As we arrive at the anniversary of the pandemic, JFS is humbled by the exceptional compassion, dedication, and care our In-Home Care Aides have given their clients over the last year, many of whom are elders living in poverty and have nowhere else to turn for help. The challenges the Aides face are significant: caring for their own children and aging parents; families wanting more care for their loved ones isolated in facilities; working fifty–hour weeks to serve more clients with fewer colleagues. The entire JFS Care Team has been creative since day one, balancing schedules, working overtime, and going the extra mile to ensure clients get the care they need during this once-in-a-generation crisis.
No one can take her place.
Our In-Home Care Aides carry out JFS’ mission to Transform Lives and Strengthen our Community with the love in their hearts and the labor of their hands every time they arrive at a client’s home. They not only provide the care clients need to live safely and independently – they build a relationship, getting to know their client and letting their client get to know them in return. One elderly client in particular was so reluctant to receive care at first, she asked an Aide to get out. But, when she was interviewed about her Care Aide months later, she emphasized: “No one can take her place. When someone else came, I missed her so much, and I’m glad she’s here.”
Stories of remarkable Care Aides aren’t uncommon at JFS. Our Home Care Services Coordinator, Heidi, shared: “One Aide had to miss her shift during the ice storm. I called another Aide to ask if she could cover it, but she had another commitment. Instead, she offered to drive anyone who agreed to go through the ice storm. She did take someone to that shift. Her commitment to the client was so heartwarming and genuine!”
This is where my path kept leading me back to.
For some Care Aides, their work is a calling. Sabrina has worked at JFS on and off for 16 years and as a caregiver since high school. She recounts proudly how caregiving is a family business: it was her sister who first convinced her to apply to JFS, and her daughter, niece, and several friends are also Personal Care Aides. Before the pandemic, she was “off” at JFS for a time, working another job. “But, my heart was still at JFS,” Sabrina said, a little wistfully. “I kept thinking about going back. This is where my path kept leading me back to, and we’ve got to listen when God talks.”
Even standing in the cold on a break from work, Sabrina is happy to share her anecdotes and wisdom. “My dad told me that if you’re going to work, work with something you love doing. Ever since my great-grandmother died when I was young and I couldn’t take care of her, I wanted to grow up and take care of other people,” she said. Right now, Sabrina works with a pair of elderly siblings seven days a week. She does it all: help with meals, light housework, the little tasks that make up a life. The things you don’t think about needing help with until you do. “On Sundays, we watch their pastor on the TV and my pastor on the phone,” Sabrina says. From her voice, it sounds like her favorite day of the week.
JFS honors our Care Aides and their hard work, sacrifice, and loving kindness throughout this challenging year.
JFS honors our Care Aides and their hard work, sacrifice, and loving kindness throughout this challenging year. We acknowledge our community partners whose generosity allowed JFS to offer our Care Aides overtime and stipends for transportation and childcare: the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, and the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. JFS is also excited to share that our Care Aides serving clients with Medicaid received their $1,500 hazard payments from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in February. They could not be more deserving. All of JFS is proud to share our mission with them; after all, our Care Aides make our mission happen.