He was a very nice guy, a gentleman who had just celebrated his birthday two to three weeks before his passing. He was my regular client each day of the week," Roberta explained.

Before Roberta joined the couple, the late client's wife had suffered an injury. "She is still at home because her condition is better. She is capable and now moves well on a walker. One person, a family member, comes to help. Her husband's mobility was a challenge, but he could still walk to the restroom and to the dinner table. I enjoyed them," Roberta said.

Another regular client, a woman in her 90s, is in rehabilitation. "I helped her from Friday through Sunday mornings, 7 a.m. to noon. I'd get her up to bathe and then prepare breakfast for her. There was no dementia, but she needed help with personal care. She had her good days and bad days. We're both waiting to see if we can be reunited. As I said previously, as a CAREGiver, that's the tough part – losing them," Roberta said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


November 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Beverly P.

Beverly CGoM November 2018

When CAREGiver of the Month Beverly Penn was growing up, she had no grandparents to hug. No hand-me-down family tales and belly laughs. No benevolent "mature" babysitters to spoil her with cookies and ice cream.

"I missed the opportunity to have grandparents, so there's always been kind of a void in my life. As a result, I love elderly people. I have a big heart and a soft spot for seniors and children. I get close to seniors. I love talking to them and helping them," said Beverly, herself a grandmother who takes care of a 6-year-old grandson twice a week for three hours after school.

Her capacity for compassion covers a lot of hours each week because Beverly finds time to help at least one senior every day of the week while also holding down a full-time hospital job that stretches from early mornings to early afternoons. Her nightly shift with one Home Instead Senior Care® client covers four hours, from 7 to 11. A weekly Thursday afternoon shift with a different Home Instead client runs from 3 to 7.

To help co-workers, Beverly also takes holiday shifts at her hospital job, which she has held for 15 years. "My Home Instead clients are usually with their families on holidays, so I volunteer to take work shifts for a couple of hospital co-workers so they can be with their children on holidays. I will work at the hospital Dec. 24 and 25, as well as Jan. 1," Beverly explained.

How does Beverly manage to do it all? "My mind and body are used to the routine," she said with a shrug. "I've never been late to work. I never use an alarm clock. All my kids are grown, so I am by myself. My Home Instead job gives me a little something extra to do because I don't want to sit at home. I want to take care of someone because I have a big heart. I know myself and my capacity — I know when I need to take time off. Home Instead gives me flexibility."

Beverly joined Home Instead Senior Care in September 2015 after talking to her sister Michelle, who is a part-time CAREGiver. "I like everything about this job," said Beverly, referring to the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise that is owned by Greg Gomez-Mira and serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

Beverly's clients and bosses can't say enough good things about her. Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley pointed out: "Beverly studies her clients and gets to know them well. She pays attention to what they like and don't like so she can be one step ahead. A client's wife always tells us, 'We wouldn't know what to do without Beverly! We just love her.' Beverly clearly does her best to accommodate her clients. For example, if she needs to take a day off, she will go in on another day, if it works for the client, just so he will not need a fill-in."

Explaining how she assists her evening client of five months, Beverly said: "I help her with transfers. I am there for her safety – I want to make sure she doesn't fall. I help her to bed before I go, and another CAREGiver comes at 9 the next morning."

Beverly has been with her Thursday afternoon client for two years, and a strong bond has formed. "The client lives with his wife, and they don't want anyone if I can't come. He is 89 and keeps me laughing. I take them for groceries and supplies because they no longer can drive, so transportation is an important part of what I do for them. I also take him to medical appointments," Beverly said.

Asked how long she plans to stay with Home Instead Senior, Beverly chuckled and said: "Forever." Destiny said: "Beverly is a team player and a great communicator, and we are glad she has stayed with us."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


October 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Aletha Y.

Aletha CGoM October 2018

CAREGiver of the Month Aletha Yarbough goes above and beyond, her award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise says. Aletha points out the same thing about owner Greg Gomez-Mira, Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley and the rest of the office staff.

"Greg really does go above and beyond. He's a great boss," said Aletha, who joined the Houston franchise Sept. 29, 2016, and was honored as the CAREGiver of the Month for October 2018. "One day, my car was in the repair shop, and I was going to have to miss a shift. But Destiny got me, and took me to the client. You don't find many companies that would do that."

Destiny said: "Aletha is a disciplined rule-follower – which is great for our business – and she really likes to follow the clients' plan of care. At the same time, when Aletha is asked, she is always willing to help with other things that are within our scope of service. Aletha is high on communication with the office and likes all involved parties to be on the same page. Aletha is a very hard-working, compassionate CAREGiver."

Aletha packs a lot into two hours' service each weekday morning for a client and his wife. "She has been with her client for two years and has been well-received by him and his wife. In the short time Aletha is with them, she has developed a relationship with them and their five children. There is a lot of teamwork and coordination," Destiny said.

Among other duties, Aletha tries to keep her 90-something client on the move, whether he's in his wheelchair or occasionally on his walker.

"I walk him to the dinner table for breakfast with the help of a walker. I try to get him to move around each day by having him do some simple exercises. I encourage him to exercise by having him stretch his arms and legs, stand up and sit down. As he uses a walker to go to the restroom, I walk behind him with the wheelchair," Aletha said. "I help him shower on Wednesdays and provide sponge baths on other days before breakfast. Since I've worked with him, he's never turned down food. We alternate breakfasts, egg and toast one day and oatmeal another day."

Aletha added: "I can easily see that he was independent when he was healthier. I give him encouragement. He is a very nice man, but he doesn't say much. His wife is a talker and tells me their life's stories. Two hours are a short time, and I know they are sorry to see me go. The client's wife always says, 'Is it that time for you to leave already?' "

The couple's daughter and four sons' children are attached to Aletha and are always telling her, "Thank you for taking care of Dad." The client's children all still work, but they take turns staying with their parents overnight, from about 9 p.m. until 8 a.m., when Aletha arrives.

"They are very good people who are appreciative for what I do. They are flexible with their parents' care, and they know how careful I am. I keep a close eye on their dad, who has never fallen since I have been there. Also, he's gotten sick just once, a cold. We communicate well, and I let them know about such things as haircuts. They bring his barber in," Aletha said.

Aletha treats her client and his wife like family. Actually, Aletha was a family caregiver with grandparents when she was younger. After working in the senior-care field for 16 years – in hospitals and facilities as a CNA in the Houston area – Aletha found Home Instead Senior Care on the internet. "I love my job. I've never had any problems. Communications are good because I can call and get an answer for anything," said Aletha, who briefly was out of work in late August 2017 like many CAREGivers because of Hurricane Harvey. She went to her daughter's home for two weeks until flooding subsided and cleanup was mostly done, but continued to work for most of that time.

"We are happy that Aletha is part of our Home Instead Senior Care family that not only serves Houston, but Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land as well," Destiny said. "Even with a weekday client, Aletha is willing to fill in when she can. We love her."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


September 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Mackcean H.

Mackcean CGoM September 2018

"Mackcean's miracle."

When someone suggested the phrase as a description of the CAREGiver of the Month's incredible assistance with a skilled care community dementia client, Mackcean Hawthorne winced. "I'm no miracle worker. I just do my job as well as I can," insisted Mackcean, who has drawn praises while helping her regular client and others on behalf of the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

Before Mackcean started with her regular client, the 71-year-old widow had fallen and couldn't walk. Care community managers told Mackcean the client was bedridden, but with physical therapy, she had improved. The client has been in the care community for 2½ years. Some people wondered if the client was giving up because her husband had died four years earlier. "She asks often where her husband is. I tell her, 'He is still with you in mind and soul, and he will never leave you.' As other questions come up about her husband, I move toward refocusing," Mackcean said.

With Mackcean's soft, reassuring manner, the client now uses a walker indoors, and Mackcean follows closely with a wheelchair. At the start, Mackcean had to encourage her client to eat and stay hydrated. But now the client's appetite is good. If she doesn't like a meal, Mackcean finds something different at the food service. While the client will take hot tea and coffee, Mackcean prompts her to drink water and take her medications.

There's no doubt the client has come a long way since Mackcean started with her four days after joining owner Greg Gomez-Mira's Home Instead Senior Care franchise Feb. 1, 2018. Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley pointed to Mackcean's "great successes" with the client. "The facility staff has given Mackcean praises for her care Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The client is happy to see Mackcean, and Mackcean has had success where a lot of others have not. She is a rare gem," Destiny said.

"Mackcean is such a delightful person and has a very sweet spirit. She is caring, compassionate and very understanding. Those character traits are great to have when someone is assisting seniors, especially those who may have dementia."

Describing her situation with the client, Mackcean said: "I tell her she is a beautiful person, and she is. It is never tiring or boring to be with her. I ask her to tell me stories about herself all the time, inquiring about pleasant memories, good relationships and good food. She grew up overseas, is highly educated and was a microbiologist. Her husband was a chemical engineer. Her neighbors are beautiful people who visit, and I love them."

The client's awareness and consciousness waxes and wanes. "She recognizes my face and voice, and sometimes she'll remember my name and say it. Mentally, she's sharper since I got there. One of the keys with her is keeping her mind flowing. I do activities with her, including puzzles and coloring. We pretend to compete. I tell her, 'I can beat you at coloring.' She has said she will show me how to knit and crochet, which I have never done," Mackcean explained.

"Nearly every day, I tell her, 'Let's go out and get some fresh air,' and I wheel her outside for a change of scenery. The facility does nice things and organizes outings – for example, we've been to NASA. Sometimes my client is not up to going out, so we'll try something else. I know how to help her," she said.

The fact is, Mackcean has brightened the day for a lot of people for quite a few years. Without elaboration, she simply says, "I've been doing this all my life." Most recently, before joining Home Instead Senior Care, Mackcean worked for a group home that had dementia residents. "I had the group-home position for four years," she said.

Referring to dementia clients, Mackcean said: "You must follow their cues; you've got to be on their timeline. Patience is the keyword. If you don't have patience, don't apply for this job. Even with dementia, most of them are still sweet as can be. But we all have our frustrations. If a client snaps, just walk away. Take a timeout for a few minutes, if it is possible, and come back. They forget they've had a bad moment, especially if you refrain from bringing it up."

Before Mackcean joined Home Instead Senior Care, she was checking online for jobs, and Home Instead was the first company that popped up on the search. "I called them, and everything went well in the hiring process. The staff is nice, and I'd like to mention Destiny, Margi (Kenny), Greg and Miss Peggy (Hightower-Lee)." Peggy is the client care coordinator, and Margi is the recruitment and engagement coordinator. Mackcean added: "It is a beautiful group of people."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


August 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Jessica B.

Jessica CGoM August 2018

For the third time since Lillian "Jessica" Baker joined Home Instead Senior Care® in the fall of 2013, she has been selected as CAREGiver of the Month at the franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. Her awards have come in April 2015, July 2016 and July 2018. According to the staff, Jessica likely could have even more of those honors.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "We probably do not tell Jessica often enough how much we appreciate her and what an awesome job she is doing. Jessica is making an impact not just in the life of her client, but also in the life of her client's family, especially her sisters. Her client cannot be left alone and requires a lot of attention. Jessica is a very strong woman who really strives to make a positive change in the life of her client. For that reason, we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on Jessica."

Destiny, Recruitment Engagement Coordinator Margi Kenny and other staff members know how Jessica meets many challenges and demands head-on without flinching. Destiny said, "Jessica is a compassionate, dedicated, caring, dependable and reliable CAREGiver. She has a lot of patience and really strives to do what is proper. She is willing to be flexible with her schedule for her client. Jessica is great at communicating with the office and keeping us abreast of any changes with her client."

Jessica seems to always remain busy whether she's working or not. Her heart for others has been on display for more than 40 years at St. Benedict the Abbot Catholic Church in southwest Houston as an active member and regular volunteer. Among her work with several church service organizations and as an usher at St. Benedict, Jessica is an honored Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary. The group involves families in the church and community activities by promoting civic improvements, developing youth and providing social intellectual and charitable fellowship for its members.

Destiny pointed out: "I often remind Jessica that everything we do, we do it as unto the Lord and that we are not to get weary while doing it. She puts so much effort and emotion into whatever she does. As a result, I recently told Jessica that it was time for her to take some time off to relax and rejuvenate herself and her spirit. I told her professional caregivers can experience 'caregiver burnout' as well as family caregivers. I am happy to know she respected me enough to listen and took some time off."

Jessica said she's always ready to help someone. "I am going strong and don't feel burned out. I like this type of work and am ready for the challenge of receiving more hours," Jessica said. "I am switching around right now with clients. One client doesn't go outside, mostly because she has mobility problems. Wherever she goes with her walker, you must follow. She hasn't fallen, but she needs that mobility assist. She does not have dementia. She knows everything and is active mentally. She's a nice lady. I am there for companionship, and I fix dinner before I leave."

When Jessica became a CAREGiver, she made the move with her good friend Ethel, who also joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira's franchise as a CAREGiver.

"We had been laid off at a company that shut down," Jessica recalled. "My friend heard about Home Instead, and we decided to both apply. I had taken care of my mom, although not as much as my sisters had. As a general rule, senior-care workers are told, 'Don't get attached to the person for whom you are assisting.' I still get attached, and I don't know how you can't. You're in the wrong business if you don't feel a bond with your client. Caring about people is the most important thing in life."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


July 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Claireen S.

Claireen CGoM July 2018

“You’re a great friend.”

CAREGiver of the Month Claireen Singleton, momentarily caught off guard, paused and smiled. Claireen admitted: “It was a big moment for me when he called me ‘a great friend.’ ” The 78-year-old client experiences ups and downs as anyone with Parkinson’s disease and other medical challenges. The client has come to depend on Claireen since she walked into his home last January.

The challenges can be big, and the perpetually optimistic Claireen has encouraging words ready for every situation. Even on the toughest days, when Claireen leaves the home after a five-hour shift, she knows one thing: “Every day my heart is full. I can come home and sleep well, knowing I’ve done something to help someone every day. Working for Home Instead Senior Care® is part of my way of giving back to the community.”

When Claireen joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s award-winning Home Instead franchise at the year’s start, she was confident she could help seniors who live in south-central Houston, including Bellaire, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Richmond, Fresno, Rosharon and Thompsons. Claireen, a former business analyst who has a master’s degree, is a fully engaged family caregiver. “One sister has Alzheimer’s disease,” Claireen explained, “and another sister is confined to a wheelchair. I have helped them for three years. I still keep up with them. That having been said, I can always take on more work hours because I manage my time well.”

While honoring Claireen as the franchise’s June CAREGiver of the Month, Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: “I don’t know how to put into words what Claireen means to us. Claireen is like a hidden treasure. She came in and was assigned to work with a client that has Parkinson’s disease. She was not too sure about it, but she agreed to work. Before starting, she reached out to Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Margi Kenny for additional training and Margi was happy to provide that to Claireen.”

Claireen and her client, Destiny added, have developed a great relationship. Destiny said: “He and his wife really appreciate Claireen. She is quite protective of her client and always wants to make sure he is OK. Claireen really shined brightly when the client’s wife traveled abroad on vacation, and Claireen became the ‘it factor.’ She received calls in the wee hours of the morning, about 3 or 4 o’clock, because her client was in crisis situations. Another CAREGiver was with him, but the client just needed the comforting words from Claireen. Without hesitation, Claireen jumped up and went over to his home a couple of times when he was struggling. Claireen is a very hard worker, and she is a rule-follower. She really strives to do the right thing, and I appreciate that to the fullest. She was a great hire and is an outstanding CAREGiver.”

Claireen recalled that her first week with the client went exceedingly well. Then different challenges came in spurts. Describing the rhythm of caregiving, Claireen said: “I can look in his eyes and know something isn’t right.  I’ve learned that a number of factors come into play, including medications and things such as upper respiratory conditions related to the effects of dementia can be quite debilitating. Sometimes things go wrong for him inexplicably. I notice when he gets congested, a number of things go downhill. He has anxiety sometimes. He called me over once while I was working on light housekeeping. He had awakened and thought he might be bleeding, but it was nasal and throat drainage, so I worked with him and provided assurance.”

The client’s 75-year-old wife is not a client, and she has quite a workload while trying to manage her husband’s situation. “I respect the family. They are good people. It’s not a simple situation. With that in mind, I am very proud of his wife because she tries so hard and never stops trying. This is his stage of life, and she understands and respects it,” Claireen said.

Claireen helps the client’s wife by giving her a break with meal preparation. “I try to prepare a fresh and different meal to give him some variety, dishes such as cornbread, okra and black-eyed peas. He loves them. I put them on his wife’s grocery list, and it seems like my supplies appears overnight,” Claireen said. “She’s good at making soup and sandwiches, but this gives him a little something to look forward too.”

Claireen, who is always eager to serve more hours, said she doesn’t want to leave the client. “In my mind,” she said, “this assignment is my claim to fame, and I will never forget the experience.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


June 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Odion Z.

Odion CGoM June 2018

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley did not sugarcoat CAREGiver of the Month Odion Zungwe's challenges with a client who has injury-related dementia. But they are challenges Odion readily accepts as an experienced and poised senior-care specialist.

"Odion has been in some tough situations, but she has handled them very well because she is compassionate, understanding and professional. Of all of those character traits, I think handling each challenge professionally is the biggest compliment, because professionals are trained and educated to handle certain situations. But not all the time do they handle 'situations' the proper way as Odion does," said Destiny, who leads the staff for owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves south-central Houston, including Bellaire, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Richmond, Fresno, Rosharon and Thompsons.

The client's wife, who works full time, agrees with Destiny and has asked that Odion remain with her husband. In fact, Odion is the client's only CAREGiver, working each weekday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. "I love helping people who cannot help themselves. My client wasn't like he is before he suffered the injury that brought on dementia and his difficulties," said Odion, who began with the client when she started with Home Instead Senior Care in December 2017.

"He does recognize me and knows me well. My biggest challenge is to calm him down. I keep telling him, 'I am your friend.' I try to talk to him, try to win him over nearly each day. He cannot remember anything. I try to keep him in a routine so that he does not become frustrated and anxious, which in turn leads to bigger challenges. When I have to hit reset, sometimes I will go to my car and come back. He can refocus if I am briefly out of eyesight. I just give him time to calm down and then return. Also, if he can stay on his medication schedule, which is handled by his wife, things always go better. It is something I try to emphasize."

Because the client's mobility is good, Odion tries to get him outside for a change of scenery from time to time. "Usually he doesn't want to go anywhere," Odion explained. "I take him to drive around. If nothing else, I take him to the park."

If Odion seems to know how to handle each challenge, it is because she truly is a senior-care star. Odion's Home Instead Senior Care position is her part-time job. She is the house manager for a group home that consists of three seniors who must be fed through tubes and require detailed care. "I was trained for the job and am state-certified to perform the duties. Before that job, I was a private-duty caregiver. Helping people is what I do," Odion said.

"My full-time shifts are from midnight (12 a.m.) to 8 a.m., Monday through Friday. Home Instead is part time during the days. I have a good routine, a good rhythm with the two jobs because Home Instead Senior Care makes it work for me. In addition to my regular client, I make myself available for fill-in shifts. Home Instead obviously knows when I am available."

Odion added: "I found Home Instead online. I was looking for part-time senior-care jobs close by my house, and Home Instead was very close. Our owner, Greg, has a very nice office, really a good office in my opinion. They are helpful, wonderful and very friendly people."

Destiny, describing Odion as a "very kind and patient person," also explained: "We are very excited to have Odion be a part of our Home Instead Senior Care team and look forward to her future here with us. She has the best smile, that can brighten your day."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


May 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Tina R.

Tina CGoM May 2018

Humorist Erma Bombeck once wrote, "A thin line separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt." No one knows that better than CAREGiver of the Month Tina Robinson, who also paraphrases Proverbs 17:22 when she offers, "Laughter is a good medicine."

"It's understandable that clients will feel blue some days. I tell lots of jokes and keep smiling. If the jokes or conversation seems funny to them, that's great. That's your job. I tell them, 'You really don't have to feel old, so let's feel young,' " said Tina, who was honored as April CAREGiver of the Month and CAREGiver of the Quarter for owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves south-central Houston, including Bellaire, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Richmond, Fresno, Rosharon and Thompsons. "It also helps the clients to know you'll be there day after day, and that you are part of their life."

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said, "Tina has a sense of humor that's out of this world, and she is well-liked by clients. Tina wants them to know she is there to make their lives easier and to help. Tina is a go-getter and is a very dedicated employee. Her CAREGiver honors, including the quarterly award, are well-earned."

Tina took her own advice, using humor to make a comeback from an illness that forced her out of work for a time after she joined Home Instead Senior Care in 2003. "I got sick, left the company and came back. I had found Home Instead on the Greensheet. Before coming to Home Instead, I had worked for another senior-care agency for about six months. Before professional senior care, I was a security guard," Tina explained.

Tina also is a family caregiver, helping her 83-year-old mother remain in her own home and as independent as possible. "I run errands for Mom and provide medication reminders. On Sundays, I do the meal preparation for her. Overall, Mom manages really well. There are seven of us kids, and as long as we help her, she can remain at home."

Tina's job is a perfect fit. "I love Home Instead. I came back after I recovered from my illness because I love people and love meeting new clients and their families. I've people from all walks of life, including some prominent ones. I usually have a regular client, but I like the idea of 'floating,' or filling in with clients when another CAREGiver cannot make it to a shift. On one end of the spectrum, I had one client for five years and lost that client when she passed away, and I felt bad."

Tina hears a lot of rich stories. A few of them include football themes from the 92-year-old widow of a man who was well-connected to the game, which is broadly adored in Texas from high school to the college and professional ranks. "She remembers a lot about the past, and they are good memories for her that are fascinating to those who follow football. It's fun to listen to her. She's very sweet and kind of funny like her husband was. Like all of us, she has her good days and bad days, and I understand," Tina said.

One of Tina's most memorable caregiving situations came with a mother and her daughter. "The mother was laid back, but the daughter had you going and moving all the time. She had lots of energy. They welcomed you to everything they were involved in. I remember the mother liked to have her hair combed a lot and also liked to listen to music. The daughter was high-energy. With as much moving around as she did, you'd swear she was two people, someone with a twin sister," Tina said with a laugh.

