This story is told by WHRC Case Manager Associate Judith Han
The very first client that I worked with at WHRC was Phyllis James. Phyllis came to Weinberg full of life, energy and joy. Every time I saw her, she would have a grin so wide you couldn’t see her eyes and she gave the warmest hugs. During my first month or two working with her, she became increasingly depressed and forgetful. One day she wouldn’t be able to recall a conversation we had the night before and another day she would forget about an appointment that had been scheduled.
There was one time when I found Phyllis in the dimly lit laundry room sitting alone. There was no smile as she greeted me and as I spoke to her, tears began to stream down her face. My heart broke as she told me that no one loved her or cared about her and that she felt like she wasn’t good enough. I was so torn by her words because I wanted so badly for her to know how precious and loved she was and that she was full of worth in God’s eyes.
After speaking to her case manager, I decided to take Phyllis for a walk to the nearby monument thinking she could use a change of scenery. I told her to wear her prettiest dress so that she could have an excuse to look nice and feel more confident. Phyllis had not been taking the time to take care of her appearance as she grew increasingly depressed. But that day she looked beautiful in a flattering striped dress and black heels. She shyly beamed as staff complimented her on how nice she looked. I took her hand and we ventured outside. It was the most beautiful summer day that day. As we sat on the park bench, she told me stories about her family. Her eyes were bright and sparkling as she laughed and recalled old memories. She was so beautiful in that moment not only in appearance but in the way her whole being seemed to light up and radiate joy. This was the Phyllis we all knew and loved.
A few months later, our dear Phyllis was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. This was crushing news to all the staff members who worked closely with her. However instead of being discouraged and giving up, I saw an overwhelming response of love, dedication and commitment from our staff at WHRC. When Phyllis forgot to eat, her case manager would buy lunch for her and eat with her so she wouldn’t feel lonely. When she forgot to take her medication, her fellow residents would go out of their way to remind her to take them every day. When Phyllis tried to go outside because she had a tendency to wander, operations staff would look out for her and make sure she didn’t go too far from the building. When Phyllis was upset and crying, other case managers would sit with her and comfort her until she felt better. There were countless people who went out of their way to make her feel loved and cherished.
Because of all the combined efforts and dedication of the WHRC staff, Phyllis was able to move out today to permanent housing! This would not have been possible without every single staff member that committed to serving this resident in need. To take from a quote from our Commitment training, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out” – Robert Collier. Seeing Phyllis leave was definitely bittersweet but it made me so proud to be a part of a team that is committed to helping human beings reach their God-given potential!