My name is Sherry Perry, I am a career CNA.  I love my work and have sacrificed in order to do what I love.  I have been a CNA for 30 years, the past 24 at the same nursing home.  It hasn’t always been easy, but I have had so many meaningful experiences to help carry me through.

For several years I had to work two or three jobs to make enough money to pay my bills and raise my three children.  I loved my job as a CNA, and so I worked as many jobs as needed to be able to continue to do the work I wanted.  My primary fulltime job was at a nursing home, so I had a couple of part time jobs, one of which happened to be for a home health agency.

I cared for a little lady for at least two years in her home.  She had the saddest life story I had ever heard.  She was abused as a child by her mother and brother, she had an abusive husband and her son was killed in a car wreck at the age of sixteen, a week after she had bought him a car.  Now she lived alone and the only person she had to look after her was the brother who was mean to her and abused her as a child.

Needless to say I became close to her and checked on her even when I was not on duty.  The last time I went to see her as a client at her home, I found her on the floor non-responsive and had to call the ambulance.  After several weeks in the hospital the doctor said she could no longer stay by herself even with home health services.  So she had no choice but to go to live at nursing home.

With no one willing to be her power-of-attorney to see after her, I was so upset.  I went to my boss, actually it was the kind woman who owned the home I worked for, and explained the situation and asked if she could help get her into our nursing home—where I could still look after her.  She agreed to look into it and see what could be done.

A few days later I came into work, and I had an empty bed on my hall.  To my surprise, I was told I had gotten a new resident.  I went down to the room and there was the little lady I had been caring for!  She was just as excited to see me as I was to see her!  So, for the next few years I cared for her every day.  I would visit her after work and eat lunch with her, and knowing she would be alone with no one to visit her on holidays, I always made sure that I was there to visit her along with my young children every holiday.

WE got her Christmas presents and brought her holiday meals just as other families did with their loved ones at the nursing home.  Granted she developed dementia and didn’t really know me anymore, but when we visited her even on holidays, it made her smile and hopefully she felt loved by a family, a love she really never got to experience a lot of in her 85 years of life.

When the time came for her journey here on earth to come to an end, I got to be the one to sit with her and hold her hand as she took her last breath and peacefully drift off into eternal sleep.  It was an honor to be there for her.

So I ask each of you to remember all the little things we do for our residents mean more to them than we will ever know.  We give them a since of belonging, love, family and dignity. These are the precious things everyone deserves in their life.