One of Tina's current clients is on the mend after suffering a fall in the middle of May. At first, Tina assisted the 86-year-old client from Monday through Friday, but her service days have been trimmed as her client's condition improves. It is a success story.

"I was called in to help her a day after she fell, and a CAREGiver was definitely needed. I often remind her to use her walker, and I know she'd rather not use it. She's like my mom in that respect, but safety has got to come first. It was hard for her to lose her independence, but independence is a big issue for anyone. She is definitely getting better and looks better."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


April 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Areta S.

Areta CGoM April 2018

In April 2006, Areta Southward’s daughter was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Areta became immersed in her daughter’s care until she passed away on Thanksgiving Day, seven months after the cancer was detected.

“What I realized from my daughter’s journey is that she knew she was loved and received help from someone who really loved and wanted to care for her. She was never alone. What was important to me was for her to KNOW she was never a burden. In addition to physically helping her, my aim was to provide laughter and good thoughts, never anything negative. ” Areta recalled.

With that experience in mind, Areta joined the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Fresno and Sugar Land in August 2017. “After helping my daughter and other family members, I found it fulfilling. While it was a very humbling experience for my daughter, she felt more comfortable with someone with whom she was familiar,” Areta said. “That is how I model my caregiving for Home Instead. I try to approach each situation as if I were a (someone’s) family member.”

For Areta, the changes from Corporate America to retirement to CAREGiver have gone well. Areta, who earned a master’s degree in business administration with a specialty in management, felt she had done all she wanted to do “in Corporate America.” In professional senior care, Areta was an immediate success and was honored as CAREGiver of the Month less than eight months after joining owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s award-winning franchise.

Recruitment Engagement Coordinator Margi Kenny said: “The minute Areta was introduced to her first client, the family was at ease. She has been nothing short of loved by all of her clients. Her professional demeanor provides confidence and an ‘I-can-rely-on-Areta’ attitude from her clients. Her warm smile shows clients she is compassionate and caring through and through, which is a blessing beyond her work ethic. Areta has a gentle, encouraging way that evokes cooperation from the clients; they know Areta has their best interest at heart.”

Margi also said, “Not only is Areta a blessing to the Home Instead Senior Care clients because of her wonderful skills and personality, she is a blessing to the staff because she is punctual, reliable and willing to help those in need during any situation. She has shown diligence in reporting to the office if there are client concerns or updates needed. By doing that, she ensures that the most current plan of client care is in place. We are excited Areta chose to become part of the Home Instead Senior Care family and are confident she can care for any client.”

Areta doesn’t consider being a CAREGiver a job. She explained: “It is more of a ministry and giving of myself. I am assisting people who have lived a long time and have contributed to society. Now they want help to remain in their homes. I was blessed to retire. It is a meaningful endeavor to do something like this while I can. I love to laugh and talk. Clients and their families can feel it: They know I want to help them, that it is in my heart and not just a job.”

One of Areta’s clients is nearly blind, suffers from dementia and speaks little English, but she and Areta bonded quickly after they were matched in September 2017.  “The family realizes how important it is to keep her at home,” Areta said. “It is quite a love story because the husband takes care of her when I am not there. I am there twice a week for five hours each time.”

Areta added, “She is excited when I come. She sees me as someone who truly cares for her, and I would want the same if roles were reversed. If I take her hands, she’ll walk with me. She has a walker and can walk on her own, but she gets confused. I take her walking in the back yard, where she feels the sun and knows she’s outside. Emotionally and intellectually, I go where she is. She trusts me. As much as her words, facial expressions and body language are my feedback.”

In addition to physical assistance that includes personal care, light housekeeping and meal preparation, Areta helps her client in other ways: “She relates to songs. I try to help her remember songs, and she hums. When she becomes fidgety, I say, ‘Let’s sing.’ For her and other clients, it is a matter of finding happiness. I seek their long-term good memories. She tells me about her childhood. Even though her English is not good, a touch on the hand, arm or shoulder – and laughter – are universal ways of communicating.”

Caregiving, Areta said, adds value to her own life. She said, “People tell me, ‘You could be making more money doing something else.’ But this is satisfying to me. It’d be great to be making a lot of money, but this is where I am now, and where I want to live. I am very satisfied.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


March 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Charlean N.

Charlean CGoM March 2018

Charlean Nichols' family continues to grow, and so does the list of her honors as a CAREGiver for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Fresno and Sugar Land.

For the second time in less than a year, Charlean was selected as CAREGiver of the Month, this time for February 2018. She also was spotlighted as CAREGiver of the Month in July 2017 for owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning franchise.

Charlean was first honored as CAREGiver of the Month in September 2013. Before that, Charlean was recognized as a CAREGiver of the Quarter, and she was honored by the Direct Care Alliance as the 2012 Care for Elders Caregiver of the Year. In addition, the family of a former client recently donated money to a charity in Charlean's name.

Greg and Staff Coordinator/Office Manager Destiny Wesley are not surprised. After Charlean's most recent honor, Destiny said: "Charlean is a life-changing type of CAREGiver who truly has her clients' best interests at heart. Charlean goes over and above the call of duty and just makes life easier for our clients and their family members. We cannot say enough about Charlean."

If it seems that Charlean has impressed every client since arriving at the Home Instead Senior Care franchise Aug. 20, 2009, the CAREGiver humbly denies it.

Elaborating with her trademark chuckle, Charlean said: "I won't lie – there have been a few challenging clients over the years. If I stay with them long enough, I will win them over and most of them will give me a compliment."

She honestly added, "After a while if it doesn't feel like it's working out for them, I tell them, 'I've come here to help you. But if you don't feel that way, please call the office and they will send someone else. I must go where I am needed.' But those clients have been few and far between because Charlean moves heaven and earth to help every client, and most of them count her as family if not a good friend. "We often are the same peas in a pod," Charlean said in her folksy way.

Smiling broadly, Charlean offered, "My 'family' just grows and grows. I've got my own kin, but I've got dozens and dozens more who my blood relatives don't know about. My mom knows if she needs me, I will go to her – I always have. My clients know if they need me, I am there. I receive pictures of a family's children and where they will spend the summer. There are Christmas cards and birthday cards, and I always appreciate the thought."

A son honored Charlean by mentioning her at a memorial service after his dad, one of Charlean's clients, had passed away. The daughter of a current client has repeatedly called Charlean "a godsend, a gift directly from the Almighty Himself."

That family member brought lunch or supper for Charlean from her favorite restaurant "just to do something nice" for her. By the way, Charlean's favorite dish from that restaurant is the chicken enchilada. "They had been to the restaurant and decided to go back and get it for me. That was thoughtful. I cannot remember someone doing that for me. But I am not working for that, to be honest. I am working for the client, to do my best for him," Charlean said.

Word travels near and far about Charlean's senior-care excellence. A management type had heard about Charlean and called to ask if she wanted to run the night crew at a care community. Charlean thought a CNA had seen her in action with a client at the care community and might have recommended her. "The answer was 'thanks but no thanks.' I don't do this just for the paycheck. I get my reward from seeing a comfortable client who is not confused. A smile on the face — that is what counts most. The family trusts me with their senior loved one. I've heard: 'We are thankful for Charlean. When you are here, we feel comfortable about our senior loved one and we feel comfortable about going out.' "

And Charlean likes her employer. "Home Instead Senior Care is great. Greg asks about my family. He is concerned about me. You can see we were compatible. That means a lot to me."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


February 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Yulanda J.

Yulanda CGoM February 2018

For five years – beginning as a fifth-grader – Yulanda Jarmon joyfully helped her great-aunt, who lived next door to Yulanda in Waco, Texas. On the dark day when that care ended, Yulanda's mother softly summoned Yulanda from the kitchen to her great-aunt's bedside.

With her last breath, the great-aunt whispered into Yulanda's ear: "I love you."

From that moment as a high school sophomore, there was no doubt Yulanda was going into the senior care profession. She already had decided to take care of the elderly who want to remain at home. Her great-aunt had often asked this question: "Yulanda, what will you do when you're through with school?"

Yulanda's reply always was: "I'll do something with seniors," and she further explained: "I feel blessed to have kept my promise. I worked in private-duty caregiving for more than 20 years. I've always gotten along with the elderly. Helping seniors is the only work I've done. I love what I do." Yulanda, a grandmother, quickly added: "I love the elderly, and I love babies, too."

In January 2018, Yulanda joined the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Fresno and Sugar Land. Four months later, Yulanda was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning franchise. Working for Home Instead Senior Care takes Yulanda back to memories of her time with her senior loved one whom she called "My Aunt Louise," with the emphasis on "my."

"Everyone knew we were a pair. I'd get up and fix coffee for my mom and then go to My Aunt Louise's house. I made coffee and breakfast for her before I'd go to school. After school, I'd help her get ready for the evening," Yulanda recalled. "On shopping days, she'd make a grocery list and drive us to the store. I'd buy the groceries while she sat in the car because of her mobility related to stamina. She'd always give me enough money to buy something for myself like a bag of candy or another treat. When her life became more challenging, I'd spend the night with her."

Yulanda smiled when she said: "My great-aunt said I did everything right, including making coffee and breakfast. It was always 'just the way' she liked. That positive statement made a big impact on my life. I was happy to please her and have always tried to please other seniors."

With Home Instead, Yulanda has done that as "a perfect fit for the job." Staff Coordinator/Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "First off, Yulanda is very reliable and dependable. She came to us at a time when we really needed a nice, understanding, patient, low-key CAREGiver, and she is all of that and more. The client to whom she immediately began assisting is so thankful to have Yulanda as her CAREGiver. The client said Yulanda is proactive and fulfills her needs, even before a need arises or before the client can think about it."

Destiny pointed out: "It is CAREGivers such as Yulanda who truly make a difference in the lives of our clients and their families. It is for that reason we recognized Yulanda as the CAREGiver of the Month."

Yulanda has a calming effect on her client, who lost her husband several years ago and endured the stress of evacuating and moving around last August and September when Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc with the Houston area. "She'd been through a few CAREGivers, but we bonded quickly. She's really happy when she sees me. There's a smile on her face. I listen closely to her when she talks. If she needs something, I am ready. Sometimes I reassure her that everything is OK. She asks me if I am doing too much for her, which of course is never the case. At the end of my work week with her, she doesn't want me to leave."

Yulanda, who moved to Houston two years ago and got married, found Home Instead Senior Care online and figures she's got a good job. She noted: "I have a husband who love me and wants me to be happy. He knows I could not sit around at home all the time, that I needed to get out and help someone. I like to help keep seniors in their homes, and that's what Home Instead Senior Care does. It feels good."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


January 2018 CAREGiver of the Month: Crystal D.

Crystal CGoM January 2018

CAREGiver of the Month Crystal Davis enters celebrity realm at the local YMCA branch once each month. That’s when she accompanies her Home Instead Senior Care® client to the regularly scheduled birthday parties for the older members. Crystal smiles when she hears, “I wish I had someone like you to come with me to these parties.”

Referring to the 90-minute YMCA get-togethers, Crystal said: “My client loves to have me there with her. It’s a big deal for her and her friends, and I get dressed up for the event. All the elderly people know me, and they are very nice people.

It was not unusual to hear YMCA party-goers gush over Crystal for the care she provides for her 85-year-old client nor is it uncommon to see her chat warmly with her client’s friends. The client often tells her daughter she is fortunate to have Crystal as a CAREGiver, and the client’s daughter has told Crystal, “Mom loves you. She will never let you go.”

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley is not surprised Crystal is a hit with her client, and the clients’ friends and families. “Crystal has been such a joy and brings sunshine into the room since she joined us in August,” Destiny said. “Crystal’s regular client enjoys the time she is there and loves Crystal’s company. Crystal provides great companionship and personal care assistance, and she makes our clients feel important and that they still have a purpose.”

Destiny added: “Crystal has been quite busy since joining our team. She also helps when co-workers need time off or a pro re nata (PRN) client calls in for service. Crystal has proved herself to be very reliable and dependable. She has excellent communication skills, which I, as the staffing coordinator, appreciate greatly.”

Compassion and empathy for seniors is in Crystal’s DNA. Working for another agency years ago, Crystal helped take care of her late grandmother for three months. The grandmother had Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, and passed away at age 73, but not before she shared her considerable culinary skills.

“Her other caretakers made simple things for Grandma, but she taught me how to cook by requesting more complicated dishes, like salmon croquettes,” Crystal recalled. “Grandma had her recipes memorized and never cooked with recipe cards. She was a professional cook who was well-known for her homemade biscuits. On some mornings, there were lines leading into her restaurant. She was a spiritual lady who did gospel singing. She used to take me with her when she sang at churches.”

Crystal also briefly worked for another in-home care company and was an airline attendant for two years. “I was surfing the internet for senior-care jobs when a Home Instead advertisement popped up. That was the kind of job I was seeking. I love the company, and I have two other companies with which to compare. The other companies were not as professional as Home Instead Senior Care,” Crystal noted, referring to owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s award-winning franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

“The communication is good. I call often and get quick answers. I love how Greg knows all the CAREGivers’ names. Recruitment Engagement Coordinator Margi Kenny does a good job of training and teaching. I always learn something, and I like it a lot. I will be starting with a new client soon. She is 68 and has early signs of Parkinson’s. She reminds me of my grandmother.”

Of course, Crystal will keep her current client, with whom she’s worked three days a week since starting with Home Instead Senior Care. “I am her only CAREGiver. She loves to get out of the house. We always go over our allotted time shift because I take her places,” Crystal said.

“She is very strong and independent, and she teaches me something new each day. She likes to make pecan pie for the parties. It is good, and she makes it sugar-free but with all kinds of spices. She does her own cooking, and I take her to Whole Foods nearly every time I am with her. She likes to go out for fish at Hartz Chicken on Fridays. She has two cats, Pascal and Babe. When she was gone during Christmas week, I went to her house every day to take care of them.”

Crystal is happy with Home Instead Senior Care. “I love working for the company. There are flexible work hours. I can take my daughter to school and pick her up, and I have weekends off. My client is wonderful – she always gives me a big hug before I leave. What’s not to like?”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Glenda K.

Glenda CGoM

Glenda King, the Home Instead Senior Care® office staff decided, was perfect for an 80-something widow. The client's family was eager for Glenda to help their senior loved one during weekdays for four hours at a time. The only problem was, the client was 100 percent certain she didn't need Glenda — or any other CAREGiver.

The client made that plain, telling Glenda, "I can take care of myself. I don't need anyone."

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley was convinced Glenda could handle the challenge, saying: "Glenda is a rock-solid CAREGiver who can provide the widest range of care possible, from companionship to the difficult and uncomfortable task of personal care to helping a client with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. I am glad she's on our team."

Glenda joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning franchise in March 2017, having brought an impressive caregiving resume that included previous successful experiences in assisted care, skilled care and hospice, as well as in hospitals and as a private-duty caregiver.

Destiny added, "Glenda has a very calming, soft voice, and she is in total control. She may get a little frazzled, but she is still very much in control of herself and the situation. Glenda communicates well, and that helps in making sure that the office, the client and the client's family are all on the same page."

What did Glenda communicate to the client to win her over?

"Your first impression is also your last impression. Your message as a CAREGiver – said or unsaid – should be, 'I respect your home; I respect you.' As a CAREGiver, you must earn respect and build relationships. Don't let a wall come up, because those are hard to overcome," said Glenda, who was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for December, six weeks after starting with her client.

"Don't take the dignity from seniors. Be careful what you say. Don't take over their home. You work for them, not the other way around. You should treat them the same way you would want to be treated. Always be sensitive and listen. I feel my way through her mood when I get there in the morning. You know there will be crankiness on some days."

Glenda pointed out that among her passions is helping the elderly. "Seniors are sometimes forgotten people, and I have a heart for them. Home Instead's aim to keep seniors in their homes is a beautiful thing because it incorporates preserving their dignity as much as possible as well as attempting to keep them happy and independent. Half of them just need guidance to remain home," said Glenda, who outlined other best practices for successful senior care in a question-and-answer.

Question:  How do you handle the challenges of dementia care?

Glenda: "Each person with dementia is truly different. It is an individual condition, and care is not cookie-cutter, it is custom. Even from day to day with the same dementia client, the behavior can be different. It's all about getting to know them. Never make a client feel as if she has dementia. Don't patronize her, talk down to her, order her around or get offended and hurt by something she says. With dementia, the filter can come off."

Question: Independence is an issue that can lead to disagreements. How do you handle it?

Glenda: "I let my client make as many decisions as possible as long as she is safe. If it isn't hurtful, I am not controlling. I don't get into debates with a client. No fights; try to show she has won but aim for a refocusing. With strife, I walk away to do something else, such as housekeeping. When I come back, the client is like a new person. It's like hitting reset."

Question: What about moving your client toward something worthwhile, such as exercise, or something necessary, like bathing or medication reminders?

Glenda: "I tell the client, 'Oh my, it's a nice day out there! Let's walk to the house down the block and see what they are repairing.' I change the routine, and we go outside to feed the birds. Some days, I ask her to water the flowers. For bathing, medication reminders or meals, I use soft tones and the words 'we' and 'us' to make it truly a team effort or offer an invitation. Enticing her to shower got her to open up to me more, as far as a trust factor goes."

Question: What does your client do for entertainment?

Glenda: "She likes 'Perry Mason' and TV game shows, and I work with her to use her mind and interact. I ask her a lot of questions. On 'The Price Is Right,' I ask her who won the round and what the prices are. For 'Wheel of Fortune,' we try to solve the word puzzles and engage in conversation."

Question: How do you handle repetitive questions or stories?

Glenda: "The client will sometimes say over and over, 'It's awfully cloudy outside.' I never tell her that she has repeated herself. I answer her as if I've heard her observation for the first time. There can be confusion about what day it is. Sometimes she'll tell me to expect a visitor, but it might not happen, so I stay on my toes for either situation."

Question: You experienced two major events in 2017, taking on a new job and dealing with a major hurricane. How's life with Home Instead, and then after Hurricane Harvey?

Glenda: "I was stressed by the hurricane, but there's no doubt I love my job. There is no one among the office staff who is not sweet. They care about their employees as well as the clients. With Hurricane Harvey, I went two weeks without work. We had flood water in our residence, and my husband lost $6,000 worth of tools. We had to evacuate and were out of our home for week. It could have been far worse. In fact, maybe it was a wake-up call from God, happening for reason unknown to those of us who went through it. I think God's message is: 'Life is temporary and fragile, so it's time for people to make changes in their lives.' Perhaps as time goes by for those of us who went through it, we will appreciate the hurricane more as a turning point in our lives."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Resha G.

Resha CGoM

In late August, Resha Groom took a CAREGiver's job with the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. Resha had to wait for Hurricane Harvey and its destructive aftermath to settle before she could start. Then, Resha entered the eye of the caregiving storm and didn't blink twice at the challenges. When November arrived, owner Greg Gomez-Mira and his staff honored Resha as CAREGiver of the Month.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "Resha rolled up her sleeves and got right to work. She has made a huge splash since coming aboard. Resha was assigned to a very delicate case when she was first hired. She handled herself with poise, and the client and family really appreciated her efforts. She is a go-getter and can handle different levels of care."

Recruitment Engagement Coordinator Margi Kenny elaborated, explaining: "On her first day with a client, a family member showed Resha how they maneuver their senior loved one to accomplish a tough personal-care task and subsequent transferring. The daughter told me, 'Resha tried really hard, has a positive attitude and was willing to learn.' Because Resha did not become frustrated during this challenge, she was able to keep the client calm and learn how to help the client on his terms. She gained the respect of the family because of it. Her pleasant and positive outlook has been recognized by several other clients and families. We're glad to have her."

Explaining her serendipitous arrival at Home Instead Senior Care, Resha said: "I had moved back to Houston and was initially living on the southwest side. Something told me to go to the building where the Home Instead Senior Care office is located while I was in the process of looking for a job. When I entered the Home Instead Senior Care door, I met Miss Destiny. It all fit together after that. I had been working in the health-care industry before I joined Home Instead Senior Care, and I had the experience."

Resha said she loves her job. "The staff is easy to talk to, and I love their attitude. They are flexible. This is a job I want to go to," Resha said. "I have clients with dementia. One is more challenging than the others. With this job, you need a lot of patience. If you don't have patience, this job is not for you. You will get a lot of repetition, and you cannot let that bother you. You must treat them as if they were your grandparents or parents."

Asked to talk about her challenges, Resha explained: "One client does not recognize me when I come in. She is always asking me the same question: 'Who are you?' Once I get in the door, I try to help her remember who I am. She's nice and sweet. I just talk to her and become the best companion I can become."

An afternoon client provides a different challenge. "My shift runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and it is mostly OK until 1 p.m., when her Sundowner's kicks in. (Sundowner's is a condition where some of those with dementia become increasingly irritable as the day progresses.)  After her mood changes in the afternoon, she thinks we are in her hotel room, and that I am not supposed to be there. Some days if I step out of the room and give her some space, it is like hitting reset because she forgets she was upset. As the day goes on, though, it can get tougher. Again, it just takes patience and compassion. I am hoping to make progress."

Sooner or later, most CAREGivers come face to face with the death of a client. Resha recently encountered her first experience with a client who passed away. "She was a really nice person with whom I had helped for two weeks. I was in shock," Resha said. "The client's son was glad I was with her. There were no signs that she was struggling. Her last words to me were, 'If I fall asleep, please let me sleep — don't wake me.' The office was concerned for me, gave me the next day off and asked if I wanted more time, but I said no. I couldn't see sitting around home and doing nothing. The other clients need me."

Destiny praised Resha's attitude. "Resha is very patient and easy-going, which are great attributes to have when dealing with clients with dementia. In addition to her regular clients, Resha is willing to help when we need fill-ins. I had the pleasure of interviewing her and bringing her aboard, and she has made my decision to hire her an excellent one."

"As long as I can do what I'm doing now," she said, "I will stay with Home Instead. I think I will be with them until I can't do it anymore."​

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Richard A.

