January 2018 – Mary Laboy – Mary’s Parents Modeled Compassion, Service
“Compassion” and “service” were etched on Mary Laboy’s heart from her earliest days while she was growing up in Pennsylvania.
“I am one of 10 children, and my parents always taught us to care for others, no matter what race, religion or background. My parents opened their door to friends and family who were in need. They even took in homeless friends of ours from school. My parents set the caregiving example,” said Mary, who joined owner Julie Castle’s award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® of Pinellas County franchise in May 2017. Seven months later, Mary was honored as CAREGiver of the Month.
Mary’s parents helped take care of an aunt who had Down syndrome and taught Mary and her siblings how to treat her and a nephew who also had Down syndrome. “In my family,” Mary explained, “there were all kinds of disabilities with which we had experience. In addition to Down syndrome, we learned to care for deaf grandparents and bipolar family members. My mother had glaucoma since her early 20s, and we all took turns helping her. She almost lost her eyesight several times after 12 surgeries.”
Mary added: “I’ve always been a family caregiver. As I started my career, I wanted to continue to care for others as my parents taught me. I worked with more than 500 families each year who needed food, toiletries and companionship. For 18 years, I was a food pantry manager in Chester, Pennsylvania. Later, I became an in-home caregiver before moving to Florida.”
Mary and her husband are passing down their compassionate ways. “As my parents did with me and my siblings, my husband and I also instill these values into our three daughters’ lives. We taught our three daughters how to volunteer and help others. I took them with me to deliver food, and they got a chance to see how less fortunate people lived. We have given away our own furniture for people who needed them.”
When Mary and her family moved to Florida in 2016, she worked with special-needs individuals in a school. But Mary wanted to return to her caregiving roots. A co-worker recommended Home Instead Senior Care, so Mary went online to research the company. She said: “What I read on the Home Instead website really inspired me.” In a question-and-answer, Mary offered more about Home Instead Senior Care and life in general:
Question: “What’s it like to work for Home Instead Senior Care?
Mary: “This was the best move I have made because I have found this work to be so rewarding. I like my schedule because it is very flexible. My co-workers and staff are so wonderful. It is so easy to talk to them. They really care about both their clients and CAREGivers. While our focus is strong, the staff keeps it light and jokes around on the phone or through text messages. They are great people who make a difference. Communication is good. Their training is unbelievably good. Home Instead training is personal, and I thoroughly enjoy classes, both the beginning and the ongoing. Our wonderful teacher is Bruce, a registered nurse.”
Question: How about the clients?
Mary: “I enjoy spending time with my clients It is a heartwarming experience to make even a little difference in someone’s life. Working one-on-one with the clients, I know I am providing a needed service, attention and companionship. I love being the ear who listens, the hand they hold when needed, the shoulder on which they can cry and the friend with whom they can laugh. The best part is listening to their stories while I help them around their home.”
Question: What is your favorite story about a client?
Mary: “Each is colorful in his or her own way. Every time I would come into a 94-year-old client’s home, she would tell me I was so loud and because of that, I ‘would never have a career as a robber.’ One time, when I was coming in, she heard me and hid then jumped out and scared me. It was so funny, and we both laughed for a while. It is so nice to be able to get to know your clients so well that they can joke around with you and have a fun time.”
Question: Do you have any poignant memories of a client?
Mary: “A client, who recently passed away, talked about her husband, who had been dead for a while and spoke lovingly of him. Sometimes she would call out his name and said she was ready to go join him. I told her: ‘You can’t leave me yet. The Good Lord will take you when He is ready.’ And the Good Lord did take her home when she was in rehabilitation after a hospital stay, so I didn’t get the chance to tell her goodbye . . . As far as current relationships go, I am not close to saying goodbye to this job, and I want to stick with it. In my entire work life, this is the most comfortable I’ve been with a job.”