At A Place At Home, we believe that our caregivers are the most essential part of our business – after all, they are the reason we’re able to provide professional, compassionate care to seniors in their homes across the country. Each year, we receive nominations for caregivers across our system to be awarded as our National Caregiver of the Year. This year, that award went to Molina Schebell, a caregiver for A Place At Home – Orange Park.

To be considered for the award, the caregiver must consistently demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to delivering care to clients, as well as their families. On top of that, candidates must continually operate within A Place At Home’s core values of C.A.R.E. They must be Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful, and Ethical in all of their actions and interactions at all times. According to Chris Adams, owner of A Place At Home- Orange Park, Molina not only fits within these parameters, but she also goes above and beyond at all times, personally driven to devote her time to helping those in need.

“She’s a wonderful person to work with because she changes people’s lives the way she treats them and approaches them.”

In Chris’s submission letter, he spoke of the positive response Molina receives from clients from the moment she first walks in their door – they immediately trust her because she exudes peace and comfort. We were fortunate to meet Molina in person and experience first-hand the truth of Chris’s words. To receive her award as National Caregiver of the Year, Molina was flown to Omaha, Nebraska, to attend our annual award ceremony, which happens once a year at our annual convention. Her all-expenses-paid trip included a spa day, as well as a plaque and a check for $1,000. She was interviewed about being selected while in Omaha, and her empathy was evident in every interaction with her. When asked how she felt about winning, she said it came as a complete shock. Winning the award genuinely humbled her.

“The closer it got to me flying to Omaha, it really sank in that I had won this award for just being myself.”

When she says, “just for being myself,” she means it. For Molina, caring for others comes naturally; winning an award for something she does effortlessly seems surreal to her. She says she’s always been the sort of person to give of herself when others have a need. Unbeknownst to her at the time, that mindset is what set her on her path to caring for others professionally. About 13 years ago, her grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. At the time, Molina had never been a caregiver in any official way. At this point in her career, she was the manager of a busy auto shop. Molina enjoyed the job, but her love for her nana and her own empathetic nature kicked into high gear. She decided to resign from her position. She moved in with her grandmother to care for her full time. She wanted to keep her from moving from her home and into a nursing home. She was determined to ensure her nana had the best quality of life and care.

She immediately started learning everything she could about dementia and how to give the best possible care to someone living with the disease.

Over the next five years, Molina was her grandmother’s primary caregiver. Through the state of Florida, her grandmother qualified to receive respite care. A professional caregiver came in three days a week for four hours a day. Those hours were the only time that Molina had for herself. She was the full-time caregiver the rest of the time, seven days a week. It was far from easy for either of them. Molina put her life on hold during that time, and her grandmother suffered from every possible complication that could occur with dementia. On three separate occasions, Molina had to resuscitate her grandmother, who would then have to be life-flighted to a hospital where she would stay for a month, only to return home and go through it again. Even still, Molina wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. She was so grateful to be able to be there with her and for her.

“We had the best memories. For five years, we had memories that nobody can take.”

While caring for her grandmother, Molina realized that something that comes naturally to her – caring for others – had become a passion. After her grandmother passed away, she knew that caregiving was her calling. Her experience served to deepen her understanding of what others go through when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia and expanded her empathy to encompass their family, as well. She says, “From the outside, you can’t really see what’s going on behind closed doors, the struggles that family members go through.” This perspective allows her caring nature to reach beyond her clients to the spouses, children, and siblings that love and care for someone with dementia. Molina knows first-hand – she was both the granddaughter and the caregiver. The gravity of being a family member and a caregiver is something that she doesn’t take lightly.

“It’s hard for everybody, not just the individual.”

Now, years later, the ripple effect of realizing her calling through the experience with her grandmother is ongoing. Molina’s compassion and empathy have allowed her to gain the trust of the individuals and families in the Orange Park community. “This is what I’m supposed to do. This is what I get up for, and it’s something I’m excited about.”

Since she started working with A Place At Home, Molina has participated in specialized training to become CARE Certified in Dementia and Fall Recovery. In the future, Molina plans on furthering her career in the medical field, specializing in Alzheimer’s and dementia, though she says she’ll always work and care for people in their homes. She believes that when people receive care in their home instead of a senior living community, it’s a better experience for them. And, she can’t really imagine doing anything else.

“I think this comes naturally to me – to care for people. It makes me feel happy to know that I’m providing for somebody how I would want my family to be cared for.”

At A Place At Home – we take our C.A.R.E. standards seriously. If you’re a caregiver – or are intrigued by the idea of a career that directly improves the lives of others – apply to work with us today. And if you or someone you know needs compassionate, professional care, we can help.

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