Richard CGoM

When Richard Abakwue walked into Suite 109 at 8313 Southwest Freeway last September, he made an impression at the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise owned by Greg Gomez-Mira. That positive impact has never waned.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "Richard is an experienced registered nurse from Nigeria, and he is a gem. We have come to expect nothing but the very best from Richard since we hired him. He is a very popular commodity – every client has asked for Richard to return. His two current clients truly appreciate him and say he is wonderful. Richard has a comforting presence and brings cheer wherever he goes. We are thrilled to honor him as CAREGiver of the Month."

As much as they'd like to see it, Greg, Destiny and Recruitment Coordinator Margi Kenny know they can't keep Richard forever. He is working for the franchise that serves seniors in the south-central Houston area, including Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land, while he studies for his nursing boards. Richard earned his RN degree in Nigeria in 2010 and worked for six years before moving to Houston.

Margi pointed out: "Richard's goal is to earn money while studying for the state exams in pursuit of his American career. He carries himself with the utmost dignity, and his demeanor is nothing but respectful to those he encounters. He instantly won the respect of his first client because of his calming, confident bedside manner."

Despite Richard's strong skills, experience and knowledge, Margi said, there is nothing presumptuous or arrogant about him. She added: "He continues to have a willingness to learn from others. During new-employee orientation, I often felt he could have facilitated the class better than myself, but he was a respectful, pleasant person during the hours of training and participated wholeheartedly."

One client's family believes Richard has worked wonders, perhaps even a miracle, with their loved one, a stroke victim in his 60s who underwent brain surgery. The client could only sit up on his bed when Richard arrived to work evening hours with the client.

"The doctors said he was so badly impaired that he might never walk. Within a month, he started standing up. He moves little by little, and I am right by him. We're taking it one step at a time. He tells his family: 'Richard keeps me away from potential situations where I could fall.' Some days, his attitude needs a little more attention and encouragement than other days, and I am happy to cheer him up," Richard said.

"Every client appreciates my efforts, and that makes me feel good. I have two regular clients, and a third person wants to become one of my regular clients all the time. I am one of her Sunday CAREGivers now. My weekday morning client is a 91-year-old man who is a fall risk but can go a little distance on his walker. He is a good guy who is good to me."

Clients, their families and the Home Instead Senior Care staff praised Richard's communication skills as "excellent." Sharing medical and physical therapy information, as well as client updates, is as important in the care process as care itself, Richard emphasized. "Communication with the staff is good, and they call back when I leave messages with questions. I like every staff member and feel good around them. They have smiling faces and are always happy."

Explaining how he found Home Instead Senior Care, Richard said: "I was looking for a flexible-hours job and went to an agency to learn about the possibilities. I settled on Home Instead Senior Care. It is very OK. I feel Home Instead Senior Care is a good job related to my field of study, and I like working for them."

Richard added: "I feel good about my situation. I came to Houston and joined my wife, who also is a nurse. We are excited and happy to have a 6-month-old daughter. I hope to pass my state nursing board exams next year and see how it goes from there before making any decisions on employment or location of our next home. If we stayed in this area, I could see working for Home Instead Senior Care in my spare time away from an RN job."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Khusboo D.

Khusboo CGoM

CAREGiver of the Month Khusboo Desai saw dementia behavior for the first time in 2005, when she was in high school in Temple, Texas.

Khusboo was helping with homework at a friend's home, where she met her friend's grandfather. "He was a nice, charming man," Khusboo recalled, "but he thought I was a movie star. I knew he was confused because he asked repetitive questions and made repetitive statements. Out of his presence, I asked my friend what was wrong. She told me he had early stage dementia."

When Khusboo saw her friend's grandfather days later, he knew Khusboo. "He was kind, and it was obvious he liked me, maybe because I engaged him in conversation," Khusboo said. "That was when I decided what I wanted to do for a career, and that was to help those who have dementia. It was the spark for me to get into senior caregiving." Sadly, her friend's grandfather died in 2010, but Khusboo's remembers him.

Khusboo went into senior care, beginning in 2009, and tried several different avenues. After she graduated from high school, she volunteered at a skilled nursing home and then worked in the nursing home before moving to a memory-care housing unit. "At that group home," Khusboo said, "it confirmed to me I wanted to work with those who have dementia."

Khusboo's career preference is different from almost everyone else in her family. "My family is in business, owns a business or has business-related jobs. I am the only one in caregiving. They ask me how I can work in this field. I tell them I believe I am a natural-born caregiver," Khusboo explained.

Later, she earned her licensing as a medical assistant and joined a medical office. For two years, she worked with a hospital cardiologist. "It was not the same as being with residents or clients because it felt colder," Khusboo said. "I like to get to know people and establish relationships, so I went back to nursing-home work."

After moving to Columba, South Carolina, Khusboo worked for six years in Alzheimer's and other dementia care. Khusboo also was employed as a home-health aide and then as a private-duty caregiver. Khusboo sometimes worked 24-hour shifts and once worked six straight days. "God gave me the strength to help others," she said.

After Khusboo and her husband moved back to Texas eight months ago for his hotel management career, Khusboo took an overnight hotel job. She was shopping at a major retail store one day when she saw a car wrapped with Home Instead Senior Care® advertising. Piqued, Khusboo applied at the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise owned by Greg Gomez-Mira. Khusboo began working last summer for the franchise that serves seniors in the south-central Houston area, including Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

"At first, I was curious about Home Instead Senior Care, and then I saw how detail-oriented and very organized they are. They even introduce you to the client. We are matched well to the clients. The office sits down with the CAREGivers and asks what their needs are. They get to know their employees. Destiny Wesley, our staff coordinator and office manager, took an hour to find out what I need and which clients I can match with. We work well together," Khusboo said.

Khusboo continues to work at the hotel while taking on a flexible Home Instead schedule that is fulfilling. "I have a busy work life, but every time I see a client, it gives me an emotional boost. It is a peaceful feeling to care for someone else," Khusboo said.

Describing the advantages of working for Home Instead Senior Care, Khusboo pointed out: "They take the time to listen to the CAREGivers. I worked for so many companies, and none of them cared as much about their employees as Home Instead does. But, above all, it's about the clients. We take time to make sure everything is going well. Greg and Destiny come to the homes and check on the clients and CAREGivers. Not a lot of companies check on the clients while they are with workers. Greg cares about the quality of care. Home Instead Senior Care is like family. The clients and CAREGivers come together like family."

Destiny said: "Khusboo is just a delight. She has been very well received by our office, of course, but more importantly, by our clients. Once hired, Khusboo went to work the next day, and the client took to her very well and the client's husband gave Khusboo praises. He said Khusboo was attentive to his wife's needs and was proactive. She also has helped with various clients, and they have all asked for her to return."

Destiny added: "Recently, a client's wife who asked for a few days of service this week and specifically asked for Khusboo, called the office and paid Khusboo a compliment. The client's wife said they like Khusboo very much. When I informed Khusboo of the kind words, her reply was, 'I treat every client as if they are my family.'  With Khusboo's attitude and treatment, we will have to figure out how to clone her.

"Khusboo communicates very well, and she is very attentive to her clients. If she thinks her client's safety is in jeopardy, she will inform the family and the office. Khusboo fits into our vision of 'striving for excellence by bringing positive change to the lives of clients, CAREGivers and all those we encounter.' "

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Vanessa C.

Vanessa CGoM

Two-time CAREGiver of the Month Vanessa Crockett-Longoria's sacrifice while selflessly providing service during Hurricane Harvey was obvious. Vanessa focused on her clients during a tumultuous time when she was separated from her family, and then lost her car and every possession in her family's apartment to the unprecedented Houston-area flooding.

Greg Gomez-Mira, franchise owner of the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land, quickly went to bat for Vanessa and her family. Vanessa was one of two CAREGivers from Greg's franchise who received assistance from the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation's Disaster Relief Fund.

Vanessa's insurance company ruled her car a total loss, and her family's ground-level apartment was inundated by foul-smelling four-foot-deep flood waters. Nothing could be salvaged by the time Vanessa and her family were allowed to return to their moldy, damp living quarters four days after the deadly record-setting storm first swamped Houston.

Franchise Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said: "Vanessa has always shined as a CAREGiver, and she worked hard and courageously for the company and our clients during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey."  With her children safely in her mother-in-law's care and her husband situated in Spring, 25 miles north of Houston on a job, Vanessa went to assist a client in a hospital Saturday, Aug. 25, just as the storm hit with full force.

Vanessa managed to reach the hospital parking lot, but the shift was canceled when a hospital shutdown was ordered – no one in and no out. So, Vanessa was trapped in her car as street flooding quickly enveloped the parking lot with murky brown water. "I watched boat and jet ski rescues going on in the distance and then right across the street," Vanessa said. Since there was nowhere to safely go, Vanessa slept in her car, remaining in it from 6:30 p.m. Saturday until 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The hospital reopened, and she went to her shift from 7:30 p.m. Sunday to 7:30 a.m. Monday. "I finally got through to my family Sunday night by phone and learned they were all right, although the kids and my mother-in-law had to go to a shelter," Vanessa said. "My husband was stuck where he was for two days, but he was all right, too."

When she returned to her car Monday morning, it would not start. With the help of a friend, Vanessa made her way to a car rental agency and secured the final vehicle. While most of Houston was under water, Vanessa called the Home Instead Senior Care office, talked to owner Gregory Gomez-Mira and asked for more assignments.

"Vanessa helped Greg on two shifts Tuesday, Aug. 29. Greg was very thankful for Vanessa and was amazed at her drive and her giving spirit," Destiny noted. "In fact, Vanessa has been working nonstop for more than a month and has not missed a step."

Destiny added: "Before all of this happened, Vanessa had been recognized at our employee meeting as our CAREGiver of the Quarter. In August 2016, she also was our CAREGiver of the Month. Vanessa has really gone over and above the call of duty and truly exhibits the characteristics of what a CAREGiver should be. Vanessa is a very humble person and is always willing to go the extra mile, and her actions during the storm demonstrated that."

The whirl of unpredictable events left Vanessa scrambling, but she wisely and pragmatically exercised her good judgment, taking each challenge as it came. "The last normal thing I can recall was working Friday morning before the storm hit Saturday. No one had guessed it would flood, but within 12 hours, there was water everywhere, and I was stuck in my car. I had drinking water in my car but no food, so I did not eat during that time. By 7 a.m. Monday, it was not as bad as it was the day before, so I just kept going," Vanessa recalled.

Vanessa and her family had gone through a catastrophe nearly a year earlier when their apartment was destroyed by fire. But like weathering Hurricane Harvey, their family made it through the fire without injury. "We felt blessed after both trials because no one was hurt. But this storm and the flood that followed were worse than the apartment fire because we could pick through and retrieve some possessions and mementoes from our burned-out apartment. With the flood, everything was gone. Not only that, but I no longer had a car," Vanessa said.

"But, because of the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation Disaster Relief Fund money that Greg gave us Tuesday, I got another car pretty quickly. In addition, Greg had a friend with a rental property, so we stayed there for free for a week. After that, the Home Instead Disaster Relief Fund money also helped us with a new place to live. I was amazed with Home Instead's generosity in helping us get back on our feet with the basics – transportation and living quarters. Other than a public shelter, we would not have had a place to stay. We were just happy to have a place that was dry."

Asked for her perspective on the ordeal, Vanessa said: "Actually, I'm good about the whole thing. At some point, I will be emotionally drained. If I could keep moving, I kept working as a CAREGiver. My husband, our children and I are doing fine. I am more encouraged than ever about life. I can say it wasn't the worst thing I had gone through. In 2010, my mother died on New Year's Day, my twin sister died April 24 and my dad died in June. So that's been the worst year. In this ordeal, we didn't lose anyone. Material things, we can replace. And I still have a good job with a good company. Everything settled down in time for my birthday on Saturday (Sept. 23). It was peaceful."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Charlean N.

Charlean CGoM

The daughter insisted on saying something about her 85-year-old father's CAREGiver.

Short and sweet, but with plenty of emotion, the school teacher said: "I love Charlean Nichols." The daughter quickly followed: "I have been praying to God to send someone like Charlean, and we got her on Nov. 16, 2016." In addition, a visiting nurse who checks the client's condition once a week offered: "Everything is OK now, much better than before Charlean and Home Instead Senior Care® arrived to replace another company. Charlean is a godsend."

Charlean, a humble soul who has been a CAREGiver since Aug. 20, 2009, just smiled. When the going gets tough, clients and their family members look to Charlean. So, there's no surprise Charlean is a two-time CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Fresno and Sugar Land.

Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Margi Kenny said: "As a new Home Instead Senior Care staff member, I'd like to say I immediately noticed how Charlean is a pleasant and friendly CAREGiver. She recently assisted the Home Instead staff by helping a client who was in a situation requiring immediate attention. Charlean provided the urgent, personal assistance to this client with a smile, assisting the client for several days in a row. Her actions provided great relief to the client. Charlean is willing to help those in need, and she looks at this agency's service as more than just a job. I appreciate her nurturing and respectful attributes."

Neither Margi nor Staff Coordinator/Office Manager Destiny Wesley will forget the franchise meeting when Charlean made an impassioned plea for new employees to remember how important compassion and patience are.

"God sent us, and He wants us to use our compassion and patience. Never lose those two things. Now is the time to leave the room if you don't feel you can do them all the time. You've got to want to keep the clients' houses in better shape than your own. You are on the same team, with the same goals as your clients and their families. You must be of the same accord with everyone connected with the care situation," implored Charlean, who was first honored as CAREGiver of the Month in September 2013. Before that 2013 honor, Charlean was recognized as a CAREGiver of the Quarter, and she was honored by the Direct Care Alliance as the 2012 Care for Elders Caregiver of the Year.

In a one-on-one interview, Charlean explained the black-and-white outlook she carries: "I know my job and what must be done. No one needs to tell me what to do. If the dishes need to be washed, dried and put away, I dig in and do it. I don't leave it for the next CAREGiver or family members. I don't expect others to do what I am supposed to do. Even if you don't have to do something to help a client, you've got to do it anyway."

She added: "No matter what it is – personal care or going the extra yard on an errand – I would do it for anybody who needed the help. Anybody, any color, any race – it does not matter who it is. Sometimes you must do something out of the goodness of your heart. God will reward you. God always sends someone to take care of me, especially when the situation appears to be dire or challenging. It could be you or it could be me or anyone else who needs the help. The bottom line is, we simply have to help each other and do it cheerfully."

Charlean treats her clients like family, and she has been known to strongly encourage her own 85-year-old mother to help keep her as independent as possible. And she does not mince words for fellow family caregivers when she feels they need to change their methods of helping.

"Mom needs to keep her activity level as high as possible because it will help her live better and longer. I must stay on my siblings about not doing everything for her. The more that she must do for herself, if she can do it, the better off she is," Charlean explained.

Charlean doesn't hesitate to share her caregiving wisdom. But she's also never shy about going the extra mile for a client. One day while helping clean a client's refrigerator and moving it to sweep in a hard-to-reach corner, Charlean noticed some broken glass. She took extra time to get on her knees and pick up every shard. A day hadn't passed when Charlean received a call from owner Greg Gomez-Mira. "Well done, Charlean," Greg said. "I just got a message from your client, 'You're the best.' "

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Amanda E.

Amanda CGoM

On a staff of highly skilled yet unassuming CAREGivers at Home Instead Senior Care®, Amanda Ejeka might be the quietest of them all. But Amanda's humility belies the impact she has made since December 2014, when she joined Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Fresno and Sugar Land.

Staff Coordinator/Office Manager Destiny Wesley said: "I am proud to announce Amanda is our CAREGiver of the Month. She is very quiet, soft-spoken, peaceful, compassionate, totally selfless, all those things. But she also brightens a room with her beautiful smile. That alone can turn a person's day around, without her ever speaking a word. She has the spirit to serve others."

Destiny also pointed out: "Amanda currently works with a client who has dementia, and the client is also very meek and quiet. Amanda fits very well with her." Destiny added, "I have never heard Amanda complain or raise her voice. She communicates well with the office, and she is a very solid CAREGiver."

When complimented for her honor, Amanda replied: "I enjoy helping people. It is something I love to do." Amanda worked in senior care for two years before joining Home Instead Senior Care on the recommendation of a friend. "I heard about them by word of mouth, a friend of a friend," Amanda explained. "This is what I want to do. I am through with going to school."

Working for Home Instead Senior Care, Amanda said, is like receiving an education in senior care. "The franchise staff guides and directs you, and tells you how to get the job done. Every client is different, so nothing is the same as far as following any kind of a care script. When I've had different situations come up, I've asked about them, and the office staff has told me what to do. Lines of communication are good, and they've always answered all my questions."

Asked about her clients, Amanda said. "I've been happy with them. There is always a period of getting acquainted." She has one regular client whom she assists on Fridays and Saturdays. Amanda has helped the client for just over a year and is part of a 24/7 CAREGiver team. "It's going pretty well," Amanda said. "She's nice and somewhat of a shy person, but she always remembers me. That is a little surprising because there are a few of us who take care of her."

Part of their routine is Bible reading before the client's bedtime. "She likes for me to read Scripture before she goes to sleep. I pick the passages, a lot of them are out of the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament," Amanda explained. "Yes, I am helping her with her faith."

Other parts of the client-CAREGiver routine are breakfast, medication reminders and personal care such as showering. "She's usually up by 7 or 7:15, and she likes Quaker Oats," Amanda noted. "Sometimes she sleeps well at night, and other times not so much, depending on what has gone on during the day, because she might sleep a lot then. It is fulfilling to help her."

Depending on the client, Amanda's other Home Instead responsibilities could also include light housekeeping, transportation and errands. In addition to those services, Amanda and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with grooming, dressing, incontinence, cognitive impairment and mobility. By expertly doing so, Amanda not only assists her clients, but helps their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

Home Instead Senior Care's guiding principles are also emblazoned on its employees' hearts: "CAREGivers demonstrate their commitment to their clients by honoring God in all they do; treating their clients and their families with dignity and respect; embracing personal growth to continually improve the quality of their care through franchise training; and building value in their service to others."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Ester A.

Ester CGoM

When Ester Ajileye moved to Houston two years ago, she shifted careers. The graduate of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, who earned a bachelor's degree in French linguistics, always had been a people person. Ester can fluently converse in English, Hindi, French and Arabic.

She had served for five years as a detective and safety officer for a multinational company, where Ester was praised for being a hard-working, diligent professional. In Houston, where she was reunited with several family members, Ester found senior care. She worked first at a seniors' group home and then as a CAREGiver at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Fresno and Sugar Land.

"I started with Home Instead Senior Care in mid-October of 2016," Ester said, "after a friend referred me to the company. I had gone back to school and had my weekends open, so working for Home Instead Senior Care at those times was a good opportunity. This is a most interesting kind of work, one on one with someone. The Home Instead training was good and very useful, but it was mostly a review because I had gained senior-care experience and a CNA license before I joined Home Instead. I have learned a lot about dementia care, and I try to maintain the ongoing training with Home Instead, which is good."

Ester has had one regular client, a 92-year-old woman for the past six months. Ester assists the client from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Ester's responsibilities include meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, companionship and errands. In addition to those services, Ester offers personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence, cognitive impairment and mobility. By expertly doing so, Ester not only assists her clients, but helps their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

"My client uses a walker, so we're careful with mobility," Ester said. "She is a nice person who is appreciative. She is an interesting, outspoken person but does not discuss politics. I like our conversations. She is sharp, very smart, and in fact brilliant."

Staff Coordinator/Office Manager Destiny Wesley, noting how valuable Ester has become in such a short time since joining owner Greg Gomez-Mira's Home Instead Senior Care franchise, praised Ester while honoring her as CAREGiver of the Month for May.

Destiny said, "Ester started with our company nine months ago and quickly established herself as a very reliable CAREGiver. She is pleasant, respectful and caring. Ester does her best to meet all her client's needs. She has a patience that is out of this world, and she does not complain. She reports everything in detail and keeps us informed about how her client is doing and what she needs. Ester is very flexible and will work additional hours if called upon and her availability is good. I appreciate the CAREGiver who Ester is, and I have loved seeing her blossom. Greg and I agree that she is one of our best."

Ester noted: "I am very happy with Home Instead Senior Care. I like my job because I do it for the compassion and not necessarily the money. One day, someone will take care of me, and I hope they do it with the same kind of concern and love that I offer to the clients with whom I work."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Rebecca G.

Rebecca CGoM

Working in senior care, CAREGiver of the Month Rebecca Garcia agreed, "is not meant for everybody." With emphasis, she added: "For sure, not all can do this. You've got to have the patience and compassion."

Asked about the secret to being a successful CAREGiver at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Fresno and Sugar Land, Rebecca thought for a second and said, "It helps to be born a Leo. My birthday is July 26."

After Rebecca explained, her words made sense. "Those born under the sign of Leo are very warm and caring people. We always want others to like and admire us. It is in my character to try to gain the affection and respect of others. Receiving approval from others actually helps me to stay balanced." Being an action-oriented personality is among other Leo traits, and one that fits Rebecca well.

Can those born under other Zodiac signs also be great CAREGivers? Rebecca laughed and said, "Of course. In my case, I just feel right with it. By that, I mean being a CAREGiver comes easily for me. The bottom line is: 'What if the client were my family? What would I do?' "

Rebecca added: "I also feel there is a spiritual or faith component to the overall job circumstances. Destiny Wesley, our office manager and staff coordinator, always says, 'God works in unpredictable ways we cannot foresee.' For instance, I had to give up two clients because of my own family considerations, but other clients became available. I was worried, but Destiny was not. Destiny kept saying, 'Stay strong. … Keep the faith.' She is right."

Destiny said a great CAREGiver came aboard when Rebecca joined Home Instead Senior Care in November 2016. "Rebecca is truly a gem because she is the sunshine on a client's cloudy day. She smiles about 99 percent of the time and you can even hear it through the phone. Rebecca is an outstanding 'giver of herself,' and she goes over and above the call of duty. Rebecca is the kind of CAREGiver who I can send anywhere. She is a great companion to our clients, but she is more than just a companion. Rebecca can provide personal care when it is needed, she is great at skills such as transferring and she is their encouragement when doubt comes in."

