I began working with elderly and disabled when I was 7 years old (1974). I began this journey by volunteering at the local nun’s retirement home and assisting our elderly neighbors and friends.
As a young teen, I was certified as a RED CROSS Certified Babysitter, with both infant and child CPR. With this certification I was selected to care for an infant with Cystic Fibrosis, and later for a child with Muscular Dystrophy. Additionally I was a RED CROSS Certified Life Guard during my HS years and maintained several jobs babysitting in addition to providing child care and children’s programming through a local park and rec program until HS Graduation.
1983 – 1984
While in HS, I worked for Mulder’s Nursing Home in West Salem, WI as a Nurse’s Aide and received the certification required for this position. During this time, my job requirements were to assist patients with daily care, help feed patients, as well as assist them with their required daily walking and exercise regimens.
1985 – 1986
I worked as an Elder Care Aide for a private, Alzheimer Residential Facility. I was responsible for the care and safety of four women, ages 78 – 92. These women were at various stages of the Alzheimer disease, but all required hands on, full care and were no longer able to safely reside in their own private homes. These women displayed the sometimes aggressive and combative behaviors which are a part of the Alzheimer Disease.
1986 – 1987
I was a volunteer with the Special Olympics Games in La Crosse, WI. I was able to work at these events for 2 consecutive years. My roles were to be “a hugger” (the person at the finish line that greats the competitors with a hug and a celebratory cheer) and to assist the contestants with warm up and readying themselves for the events.
I was employed by Childea Institute of La Crosse, WI. I was assigned to the severe mentally disabled unit and worked with a 14 year old child confined to a specialized wheel chair. The child had been born with Spinabifida and was unable to speak, control motor functions, or control bodily functions. I was trained to feed, change, clothe and work with this child. I learned how to assist the physical therapy team in performing many of the required daily movement exercises to ensure the best possible quality of life for this young girl.
1988 – 1990
I was a volunteer with a local community program providing “Big Sister” type of interactions with various high risk youth in Madison, WI through a local church organization. I would spend an hour or two each week with these youth and I would assist with homework, take them exploring or simply getting them out to play and have “fun”.
1997 – Present
I began to reach out to our elderly neighbors to lend a hand when they needed help when we first moved into our home. I continue to spend time with my elderly neighbors and their friends. I assist them with their shopping, helping them with small projects or help prepare for family celebrations or the arrival of their families for an extended visit, or simply going out for breakfast or lunch. One neighbor is a widow who has never driven and has much difficulty with walking and some issues with her breathing. She walks with a four-footed cane or a walker depending on how severe her discomfort is at the time and requires very limited to no assistance in getting in and out of my vehicle but does need help with carrying packages and getting to some items when shopping. Another neighbor that I spend time with has Macular Degeneration and Diabetes. Due to the limitations of her vision she has difficulty in reading labels, tags and menus and is also unable to drive. I have assisted her with getting out to run day-to-day errands or to take the occasional regional shopping trip for a day.
1999 – 2001
Assist and care for my husband’s Grandfather, first at home, then during day trips home from the nursing home.
1999 – 2003
Assist and care for my husband’s Grandmother, first at home, then assisted living, then during day trips home from nursing home.
2001 – Present
I am a volunteer with the American Cancer Society. I have been involved as an event chair, team captain and on the fundraising side for our local Relay For Life. Additionally I have been involved as a speaker, spokesperson, lobbyist and a Nationwide Leadership Training Team Member(NLTT.)With the NLTT I have been working with Relay For Life Events on a national level to train and assist community events at their Division and State levels.
2003 – 2006
I was the primary point of contact for my father’s care. He lived in La Crosse, WI and the majority of this care began as crisis care and crisis management until 2004 when we were able to have him moved into a nursing home and he was able to rehab to the point of being able to later move to an assisted living facility.
2004 – 2010
I was the primary caregiver for my mother during her 6 year battle with ovarian cancer. I have spent many months assisting her at home and in the hospital during the course of her first 5 years of battle, culminating in being a 14 month home hospice caregiver for her end of life care. I was responsible for her full care. I provided daily baths, colostomy care, daily massages to help lymphodema as well as being responsible for her daily medications and IV maintenance, including changing out IV medications and administering injectable medications through IV lines.
2006 – 2009
My father was released from the nursing home and moved up to an assisted living facility near me for his end of life care. I was responsible for helping him with grocery shopping, laundry, banking, cleaning and day-to-day activities including monitoring medications, meal prep and outings.
2007 – Present
I have been assisting a friend during his cancer journey. First to help provide support and care for his family during his diagnosis and original surgery for a brain tumor, then to provide support and assistance during his rehab and transition back to home care. Currently I have been lending support and time. I have been visiting and encouraging him in his rehab and therapy. Currently I have been supporting the family during his transitions from home to hospital and now as he transitions back to home.
I provided assistance and respite care for a close friend and her family during her hospice care.