2012 Moore County Caregiver Awards Presented
With November as National Family Caregivers Month in mind, the 2012 Caregiver Awards of Moore County recognized caregivers nominated from throughout the community.
More than 40 nominations were received representing family caregivers as well as community volunteers and those who have made a career of giving to others.
Now in its third year, the awards were the idea of Amy Natt, CEO of Aging Outreach Services, a full-service elder care firm based in Southern Pines.
"Caregivers come in many forms. Some are family, others are volunteers, and then there are those who choose it as a profession, but they all share a heart for giving," Natt said. "The little things they do make a big difference in another's life. They work hard, not for what they will gain, but because it is who they are. The Caregiver Awards is one way that our community can come together and recognize the importance of their work and thank these caregivers for the compassion and dedication they give to others. It is our way to let them know that it does not go unnoticed."
A selection committee reviewed all of the nominations to determine two finalists and the Caregiver of the Year, all of whom were honored in a private ceremony on Oct. 26 at Sandhills Community College, with a keynote address by national storyteller Mitch Capel.
Frank Smither Jr., of Pinehurst, was named a finalist for the 2012 award. Smither, nominated by his sister Susan Holmes, was instrumental in caring for their mother, and most recently for their 83-year-old father for the past eight years.
"Frank took care of all of our father's personal care needs, including feeding, giving medications, positioning while always wanting to make him comfortable," Holmes said. "He was also our father's hands and eyes."
Regardless of his disabilities and own diagnosis with myotonic muscular dystrophy, characterized by a wasting of the muscles, Smither continued his caregiving role for his father.
"Frank never complains and never asks for anything for himself," Holmes said. "He is a very loyal and dedicated son and brother. He always has a smile and nice thing to say to everyone every day. Even through his health difficulties, Frank continued to keep our father's needs at the forefront. No matter how he was feeling, he woke up every day with his routine beginning with caring for our father."
Smither's father passed away last month.
"If you knew how unselfish Frank was to do everything," Holmes said with tears in her eyes. "He never volunteered, but because of his situation, it evolved. Every time I would lose my patience with the minutiae of the things our father needed, he would just say, 'Dad can't help it,' to bring me back. He took on that burden with constant patience."
Smither modestly says, "I just did what needed to be done."
Providing care when needs arise seems to be part of the job description and also true of the second finalist in this year's Caregiver Awards of Moore County, Donna Brock, a news release said.
Brock, a geriatric care manager, works with her senior clients and their families to deal with all aspects of aging. Laurie Lutz, of Pinehurst, nominated Brock for her care of her mother.
"Donna immediately joined our family as a care manager to my mom and as lifesaver to me and my husband," Lutz said. "She became our adviser, counselor and essential guide through the ever-shifting world of dementia.
'When it became clear that the best option for my mom was assisted living, Donna helped us through navigating doctors' diagnoses, insurance requirements, researching, choosing and dealing with a sea of paperwork for admission, and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us through the seemingly insurmountable task of transitioning my mother into the assisted living community, allowing her to take this journey with dignity and grace."
Brock attributes her care for seniors to the fact that she didn't get to know her own grandmother and has been told how much like her she is, and describes her profession as her "niche." In her own life, she balances being a single mother with caring for her own mother, who sadly passed away last month without the opportunity to celebrate this honor with her.
"I like the fact they can put their trust in me and feel like I've helped them. It makes it all worthwhile," Brock said.
Lutz added, "I can't imagine how we could have made it through these difficult months without her. She possesses a perfect blend of compassion, humor, wisdom, experience and professionalism that immediately convinced us we were in the best of hands. I sometimes tease Donna that I'm convinced she really is an angel, but I cannot figure out how she gets her clothes to fit so well over those wings. She truly has been a Godsend to our family."
This year's Caregiver of the Year of Moore County as chosen by the selection committee is Mary Fowler, of Aberdeen. Fowler, nominated by Sharon and Craig Fogleman, of West End, served as live-in caregiver for almost seven years, five days a week, 24 hours a day, for their mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
Fowler simply said, "It's important to go and be with people that want you, and you need to feel like you're contributing. It wasn't like a job; it was like staying with family. It was fulfilling and rewarding. After working 34 years in textiles, this surpassed it all."
"The last year was rough," Sharon Fogelman said. "Mom didn't know us most of the time, but she knew her Mary. When a stroke left Mom unable to swallow in January, Mary asked us to move the recliner into the bedroom so she could be there with Mom during the night. Hospice came in, but Mary did not want to leave Mom's side and seldom did. She was with her until the end, holding her hand.
"At Mom's funeral, we had a beautiful finish to the service at the cemetery with the release of doves. Mom's oldest son placed one hand on the coffin, and the family joined hands in a big circle with Mary completing the circle. Mary did complete our family circle. Our mom's last years on Earth were made more comfortable and peaceful because of Mary."
Smither, Brock and Fowler each received a piece of North Carolina pottery and cash prizes. An array of gifts and prizes were also donated from local businesses.
The sponsors included Sandhills Community College, OutreachNC magazine, FirstHealth Center for Rehabilitation, Pinehurst Medical Clinic, Fox Hollow Senior Living, Moore Registry, Penick Village, St. Joseph of the Pines, Rhett's Restaurant and Muirfield Broadcasting.
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