Visiting Angels Announces 2021 'Caregiver of the Year' Winners

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Grand Prize Winner Always Knew Her Calling Was to Care for Others

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For these women, caregiving is a true calling, and they deserve recognition for their commitment, drive, and compassion, especially over the last year when so many seniors could not leave their homes during the pandemic.

Compassion is at the core of their job description. Caregivers who go into homes of our nation’s most vulnerable seniors to help them get ready for the day, make meals, go to the grocery store, manage daily medications, even stay socially active to survive the loneliness of isolation, especially over the last year during the pandemic.

Now, Visiting Angels, the nation’s leading provider of in-home care, wants to say thank you to their most prized and cherished caregivers by awarding the company’s national “Caregiver of The Year” Award.

A True Calling

Grand Prize Winner Joanne Freeman-Blake provides love, hope, and comfort to every senior she works with in Augusta, Georgia. Joanne says God has placed her in the lives of her clients and their families for a purpose. Her job is a true calling. As Caregiver of the Year, Joanne will receive a $5,000 check at an upcoming ceremony.

Since 2017 Joanne’s generous work has included:

  • 6,569 hours of care to seniors who depend on her support to stay safe in their homes.
  • Bonding with clients through activities like singing and crafts. When one senior could no longer create art on her own, Joanne set up a table by her bed and described each step of a craft project — so the client felt like she was still taking part.
  • Peace of mind for families who live far away from their elderly mom or dad. The daughter of one senior says she never worries about anything going wrong because Joanne’s got it!
  • Providing much-needed companionship throughout the pandemic. When clients could not see loved ones in person due to the coronavirus, Joanne would coordinate meetings at the window of a senior’s home or create activities to show seniors family photos to keep them engaged while severely isolated.
  • Leadership among her fellow caregivers at Visiting Angels. She delivers calm and respect to her peers as well as her clients.

An Angel on Earth

“Joanne deserves this honor because she just exudes warmth, kindness, loyalty. She will walk into a room, and there is a beautiful aura about her. Joanne works above and beyond to help her clients thrive each day,” explains Beth Bandi, owner of Visiting Angels in Augusta, who nominated Joanne. “Every single one of her clients becomes her family; they never want her to go home! She is the special ingredient that if we did not have, we would not have a successful business.”

Joanne says serving seniors is a blessing. Early in life, while helping her mother through an illness, she knew that caregiving was something she needed to pursue. “This is where God planted me,” she explains, “until he says, ‘well done, you’ve done enough.’ I am here to stay.”

Finalist Yolanda Lee is a veteran caregiver in Kilmarnock, Virginia, who is always patient and filled with good, positive energy. She is loved so much by her clients that they want her to work for them exclusively! Yolanda’s commitment to her job is unwavering. When an elderly woman passed away during Yolanda’s shift, she stayed for hours caring for the body and consoling the woman’s husband. Yolanda is always anticipating her clients’ needs. She recognizes opportunities to help them and chooses her words carefully to protect their dignity.

Finalist Cherri Murray loves to care for seniors in Eagle, Colorado, near Vail. Cherri considers them all part of her family, her life. She has a wonderful way of making people feel valued and loved. She once noticed a client needed help fixing a broken appliance. Not only did she track down the replacement part to get it working again, but she also enrolled her husband to make the repairs — all on her own time.

Both Cherri and Yolanda will receive $2,500 checks and an award at their separate ceremonies.

“We are honored and grateful to have so many wonderful caregivers with Visiting Angels offices across the nation, but these women especially stand out. They go beyond expectations to help our clients live a life of dignity as they age gracefully at home,” says Larry Meigs, president and CEO of Visiting Angels. “For these women, caregiving is a true calling, and they deserve recognition for their commitment, drive, and compassion, especially over the last year when so many seniors could not leave their homes during the pandemic.”

About Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services:

Visiting Angels began franchising in 1998 in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Today, Visiting Angels has more than 600 private-duty agencies throughout the United States. Visiting Angels agencies employ only experienced caregivers and conduct the most comprehensive background screenings to ensure that their caregivers meet or exceed the company’s high standards. For companion care, Alzheimer’s care, dementia care, and the country’s best palliative care program make Visiting Angels your choice in senior in-home care. For more information on Visiting Angels or to find a location near you, please visit http://www.visitingangels.com.

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Nancy Bostrom
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