Destiny said Rebecca makes herself available for emergencies. "I can call Rebecca just about any given time, and she is willing to go. Rebecca says yes so much, that I often tell her it is OK to say no, if she has a conflict. I truly appreciate Rebecca."

Rebecca worked for a home health-care company in Santa Fe, New Mexico, four years ago, at first in a caregiver role, before becoming the scheduling coordinator. After moving to Houston, Rebecca found Home Instead Senior Care and two other similar companies in an online search. "Without going into the details or naming names, Home Instead Senior Care was by far the best opportunity and most professional," Rebecca said.

While living in New Mexico, Rebecca worked with many dementia clients and developed a big heart for serving them. "I saw more cases of severe dementia than I do here," Rebecca said. "Those with dementia can sense whether you care for them or not. They might be forgetful or have total short-term memory loss, but they know when someone is there for them. They can feel what's going on. That's why you treat them with genuine dignity, respect and patience. They become family, and so do their loved ones, too. I am doing something good for them, which I love and feel good about."

Rebecca cites the example of a dementia client and her husband. "They are awesome people. The wife's dementia is not severe, and she remembers my name. She apparently has become a little rambunctious at times with others, which is not out of the ordinary, but I have not seen it. I laugh with her and refocus when needed. Her husband receives respite care. When I am there, he can shop for groceries and run errands. She wanders, so she needs someone there. They do have all the in-house features that are needed for her safety."

Rebecca feels good about her office staff and owner Greg Gomez-Mira. "Greg, Destiny and everyone else are amazing Christian-oriented people who do church volunteer work. They are very understanding of my circumstances and flexible in allowing me to work the days and hours that fit best for my family situation. They take time to talk to me even when time is short. They have counseled me, and they are caring and loving. It feels like home to me. They have an open-door policy. They don't judge you. They are all about community. I feel loved and needed at Home Instead Senior Care."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call {{PHONE}}. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Joyce V.

Joyce CGoM

Office Manager/Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley and owner Greg Gomez-Mira count their blessings every time they think of Joyce Valencia, their March CAREGiver of the Month at their Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Fresno and Sugar Land.

Destiny shared her thoughts about Joyce, a CAREGiver since 2008 who approaches her job with the same enthusiasm as she did nine years ago when she left private-duty caregiving for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise:

  • "Joyce is a tremendous asset to our company."
  • "She is very compassionate and is a good all-around CAREGiver."
  • "Joyce is a hard worker; she is dedicated and honest. Those are qualities that I, as a staff coordinator, love to see in an employee. Greg feels the same way."
  • "If I need a fair assessment on a client from a CAREGiver's perspective, Joyce is one on which I can rely."
  • "Even in the face of adversity, Joyce shines, keeps her composure and upholds the Home Instead Senior Care principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart."

 Among the multitude of shining moments with clients, two instances of gut-wrenching adversity stand out with Joyce. "Death is always hard to accept, even though I have been doing this work for many years, since 1998, when I first earned my CNA licensing," Joyce revealed.

"Two years ago, I drove a client to a medical appointment about an hour away. As we got closer on our return, he began leaning on me. When we arrived at his home, I could not get him out of the car so I called 911, and three hours later, he had passed away. Even though he had a chronic condition, it was unexpected and very sad," Joyce explained.

She added: "About four weeks ago, I arrived for my 8:30 a.m. shift and found my client deceased on her porch. A neighbor theorized that she may have decided to put out the trash the night before, maybe about 6:30, and must have gotten exhausted and stopped on her porch. I only wish I had been there. When seniors live alone and have no one checking on them, these situations are your worst fears. The result is difficult, obviously, because I get attached to the clients. You pause and think about these clients, but then you must go on and help the others who are in need."

Situations such as the two described above illustrate the benefits of a home-care company like Home Instead Senior Care, Joyce noted.

Joyce found Home Instead in The Greensheet, a popular weekly shopper and advertising publication. "I like to help people and have a connection with the elderly, whether they are my clients or older neighbors. I like what I do as a job, and Home Instead Senior Care treats me well. The office staff is very personable," Joyce said. "I always think of my clients as my parents. My parents are doing fine in Honduras, and they are proud of what I do. I usually go there and visit for nine weeks at some point during the year."

Joyce's regular client is a 91-year-old man who needs personal-care help, medication reminders and meal preparation. She has assisted the dementia client since March 2016. "He has dementia and is in bed a lot, so I get him up and help him move around," Joyce said. "In this way, I not only assist him but his 86-year-old wife as well. His wife's mobility is still good, and she does as much as she can for him. She is so nice, and she loves me. They have six kids who take turns being with them."

In addition to serving clients and their family members, Joyce provided a significant assist for the Home Instead Senior Care franchise more than four years when she referred her sister, Carmen Ventura, to the office. Carmen was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in July 2013 and January 2016. "We are thankful to Joyce that she sent Carmen our way," Destiny said. "We'd like to get a couple more sister combinations like Joyce and Carmen."

Asked about her sister, Joyce chuckled and said, "She is doing fine. We've shared only one client situation that I can think of. We both like what we are doing."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Danita A.

Danita CGoM

CAREGiver of the Month Danita Anthony's first extensive senior-care experience was a heart-rending effort. She and her sister took turns caring for their mother for more than a year and a half, including overnight shifts, before she died of ovarian cancer in 2009.

"I picked up a lot of experience and know-how while helping my mother. A lot of things about senior care are self-explanatory because you draw from your wisdom and common sense. You definitely need to know certain things, procedure and protocol, but it is not rocket science. However, it is essential that you have a heart and compassion. Home Instead Senior Care® cannot train that – it's something you must have within you," said Danita, an honoree at the Home Instead franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

Danita also pointed out that every client is different. "I adjust to every client situation. For instance, one of my gentlemen does not like to converse much. His son does chat with me, and he appreciates the talks because it informs him about his dad and uplifts him. Sometimes you are there as much for the family as you are for the client. Words of reassurance mean a lot to them."

Danita had not been involved with professional senior care before she joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira's award-winning franchise following an online search. For 23 years, Danita had served as a popular general manager at a family-friendly restaurant, known for its party rooms and play zones. "I liked the fast pace, the camaraderie with the public and the challenge of managing a young staff, but it was getting to be too much physically," Danita explained.

Recalling how fulfilled she felt to help with her mother's care, Danita became a CAREGiver and was an immediate hit. For example, the son of a client talked her into continuing a 35-minute drive to take care of his father. "The distance seemed a bit much at first," Danita said, "but they made me feel really wanted, so I said yes." In general, Danita said: "I love the job. I enjoy meeting all kinds of new and different people. There are some wonderful, crazy attitudes, and I absolutely enjoy being around them and assisting them."

Danita enjoys the competitiveness of a 96-year-old client who loves to play Scrabble and gin rummy after lunch. "She is funny and sharp, and she has whipped me in gin rummy. She likes to play three games of Scrabble every time I am there, and she comes up with words I've never heard. She also loves to paint and goes to a painting class every Friday," Danita said.

"Not only have I bonded with her, but the same is true with her daughter-in-law, who is a really good person. It makes me feel good that the client doesn't want anyone but me. She is not hard to please, and she's not a tough one when it comes to helping her with personal care such as showering. She's really hanging in there well, and seems to have the genes on her side because she had a brother who lived to be 104."

Another of Danita's five clients lives in a big house with three other family members and six rescue dogs. "When I first drove up to the house, I could hear the barking and wondered what was up," said Danita, who is comfortable with dogs because she owns two Rottweilers. "I had them take the dogs outside for about an hour and a half while I did some light housekeeping so I could spread my scent around and they would pick it up and be comfortable with me. When they came back in, they sniffed me head to toe but everything was fine."

In addition to pets, Danita and the client have another commonality – sports. "He is really up on sports, and so am I. I'm a huge Houston-area fan: Astros, Rockets, Texans, Cougars. This is a good match," Danita said.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said, "We hit a home run when we hired Danita. She is in demand wherever we send her. It's easy to see why."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Linda N.

Linda CGoM

CAREGiver of the Month Linda Nwosu has been an unqualified success wherever she’s gone on assignment for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said, “Since she joined us in July 2016, every client has asked Linda to return. Unfortunately for most clients and their families, she is now spoken for and has a full schedule. Linda has a very strong work ethic and a heart as big as Texas. She is very compassionate and has her clients’ best interests at heart.”

Destiny added: “ ‘Smiling beauty’ is part of her email address. How appropriate.”

Three stamps of approval came from the same family at separate times from different family members. The wife of a Parkinson’s client watched in amazement as Linda’s smile and low-key power of persuasion prompted her husband to eat more, handle personal care better and go through his daily exercises. The client’s wife told Linda: “I love how you can talk him into doing things he doesn’t want to do. He would never do these things before. Linda, you are a natural at this, and I love the way you work. You have found your calling.”

The client’s sister, who lives out of state, observed Linda’s interaction and assistance with her brother and told Linda: “I don’t normally approve of people when I first meet them. I usually reserve my judgment for a while until I get to know them. But, Linda, I approve of you and what you do for my brother. It’s easy to see right away how much you mean to our family.”

The client paid tribute to Linda in a touching yet humorous way. With Linda accompanying her client and his wife to a doctor’s appointment, her client introduced Linda to his doctor as “my sister.” The doctor smiled, shook Linda’s hand and said, “It’s good to have you here, Linda.”

Linda said, “I was surprised. The client has a special humor.”

After joining the client in August 2016 after he left a rehabilitation center, Linda quickly learned he was hungry at mealtime but did not want to eat. Because of the Parkinson’s disease, he takes thickened liquids and puréed or chopped-up food. “His wife does the meal preparation,” Linda said, “but I help him eat. His wife was surprised I could get him to eat.”

Asked how she gets him to eat, Linda said: “Love, smiling and encouragement. One spoon at a time. We have to go slowly, and eating might take up to an hour.”

Linda also discovered it’s easier to get her client to shower in the mornings rather than insisting on a shower before he goes to bed at night. “I had talked him into showering at 5 or 6 in the evening, but I discovered it was easier to get him to shower in the mornings. Since I am there Saturday mornings, I work with him on it. When I first tried it in the morning, he said, ‘I feel so fresh. Thank you for helping me with a shower.’ His wife was shocked and said, ‘Is this my husband who did not previously want to take a shower?’ ”

In order to get the client to do his physical therapy exercises, Linda will sometimes join him in the routine. The client’s wife also is happy if Linda can get him outside each day for a little while if the weather is good. Linda sticks close to him as he uses his walker. “Going outside for a walk, my client loves to watch the squirrels on the trees and loves to listen to the birds whistle and sing,” Linda said.

They also have gone to a park and to a mall, and last week the client, his wife and Linda took in “La La Land” during a 4:30 theater showing.

“The handicap sitting area was too close to the screen, and ordinarily I would not sit that close to the screen because it makes me uncomfortable. But I wanted to sit there to watch over my client. He was so thoughtful of me and wanted me to go back farther where his wife was sitting, but I never left his side. We got there early, and he said it would OK for me to go out and walk around. He is so considerate. He is a very nice man,” Linda said.

Describing her job, Linda concluded: “I love the client, I love the client’s family and I love the franchise.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: D'Angela C.

D'Angela CGoM

As a young girl in the central Louisiana city of Alexandria, D’Angela Chew would walk the 18 blocks – about a mile and a half – from her home to the nursing home where her mother worked as a dietary specialist. Yes, D’Angela was eager to say hi to her mom and visit briefly. The residents were even more eager to see the outgoing youngster with a big heart.

“They were lonely people. Some never had visitors. My heart went out to them,” said D’Angela, speaking with emotion while remembering the experiences as if they had occurred yesterday.

“The residents were so sad and loved it when I showed up. We visited a lot. I made up my mind then that I wanted to go into the caregiving field,” said D’Angela, who was honored in December 2016 as CAREGiver of the Month for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

D’Angela, who became a CNA in 2004, joined owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s Home Instead franchise in September 2016 following an online job search. “I worked in a lot of nursing homes and assisted-care communities. I also worked in hospice facilities and homes for the mentally challenged. My care for people has ranged from small kids to the elderly,” said D’Angela, who worked in private-duty nursing for more than eight years before joining Home Instead.

After all her years of hard work at nursing homes and other facilities, Home Instead’s honor was the first for D’Angela, and she said she was surprised and humbled by it. Staff Coordinator and Office Manager Destiny Wesley said D’Angela’s honor was well-deserved.

“D’Angela has been a go-getter since she was hired in September and has not stopped. She is so bubbly and always smiling, a gem of a person and true sweetheart who is a compassionate CAREGiver and has the clients’ best interests at heart,” Destiny noted. “Because of her experience and personality, I am comfortable sending D’Angela to any client because I know she’s capable of handling and taking care of anyone. She is great.”

The feeling is mutual. In fact, in D’Angela’s eyes, Home Instead Senior Care is a special employer. “Greg Gomez-Mira is concerned, caring, friendly and sweet,” D’Angela said. “The office staff has prayed for me when I’ve faced adversity. When my car broke down, they stopped what they were doing and came for me. Stacy McClennon, our recruitment and retention coordinator, found a car for me. When I was sick, they called me and checked to see how I was doing and if I needed anything. I feel God sent me to Home Instead Senior Care.”

It is not hard for clients and their families to see D’Angela’s strong faith. After a client began an extended hospital stay, a family member sent D’Angela a thank-you card filled with an elaborate note and three pennies joined together. On the pennies was an etched Scripture reference from Matthew 19:26 that said, “With faith, all things are possible.” In the note, the client’s daughter wrote: “I never had the time to describe our family’s love for you. You have never heard us thanking God for His bringing you into our life. You were a godsend to us.”

D’Angela explained: “The client was hospitalized and later moved to a facility when I was away, and I never got to say goodbye. She was sweet, but she had dementia and could be challenging. It is the disease, not her. We would bring her ice cream because sometimes it was the only thing that would pacify her. Her husband was not a client, but I would help him when he forgot things. I feel he also needed someone to talk to, and would be waiting when I arrived for the night shift.”

No matter the challenge, D’Angela said, “Everyone I work with is a blessing. My aim is always the same: Keep them safe, treat them with dignity and help them remain in their homes.” Referencing her favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, D’Angela said, “ ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ This is my job now; I will go wherever God leads me.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Vanessa C.

Vanessa CGoM

Having scrambled safely out of their apartment Sept. 8 before the building was engulfed with flames, CAREGiver of the Month Vanessa Crockett-Longoria and her stunned family stood in the parking lot and watched as Houston firefighters fought a blaze that displaced every resident. Thoughts whirred through Vanessa’s head.

Vanessa, an ordained pastor, was thankful she, her husband and their four boys – a 10-year-old and 18-month-old triplets – had not been harmed, and she was thankful for the neighbor who had pounded on their door to alert them. She also thanked God that no residents perished. Thinking about the loss of possessions such as furniture didn’t crush Vanessa as much as the complete loss of the family’s photo albums, mementos and cherished heirlooms.

Then, Vanessa’s mind quickly shifted to her Home Instead Senior Care® client. “How am I going to get to my client today? Who will take care of her if I don’t?” asked Vanessa, who went back to work about three days later with help from the award-winning Home Instead Senior franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

Franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira and Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley took turns driving Vanessa to and from her shifts for three days. Greg, Destiny and the other staff members bought scrubs for Vanessa, purchased shoes for her children and pulled together other things to help the family. “We felt blessed because the staff is very nice,” Vanessa said.

While honoring Vanessa, Destiny said: “Despite everything that was going on in her own life, Vanessa was still my go-to CAREGiver. That was one of the many reasons why we selected her as CAREGiver of the Month. Vanessa is a resilient woman who happens to be very caring.
She is understanding and has tons of patience.”

Destiny added: “Vanessa definitely has been a great addition to our Home Instead Senior Care family since she arrived in January of 2016, and she is a CAREGiver to whom I turn when I am in a bind. Whether it is day or night, rain or shine, she will answer the call and go to a client at the last moment if she can. Finding someone like Vanessa doesn’t happen too often in this business, but when it does, you know you have a real gem, a keeper!”

Vanessa feels the same way about her job. She had been run ragged as a salaried supervisor at her former job where she’d been 10 years. “I worked as many as 50 or 60 hours a week and took work home. Sometimes I was still dealing with my work at home as late as 2 a.m.,” Vanessa said. “Consideration of my family was behind the decision to leave that job. I am someone who has always liked to help others, and that’s what I did in that job. In a totally different way, I am doing the same thing as a CAREGiver.”

Vanessa heard a Home Instead Senior Care radio commercial and applied. She started with a different Houston-area franchise in October 2015 before moving to Greg’s franchise three months later because it was closer to her home. “I like helping seniors, my clients have always been nice and there have been no issues. Best of all, I am not working all the time. I am making time for my family. Home Instead is flexible but also provides steady work,” Vanessa said.

She spends 30 hours a week with her primary client, a 97-year-old widow who is a stroke victim and has limited use of her right side. The attachment came quickly when Vanessa began assisting the client three months ago. The CAREGiver-client bonding was even more evident when Vanessa went on a weeklong November vacation to visit family in Wisconsin.

“My client called twice to see how I was doing, and we had a 10-minute conversation each time. She wanted to make sure everything was OK. She asked how our kids were doing and if we made the drive in good shape,” Vanessa said. “She was happy the day I returned. She asked, ‘You aren’t going to leave me again, are you?’ ”

On Sunday mornings, Vanessa has another client for a three-hour shift before she joins her family at the Living Water Christian Cathedral in southwest Houston. “The pastor there knew my mom when she was a teenager, and he has known me since I was little. As an ordained and licensed pastor for the past 10 years, I have conducted weddings and funerals,” Vanessa said.

In addition to helping a senior before church, Vanessa also tries to accommodate Home Instead in other ways. “Whenever Destiny calls, I always laugh and say, ‘What’s the matter?’ and usually take a fill-in shift if I can. It helps that my husband is self-employed,” Vanessa said. “This job works well for both my family and me, and it is one I want to keep.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Jessica B.

Jessica CGoM

There wasn’t a work assignment on Monday, May 30, 2016, for Jessica Baker, a two-time CAREGiver of the Month for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. Jessica accepted an invitation and enjoyed her day off at a birthday party for her client who turned 66. 

The food was great, and one of the client’s sisters baked a superb cake. The house was filled with family. Asked what her role in the party was, Jessica smiled broadly, chuckled and said: “I celebrated! It was a good time. I have received invitations to other family events, but I usually want my client to spend those times with her family members since I am with her so often. She’s got three surviving sisters, three brothers and her dad. I don’t want them to miss any time with her.”

The client and her relatives have formed close relationships with Jessica, who began assisting the client a short time before she was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for the first time in April 2015.  “Jessica’s client and the client’s family treat Jessica as if she is family,” Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said while announcing Jessica’s CAREGiver of the Month honor that came 15 months after the first one.

Destiny added, “Jessica has been a very dedicated employee and CAREGiver since she joined our franchise in the fall of 2013. She always strives to be the best. She is very punctual, and she takes her job duties very seriously. What I love most about Jessica is her laugh. It takes a lot to get her to chuckle, but it is well worth it when she does!”

Jessica actually laughs rather easily but admits she gets a little nervous whenever she gets a call from the office. “You always wonder if something is wrong,” Jessica said, “so maybe I sound a little somber when I pick up the phone.” Jessica has turned the tables on Destiny and elicits giggles when she tells Destiny, “I am brand new.” That’s a unique greeting response Jessica picked up from a venerable gentleman at her longtime church, St. Benedict the Abbot Catholic Church in southwest Houston.

“ ‘I am brand new’ is my friend’s endearing way of saying ‘everything’s great,’ ” said Jessica, whose heart has been on display for the 39 years at St. Benedict as an active member and regular  volunteer. It’s easy to see why Jessica is a CAREGiver of the Month – she’s always been immersed in faith-based servanthood.

Among her work with several church service organizations and as an usher at St. Benedict, Jessica is an honored Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary.  The group involves families in the church and community activities by promoting civic improvements, developing youth and providing social intellectual and charitable fellowship for its members. “We reach out to those in need,” Jessica said.

Her faith is one of the reasons Jessica keeps her Sundays open. Otherwise, she works six-hour shifts with her client Tuesday through Friday. Jessica was the client’s first CAREGiver and is now one of several who assist the client, who recently underwent a surgical procedure that has helped her quality of life.

When the client sees Jessica come through the door, it’s like a green light. “She knows I am the one who will get her out of the home and take her for drives. She used to like to go every day, but we’ve slowed that to every other day because of her medical challenges. The mall formerly was her primary destination, but it doesn’t matter anymore as long as she gets out of the house. Sometimes it’s the grocery store or it could be the mall or maybe a medical appointment,” Jessica said.

One definite weekly destination is the house where her client’s 84-year-old father lives. “He’s thrilled to see his daughter. They don’t live far apart. I talk to her dad often,” Jessica said. “He’s on dialysis, but he’s doing fine.”

Days when her client and dad get together are usually great ones, Jessica said. As some would say, those days are “brand new.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Sharon M.

Sharon CGoM

“To us, it’s personal.”

It’s the motto for both Home Instead Senior Care® and Sharon McDonald, CAREGiver of the Month for the owner Gregory Gomez-Mira’s award-winning franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

“Sharon truly cares for her clients as if they were family. She is genuinely concerned about her clients and will even call the office and check on them when she is out of town,” Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley pointed out when announcing Sharon’s honor.

At Home Instead Senior Care, Sharon’s responsibilities include meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, companionship, and transportation and errands. In addition to those services, Sharon and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence, cognitive impairment and mobility. By expertly doing so, Sharon not only assists her clients, but helps their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

Home Instead Senior Care’s guiding principles are also emblazoned its employees’ hearts: “CAREGivers demonstrate their commitment to their clients by honoring God in all they do; treating their clients and their families with dignity and respect; embracing personal growth in an attempt to continually improve the quality of their care through franchise training; and building value in their service to others.”

“Sharon is a sweetheart,” Destiny said. “She is so loving, kind, compassionate and patient. Sharon is awesome. She is an extremely timely person, and she is always willing to help her fellow CAREGivers and office staff as well.”

