Today, I’d like to honor an extraordinary woman who has worked at Caring Hearts of Warsaw, Indiana, since June 1999—just over 16 years!
Barbara Perry was the first in-home caregiver hired by Bob and Aimee Hartwiger when they opened the doors of their in-home senior care business in northern Indiana. At 80, Barb is actually older than many of our senior care clients. She was awarded the Caregiver of the Quarter prize in 2010.
Recently, after many years of working to make life easier for families in her community, she decided to retire. That’s when Bob and Aimee decided she deserved to be nominated for her second Caregiver of the Quarter award.
Speaking with Bob and Aimee, I’ve learned about Barb’s kindness, and the amazing ways she shares her compassion both with clients and friends. In their nominating letter, the Hartwigers said: “This would be a huge finish for her at her retirement party!”
Below, I’ve copied more of Bob’s heartfelt nomination. I think his words capture Barb’s spirit better than mine ever could.
Barbara was our very first caregiver when we started Caring Hearts in June 1999. She has been with us for many faithful years. However, she announced last week that she feels like she needs to retire due to her health.
Barbara was the Caregiver of the Quarter in the first quarter of 2010 and I truly believe she deserves this award again. I can remember in detail how we surprised her with her award by making her think we were having a meeting. Then, about 15 minutes into the meeting, I had Barb stand up and turn around. To her surprise, we had invited all our caregivers, Barb’s friends, her family, including her grandkids, and all her present and past clients. No one had ever done something like this for her and she cried tears of joy for the longest time!
Even though she’s 80, Barb still manages to do everything for everybody! She hasn’t slowed down at all. Her clients—some of whom she’s had for several years—praise her for all the extra things she does. New clients ask for her by name, even though they haven’t met her yet! They just tell us they’ve heard about Barb and how well she represents herself and Caring Hearts, and because of that, they want only her! Barb has a knack for picking up on little things that are happening with the family, and she makes it a point to target projects and goals on what the clients enjoy doing but can’t do anymore. With Barbara around, her clients tell me, they can cook again, get their hair done, dress up nice like they used to, and even do all the extra activities they did years ago. For example, Barbara and one of her clients started making wedding and baby books a few years ago which they sell to make a few dollars.
Two weeks ago, one of Barb’s clients passed away. When I spoke with the grandson at the funeral home, he mentioned that he heard Barb was retiring and made sure to tell me to let him know if we were having a party for her because his family—parents, aunts, and uncles—wanted to be there for her. When I asked him to give me an example of why Barb meant so much to him, the grandson of her client, he proceeded to tell me that Barb had more of a heart than anyone he’d ever known. One of the things that stuck out in his mind was that when he and his wife had their first baby recently, Barb learned all she could about this young family and made them one of her baby books, custom-designed for them, and never charged them anything. It was just a gift to them!
I could go on and on about Barb. We are going to miss her. Before Caring Hearts, Barb worked at our restaurant for 10 years. This means she has worked with us for exactly half of Aimee’s life! Aimee and I will continue to stay in touch with her, but I’ll never again be able to tell people ‘Even our original caregiver is still with us!’
Now for the hardest part: How are we going to break the news to her clients?“
Please join me in congratulating Barbara Perry on her retirement, and her second national Caring Hearts Caregiver of the Quarter award!
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