Selflessness has always been a core value parents strive to teach their children; however after spending a beautiful Wednesday at Tower Park for the FirstLight HomeCare Caregivers Appreciation Day, it became clear that we could all learn a thing or two from the people of FirstLight HomeCare about helping others. Providing quality, affordable, non-medical in-home care for adults of all ages, caregivers gift their clients with the best quality of life possible. With that in mind, who could say these caregivers are not deserving of a day in the park held especially for them?
Treated to a relaxing day at Tower Park, caregivers had many surprises awaiting them. Gift certificates were awarded to individuals for many reasons, including being most reliable, a team player, or being up for anything and any shift. There were also raffle drawings for prizes including a Kindle Fire, a Family Express Gift Card, a Valpo Velvet Gift Certificate, a 30 minute massage, and White Sox tickets. Whether caregivers were lucky enough to win one of the wonderful prizes or not, all guests were able to enjoy hot dogs and cupcakes courtesy of Valpo Vienna’s and Designer Desserts. Each and every guest had a smile on their face, enjoying the company of their fellow hardworking employees and their families.
“It is so important to show our caregivers appreciation because without them, we wouldn’t be able to provide the excellent service and excellent care that we are able to give our clients. It keeps them out of hospitals, it keeps them happy. As you can see today, there’s a lot of smiles on a lot of people’s faces,” said Danielle Webb, Community Care Coordinator. “This day is very important. A lot of our staff do not get to meet each other and this is how they get to. They can all share their stories and that is so important!”
Diana Jimenez, the very first caregiver hired by FirstLight HomeCare, is one of the reasons FirstLight describes themselves as “a company built on the strength of its people.” Caregivers assist seniors in order to stay in their homes, families with members who have special needs or disabilities, those recovering from an illness or surgery, and even people who just need to someone to talk to and visit with as they move through life. The people of FirstLight HomeCare are ready to help with everything from bathing and hygiene to regular visits to give the client company. Diana explained, “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I love it. My client right now is ninety-eight and still has her mind. Meeting people like her and hearing their stories is so good.”
Mildred Hodschire, 87, is a perfect example of how important a caregiver can be. “My son could sleep at night because he knew had people watching me,” she explained.
Mildred’s caregiver, Joni, jokingly describes Mildred as “stubborn” while earnestly describing everyone at FirstLight as “extremely nice, caring people.”
After spending just minutes with the two, as well as Mildred’s son, it was very evident that an unbreakable bond forms between caregivers and their clients.
Michelle Alex, co-owner of FirstLight said, “The caregivers give smiles and get our clients to smile. They share stories of life and make each other’s days brighter. We have a ton of great stories that show how important our caregivers are to our clients and how our clients impact our caregivers’ lives. We had a gentlemen who was so depressed he began to isolate himself from the Assisted Living staff and a different home care company prior to us. When we began services, there was instant rapport and this gentlemen is now enjoying life and visiting with others.”
By the end of the day, both staff and clients who had just met were laughing together like old friends. Though these caregivers certainly never asked for the appreciation and rewards, a day set aside for them is one they will always remember.