To build on their knowledge and experience, Sharon and other CAREGivers are offered the opportunity to complete the Home Instead Senior Care network’s Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program.

CAREGivers who are trained in the CARE program have a passion to work with Alzheimer’s disease clients and receive ongoing classroom training and testing. The Home Instead Senior Care program offers a personal approach to taking care of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease at home – where 60 to 70 percent live, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is a unique program that has received acclaim and endorsements from experts.

The Home Instead Senior Care approach of encouragement and assistance helps those with dementia and their family members cope with the challenges of memory loss. CAREGivers such as Sharon also can provide assistance with establishing a regular routine and restoring the simple pleasures of life, among the best non-medical treatments for the disease. Clients’ families truly recognize how much assistance Sharon provides, and she is in demand.

Sharon truly represents our office and Home Instead Senior Care very well,” Destiny added.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Noella I.

Noella CGoM

Who knew Noella Ibekwe would gain two of her biggest cheerleaders after she joined the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land last October?

Those cheerleaders are clients who are retired elementary teachers. They are supportive and want the best for Noella while she’s doing her best to help keep them independent and active. Noella, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas Southern University in 2014, wants to be a doctor, and she’s studying for her Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

“They both give me the same advice: ‘Never give up on your dreams.’ They are cheering me on. I have a bond with my clients,” said Noella, who has been honored as CAREGiver of the Month for owner Greg Mira-Gomez’s franchise. To Noella, her clients are like family. “I hold my grandparents in high regard. My grandmother lives in Nigeria, and when we go there, we stay for two to three weeks and try to help so life can be easier for her. Family caregiving is why I feel as though I am a CAREGiver,” she said.

The clients aren’t Noella’s only Home Instead Senior Care cheerleaders. There are more at 8313 Southwest Freeway, Suite 109, the franchise office. “Noella is a very nice, respectable young woman who always puts her best foot forward. Her two clients really enjoy her company and appreciate her help,” Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said. “One reason why Noella is being recognized is because she takes constructive criticism well and responds accordingly. Noella is also flexible and does her best to adjust her schedule to meet her clients’ needs.”

Noella said she couldn’t have a better job, especially with flexible work hours that allow MCAT study time, the compatible client matches and great bosses. “The office has the best group of people I’ve ever experienced in a workplace. They are a fun group,” Noella said. “I haven’t been in a crisis situation, but I know they can handle any requests for help. They are reachable whenever you need them. They are also good at juggling schedules and dealing with so many clients and different situations. It’s not just clients, but also the clients’ families.”

She added: “The staff has added to my experience in a positive way, too, because of the training. In addition to their clients, they are looking at the CAREGivers’ needs. I asked about hours, and they added a regular client. They are appreciative whenever you can take fill-in shifts, and they help you prepare for the shift by giving background on unfamiliar clients. They prepared me for dementia care; I was nervous about those challenges, but the office staff trained me well and made me feel comfortable.”

As for Noella’s client “cheerleaders,” there is so much to like. Although their teaching careers were the same, their personalities are different. But both like to get out of the house and have Noelle drive them to shops and restaurants. “They go out only when I am with them. There is organized thought involved for our trips,” Noella said, “and both make the most of every minute. I also am matched well because I like pets. Both have pets who are characters: one client has two cats, ‘Pascal’ and ‘Babe,’ while the other has two parakeets, ‘Baby Bird’ and ‘Tweetie Bird.’ ”

One client had Noella accompany her to Jones Hall in downtown Houston in late April to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company that is based in New York. “She invited me to an amazing experience,” Noella said. “The same client also stays active by going to the Silver Sneakers program at YMCA. She works out, but this is also a great way for her to socialize.”

Her other client is “a live wire,” Noella said. “She has a dry sarcasm and a personality that matches mine.

We share random laughs with each other. We like French bakeries and Chinese food,” Noella said. “Time passes quickly. She loves arts and crafts, and we spend a lot of time at the Michaels Craft Store and in restaurants. She loves scrapbooking and likes to create photo albums for her family that tell a story.”

Noella knows it will be bittersweet when she leaves her job, which may be a year or two away. “The office knows I won’t be a CAREGiver forever because I’ve said I want to be a doctor. They understand, and I remain positive, work hard and press on toward my goal,” she said. “If I remained in the Houston area, I could stay with Home Instead Senior Care for the first year of medical school. That would be a good situation.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Jacqueline G.

Jacqueline CGoM

The small town of Crowley, Louisiana, sits halfway between Houston and New Orleans on Interstate 10. The friendly city is where gregarious Jacqueline "Jackie" Grigsby found it easy to get attached to seniors at a young age and soak up their knowledge.

Jackie's compassionate mother was the head cook at a skilled care facility where she felt a strong connection to the residents that rubbed off on Jackie. Her grandmother lived next door to Jackie, but it might have been hard to know exactly where Jackie resided because she liked to spend a lot of time with her grandma. When she reached high school, Jackie served as a nurse's aide at her mother's workplace as part of a school program. Jackie never forgot about helping seniors and the warm feeling it gave her, but her love for kids also pulled at her heartstrings.

Fast forward to three years ago, when Jackie retired after 29 years with the Houston Independent School District, the largest public school system in Texas.

"There is more to life than sitting at home. I felt someone out there needed my help," Jackie said. "My sister, who still lives in Crowley, told me: 'You have such a passion for seniors, you should get a job helping them.' My husband and I talked about it because he also knows I love the elderly. We got on the internet and searched. I was struck when I came across the words 'Home' and 'Instead,' and I wanted to know more."

On Nov. 11, 2014, Jackie joined the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. In May, Jackie was honored as CAREGiver of the Month. "It is long overdue that Ms. Jackie be recognized as our CAREGiver of the Month. She has been an excellent hire and is truly appreciated because she has a very wonderful, caring and compassionate spirit about her, and her clients are able to recognize it and benefit from her passion to help them," Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said.

"Jackie has worked with challenging clients and was able to persevere. In the toughest of times, Jackie refused to give up on her clients and did her best to make sure they were safe and all of their needs were met. Ms. Jackie even went above and beyond and came in for additional training to learn how better able to deal with her Alzheimer's clients."

One of Jackie's dementia clients moved in September with her husband to Detroit to be closer to family. "She really was sweet, and I hated to see them go. The wife has dementia that was entering the later stages," Jackie said. "I still keep in touch with the husband, who calls me around the holidays and every three months or so. I know he misses the time when I helped them, and I miss them, too. It was a melancholy time when I helped them pack for the move."

Jackie's current clients share the commonality of having been professional educators. "I have two awesome ladies, and I love them. Both are such mentors, and there is so much I have learned from them. Communication is no problem because we love to talk, and we talk a lot about the students," Jackie explained.

One client, Jackie said, is just like a mother to her. "I admire her so – anyone would be impressed with her, and she still drives," Jackie pointed out. "I have to chat with her for 30 minutes when I come through the door or it will not be a normal day."

The 88-year-old client is spiritual, and she and Jackie hold their faith tightly. "We read the 'Upper Room' daily devotional Bible guide together. We share a set of beliefs, but we do not attend the same church," said Jackie, a former longtime member at Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church before transitioning to the Fountain of Praise Church recently because it is closer to her home.

Since Jackie enjoys what she is doing, she doesn't see an imminent end to it. "My clients have gotten so attached to me, and I do not want to leave them. I love working for Greg Gomez-Mira, our owner, and our office staff," Jackie said. "I realized after retirement that working in senior care was my gift. When you work in this field, you've got to have the passion for it. Not everybody can work with the elderly, but it is something I love."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Stacy M.

Stacy CGoM

Stacy McClennon should be called "The Family Gatekeeper." It's shorter and snappier than "recruitment and retention coordinator."

When CAREGivers are hired, Stacy welcomes them into the family at owner Greg Gomez-Mira's Home Instead Senior Care® franchise. "Family members" have been judiciously chosen to compassionately assist seniors and other clients in the Houston franchise's territory that includes Bellaire, Missouri City, Richmond, Stafford, Sugar Land, Thompsons, Fresno and Rosharon. Although she works in the office, Stacy has been a member of the CAREGiver family since May 22, 2013, when she was hired. When Stacy says, "We are family," she means it.

"I originally interviewed for and worked as a CAREGiver. After I moved into the recruitment and retention coordinator's job in April 2014, I became the first option as a substitute CAREGiver if another CAREGiver isn't available," Stacy pointed out. "In fact, in the office, we all take caregiving duties as necessary because we are all on the same level. No one is above going out and pitching in if we are needed.

"I love giving back to people. I expect a lot out of our CAREGivers because I give a lot as a CAREGiver," Stacy added.

Stacy, a Houston native who has seven children and four grandchildren, spent a recent March morning talking about hiring, retaining and her other duties.

Question: Are there any secrets to interviewing to find great CAREGivers?

Stacy: "A number of things go into it. People are relaxed with me in the interview process and really open up. When you boil it down, I want to get to know the 'inner you' and why you are applying. I am looking for someone with heart. I want to know how you would view the future with respect to the job – what are your hopes and expectations? It may seem picky, but we do want to find the right people."

Question: Does a person's intrinsic motivation come into play if he or she wants to become a CAREGiver?

Stacy: "Yes, it absolutely does! The CAREGivers' fulfillment comes when they leave the client's home. They should feel good about what they've done to help the client. CAREGivers should feel an attachment with clients and their families but yet keep a professional approach. Sometimes there is sadness, such as when a client dies or departs for a skilled care facility. It is a hard part of the job because of the bond they have built with that client."

Question: What is the secret to keeping good employees?

Stacy: "Personal relationships are what make people want to stay. They want to feel as though they are a part of something great and that they are valued. We go above and beyond in the area of retention. We make ourselves available and place a high importance on that, more than just carrying out office tasks. I will take time out of my day to talk to anyone. We give pep talks all the time. Our office is run professionally but with a family touch."

Question: In addition to recruitment, retention and emergency CAREGiver fill-in duties, what are your other responsibilities?

Stacy: "I am involved in CAREGiver training, and I make introductions between CAREGivers and clients. When I go in, I ease the tension that a client may feel. We totally understand they might be a little pensive when they get a new CAREGiver. I always go in early before the CAREGiver arrives and walk around to see if something ought to be addressed right away. I take a strong interest because it is personal to me. Although I focus on CAREGivers, I have taken the time to learn all office functions."

Question: You talk about a family of CAREGivers. Tell us about how the office functions.

Stacy: "We work well together, on one accord. I never feel stressed because it is not a stressful environment. We have an awesome team, a dynamite team. Our strengths complement each other. It all starts with Greg Gomez-Mira, our owner. Matching CAREGivers to clients is among the staff coordinator responsibilities of Destiny Wesley, but I sit in with her because I know every CAREGiver and have hired most of them. In the office, we are pursuing the same thing. I give them my all, and I follow 'To Us, It Is Personal' as my guiding principle. That is the way it is for all of us in the office."

Question: What do you see in your future?

Stacy: "I really want to be a registered nurse in five years, and I am working on it. It is a natural progression. As I reflect on my working years, I'd like to note that I have more than 20 years of medical and caregiving experience. After high school, I went to school to become a CNA. I later graduated with high honors from Corinthian College, earning my medical assistant and phlebotomy degrees. An RN degree will be a huge asset."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Carmen V.

Carmen CGoM

It has been 2½ years since Carmen Ventura earned her first CAREGiver of the Month honor at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. After the spotlight again shined on the humble CAREGiver in January, she giggled when she was asked if much had changed since July 2013. Turning the question into a query about similarities, she offered these responses:

  • "Well, I still like working for Home Instead Senior Care."
  • "It is still fun."
  • "I still love my clients and their families."
  • "I am still a patient person."
  • "I miss clients when they go to a nursing home or pass away."

Carmen is headed toward the third year with one client, and she'd love to see the relationship with the stroke victim continue for as long as possible. Carmen feels privileged to serve the 87-year-old military veteran six days a week, which is a huge help to his wife and daughter. "He is a nice person," Carmen said, "and so is his whole family."

Through it all, Carmen has been an encourager. In the home, the client uses a brace and a walker. When he goes on trips, he's in a wheelchair. "We try to get him to walk, make him move a little during a period of a half-hour to an hour because it helps his body. I take him outside if I can, and he's usually all right with it. Of course, you can't force him if he doesn't want to do it. I always am there to help when he showers, and that is virtually every day."

Although his wife is not also a client, Carmen doesn't mind helping her when she needs it. "Their daughter shops and gets groceries. I am there to give her time to do that, too," Carmen said. "My client also has assistance from his son-in-law. They are all good people, funny people with a sense of humor, and I get along with all of them."

Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said: "Carmen is a gem. She is so quiet that you can tend to forget about her, but boy, I will tell you Carmen's work ethic won't let you forget her. She is a timely person who looks to make her clients happy and loves to see them doing well. Carmen is a seasoned CAREGiver who is compassionate and soft-spoken." Tongue in check, Destiny added: "Carmen also is humorous, although she tries to keep that under wraps."

Destiny recalled when Carmen was introduced to Home Instead Senior Care by her sister Joyce, who has worked for the franchise since 2008 as a CAREGiver. "Carmen started in May 2013 and already was honored as CAREGiver of the Month just months later," Destiny noted. "Since I have been employed with Home Instead Senior Care, Carmen is perhaps the best referral hire we have gotten."

Carmen was not new to senior care – she worked for a senior-care agency in New York before moving to Houston in February 2013. She is an accredited home health care aide. Carmen said the best thing she did after arriving in Houston was follow her sister's advice to join Home Instead Senior Care.

"My sister said everybody connected to the franchise was very nice and friendly, from the office staff and other CAREGivers to the clients and their families – everyone." Referring to franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira, Carmen said: "I love working for Greg because he always has been a great guy. My sister said I would enjoy working for the office, and she was right. I try to do my very best every day. The clients and their families are very appreciative. I like that."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Esther S.

Esther CGoM

Esther Sloan was determined not to place her gravely ill husband in a nursing home more than 10 years ago despite the fact she was working full time as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a Houston-area hospital.

"It was rough to keep him here – but, no, I would not take him out of our home," Esther choosing her words carefully while speaking in a defiant tone that indicated the issue was never in question. "In fact, my husband died at home, and that is where he deserved to be. He was a good man. Most people want to remain in their homes, and could you blame them?"

It is no surprise that when Esther retired from her hospital job after a 15-year career, she did not lose her desire to take care of others. On March 22, 2012, Esther joined the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. "I cared for a lot of the elderly at the hospital, and I also worked in several skilled nursing homes before I went to work at the hospital. I've always had a heart for seniors," said Esther, who was honored twice in 2015 by owner Greg Gomez-Mira's franchise.

"Esther Sloan is a gem!" Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said when the franchise selected Esther as December CAREGiver of the Month and also as the CAREGiver of the Quarter.

Destiny added: "She is one of our more 'mature' CAREGivers, but she is one of our spiciest, and on top of that she can run circles around some of the younger ones. Clients just love her and have only great things to say about her. I was told recently by a client that Esther is one of our best. Her work ethic cannot be questioned."

Ask Esther about the origin of her desire to share her compassion with others, and she'll take you back to her childhood days growing up in Nigeria. "When I was 11 years old," Esther recalled, "I was living with my grandfather, my mother's father. A woman in her 90s came to live in our compound, and I took care of her until she passed away. I would clean her wounds and give her a bath, pretty much taking over her personal care needs. It felt good to help."

Explaining her compassion, Esther said: "I care about seniors because they were once just like us. It is not their fault they grew older and perhaps infirm. They just have had the misfortune that most of us have not yet experienced. I love them, and they deserve all the help they can get."

One of Esther's clients, an 89-year-old Sugar Land resident, frequently tells Esther he wants her to come every day. Esther provides the client's 79-year-old wife with the opportunity to shop and run errands. "She is on the go," Esther said, "and I do not need to help her. I am an available help for her if she needs me.

"When my client talks about wanting to schedule me every day, I remind him that I am retired and I like having a day or two off once in a while," Esther said with her trademark laugh.

Another of Esther's clients is the wife of a doctor. The client's family, including her son, wants Esther as their CAREGiver. So far, she has assisted with weekend overnight shifts.

One of the reasons Esther is still working, she said, is her bosses. "Greg is a great, great man," she said, "and he is just the best – very, very nice. You want to work for him and Miss Destiny, a great lady as well. This is a company that serves a good purpose because people want to remain at home and not go to a facility. I can tell you that my clients would have broken down in a facility and it just would not be right for them. I worked at senior facilities and know how busy the workers are there. There are too many people to watch, and workers get worn out.

"Senior care is best one-on-one. You have to care and respect seniors. When you come to their houses, you smile, talk to them and give them a hug. It is all for them. Of course, there are problems sometimes, and dementia can cause problems. There has been rough talk from some clients, but they cannot help their behavior, and I do not take it personally. I've seen adult children get mad at their parents for the way they addressed me, but I tell them it's OK, that it is not how they would act if they did not have dementia. I still love them, and I still do my job."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Gwen B.

Gwen CGoM

Gwendolyn "Gwen" Brackens' clients have called her "Angel." They often tell Gwen they do not want her to leave. When she explains that she has to share her caregiving skills with others, some clients count the days until Gwen returns.

That is why Gwen has been honored as CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. Gwen Brackens loves her job because she "is something significant to someone" nearly every day.

"From watching and learning about Gwen over the years, she truly has the passion, attentiveness and single-minded focus that is required to be an outstanding CAREGiver," Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said. "I probably do not tell her often enough, but she is awesome because she is so humble and she does not look for praise or special attention. As Gwen always says, 'I am paid to do a job, and I do it!' Gwen does her job well. For that, our entire staff is grateful. Gwen is such a hard-working, dedicated CAREGiver, and she is funny too."

Gwen, who has earned her CNA license and hopes to seek even more medical and care-related education, has worked for Home Instead since May 2009. While she has fun with her clients, she gives her solemn promise about providing the best care possible for them.

"I take my job seriously every day because I love the seniors, and I want to shine for them. I want every client to love me, and I feel they do," Gwen said. "I make that extra effort to help them in every way I can, and get to know them well. I tell my clients' families: 'You don't have to worry about your parents when I am with them. They are in good hands.' My goal is to be sent to the people who need me and then give them my very best."

Hurdles are not a problem for Gwen. "In the six years that she has been with us, I cannot recall her ever complaining," Destiny said. "Gwen will report to the office when she believes that something needs to be addressed or is a concern. She is always focused on making things better for her clients, and Gwen does make their lives easier."

Simply stated, Gwen said: "Caring for people is my life. I also take care of my 86-year-old mother. I try to keep her active and promote her socialization. I am a family caregiver not only for my mother but for everybody else in my family who needs it. When help is needed, they look to me for it, and I try to do all that I can for them."

Gwen touched on a variety of subjects, including her battle with stage 4 cancer nine years ago, how she uses that test to help encourage clients and her faith.

Question: Tell us about your fight with cancer.

Gwen: "I am in remission and celebrate it every day. I have some physical limitations, but they do not stop me from efficiently and safely taking care of people. Having survived stage 4 cancer while having chemotherapy and radiation, I know what people are going through when they are battling illness and infirmities. I have been in their shoes. I believe God wanted me to endure, and I am grateful to be here to help people. I press on. The 23rd Psalm is my favorite Bible passage because I have gone through the valley of the shadow of death with cancer."

Question: Has faith played a role in your job?

Gwen: "We are not here by mistake. God has a plan for each of us, and He loves us. I receive my blessing from being with my clients. This is my mission field. I do not push anything related to faith on a client, but I am ready to help if asked. I have sat alongside a client in a church pew during a Sunday service because of my commitment to them. We are soldiers on the battlefield of life, and I include my clients and their families in that thought. I am here to help them in the battle. I know my Heavenly Father blesses me for being with them. I am grateful for the little things. God has never let me go hungry and thirsty."

Question: Speaking of faith, how has your belief system helped with the toughest aspects of caregiving, the passing of a client?

Gwen: "I know God has left me here for many reasons, and one of those reasons is comforting those who are near death and their families. When death occurs, most often they have suffered a lot, but their suffering is over and they are in better hands. I do not take time off when a client dies because there are others who need my help, and I have a commitment to them. The husband of a client died, and I had to be there for her after he died. I told her, 'Your husband is fine and happy. He left in peace.' But I do not try to prevent her from grieving. I take her for walks and talk about it. I spend lots of time listening. It is better if they get it out."

Question: You frequently reference your commitment to your clients. Describe that.

Gwen: "I am here to take care of them and nothing else. I can work with anybody, and I have not had a problem with anyone. I have relationships with all clients and their families, and the amazing thing is that I learn something from every client. My pledge is I will be with them wherever they want me to go, if it is possible for us to do that safely. I encourage my clients. I let them know I believe they are doing well. I want them to celebrate every day they have."

Question: What about tough clients?

Gwen: "Some clients believe life has dealt them a bad hand. I once had to convince a client I had her best interests in mind and was not there to hurt her. In another case, a client's wife apologized for her husband's behavior, but I told her I ignore that conduct and do not take it to heart. They do not know what they are saying most of the time when they are bitter and despondent. I stayed with her husband until he died."

Question: Do dementia clients present an unusual challenge for you?

Gwen: "My mother has dementia, and my grandmother did too, so I understand quite a bit about the behavior. Home Instead does a good job of teaching and how to handle problems. They have new ideas that help. I get in there and talk with the clients and let them know everything is going to be OK because they need the reassurance. I try to allow them to remain as independent as possible while keeping them safe and I do the same thing with my mother. I allow them to have responsibilities if it is possible so they can feel good about themselves. This keeps them motivated and busy. I don't go overboard and push them to do things that frustrate them. I talk a lot with their families to keep them updated on their conditions."​

Question: How is your relationship with the office staff?

Gwen: "I work with beautiful people who have always had kindness and respect for me. I cannot recall any problems, and everything they do is on point. I love them, and I salute Home Instead. I am glad to be CAREGiver of the Month and savor the honor, but the big thing is that my clients let me know I am appreciated. Some have told me they would never trade me for the world."

Question: What does the future hold for you?

Gwen: "This is a passion. I would not trade my job for anything, so I press on. I will keep going until God says different. I believe life is a journey, and so is caregiving. It is not for the faint of heart. I do the best I can each day for each client. I always try to make a difference in everybody's life, and that's what I hope to continue to do."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Ana G.

