This month’s Platinum Caregiver Award goes to Angelina Gicheri from our Tacoma region. Angelina works a long day, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “My days don’t feel long because I am doing what makes me happy,” she says. “My shift with Family Resource starts at 9:00 in the morning, but every day I am up at 5:00 so that I can get to my church by 6:00. I work with others to prepare meals for homeless people who arrive later to pick up their food packages. After that I see my home care clients.”
Selfless, loving and caring are the perfect words to describe Angelina. Supervisor Dorene Robbins says that over the five years that Angelina has worked for FRHC, “she has really blossomed. She is confident and all of her clients love her.” Supervisor Katina Mercado says “Angelina is patient. One of her clients has dementia, which can be challenging, and Angelina cares for her with compassion and grace.”
Angelina is originally from Kenya. “Growing up in Kenya, I felt like a caregiver since I was a child,” she explains. “I was the first-born so I took care of my siblings and helped with my grandparents. In Africa it is different. There we belong to each other. We are responsible to care for each other.”
In the early 1990’s Angelina started a charity caring for children in Kenya whose parents had died of HIV/Aids. “The children had nothing,” she says. “They went to their grandparents at night but during the day we cared for them, fed them, gave them clothing.” Eventually, explained Angelina, the organization had to grow bigger than her. When she left, 70 children were receiving care from the charity she began.
Angelina left Kenya in 2010, going first to Florida and then to Seattle where she had relatives. Always a caregiver, Angelina first worked in a group home in Seattle but felt that she would prefer to work one-on-one with her clients. This she can do with Family Resource Home Care. “Every one of my clients is different,” she says. “One doesn’t ever want to leave the house, but another one I take to church every Sunday and then we go out somewhere.” This client’s brother told us that his sister and Angelina “get along really well.” He describes Angelina as “very thoughtful” and “a model for other caregivers to follow.”
Another client of Angelina’s has dementia. “When my supervisor asked me to go to this client, she said that the client was very tough, and many previous caregivers couldn’t work with her. But the minute I walked in the door, we connected,” says Angelina. “I get along with all my clients because I put myself in their shoes. I don’t take anything they say personally. The families tell me that I have a ‘magic touch’. It’s easy for me to develop relationships with my clients. I care for them and show them love. This helps to develop trust and the client begins to appreciate you. When I am with my client who has dementia, I step into her world. Reality doesn’t matter. Whatever world she is in I tell her that all is well and that I am with her. At the end of my shift she will sometimes try to stop me from leaving. She’ll stand in front of the door and say, Where are you going? Don’t leave me! When that happens, I reassure her and help her calm down. I wait until she is calm and has fallen asleep. Then I leave. I’m not so concerned about hours or money. I want to work and feel like I made a difference,” concludes Angelina.
She is very happy to have found Family Resource. “They are wonderful,” says Angelina about her supervisors. “They take us the way we are. We are different but they appreciate us and our differences. They respect what we have to say. It is a wonderful company. I always tell people about Family Resource Home Care. When someone sees how I care for my client I always give credit to the company.”