Bettye White: Third Place

Ave Maria Home, Memphis

I was born in 1958 into a family of twelve. We didn’t have much, but together we had it all, so I’ve always been a very selfless, caring individual. Working as a CNA during the pandemic took that selflessness to a whole different level. It gives me a great sense of pride and joy to take care of my residents and see them happy, from both a mental and health standpoint. My health has always been important, but I wanted to be my best self for all my residents. One of my biweekly covid-19 exams at work revealed I was positive for Covid-19. I was instantly overcome with fear, but throughout my quarantine, all I could think about was how lonely my residents much have been and how I couldn’t wait to be covid free so I could get back to taking care of them. I knew they couldn’t have visitors, so it was like I was the only family they had.

The pandemic has also shaped my ability to be a better caretaker for my residents by taking protocol to the next level and making sure to implement standard precautions more often. Instead of just making sure my hands were always clean, I’d take a little extra time to make sure my residents were practicing hand hygiene as well. Whether we would take a little stroll to the rest room to wash them or provide them with some hand sanitizer. This is one of the many ways I stepped up precautionary measures during the pandemic. Another precautionary measure I adhered to was making sure I always wore my mask. It was important for my residents to wear their mask as well when in the general area. We all know those masks can get a little uncomfortable, so I made sure I always applied a little Vaseline to my residents’ ears to prevent skin break down from wearing the mask. Something so small can make a really big difference.

I wasn’t just a caretaker, the pandemic also shaped me into a counselor, a diary, and a friend to many of my residents. Sometimes all the residents need is someone to sit there and listen to them. I’ve worked at Ave Maria for about 25 years, and I love my job, but throughout the pandemic, I developed a great sense of passion about my job as a caretaker. I learned so much more about my residents from family members to astonishing childhood memories. The smiles on their faces seeing me in the mornings were priceless and those moments confirmed that I was doing something great in life. They say God saves his toughest battles for his strongest soldiers, and the pandemic made me just that; one of God’s strongest soldiers. Sometimes we take the smallest things in life for granted, but we as people must learn to appreciate them because the pandemic showed us things can change as fast as the flip of a light.