Ana CGoM

Ana Gonzalez's client already had a future assignment in mind for her award-winning CAREGiver at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

A bird is the word.

"She wants to go to the pet store near the mall," Ana explained, "to find another bird. I will take her, and she hopes to find one to replace the one that died. She had a parrot as a longtime companion, and she kept its cage door open. It would come and go as it pleased and fly around the room. The bird was quite a character. It'll be a big decision to find another to take its place."

Helping a senior find another pet is important, and perhaps even a trust issue. There may be no better person than Ana to accompany the client because she has been a trusted CAREGiver for eight years. "Ana is the type of CAREGiver who is highly requested and one who I can send to just about any client. Ana is such a joy to have around, and she is an excellent CAREGiver," Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said.

Several years ago, another pet seemingly tipped off a senior that Ana was a trusted soul. The dog, usually penned in its indoor kennel, would bark incessantly when a newcomer would enter the home. On the day when Ana went to assist a senior, the dog was out of its kennel and roaming. The dog surprisingly accepted Ana immediately and refused to bark. "That's when the client said she knew I was OK. I was someone to be trusted," Ana said.

Trusted so much, Ana said, that she was able to initiate an impromptu dance with the same client as Ana was getting her prepared for bed. "She had told me about how much she and her late husband loved to dance to big-band music and all kinds of other music when we would be driving to appointments," Ana said. "One night when she raised her arms as I helped with her nightgown, I pretended to dance with her. She smiled sweetly and became very joyful because she loved it. She knew I had remembered what she talked about.

"I assisted her for four weeks over the Christmas holiday while she was visiting her family in Houston. When the holidays ended, they took her back to Austin. Our time together seemed too short. I love my experiences with my clients because all of them have been sweet."

Ana's outlook, Destiny pointed out, is to please her clients, while at the same time following the company's rules, guidelines and procedures. "Ana is a team player who takes pride in her work. It has been a pleasure working with her because she is a true sweetheart and a very dedicated employee. Ana is a very humble person, and that is why recognizing her as the CAREGiver of the Month is so fitting," Destiny said.

Ana prefers to deflect praise and was even surprised when she was told of her CAREGiver of the Month honor. "The award is nothing I set out to win," she said. "I want everyone to clearly know that caregiving is not about me and I am not seeking the spotlight. It is about your client, and if you don't feel that way, caregiving is not for you."

Ana said her goal and caregiving philosophy are simple. "None of the seniors wants to live in a facility," she said. "They do best at home. With the clients, I like to say we work together for a common cause and we always want to enjoy each other. I never say, 'Can I help you?' because the word 'help' might imply they can't do something. I always ask, 'Can I be of assistance?'

"So I say that I love to assist people – if I can do something for someone else, it makes me happy. Since I like people and want the best for them, what better opportunity than to work with someone who is unable to remain at home without assistance. Working with clients brings joy to my life, and a simple smile from them makes it all worth the effort."

"Edith was supposed to be only a fill-in until the permanent CAREGiver was going to start," Destiny explained. "After the first day with Edith, the client's daughter called the office and said that her mother did not want anyone other than Edith."

Destiny said the family compromised and accepted the other CAREGiver, but the client also kept Edith on for two of the five days of service.

"Additionally," Destiny said, "Edith has made instant connections as a fill-in with several clients, and I have again received rave reviews."

"Connection" is a key word for Edith.

'I am from my clients' era - I might be the oldest CAREGiver at the franchise at age 63," she said. "I know how to talk to clients, and we have a lot of commonalities. We have that connection, and we can talk about nearly everything comfortably.

"I am doing this because I love it. It does make me feel good to know that clients like me and want me to return. I have always loved the elderly. When I was young, I would stop and see the seniors who resided in our neighborhood. I always have had a soft spot in my heart for seniors."

Edith enjoyed a successful 30-year career as an environmental safety and health department manager at a chemical company before she suffered disk and vertebrae injuries in a car accident that forced early medical retirement. An irregular heartbeat ended the chances for surgery. "I sat around home for three or four years and then found Home Instead on the Greensheet. I like being around people and helping them, so this worked out well," she said.

In addition to caregiving, she and her husband are taking care of a 5-year-old grandchild full time. She's part-time with Home Instead to make her busy schedule work.

"As long as I can do what I'm doing now," she said, "I will stay with Home Instead. I think I will be with them until I can't do it anymore."​

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications


CAREGiver of the Month: Christine G.

Christine CGoM

Award-winning CAREGiver Christine Garner always has put her clients first, even where her health is concerned. 

“When Christine is having health struggles, you’d never know it,” said Destiny Wesley, staff coordinator for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. “I have had to work with her on backing off work sometimes since her issues came up because she is more worried about her seniors than herself.”

Christine, a CAREGiver of the Month who has worked for Home Instead Senior Care for six years, was diagnosed with breast cancer 2½ years ago and continued to work while she was undergoing both radiation and chemotherapy because she did not want to leave her clients. “She insisted on working two or three weeks up to the time she had breast cancer surgery,” Destiny said.

“She amazes us all. Christine is very timely and compassionate about caring for people. She is the kind of person you hear about on television, someone who has so much going on in her own personal life and meets her own challenges so quietly that you would never know it because she doesn’t speak of it much. Christine just aims to please her clients and to ensure that their needs are being met. I can’t put everything in words that I would like to say about her. Anyone who knows her will tell you that she’s very inspiring.”

If battling and beating breast cancer wasn’t enough, Christine was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease after she returned from treatments and surgery. “The most current malady that has come up,” Destiny explained, “is a brain tumor. She is scheduled to undergo an operation to remove it on Sept. 9. Christine is just not going to say anything about it – and few people know.

“In her way of thinking, her clients come before her own problems. I know one thing she has done is encourage clients who have health challenges or are on the upside of the recovery process. She is a remarkable person who tells them, ‘If I can do it, you can, too. Hang in there!’ We think so much of her that it is hard to put into words,” Destiny added.

“Christine is one of the strongest CAREGivers we have on staff, and one of strongest people I know. She pushes beyond her limits even when she should not. She is a sweet person.”

With a giggle, Destiny also offered: “Christine is one of the few on staff who is excellent with directions.”

While Destiny and many others at Home Instead Senior Care have witnessed Christine’s “awesomeness,” she prefers to talk about her seniors: “All of my clients are special.” Christine salutes one client in particular because many others have, too.

“All my respect goes out to this client because she served in the Air Force and traveled around the world to defend our nation,” Christine said. “We all should do more to recognize veterans and try to help them if we can. This client is in her 70s and has many challenges after having suffered a stroke, and it is truly an honor to serve her.

“I enjoy being with her because she is a very joyful person who doesn’t let anything get her down or hold her back. She wants to get out as much as possible, and she likes to go out to eat and go shopping when she can. Her stories about the military make me feel good and proud of her and our service people.”

Christine has assisted the client for quite a while, picking up the hours when Christine’s sister left her job as a Home Instead CAREGiver. “She still asks about my sister all the time and asks me to say ‘hi’ to her,” Christine said. “You can tell there was a bond.”

Christine’s sister, CAREGiver of the Quarter Michella Garner, introduced Christine to Home Instead Senior Care in September 2009. “My sister spoke highly of Home Instead,” Christine said. “Before Home Instead, I had been a family caregiver and also worked for another agency. I really enjoy what I am doing or I would have not stayed this long. I like to be there for people who need the help. It’s a job where you get to meet a lot of different kinds of people and personalities, and learn from them while you hear all of their stories. I’d say it is quite an experience.”

Christine laughs when she talks about one of those experiences with an 82-year-old client who owned a green parrot named “Baby” for more than 35 years before it died recently. “Baby was a real character that carried on human-like tendencies and characteristics, and was quite a good companion for my client,” Christine said.

“Baby was very friendly, would fly or walk around, land on your shoulder and whistle at you. Baby would go to its cage to be fed and then take a nap. I did not have any trouble keeping everything clean with the bird – it was no problem at all. It was so sad – the client had a little funeral for Baby. I miss Baby just as much as the client misses the bird. She’s not sure if she wants another one because she’s sad right now.”

Christine pointed out how important animals are to seniors. “I’ve been in homes with dogs, cats and a bird, and the pets are just like kids to the seniors,” she said. “Other CAREGivers and I were actually at ease with the client being alone in the evenings because she had Baby as a source of companionship.”

When the word “companionship” comes up, Christine is quick to point out the importance of compassionate companionship for seniors and how it is a big key in keeping seniors in their homes, just as much as light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders and errands and transportation.

“In fact, I’ve gone into facilities with the clients to help them transition to assisted living or nursing care from their homes because it is a big step,” Christine said. “It’s a tough deal to have to move out of your home for whatever the reason. Try as they might, the facilities are usually very busy or swamped with trying to take care of everyone that having a CAREGiver is a big help to the client.”

In addition to caregiving, she and her husband are taking care of a 5-year-old grandchild full time. She's part-time with Home Instead to make her busy schedule work.

"As long as I can do what I'm doing now," she said, "I will stay with Home Instead. I think I will be with them until I can't do it anymore."​

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Rosilia T.

Rosilia CGoM

​You might say that taking care of others is in Rosilia Thelus’ DNA. She always helped when there was a need because that’s how she was brought up in Cap-Haitien, known as Le Cap, on the beautiful north coast of Haiti.

Rosilia brought that compassion to the United States with her in 2004. Now she is a CAREGiver of the Month for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land and is owned by Greg Gomez-Mira.

Rosilia’s sister-in-law, Ayma Thelus, was the franchise’s CAREGiver of the Month in July 2014. “This honor for Rosilia does not surprise me – I have known Rosilia since we were growing up as young girls. This is her true heart,” Ayma said. She and Rosilia attended College Adventiste du Cap-Haitien, a school that is like an American equivalent of a combination of a senior high and a junior college.

Rosilia, who joined Home Instead Senior Care 3½ years after hearing about the franchise from Ayma, seemed a little surprised that people are honored for taking care of seniors. “If someone needed help in my country,” Rosilia said, “we would take care of them. I love to do it, and I have been doing it for a long time. I took care of both grandparents, but my grandfather is gone now.”

Rosilia, who worked in a skilled nursing facility for about six months, earned her CNA license in 2010 and still holds it, although it is not a requirement to work for Home Instead Senior Care.

Rosilia’s responsibilities include meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, companionship, and transportation and errands. In addition to those services, Rosilia and other CAREGivers offer personal assistance with eating, grooming, dressing, bathing, incontinence, cognitive impairment and mobility. By expertly doing so, Rosilia not only assists her clients but helps their families eliminate worry, reduce stress and re-establish personal freedom.

“Rosilia has been doing a terrific job,” Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said. “She is such a joy. She is very quiet, patient and kind. Rosilia is a soft-spoken woman with a big heart.

“The best compliment that I can give her is that she is a hard worker. She stretches beyond her limitations to help me when I am in scheduling binds, but more important she does it for her client. She is truly the ideal employee, and we are happy that she chose Home Instead Senior Care as her place of employment.”

Rosilia has three children – two girls and a boy – who are all in school. Because of her family, Rosilia likes the flexible scheduling she can request with Home Instead Senior Care. She works two hours in the early mornings and four hours in the evenings.

Rosilia has one regular client, who is confined to a wheelchair and has dementia. Sometimes she has to use her intuition in figuring out how to best assist her client. “When she doesn’t talk,” Rosilia noted, “I know there might be a problem because she is a pretty good friend.

“Despite the unpredictability of dementia, I know how to take care of her and make her happy. It is important to see how she is doing immediately when I arrive in the morning. When she wants to go out, I can take her to the store. We have a pretty good routine going. In addition to fixing her meals and cleaning, I wash her clothes in the morning and put them in the dryer at night when I come back. I know sometimes she’d like me to stay longer in the evening.”

While Rosilia’s client likes her, Rosilia also enjoys working for Home Instead Senior Care. “There are good people in the office,” she said, “and the training is outstanding. I am happy with my situation. This is quite a country. When I came to America, I went to Houston, got my additional education and found work. My family is comfortable, and we also go to Haiti every year. This is a fine life.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Mary O.

Mary CGoM

​Mary, who moved to Houston in March 2014, knows she has found a good match. “The staff is nice. They are always there for me,” Mary said. “I love my clients, and I like to make them smile. I have always been that helping kind of person. It is part of me.

​Mary Obisesan's client summoned the award-winning CAREGiver with important news.

The client told Mary: "I am having my daughter draw up the papers."
Mary: "What are those papers?"
The client: "We are adopting you."
Mary: "Great! Now I will have a client who is my grandmother, too!"

The client and her daughter alone can provide a number of good reasons for Mary's CAREGiver of the Month honor at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. There are plenty of others. Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley offered these superlatives:​

  • She has three regular clients, and they all just adore her and sing her praises.
  • Mary is willing to help when she can, with filling in for other CAREGivers.
  • She is funny, a hard worker, very timely and communicates well.
  • Since she has begun employment five months ago, she has hit the ground running and hasn't missed a beat. She is a ball of fire.

So how did Mary become "the ball of fire" of which Destiny speaks? Mary's personality is a product of her upbringing. Her father, Harvey Melton, is a former pastor and book author who now lives in Springdale, Arkansas, and works for a business distribution center in Bentonville, Arkansas.

"My dad's inspiration, compassion and emphasis on good, honest work are what keep me going. He was never hard on us kids – he wanted us to have a good life. He said we could do that by working hard and being dedicated to our jobs. He gave me that drive to try to excel at what I do," Mary said. "I love how Mom influenced us, too. They are really proud of us, of course, and are proud that I was honored as CAREGiver of the Month."

The seeds of senior care were planted at an early age for Mary, who was 7 years old when her father began taking her and her older sister to a nursing home on Sunday afternoons as he ministered to the residents and preached a message. Mary and her sister sang, and it made for some lasting memories for about three years while the family shared their faith.

"I didn't understand then how much our singing was impacting the residents exactly," Mary recalled, "but yet I knew our singing was making them happy and it also was making me happy.

"An elderly woman used to wait at the door for us to arrive. She would welcome us, and give us a big hug and a piece of chewing gum. It felt great. Because of being in a nursing home when I was that young, I never was afraid of seniors. Many young kids are, and that's unfortunate."

Mary's sister went on to work for Home Instead Senior Care in the Rogers, Arkansas, area for several years before pursuing her CNA license and working in  a skilled nursing facility. "She told me about Home Instead Senior Care and how much she really enjoyed it," Mary said. "When I went on my job search here in Houston, I found the office and saw the familiar logo, so I knew it was a quality senior-care provider."

Mary, who moved to Houston in March 2014, knows she has found a good match.

"The staff is nice. They are always there for me," Mary said. "I love my clients, and I like to make them smile. I have always been that helping kind of person. It is part of me. I love it when I succeed in giving someone a brighter day. Seniors have given us so much that I love to give back to them. Of course, there are ups and downs with clients."

One of the many "ups" is Mary's 94-year-old weekend client, who welcomes Mary into her home from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. "I take her to church," Mary pointed out. "My parents raised us in the church and faith is important to me, so it feels good to get my client to her services. After church, we go to the same restaurant. It means a lot, and it gives her something to look forward to."

Mary turned a "down" into an "up" on a recent weekend when the air conditioner broke at her client's house. "I got her wheelchair," Mary said, "and we headed to the mall. We went window shopping and ended up in a Christian bookstore for quite a while. When the air conditioner was fixed, we headed home. It was quite a trip, and I think she wants to head back to the bookstore."

Mary's comfort level is high with all of her clients. "One of the other clients wants to get out all the time, so we go for groceries, to the farmers' market, to the nail and hair salon. She has two cats who love me and greet me at the door every shift," Mary said. "This client is like the others – she worries about me and wants to make sure I am comfortable. I always have to tell her that I'm there to help her and not the other way around.

"My third client is really sweet, very appreciative and thanks me all the time. She's big on puzzles and word search. She loves to sing and is pretty good, too. She must know all the songs from "The Sound of Music.'

Like Mary's clients, Destiny doesn't stop singing the praises of her CAREGiver: "Mary is a wonderful addition to our Home Instead Senior Care family."​

In addition to caregiving, she and her husband are taking care of a 5-year-old grandchild full time. She's part-time with Home Instead to make her busy schedule work.

"As long as I can do what I'm doing now," she said, "I will stay with Home Instead. I think I will be with them until I can't do it anymore."​

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Jessica B.

Jessica CGoM

​Jessica's clients feel like family members.

From Minestra di Piselli to their Roman Catholic faith and many other commonalities, award-winning CAREGiver Lillian "Jessica" Baker and her first client immediately hit it off and shared a special bond for nearly a year. When their time together ended on Good Friday in 2014 because her client was moving to a nursing home, they hugged and cried. The client's daughter also shed tears during the emotional farewell.

"We felt like we were part of the same family, and it was tough to see it end," said Jessica, a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. "As a general rule, senior-care workers are told, 'Don't get attached to the person for whom you are assisting.' I still get attached, and I don't know how you can't. You're in the wrong business if you don't feel a bond with your client."

Jessica's former client moved into a Beaumont nursing home that her son manages. Jessica stays in touch with her ex-client's daughter, so Jessica keeps updated on her friend. "I know she asks about me," Jessica added.

"Faith was a big thing we had in common because she liked to talk about her Catholic faith, and we watched the Catholic cable TV network, EWTN, and said the Rosary together. We did go to Mass together a couple of times," Jessica added.

"My ex-client, who is Italian, was quite a cook, but I did all the meal preparation. She had requests for Italian dishes, and she told me how to make Minestra di Piselli, a tasty Italian green pea soup that she loved. Because of her, I got into Italian cooking. Twice a month, her daughter would take both of us to a really good Italian restaurant, and that was a treat."

Jessica didn't have to wait long to be assigned to another client, and her current client is active and wants to remain on the move despite the numerous challenges that she has faced, including two forms of cancer, two strokes, a heart attack and early stages of dementia. "She likes to shop, so we often go to the mall and usually end up at three stores or more. All of the sales force knows her very well at one store," Jessica said. "She's very nice and very good to work with – we're buddies."

The client is a widow, but she has an English terrier, Margery, that Jessica also cares for. "Margery is a good dog who helps my client emotionally. Like my first client, this client – and her dog – are a good fit for me," said Jessica, who joined Home Instead in the fall of 2013.

When Jessica became a CAREGiver, she made the move with her good friend Ethel, who is also a CAREGiver. "We had been laid off at a company that shut down," Ethel recalled. "My friend heard about Home Instead, and we decided to both apply. I had taken care of my mom, although not as much as my sisters had."

"I was nervous and wondering about my first assignment. Looking back, it's easy to see why Stacy McClennon (retention and recruitment coordinator) and Destiny Wesley (staff coordinator) matched me with the client. For one thing, we had the same faith. We got along well from the very start. All of my clients, including those on my fill-in shifts, are sweet people and pleasant to work with. The same is true with the office, including franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira, Destiny and Stacy. They are all helpful and easy to talk to."

Destiny said she could understand Jessica's anxiousness when she started with Home Instead, but Destiny also said Jessica is so humble that she tends to sell herself short. "Whenever I speak with Jessica," Destiny explained, "she seems to underestimate just how much she is needed and how good a job she does. I always have to tell her that everything is fine.

"It is my hope that with her CAREGiver of the Month recognition, Jessica will know just how much we at Home Instead Senior Care appreciate her – especially me!  She is a very hardworking, dedicated, reliable and compassionate CAREGiver who has an abundance of patience. We love her."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Rachel D.

Rachel CGoM

​Instead of explaining how she does what she does so successfully, Rachel would rather tell you what has tripped her trigger the most in recent days: “My client is 95,” she said, “and he’s starting to look much better, and that makes me happiest.”

Rachel Davis is the quintessential CAREGiver, complete with a humility factor of 11 on a scale of 10. When asked about being selected not only as the CAREGiver of the Month but also as the CAREGiver of the Quarter, Rachel deflects the praise and offers instead to explain why she’s working for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. Her words get to the heart of the matter – serving others is reward enough for Rachel.

“Well,” Rachel said, “I like doing this because I get to help people who need help, people who can’t do it for themselves. I assist them every day to achieve the things they want to do but cannot on their own. Yes, you must have a huge heart to do this kind of work.”

Instead of explaining how she does what she does so successfully, Rachel would rather tell you what has tripped her trigger the most in recent days: “My client is 95,” she said, “and he’s starting to look much better, and that makes me happiest.”

Noting the upside of what happened after she called for an ambulance to take her client to the hospital because of pneumonia, Rachel said: “I’ve been with him in a rehabilitation facility for four days, and we’ve been told he’s got 16 more days there before he can go home. Except for weekends, I will be with him from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. And that’s our goal: Get him back home with his daughter and grandson.”

Another thing that sparks a smile and perhaps a laugh or two from Rachel is when she hears her client’s trademark words: “Hot damn, Rachel!” That confirms her client is feeling better. “My client is so awesome, so lovely. He gets me to laughing with his favorite phrase, ‘Hot damn!’ You can’t help but laugh – he is so funny when he is feeling better. He came into the facility so frail but is now getting his bearings,” Rachel said.

“I think we’d have more fun if I could take him down to karaoke, but he has to remain isolated because of the pneumonia and the threat of a relapse. He’d like to go listen to the music, but he can’t. He sings random songs or words. I don’t know what he’s singing or I’d join in. We also have played a card game he likes that was unfamiliar to me.”

That’s what an award-winning CAREGiver does – provide whatever a client needs in every situation. Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley marvels at Rachel’s skills and unique personality. “We appreciate all of Rachel’s hard work, and she has definitely earned this recognition. Rachel is a dependable CAREGiver who has amazed our office staff,” Destiny said. “Rachel’s skill set is very diverse. She is the type of CAREGiver who I can send anywhere, from a simple companionship assignment for a client to a total care client who requires careful transfers. Rachel truly loves what she does and genuinely cares for people. She has a heart for seniors or people with physical limitations. Rachel is very humble, sensitive, confident, funny, patient, hardworking and knowledgeable about the industry she works in.”

