The Where I Work series explores San Antonio’s evolving workplaces. It takes readers behind the scenes to learn from the people who work at companies large and small, nonprofits, family-owned enterprises, and in other nontraditional workplaces. Get in touch to share your story.
Growing up, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the world. There was never a singular point in time when I knew caring for other people was a passion, it just always came naturally to me. I’m a big believer in that you can’t teach compassion or empathy, it has to come from the heart.
For as long as I can remember, I have been an active volunteer with my church where I have organized fundraising events such as bake sales, gumbo sales and car washes. The proceeds go to families who have recently lost a loved one so that they can cover funeral expenses, families who are struggling to pay rent so that they can have heat, light and a place to call home, and to local youth sports teams so that they can buy new team jerseys.
My desire to help others manifested itself over time and knowing that I needed to act on those feelings, I became a certified nursing assistant. Being a licensed CNA for over 14 years has allowed me to care for those who need it the most.
For the past year and a half, I have been working with Right at Home in San Antonio but am always being introduced to new hospice companies, home health companies, and have even become familiar with the Veterans Administration through my current and past clients. I work closely with fellow Right at Home caregivers to ensure that my clients receive continuity of care. My ultimate goal is to have my clients become as independent as possible and remain happy and healthy.
Because I love what I do, working doesn’t actually feel like work to me. At Right at Home, I have a client who I work with three times a week. He is a veteran, a double hand amputee and is legally blind and partially deaf. We get along like two peas in a pod and even refer to ourselves as Batman and Robin.
Usually, our day starts out with a few jokes and me checking the house to see if his dog brought in anything from the outside world that shouldn’t be in the house. After I make sure it’s all clear, I get started on cleaning up the house and prepping his meals for the upcoming week. We’ll usually go run errands which consist of grocery shopping, prescription pick-ups, pedicures and picking up supplies for his tobacco pipe. Helping him doesn’t feel like a chore because we’re always laughing together. Each time my shift ends, I’m already looking forward to going back.
I recently received the Southwest Regional Caregiver of the Year Award for my work at Right at Home, and while I’m proud to be recognized for the work that I do, the ultimate award is the health and happiness of my clients. I’m most proud when I’m able to provide for the people I care for.
One time I had a client who was on hospice, and I noticed that she was being given too much morphine, too quickly. After I realized why my client was breathing too slowly and was unresponsive, I immediately called the Right at Home office to make them aware of the situation. They stepped in and resolved the situation, and my client bounced back almost immediately. Ultimately, this is why I do what I do. It’s a personal victory for me to see that my client is physically, mentally and emotionally stable and happy.
Although this line of work has its highs, it has its lows as well. The most challenging part of this job is getting to know and love a client and then being a part of their care team when they pass away. Of course, I try to make the most out of their last days by driving them to a hilltop to watch the sunset, making them a feast of their favorite foods, or just allowing them a time of peace and relaxation. No matter how hard I try to keep the distinction between personal and professional, I can’t avoid heartbreak when a client passes away.
Through the ups and the downs, I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am confident that I am making a difference in the lives of others because of the quality of care that I provide. My wish is that I can continue to do this for years to come and to eventually start up a nonprofit of my own. I want to spread my love and compassion throughout my community, nationally, and eventually across the world. I think that the world would be a better place if everyone was kind to one another, so for today, tomorrow and for every day after, I will continue to lead by example.