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Care Pro of the Month

Mary Jane Wanted to Be With Client During Hurricane

Since most longtime Floridians have weathered a hurricane or two during their lifetime, they could appreciate Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Mary Jane Pheasant’s unique hurricane story that centered on being with a dementia client.

Mary Jane has been a twice-honored Care Pro with the award-winning Home Instead franchise in Clearwater, Florida, since 2015. But her hurricane experience took place 1,100 miles northeast of Clearwater 10 years ago while she was assisting a 24/7 Alzheimer’s client on behalf of the Home Instead franchise in Sewell, New Jersey. The date was Oct. 29, 2012, and the storm was “Sandy,” at first a Category 3 hurricane and later a post-tropical cyclone (“Superstorm Sandy”).

Mary Jane usually worked from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the client. She made that assigned shift and then stayed until 11 p.m. so her client would not be alone. The client’s family did not live nearby, and they needed someone to be with their senior loved one. The Care Pro who normally would have taken the 3-to-11 shift could not come because of the weather and road conditions. The client lived only 10 to 15 minutes from Mary Jane.

Mary Jane said: “My client was a sweet lady who had no idea a hurricane was raging outside her home at an independent living complex. I talked to her and turned music on for her.” The client had perpetually felt cold, but she felt even colder when the electricity went out during the storm. “I had her put a coat on before the power returned a half-hour later. She was a sweetheart. She was my first client at the franchise,” said Mary Jane, who had ended her job as a rental agent for an apartment building in New Jersey before joining Home Instead.

Mary Jane, who became at CNA in 1989 in Virginia and worked at a hospital, compassionately has assisted her clients so well because she is skilled, experienced and empathetic. A state-certified Home Health Aide in June 2012, Mary Jane worked for three Home Instead franchises in New Jersey before joining owner Julie Castle’s Home Instead franchise in Clearwater in October 2015. In the first of three Care Professional of the Month awards, Mary Jane was honored Dec. 23, 2013, at Home Instead of Hightstown, New Jersey. At Home Instead of Clearwater, Director of Care Professional Services JC Crady announced Mary Jane’s awards in November 2016 and July 2022.

Mary Jane’s concern for seniors can be traced back to her days as an 11-year-old in New Jersey, where she couldn’t bear to sit still at home and always was on the go. “I fondly recall making the 10-minute trip on my Schwinn Sting-Ray bike to my grandmother’s home. We played the 500 rummy card game for half of the day. I loved visiting with both of my grandmothers. I talked to them and did things with them, such as running errands with them. My grandparents were fun people who were very social and had grand get-togethers. One grandma died in the 1980s, and the other one passed away in 2008,” she said.

Mary Jane said, “I get an enjoyment out of talking to seniors. There are terrific stories. My grandfather was in World War II and told his war stories. I had a nice Alzheimer’s client in Clearwater. He could remember distant memories really well and could recall them in detail, but not his recent memories.”

Asked what her future holds, Mary Jane said: “I probably will be with Home Instead until I decide to retire.”