Rachel, who joined Home Instead Senior Care on March 25, 2014, has been working for 17 years in senior care or with people who need assistance. Much of her previous work had come as a private-duty caregiver. “When I found Home Instead,” Rachel said, “I was just looking for a better job. I found it.

“What’s not to like with our office staff? I love them. If anything happens, they are there to help.  If I am hungry on a long shift, they will come feed me. Greg Gomez-Mira, our franchise owner; Stacy McClennon, our recruitment and retention coordinator; and Destiny are all good people with good hearts. Training is good, and it is a good company. I will work for them as long as they want to keep me. They are one of the very best I’ve worked for.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Renette S.

Renette CGoM

​Just like family: That’s how Renette describes her clients and bosses.

None of award-winning CAREGiver Renette Sampson’s shifts is ever the same.

Case in point, the following three examples:

  • She has been asked, “Why didn’t God take me when He took my husband?”
  • Renette has gotten the most out of her somewhat limited Spanish skills (“un poquito”), vast caregiving wisdom and an uncanny ability to read body language to help a 90-something client who can’t speak a word of English.
  • On one morning, another client suddenly decided she no longer liked scrambled eggs. “No problem,” said Renette, who went to option No. 2 like an NFL quarterback and whipped up a tasty toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich that filled the bill and brightened the client’s day.

“I love it, Home Instead and the clients. That’s my life, caring for people. There are really no hard days,” Renette said.

Change-of-direction, staying-on-her-toes, improvising-adapting-overcoming – Renette knows all of those caregiving strategies and puts them into practice to put smiles on her clients’ faces. That is why Renette is a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land, and is owned by Greg Gomez-Mira and staffed by Destiny Wesley and Stacy McClennon.

“Renette is quiet and down to earth, but she has a sense of humor that shines through – we just love her smile,” said Destiny, the franchise’s staff coordinator. “Renette is a hard worker and is always willing to help if she can. Every client with whom she has worked really likes her and we hear about her in the office. Because of this, we want to thank her for a job well done.”

Renette said the CAREGiver of the Month honor “was a real surprise because I had been with the franchise only five months.” Renette had worked for seven years for another home-care agency when she decided to make a change and applied online to join Home Instead.

“I am treated really well at Home Instead Senior Care. I haven’t had any other jobs where they treat you like family like Home Instead does,” Renette said. “They like to joke about things in an appropriate way and are serious about other things when they need to be. Our meetings are never boring. There is humor, lots of humor. Destiny, Stacy and Greg are great.

“Training is good. We discuss things that needed to be brought up, and we can ask a lot of questions. Home Instead updates you about what you need to know. The office also understands when trouble comes and tries to work through it with you.”

A former 64-year-old client called Renette “the ‘Top Dog’ of all caregivers,” loved Renette’s ways and smile, and promised Renette that she’d be back soon after a relative changed her care plan. Renette and Home Instead took the senior care shuffle in stride.

“My client said, ‘I will fight to keep you.’ She loved me very much. I did have a good connection with her, and we were together five days a week for a month and a half,” Renette said with a sigh. “That comment made me feel good. I had to carefully watch what she would eat. I would prepare three meals a day for her.

“Actually, food came into play with my Spanish-speaking client – we are good together. The family has had a hard time getting him to eat. I have suggested pudding and chicken broth, and going slow with the food. It is working.”

The big question is: Facing the various challenges that include differences in cultures, religion and meal preparation, how does Renette get everything to work for her?

“The key is learning as much about your clients as you can. You figure out how to spark a conversation, communicate or find out what they like to eat,” said Renette, who started with Home Instead on May 5. “It is fulfilling when I first start out with a client, and he or she is grouchy before getting to know me. I try hard to learn all that I can about the client.”

And to know Renette is to love her.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Jennifer M.

Jennifer CGoM

Jennifer pushes through her own comfort level to help a client.

The 94-year-old woman suffered a stroke that left her permanently disabled on her left side, but she is still sharp as a tack, is social and has a good energy level. Believing a nursing home would provide the best care, the woman’s family found one for her.

But she and her family decided it did not. In a short time, she returned home.

Enter the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land, and award-winning CAREGiver Jennifer Martin. “The family found the nursing home was such a busy place, they figured they were going to have to hire someone to come in and spend time with their mother,” Jennifer explained. “They came to the conclusion that home was the best place for her, and we are happy to be the solution for home care.”

Jennifer is part of a CAREGiver team that covers many of the hours for the client, who is thriving with their care. Jennifer knew it would be the best outcome for her client because the CAREGiver of the Month had worked for five years in a nursing home during a health-care career that has spanned 36 years. Jennifer will celebrate her fourth anniversary with Home Instead Senior Care in May.

“At the nursing home where I worked,” Jennifer recalled, “I would be responsible for as many as 28 patients. There wasn’t much time to sit with them. If you tried, you might be in danger of falling behind with routine care. But there were always at least two or three patients who didn’t have any visitors, and I tried to spend more time with them to provide companionship.”

But Jennifer’s penchant for compassion met with resistance from bosses who could sympathize with Jennifer’s intentions but emphasized a different approach. One supervisor advised Jennifer not to get too attached to the patients. It is easy to see that Jennifer’s Home Instead Senior Care client and her family didn’t want that kind of care.

Jennifer, who works five overnight shifts with her client, originally met her more than three years ago when Jennifer was filling in for another CAREGiver. The client and her daughter liked Jennifer so much they requested her as a regular, but Jennifer already had another regular client. As fate would have it, Jennifer became available when her regular client passed away.

 “We get along really well. She looks forward to seeing me each day. I also fill in with her during some of my normal days off when other CAREGivers can’t make it,” Jennifer said. One of those days fell on a Sunday when Jennifer, usually a regular greeter at her Church of Christ, was honored to take her client to Mass at her Catholic church. On Monday nights, Jennifer helps her client host a 10- to 12-person Bible study that lasts up to two hours.

“I want to help her remain as active for as long as she can. She has a lot of energy and wants me to get her up and going in the mornings,” Jennifer said. “She likes to go shopping, on outings, to church and outside if just to take a stroll in her wheelchair to get some Vitamin A. Her daughter says I am perfect for her mom.”

Jennifer and her two sisters all work in some form of health care or home care. “Each of us is in the business of taking care of someone or some people,” Jennifer said. She remembers when her dad, who continued to work for three days a week even after retirement, refused their help during his later stages of cancer and instead went into hospice before passing away four years ago at age 74. “He didn’t want us to give up what we were doing to help him,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer also experienced the heart break of losing her husband of 30 years seven years ago after his battle with a chronic disease. “I miss him, but he’s in a better place. I believe he is my angel and watches over me all the time,” Jennifer said. “For a while after his passing, I sat around the house. But I decided the Lord didn’t leave me here to mope around. I grew up in the church, and drawing on that strength helped a lot – going to church makes my days better.”

Jennifer also serves as a family caregiver – her daughter and three grandchildren live with her. Jennifer can’t seem to turn down anyone – man or beast – who needs help. For the past four months, a friend’s German shepherd, “Blackie,” has been staying in Jennifer’s yard because he needs a temporary home. “I try to pitch in whenever I can,” Jennifer said with a laugh. “I keep Blackie and my Pomeranian apart – Blackie stays outside, and my Pomeranian is an indoor dog.”

“I am always happy, never sad,” Jennifer said.  “Life is simple for me, but it is good, because I go to work, to church and help my daughter and her daughters. I am a homebody if I am not helping someone. You have to have the heart and understanding of others to do what I do because sometimes the elderly are so sad. I feel I’ve got to make them happy.”

And Jennifer does that, Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said. “Jennifer is an excellent CAREGiver. She is truly a team player and will push through her own comfort level to help a client as long as it is within our scope of business,” Destiny said. “Jennifer is very humble and doesn’t look for recognition for the great job she does. She is very prompt and has great communication skills, and she is a joy to have on our team.”

Jennifer’s client and her daughter couldn’t agree more. “Jennifer,” the client told her, “you are not going anywhere. You are going to stay right here with me.” There are few other places Jennifer would rather be. “My client gets sad when I leave, so I give her a hug before I go. It makes her feel good – and it makes me feel good, too,” Jennifer said.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Grace H.

Grace CGoM

​​A CAREGiver of deep faith, Grace loves to shine her light of encouragement on her clients.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. - "Matthew 5:16

Three years ago – before she joined Home Instead Senior Care® – award-winning CAREGiver Grace Henery rebounded from the effects of a stroke that hospitalized her for a couple of days. She credited God for a healing that allowed her to continue her work with the elderly and ultimately led her to the Home Instead franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. By being able to resume what she loves to do, Grace said: "I am happy that my light can continue to shine even longer for my clients and their families."

"I began to feel the effects of a stroke while I was helping a senior," Grace recalled. "I noticed I was dragging a foot when I took the trash out. I called my husband, and he got me to our doctor and then to the hospital, where I was treated. I fully recovered so I could get back to helping seniors. I have a slight limp, but I bounced back like a ball. I could not feel sorry for myself.

"Beyond confirming my faith in God, one thing that has come out of this is that I tell people about recognizing the symptoms of a stroke and immediately getting help if you think you might be suffering from one. There is so much they can do for you."

Grace came to the United States 13 years ago from Guyana, a country on the Caribbean coast of South America. She has been working with seniors ever since she arrived in America. Grace joined Home Instead Senior Care in December 2013 when the manager of her senior-care agency couldn't give her enough hours and suggested that she try owner Greg Gomez-Mira's franchise at 8313 Southwest Freeway.

"I was doing fill-in work at first," Grace recalled, "and three sets of people immediately told the office they wanted me full time, so I ended up getting one of them as a regular client."

Grace now works four overnight shifts with a 93-year-old male client while also doing some fill-ins on Sundays. When another CAREGiver couldn't make a recent Saturday night-Sunday morning shift because of illness, Grace took the assignment so her client would have a familiar friendly face. "Grace," the client said, "I am so glad you could come."

Grace describes her client as a nice man who likes to laugh. "I tell him jokes," Grace said. "It helps him with his situation – he has two fractures in an arm that he injured in a fall before we got him as a client. Whenever he gets down emotionally, I remind him that nothing is impossible with God, and he knows it and agrees. He likes that reassurance, and I am happy to repeat it.

"He is a fall risk, so I am at his side all the time. He thinks he should be able to do more than he is capable of doing now. That is OK – we work on it a little, but the main responsibility is to keep him safe. He has gone from a wheelchair to a walker, so that is something."

The client's 84-year-old wife is happy with Grace's help and the progress her husband has made. "They are nice people," Grace said. "His wife tells me her husband is so glad when I am there to help. I tell her I love doing it."

In response to questions, the faith-filled CAREGiver of the Month often gives Scripture references as part of her answers:

Question: What words of encouragement do you offer to your regular client?

Grace: "He is trying to believe his physical condition will improve, and I try to help understand that is it is possible. 'Be strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6),' I tell him. I know God is doing wonders, and I see it every day. I remind him that I had a stroke and recovered from it. I am no spring chicken myself, I tell him. I also told him I am waiting for the day when he will cook a meal for me. He laughs and makes a face at me."

Question: Grace, your attitude is something. Have you always been that way?

Grace: "I grew up poor, but I was ambitious and wanted to do things to help myself. God has truly blessed me. He gave me the perfect mate – I have been married for 47 years. My husband is such a blessing to me and is always watching over me."

Question: Grace, tell us about the Home Instead Senior Care staff.

Grace: "The best way to answer that is, 'Let your yeah be a yeah, and your nay be a nay.' (Matthew 5:3). They are honest and tell you what you need to know and what you need to do. I like that. I am blessed to be with them, and I know that God blesses them. How do I know? They have to be both blessed and good to deal with so many seniors and each of their different challenges. I love to chat with them, and I always ask them, 'Has the Lord been visiting you? I know He has because of all of your fresh faces.' "

"Grace is such a sweet and compassionate CAREGiver. But at the same time, she can be strict and straight business and following the rules down to a period to keep her clients safe," Destiny said, "so the clients are blessed with a soft-spoken, encouraging woman who has a quiet manner about her, but has big sense of humor that can brighten their day. 

"Our office is blessed with an employee who makes our job a little bit easier. Grace is truly a joy to have on our caregiving team."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Julieana E.

Julieana CGoM

​Office staff and clients are in unanimous agreement: Julieana is a gem.​

Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley was trying to explain a highly unusual situation: An 82-year-old client’s condition improved so much she no longer needed help – from anyone.

“CAREGiver Julieana Ekezie is so good that, while taking care of one of her very first clients, the client got better and better, and then didn’t need service,” Destiny said with a huge smile.

Some would call it a miracle.

When Julieana was assigned to the client who had suffered a stroke, franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira told Julieana her new client probably would not live longer than another five days. “Nobody thought she would make it,” said Julieana, a CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

After four months with Julieana, the client resumed her normal daily routine – alone and thankful. So what happened? “She has a lot of faith in God, and so do I,” said Julieana, who has been a CAREGiver since January 2014. “When I first met her and we talked for a while, I took her hand and said, ‘I think I can tell that you believe in God – is that right?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ So we prayed together, and within 10 minutes, I could tell that her whole situation changed.

“I thank God for that. It was not me. She’s now walking on her own, and I worked with her a lot. I helped her get up on her walker and get going. The family told me, ‘God sent you, Julieana.’ They called all of their other family members and told them about it. I was getting a lot of ‘thank-you’s,’ but I told them to thank God and not me.”

Julieana’s client might not be an isolated case. When she was working in a Houston hospital, many patients told her, “You are so different – I am feeling so much better. You are an angel.” Julieana said: “It would overwhelm me and make me cry. I just touched them, held their hand, and I think they felt God’s healing power in one form or another.”

What was Destiny’s view of the situation?

“Julieana is a gem,” Destiny said. “Julieana is a God-fearing woman who has an enormous amount of compassion that we all ought to have and show for people. She is an excellent CAREGiver who is one of our top CAREGivers for dementia clients. Julieana is a very attentive CAREGiver, and our clients just take to her.”

There might be another miracle around the corner for Julieana and a new client, who has dementia. “I actually help both a husband and his wife. Mentally, he is fine. His wife does have dementia and is not friendly, but I have been with them only three days,” Julieana said. “The situation appears to be difficult just from the first look, but I have seen this sort of thing before. Right now, I am not going to force the issue except to keep her safe and try to meet her needs.

“She just needs a little bit of love. I don’t think she understands what is happening to her as the dementia progresses. I always say nothing is impossible with God. I thank Him for putting me in this situation and pray that I can help them both.”

Julieana, a naturalized U.S. citizen, came to America from Nigeria in 2001 and immediately became a Certified Nursing Assistant. She worked in a nursing home and in a hospital before finding Home Instead Senior Care.

She had scheduled three weeks off with her hospital employer because of the death of her father in Nigeria, but was forced to extend her stay with her family to five weeks. When the award-winning hospital CNA returned to America, she found that the hospital did not keep her job open. “I just could not come home when I wanted,” Julieana explained, “and I told them that, but things worked out as they did. I think it is how God wanted it.”

Everything in her life has happened for a reason, Julieana said, and she also points out that “maybe later God will reveal to me why things are taking place as they do. I pray and fast and ask God for answers. I do love working for Home Instead and with my clients. It gives me joy to work with everyone, and everything has fallen into place very, very well. At some point, I would like to go back to school and become a registered nurse. I know God will order my steps – I believe in Him.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Joseph B.

Joseph CGoM

Award-winning CAREGiver Joseph sees his job as a pay-it-forward opportunity.

At 51, award-winning CAREGiver Joseph Brown considers himself somewhat of a throwback to a bygone era.

Sure, he’s got a cell phone and knows all about technology of the day. But he also points out that he’s still got a land line at home. He can prepare meals from scratch. And he has a typewriter – remember one of those things?

“I have experiences from a time when there were no electronics like computers, cell phones and iPads. When I converse with clients, I am able to talk about things with which my clients can relate. It is a part of companionship that gives my clients comfort. They feel good that I can relate to their past,” said Joseph, a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

Besides being an honoree, Joseph is a unique employee at the franchise that’s owned by Greg Gomez-Mira and staffed by Destiny Wesley and Stacy McClennon. Joseph is the only male CAREGiver. “I joke a lot with the staff about being the only male CAREGiver. For example, they give away prizes at our CAREGiver meetings, and I never seem to win one. I always tell the staff, ‘Don’t I get a prize for being the only man on the staff?’ That gets a roar from them, and when they stop laughing, I get an emphatic ‘No!’ ” Joseph said with a laugh.

Being a guy doesn’t mean Joseph didn’t have any senior care experience when he joined Home Instead Senior Care. He earned his CNA in the early 1980s and worked in a skilled care community for five years before moving into retail and industrial jobs. But he always had had a caring touch with seniors; he helped for a time with care for his godmother, who has dementia.

“I always have had a God-given feeling for a high comfort level with seniors. I was that kid in the neighborhood who was running errands for the older folks when they needed something from the store. I am still a volunteer for my friends who are seniors and help them when it’s possible,” Joseph said. “I like to help people who can’t do things for themselves. I like the response I get. It is fulfilling. And I want them to feel they are important.”

Joseph’s aim – “to help and make people feel good” – is one that he takes to heart, said Destiny, the franchise’s staff coordinator.

“Joseph is a gem, and we love him dearly,” Destiny said. “He has worked with both male and female clients, and he is well-liked and respected by all. Joseph brings a sense of humor and laughter to his clients and to our office. It is very rare that you don’t see Joseph smiling.

“Joseph’s goal is always to help the client, even if that means to push them out of their comfort zone. He genuinely cares for the people with whom he works and treats them as if they were family. Joseph encourages his clients and helps them believe in themselves.”

 “You never know what God has in store for you,” Joseph said. In June 2013, he was laid off from his job in the oil industry and went on a job search that led him to Home Instead Senior Care after some twists and turns.

“I was on my way to a health-care agency to apply for a job when two of my cousins called from Home Instead, where they were applying for jobs,” he recalled. “They told me to change my plans and come over to Home Instead because of their need for CAREGivers, so I did.”

Joseph’s job also took an unexpectedly pleasing twist when he became the CAREGiver for one of his father’s first cousins. The 83-year-old client was in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease and had just gotten out of a rehabilitation center where he was recovering from a bout with pneumonia when Joseph was called in to help four months ago. “I knew the client’s name but had never gotten to know him until now,” said Joseph, whose father died when he was 7.

Joseph has made a major impact on the client, who wasn’t talking with anyone when he came home. Sometimes he wouldn’t open his eyes. But that changed since Joseph stepped in the door. “His wife doesn’t want anybody but me helping with him,” Joseph said. “She told me, ‘He comes alive when you come in the door. I don’t know what it is that you do for him, but you really have an effect on him.’ ”

Joseph helps his client with a shower, shaves him, cuts his hair, trims his moustache and talks to him. And the CAREGiver prepares his meals.

“I used to feed him all the time and still do much of the time,” Joseph said “but now he is reaching for food like biscuits to feed himself. It is a big advance. He tells me now what he wants to eat, picking things on his plate. When I come in to see him at 9 a.m., he’s in bed but will open his eyes when I come in and will talk. He looks forward to seeing me every other day.”

It all adds up to a gratifying time with his client, and Joseph sees his job as a pay-it-forward opportunity. “One day it could be me in my clients’ shoes. I want someone who would do a good job with me, just as I really try to do with my clients.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Barbara E.

Barbara CGoM

Award-winning CAREGiver Barbara simply has a God-given knack for taking care of people.

The client’s words tugged at award-winning CAREGiver Barbara Elliott’s heartstrings.

“No one wants to be with me, but you do. Nobody smiles when they are with me, but you do.”

With a sigh, Barbara explained: “The client is a pistol. I was told that she is really particular and maybe a little bit difficult.” But what Barbara found was someone in need. “We bonded right away, nearly as soon as we met,” Barbara said. “She’s 60, suffered a stroke and is wheelchair-bound. I try to put myself in her position.”

What about that difficult side of the client, Barbara? “It’s there sometimes, but I don’t mind,” Barbara said with a chuckle. “She wants sheets and towels folded in a certain way. I let her tell me how. She even wants pillows fluffed in a certain way and sometimes it takes three or four attempts. But it is fun for me. I meet her demands with a smile.

“She likes to go to McDonald’s and drink coffee and people-watch, so I accompany her. It’s just down the street, and we reach it easily by taking the bus. That’s when the companionship aspect of caregiving really kicks in. I know she feels special when I am with her.”

What makes Barbara such a special CAREGiver for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land?

“Barbara is a very professional, compassionate, gentle CAREGiver. But, of course, what would we expect from a veteran nurse such as Barbara?” said Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley, who explained that Barbara works full time at a hospital and twice a month at a skilled care community in addition to her time with Home Instead Senior Care.

“Barbara has been with Home Instead Senior Care for six months and has made big waves, of course being honored as CAREGiver of the Month. She is truly an asset to our company. A couple of clients ask for Barbara specifically; one in fact will wait until Barbara is available just to have her. The other says, ‘Whenever Barbara is available please send her.’ ”

Destiny also counts on Barbara as a pinch-hitter. “There have been times I’ve called Barbara when I have been in a crunch, and she bites the bullet and presses her way in a short amount of time to help me out. We are truly thankful to have her on our team,” Destiny added.

Asked about being a nurse and CAREGiver, the native of Greenville, Mississippi, said: “I love everything about it. When I started in nursing school in 1978, I just had a knack for nursing and helping people out. I am good at taking care of people. I like doing it. This is my life.”

Barbara’s love for senior care grew even more after she was working at a nursing home more than 20 years ago. “I saw so much suffering. I felt validated when I could do something to make life better for the residents,” she said. “The big cases were the ones I felt I could help most because there were people who could not walk, talk or eat. Communication was difficult, but I learned how. Where doctors and co-workers found it difficult to help some of the biggest challenges, I took joy in helping them.”

Home Instead Senior Care has benefited from Barbara’s experience, but she said she has been blessed by working for the franchise that’s owned by Greg Gomez-Mira.

