First ever Pierce County event recognizes “Angels on earth”

First ever Pierce County event recognizes “Angels on earth”

Karen Lueshen
Karen Lueshen examines the award she received in recognition of her caregiving at a HCPC event in May.

On May 23, Healthcare Providers Council of Pierce County (HCPC) honored 35 Pierce County caregivers at an award ceremony at The Weatherly Inn in Tacoma.  Lynessa Tinglum, a community outreach coordinator with Advanced Health Care and Kelly Smith Chambers, owner of Visiting Angels in Tacoma both belong to organizations in Thurston County that recognize the contributions of caregivers in the community.  They also belong to HCPC, a non-profit organization made up of individuals working in organizations that provide services to seniors in Pierce County.  They pushed for the first ever recognition event in Pierce County and began taking applications two months ago.  They received 55 nominations with one nominee, Jennette Moore, receiving 13 nominations.  Thirty-five caregivers were chosen for recognition and six were chosen as special honorees.  They were Hipolito Ciriaco, Lolita Howard-Canty, Karen Lueshen, Jennette Moore, Denise Ramsey, and Jay Webb

It takes a special sort of person to be a caregiver.  In the nomination letters, clients’ families regularly used the word blessing to refer to the care given a loved one and caregivers spoke frequently of the gratitude they feel towards the people they care for.

Smith Chambers read a list of skills and practices she said were the theme of the nomination letters HCPC received.  Things like smiles, sees something and gets it done, and punctual were interspersed with personal touches like cooks from scratch and brings fresh flowers.  “If you need a copy for some training materials,” Smith Chambers offered the businesses that attended, “I can send it to you.”

Every nominee received an award and a copy of the nomination letter.  Cobb was touched by her nomination letter as was Lueshen who seemed overwhelmed and was still teary eyed an hour after receiving her award.  While most of the individuals nominated worked in the senior care industry, Lueshen was nominated by the Bonney Lake Senior Center for her work with seniors especially her neighbor, Florence.  Towards the end of Florence’s life, Lueshen took her to a Jazz festival so that she could be around the “music that she loved one last time.”  Lueshen said she’d completely forgotten the trip but Florence had been so excited she had bought three new outfits, one for each day of the festival, and she’d insisted on wearing strand after strand of beads each day of the festival.

Lolita Howard-Canty receives a caregiver recognition award from Darol Tuttle and Kelly Smith Chambers.

Bathing is a big deal for many clients as many caregivers know so it wasn’t surprising that Jennette Moore from Charlton Place in Tacoma won praises for the “best shower I’ve ever had.”  Hipolito Ciriaco, the owner of Grace Joy Adult Family Home in University Place was nominated by a family that was having trouble with an elderly father that refused to bathe and was angry about being moved.  Ciriaco showed up wearing scrubs and convinced the man to come with him, eventually the man became comfortable enough to bathe for the first time in six weeks.

Lolita Howard-Canty and Denise Ramsey’s clothes hide wings.  Ramsey’s nomination letter said, “God sent us an angel.”  Jesus speaks of abundance the letter went on to say and “Denise put that abundance into our lives.”  Howard-Canty’s nomination letter called her “our angel on earth.”