Despite illness or an hour-long drive to her clients' home, Milford resident Julianna Willette looks forward to going to work each day, a level of dedication recently recognized by her employer, Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services based in Milton, when she was awarded “Angel of the Month” for the month of July.
For home health aide and Milford resident Julianna Willette, going to work every day means much more than just earning a paycheck.
Despite illness or an hour-long drive to her clients' home, Willette looks forward to going to work each day, a level of dedication recently recognized by her employer, Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services based in Milton, when she was awarded "Angel of the Month" for the month of July.
"Generally [the award] is for someone who has gone above and beyond," said Visiting Angels President Dave Forman. "Julianna is one of the most requested employees. It's her dedication and her stellar attendance record, as well as her personality, why people want her to come back."
Visiting Angels provides home health caregivers for Sussex families in need of assistance due to age and health problems. Willette, 23, cares for five families and often works seven days a week, mostly in Ocean View.
"I never wake up and dread going to work," Willette said. "I have time in my day to relax and have a good time with the patients. It's like having five sets of grandparents you get to visit all week long. Who wouldn't want that?"
Willette became a certified nursing assistant at the age of 17 after graduating from Sussex Technical High School. Since graduation, Willette has studied education and worked in hospital and nursing home settings, but has realized that her calling is therapy. She hopes to pursue a career in physical or occupational therapy in the near future.
Willette has been working as a home health aide with Visiting Angels for about one year and doesn't plan to leave any time soon, at least until that "big girl job" comes along, she said.
"I love it, and home health care is fairly new," Willette said. "It's in their own homes, so it makes them so much more at ease being in their own environment and it's much more enjoyable."
As she cares for her aging patients, helping with household chores, mobility and doctor's appointments, Willete said she also has an opportunity to share in their life stories, family meals and traditions, and truly becomes a part of their family.
"They give you this wisdom," Willette said. "They come from a generation that's so romantic to me. They share so much with me, and they know what they're talking about. They're this generation that tends to be forgotten and they shouldn't be."
"I now have a new best friend," said Betty Wendelin of Ocean View, one of Willette's regular patients. "She's my right-hand person. We were very lucky."
Willette said the most important aspect of her job is that she is able to make life easier and to bring a bit of happiness to her aging patients.
"No matter how long I'm with them, two weeks or two years, I get to make their last days happy and that's what matters to me," Willette said. "I'm not doing it for the recognition. I love them."
"I just hope when I'm their age, there's someone like that to take care of me."