“I am impressed with Home Instead. The people are so nice – Stacy McClennon, Greg and Destiny are all great people. They work with me on flexible scheduling, and we have a nice working relationship,” Barbara said. “The Home Instead Senior Care name was really catchy for me. When I saw the Home Instead name on the internet. I said, ‘I want to work here.’ Stacy, the recruiting and retention coordinator, and I hit it off right away. I love meeting new people, including the clients and their families. I am intrigued by them. I was so humbled by the CAREGiver of the Month honor. It really is a big deal to me. I appreciate it.

“With caregiving,” Barbara said, “I experience joy and satisfaction, just about every emotion I could imagine. I call caregiving an extension of my religion. I believe in God. I believe this is what He wants me to do. Am I perfect? No. I make mistakes. But I want to do as well as I possibly can in taking care of my people. They are like family.”​

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Ayma T.

Ayma CGoM

​Award-winning CAREGiver Ayma's cute, bright-eyed 10-year-old daughter is intrigued with her mother’s compassionate occupation.

“Mom,” she often tells her mother, “I want to help people like you do. Maybe someday I can be a doctor.” Ayma’s oldest daughter isn’t alone – her sisters, 9 years old and 6 – also tell their mother they want to help people. Ayma obviously has made an impression on her girls. She also has impacted her clients at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. Home Instead Franchise Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said it was easy to select the Certified Nursing Assistant as CAREGiver of the Month.

“Ayma is a very soft-spoken, gentle spirit,” Destiny said. “Her goal is to please her client and to meet whatever need he or she may have. She has the biggest, softest smile that you have ever seen, and it is very welcoming. She is one of our outstanding CAREGivers.”

Ayma has been with owner Greg Gomez-Mira’s Houston franchise at 8313 Southwest Freeway since January 2013. “My sister-in-law suggested Home Instead because she was a CAREGiver and really liked it,” Ayma said. “And she was right. Everybody in the office is so nice, and the training is good.”

Ayma has one regular client, a wheelchair-bound woman in her 60s who suffered a stroke and is trying to regain the use of the right side of her body. Ayma has been with her client for nearly half of a year and is not only helping her with activities of daily living but encouraging her as she goes through her physical therapy.

“Some clients aren’t so nice at the beginning because they just don’t know you, but that was not the case with this woman,” Ayma said. “She loves having me there, and I love helping her. I let her and her family know that I am there for her in any way I can help.”

Ayma’s client lives with her father, who is in his 80s and in good health. “Her dad is definitely not a client because he looks and feels very young,” Ayma said. “We have another CAREGiver who comes in the morning, and I come in the evenings to give him good support and help her.”

Ayma takes care of the laundry, cleans the client’s house, provides personal services, helps with  medication reminders, checks her blood pressure and helps her at bedtime. But her client, a former college instructor, also wants to remain as independent as possible. “She gets bored at home,” Ayma said, “so she comes along with me on grocery shopping and other errands. She wants to remain as active as possible, so she volunteers at a hospital during the day hours. I encourage her to keep up her pace and energy level if she can. It’s a good thing.”

Ayma has wanted to help people ever since her childhood days in Haiti, where she attended College Adventiste du Cap-Haitien as a teenager. “It’s like a combination high school and junior college,” Ayma explained. “Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a nurse. I did become a CNA after I moved to the U.S. in 2000, but I got married and had a family before I could work on becoming an RN. This is a good job because I like helping people first, then No. 2 comes the money. I would rather work to make my clients happy – that is the ultimate payment.”

The secret to being a CAREGiver, she confided, “is getting off to a fast start. If you can please someone in the first week, then you generally have won them over and it gets easier after that.”

For Home Instead, she’s experienced a wide range of caregiving situations, from dementia clients to those who are returning from hospital stays and are just trying to regain their independence. Now, of course, her regular client is trying to deal with her partial paralysis.

“It is a good company,” Ayma said. “I help seniors with any situation that comes up. My job has been a positive influence on my kids, too, because they can see what I do, yet my hours are flexible enough that I am able to spend a great amount of time with them.”


CAREGiver of the Month: Corine J.

Corine CGoM

Corine finds extraordinary ways to bless her clients and their families.

Make a wish. That’s what award-winning CAREGiver Corine Jamison told a client.

The 92-year-old faith-filled woman suffered a major stroke three years ago, is wheelchair-bound and had been unable to resume attending church services. She could remember the Apostle’s Creed, word for word, but on some days would ask for her husband, who died in 2005.

“After I started helping my client, I asked: ‘If you had one wish, what would you like to do that you can’t do now?’ She emphatically said, ‘Go to church,’ ” Corine recalled. “I said, ‘You know what, we will get you to church.’ ”

The logistics weren’t easy, of course, but Corine kept a promise. The client, a longtime Stephen minister at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church in Sugar Land, was thrilled to return, and church members were ecstatic when Corine wheeled her into church on an emotion-filled Sunday.

The next day, a group of church leaders appeared at Corine’s door. “It was a shock, unexpected, to say the least. They brought gifts and a card, and now they also thank me each and every Sunday,” said Corine, a CAREGiver of the Month at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

That kind of story doesn’t surprise anyone who knows Corine, including Home Instead Franchise Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley.

“I probably don’t tell her enough that she is truly appreciated and that she is one of a kind,” Destiny said. “Corine is a very dedicated woman. She has an incredible work ethic and never appears to get tired. Corine has requested maybe 10 days off in the five years I’ve been with the franchise. She has a full-time job and works for us on the weekends. Yet if I need help at night, she is more than willing as long as she can get to her full-time job. Mind you, she has a husband and daughter at home.”

Corine will do just about anything to help a client. “I was a Baptist before I met my client. I have been a Lutheran for the past three years because she needs me to take her to church. One God, one Bible, one faith – it doesn’t matter where I worship God. It’s all the better if my client can worship where she wishes,” said Corine, a full-time phlebotomist and medical technician at a hospital from Monday through Friday.

When Corine started with Home Instead on May 5, 2007, she was working full time for an auto parts store and didn’t intend to stay with the fledgling senior-care franchise for more than two months as a part-timer. The daughter of a friend, franchise owner Ursula Chester, urged Corine to come aboard as Ursula was getting the business off the ground. Ursula had been impressed when she and her mother pressed Corine into action on a Sunday.

“Ursula asked me to watch her grandmother, who’d had a stroke, while she and her mother went to a church service. I bathed her, braided her hair and did other things to take care of her. Ursula returned, was amazed and asked me to help her at Home Instead. I realized then that I had a passion for seniors.”

Praising Corine, Ursula said: “Corine knows her clients really well, is with them for long periods of time and is very loyal to them. She takes the tough cases, where they need the most help, and the clients prosper under her. She was one of my top CAREGivers. She certainly deserves this honor.”

Corine said the franchise hasn’t changed much since Ursula sold it to Greg Gomez-Mira. “Greg is great,” Corine said. “The training is very good. Everything is going along well. I have loved every one of my clients and working with them regardless of their limitations. . . . With God, all things are possible.”


CAREGiver of the Month: Inez R.

Inez CGoM

​Inez juggles pizza and soft drink requests while managing the menu for one of her clients.

"Let's Make a Deal"

Award-winning CAREGiver Inez Randall knows that game, and she giggles when she thinks about it. No, it's not the TV game show that debuted in 1963 and featured Monty Hall. Inez is a participant in a version of "Let's Make a Deal" that the 82-year-old client has originated.

Whenever Inez makes a grocery run for the husband and wife clients, the man begins dealing. "If you pick up this certain brand of soft drink," the client promises, "I will take my shower."

So the soda pop - in moderation - has become the proverbial "carrot on a stick." "Well," Inez said with a sigh, "it does take quite an effort to get him into the shower. The soft drink makes it easier, but I don't pick it up often because he's not supposed to have a lot of sugar." Instead of relying on bribery, Inez's winsome ways get the job done. So it's easy to see why Inez was honored as a CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

In spotlighting Inez, Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said, "Inez joined us on Dec. 16, and we are thrilled to have her as a part of our team. She is a very mild-mannered woman, very humble and down to earth. The best part about Inez is that she is willing to learn. She also doesn't mind bargaining with her client to get the result desired."

In addition to the special brand of soft drinks, the client likes to pick out pizza and asks for grocery surprises. "He good naturedly says, 'Surprise me, 'Boss Lady,' with something good when you come back,' " Inez said. "I know he's really pleased if I bring back cinnamon rolls, but I don't do it often because of the sugar. He'd eat pizza every day if he could get me to fix it, but we also don't do that."

Like companionship, errands, transportation, light housekeeping and medication reminders, Inez's meal preparation is important and is actually a safety issue. "The client has left the oven on and attempted to use unsafe settings on his microwave when he tries to do it himself," Inez said, "so I've convinced him that I'll take care of the food."

Her job is a welcome change from her 35-year career with a major telecommunications company. "In my other job, I was seeing the doctor for stress-related ailments and illnesses, and I was on medications. I had to get away from that. A CAREGiver's job is more meaningful. This is exactly the kind of job I wanted," Inez said. "I also want to know how to take care of my mom when that time comes. She is 79, lives alone in Louisiana and is good health now."

Destiny, Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Stacy McClennon and franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira make up a good management team that looks out for her, Inez said. "I enjoy working for them, and the training is informative. I am looking for extra hours, and they try to provide them with fill-in shifts. I think it all works out well.

"I had assisted family members when they returned home from the hospital but had never previously worked in professional senior care. I was not sure what I would be up against when I joined Home Instead, but I enjoy it."

Inez, a woman of faith, said her job has provided a measure of peace in her life.

"Every morning before I go out, I pray, 'Please, God, give me the strength and courage to help make their day as good as possible,' " she said. "My life is much more peaceful now that I am with Home Instead. It has been years since I've had this much peace."​

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Kim R.

Kim CGoM

CAREGiver Kim’s colleagues say sunshine always follows the CAREGiver, even on a rainy day.

Award-winning CAREGiver Kim Ramsey's primary sources for inspiration are God, her grandmother and her clients.

The CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land describes how her Christianity is interwoven with her job: "I draw on my faith to take care of people. One of my beliefs is that God is watching me, so I certainly want to do my best all the time. If I do my best for God, I know He will take care of the rest, the things that are out of my control."

She learned about compassionate senior care 25 years ago from her grandmother when she helped take care of a great aunt who had suffered an aneurysm and needed all aspects of care for her final three years. "A nurse showed us how to take care of her, and I will never forget her help or her name, Celeste. After we learned, we took over the care," Kim said.

Kim now is part of a four-member family caregiving team that assists her 77-year-old grandmother, who is in a wheelchair as the result of three strokes. "She is still independent and remains very positive for the most part," Kim said. "She is really active in her church - she used to be there three times a week but it's down to one because of her condition."

Among Kim's three regular clients is a 92-year-old widow whose stroke has rendered her left side useless.

"She could be a senior advocate because she is awesome and really has taken her condition in stride. She smiles, chats, jokes and has good stories," said Kim, who is part of a four-CAREGiver team that helps provide 24/7 coverage for the wheelchair-bound client. "I love her smile. She could teach people how to smile."

"She lives life to the fullest and wants to make sure she is looking the best, so the four of us CAREGivers help with makeup and nails, and she has her hair done. She is gorgeous."

Kim also admires her client's daughter because of her tenacious vigilance in watching over her mother's care. "I really like her," Kim said, "because she is so concerned and wants the best for her mother. She is really bubbly, and you can see that she is her mother's daughter."

Her client's smile isn't the only source of brightness when she and Kim are together on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and sometimes Sundays.

"When Kim walks through the door on a rainy day, she brings in the sunshine," said Destiny Wesley, the staff coordinator for owner Greg Gomez-Mira's franchise in south-central Houston.

"What can I say about Kim? She has a very bubbly personality. And Kim has a laugh that is contagious. It brightens her clients' day. Kim has been with our franchise for a little over a year, and we have received rave reviews on her. She is proactive and a go-getter," Destiny added.

"Kim is very willing to learn, and she listens well. She works for a woman whose daughter said that when it is something that Kim may not be familiar doing, she is willing to listen and learn. In this business, that will take you a long way."

One of Kim's first clients, whose condition had improved so that she didn't need a CAREGiver, asked for Kim three months later.

"She has an immune-suppressed condition, and she came down with chickenpox for the first time at age 64," Kim explained. "She also comes with a bonus for me - she has a dog, Chloe, a boxer mix, who is her baby. I love pets, I love Chloe and I end up being a caregiver for Chloe, too."

Kim, who has been a Certified Medical Assistant since 2010, would like to continue her medical education in June in a quest to become a registered nurse. "I love Home Instead," she said, "and I think the staff is awesome. I want to try to fix my school schedule so that it will fit around my Home Instead hours."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Shun J.

Shun CGoM

​CAREGiver Shun always goes above and beyond the call of duty for her clients.

Shun Jackson began babysitting at age 8, and she has been taking care of people ever since. Now she has been formally honored as an award-winning CAREGiver for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land.

"I took care of everyone in the neighborhood, it seemed. It was all kinds of caregiving," said Shun, who has been a CAREGiver for nearly 7½ years. "We had a blind lady in the neighborhood, and I would go grocery shopping for her. It is something she needed, and something that gave me joy. Another senior loved one, my grandmother, had a special bond with me, and she instilled a whole lot of faith in me."

A neighbor told Shun about Home Instead in 2006, and the franchise and its clients have benefited ever since. Franchise Staff Coordinator Destiny Wesley said she has been blessed to know Shun and doesn't stop singing the CAREGiver's praises.

  • "Shun goes above and beyond for her clients even when it is inconvenient for her."
  • "If she is unsure about something, she will pray about it. As much as Shun is spiritual, she is also funny."
  • "Shun's word is her bond. She is straightforward, but she has a gift of knowing when and how to say something. She has grace and uses it liberally."
  • "Shun is her clients' biggest defender. When she sees mistreatment or a facility that does not meet her high standards, Shun takes immediate action."

Destiny also shared a story about Shun's caregiving, revealing that one of her longtime clients died on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. "The client had moved around a lot in the last six months. Wherever the client went, Shun was there," Destiny explained. "Her client's family loved and respected Shun so much that when the client started moving, they would say, 'Anytime Shun can come is fine. We love Shun, and Mother will just be happy to see her.' Shun played a role in her client returning home shortly before her passing."

That client holds a special place in Shun's heart because she was concerned about Shun's spiritual life when they first met almost four years earlier. "She came right out and asked me if I was saved. Of course, my Christian faith means a lot to me and I told her that," Shun said. "She never let her health problems get her down. When she received her final serious cancer diagnosis, she told me, 'That's OK. We already have won the battle.' I get attached to my clients, and her death is the sad part of caregiving. But I am not worried about her; I am happy for her. Things moved on God's time, not ours."

With the client, Shun said she did a lot of praying and Bible study. Her client, Shun said, was concerned about living with a righteous attitude. "She told me as the end drew near for her that she needed to repent. Her favorite Bible passage is Psalm 23, and I would say that it is mine, too. She told me, 'Everyone you come in contact with, tell them about the Lord. Stir up the fruit.' "

The CAREGiver of the Month's special skills didn't go unnoticed by her children, who picked up on her passion to help others. She has a daughter in college who is headed to medical school to become a doctor. "I have a son who is going to become a registered nurse," Shun pointed out.

Since caregiving brings more joy than anything else she has done, Shun said she expects to stay with it long after she turns 46 in January.

"None of my clients has been difficult. I have gotten along with every one of them. My clients are family. I like being someone who encourages my people. Comforting them on a daily basis makes me feel good. My client who recently passed away told me that I was part of her family. And she pointed at me in front of her family and said, 'She's the best.' They told me later that they agreed. I keep in contact with them." 


CAREGiver of the Month: Edith L.

Edith CGoM

​CAREGiver Edith's tried-and-true dose of therapy for her clients is laughter.

Charles Dickens was right when he penned, "There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor" in A Christmas Carol.

Edith Lundy's clients and their families say Dickens' line perfectly describes the award-winning CAREGiver. She is a ray of sunshine, they say, on the darkest of days.

"Edith is a riot," said Destiny Wesley, staff coordinator at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. "She keeps me laughing along with the clients for whom she works. When I send Edith out, I know without a shadow of a doubt that our clients are in good hands.

"Edith has a knack for easing the client's minds and making them forget about their problems. Most of the time, she is able to accomplish that through laughter. She will keep your shoulders shaking from laughter. That is her therapy for the client, in my opinion."

Clients and their families have told Destiny and franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira that Edith has perfect timing, saying the right things at the right time. After watching an amazing turnaround in an 86-year-old client's attitude and demeanor, professional hospice workers said Edith's words and laughter delivered a soothing effect that no medicine could.

The CAREGiver of the Month's reaction to the compliments? It was predictable - she laughed.

"Just to see a smile on a client's face is worth a thousand dollars to me," said Edith, who has been a CAREGiver since Oct. 21, 2010. "It is very rewarding. You get your blessings by helping others. My mother was exactly the same way - she passed that trait down to me. I like to talk to people and help them forget about their woes, if for only a short time. I like to mix in laughter."

The timing, of course, has to be appropriate for levity - and also for straight talk.

"I think I can say the right thing when I am conversing with clients, and that is very important," Edith said. "I have the knack of being honest in a cute way, delivering a bit of humor so that no one is offended. Laughter and light moments have their place. Sometimes laughter is needed to take the edge off a bad situation."

Edith quickly won the heart of a hospice client who is suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

"Edith was supposed to be only a fill-in until the permanent CAREGiver was going to start," Destiny explained. "After the first day with Edith, the client's daughter called the office and said that her mother did not want anyone other than Edith."

Destiny said the family compromised and accepted the other CAREGiver, but the client also kept Edith on for two of the five days of service.

"Additionally," Destiny said, "Edith has made instant connections as a fill-in with several clients, and I have again received rave reviews."

"Connection" is a key word for Edith.

'I am from my clients' era - I might be the oldest CAREGiver at the franchise at age 63," she said. "I know how to talk to clients, and we have a lot of commonalities. We have that connection, and we can talk about nearly everything comfortably.

"I am doing this because I love it. It does make me feel good to know that clients like me and want me to return. I have always loved the elderly. When I was young, I would stop and see the seniors who resided in our neighborhood. I always have had a soft spot in my heart for seniors."

Edith enjoyed a successful 30-year career as an environmental safety and health department manager at a chemical company before she suffered disk and vertebrae injuries in a car accident that forced early medical retirement. An irregular heartbeat ended the chances for surgery. "I sat around home for three or four years and then found Home Instead on the Greensheet. I like being around people and helping them, so this worked out well," she said.

In addition to caregiving, she and her husband are taking care of a 5-year-old grandchild full time. She's part-time with Home Instead to make her busy schedule work.

"As long as I can do what I'm doing now," she said, "I will stay with Home Instead. I think I will be with them until I can't do it anymore."​

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.


CAREGiver of the Month: Nilofar A.

Nilofar CGoM

​Award-winning CAREGiver Nilofar shows that compassion transcends international borders.

Ask award-winning CAREGiverSM Nilofar Hussain Ahmed for her life’s philosophy, and she does not hesitate.

“I have an open house with an open heart and mind,” said Ahmed, who since April has worked for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. “I will go anywhere, any place in all of the world, to help my senior.”

The CAREGiver of the Month is doing just that, scheduling a trip to her native Pakistan on Oct. 7 for a 25-day stay to help her mother-in-law, who was admitted to an intensive care unit on Oct. 1. Home Instead’s job flexibility has allowed her to take time off from her three regular clients and still return to her job after Oct. 31.

“One of my clients said, ‘Please don’t go,’ and it tugged at my heart, but she also understands what I must do at this time in my life. I also will be happy when I am reunited with my clients and the office staff,” said Ahmed, who has lived in the United States for the past 20 years.

“I look at this employment with Home Instead as if it is God’s work, and I hold it quite dearly to my heart. But when my mother was going to be with Allah (God), I did not have a chance to take care of her. I was here in the U.S., raising my family,” Ahmed added.

“I love Home Instead, and the office staff members are my buddies. Greg Gomez-Mira (franchise owner), Destiny Wesley (staff coordinator) – all of them – are sweet people, and respect me and help me. They have a lot of patience. This work with Home Instead is challenging and gives immediate feedback. I hope I can continue to work better and better.”

Wesley said Ahmed has had “a tremendous impact” with the franchise. “She has helped me a lot as a replacement CAREGiver,” Wesley said, “and boy, I tell you, every client likes her.

“Reports are that Nilofar is so pleasant and sweet, and very much in control. Nilofar is always willing to help where she can. She has a big heart and is very meek. Nilofar is a very hard worker. Her journey as a caregiver is very touching and inspiring.”

Her family caregiving experience went into overdrive six years ago when her youngest son became disabled as the result of a car accident. “I began taking care of him, starting from when he was first in a nursing home,” she said.

It’s not hard to see that Ahmed is motivated by her spiritual life through her Muslim faith, and she said it has shaped and influenced her life’s work to be compassionate and help others.

“We rely largely on our faith to guide us through the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Every faith and denominations tells us to take care of the elderly and those who are unable to care for themselves,” Ahmed said. “We also must do this since we perhaps will get there ourselves one day. We need to instill in our children the virtues and values of helping others.

“My faith is my building bridge that helps me through my everyday tasks. Faith is the building block of our life, but we as humans have withdrawn from it. It is clear that our culture is built around the parameters of our faith. I was born as a human, after that I am Muslim. I respect all faith, all religions because all religions and faith teach us the right path, humanity and respect.”

She said caregiving requires lots of patience and an attitude of respect, and she works with mentally and physically disabled people as well as seniors. She appreciates the level of care and family involvement she sees with many clients. “Any time family is involved,” she said, “it makes both mine and the clients’ situations comforting.”

Recalling a specific situation, she said, “I had a hospice client who was suffering so much that it was hurting not only her, but all of those around her, too. On her last day, I just prayed to God when I was with her, ‘Please, God, make it easier for her.’ Not too long after I had prayed, she died. I hugged the family and told them their faith would guide them through this difficult time.”

She said she has one hope for her future: “I wish I could help all of the world, those who are abused and ignored, and those who have no help available to them. I appeal to my fellow brothers and sisters, whatever faith they have, to join us with these goals.”

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (713) 774-2215. Home Instead also accepts online CAREGiver applications.