In keeping with one of the principles of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Flint, which is that we all have a collective responsibility to one another, to help and heal whenever possible, especially during these current difficult times, I want you to know about Sharon Chimovitz as this week’s Hometown Hero.
Sharon has been a caregiver to Joy, an 88-year-old woman, for the past 11 years. Joy’s needs have changed as she declines both physically and cognitively. Sharon started out as more of a companion to Joy, but is now responsible for scheduling and taking her to her appointments, making sure she takes her medication, cleaning her house, doing her laundry, getting her groceries, cooking, as well as basic lawn work–all of which allows Joy to remain in her own home.
Sharon consistently works her usual shifts daily and is always there when needed if one of her other caregivers are not available. She also is willing to drop everything and go to Joy if she should call with a need, big or small.
More important than the services she provides, is the personal relationship she has with Joy. She says that she has always enjoyed working with the elderly, but she and Joy have developed a special friendship over the years. Before Joy’s decline and, more recently, the pandemic restrictions, they had fun doing many things together such as cooking and learning recipes from Joy and shopping together and volunteering at Goodwill, just to name a few outings that are dearly missed by both of them.
Now, other than medical appointments, they are limited to sitting on the front porch when weather permits and planting flowers and watching them grow. One valued thing they continue to enjoy is long conversations, which allows Joy to reminisce and share her wonderful stories. Joy’s only family members live out of the area but do come to visit.
Sharon said she is treated as family and is included in any activities they engage in. This is very special to Sharon, as she is unable to see her own family and grandchildren who live out of state and have been unable to travel due to the pandemic restrictions. Joy’s dementia began to progress about five years ago. But Sharon tries her best not to let the short-term memory loss cause any distress for Joy. She says that her main goal and the most rewarding aspect of her job is to make sure that Joy is happy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not significantly affected her job. She, of course, takes extra precautions to protect Joy, masking, handwashing, social distancing and sanitizing, both while with Joy and during her own personal time. They have both received their first vaccination. She says that Joy has trouble comprehending the need for a mask. To minimize her anxiety about it, she has gotten her some very pretty ones which makes it easier for Joy to accept.
As life continues to change for Joy, she is incredibly lucky to have someone as kind and caring as Sharon. She and other caregivers of some of the most vulnerable in our society deserve recognition and acknowledgment for all that they do. Every day and especially during this challenging time…Sharon Chimovitz you are truly a hero.
Hometown Heroes is a feature about people who are making a difference in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, presented by the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2474 S. Ballenger Hwy., in Flint Township.