This year February 19th is National Caregivers Day, and we wanted to honor a caregiver that we have heard so many beautiful things about from the Veterans that appreciate him. Wayne Smith has only been a caregiver at Comfort Keepers of Genesee, MI, for just under three years. At the urging of his youngest daughter, a CNA with Comfort Keepers of Genesee, he decided to come out of retirement to devote his time to caring for Veterans. The father of six was a paint contractor for fifty years and decided he didn’t want to sit around anymore.
Wayne’s first client, Hugh, was only seven years older than him. You could hear the smile in his voice as he stated, “We became more buddies than a working relationship.” He went on to say, “We just did what old guys like to do, sit around and talk and laugh and occasionally play pool while he was still healthy enough.” Along with doing some light housekeeping and running his new friend to doctor appointments, or making him a meal, Wayne thoroughly enjoyed their time together.
Even after Hugh was no longer in his care, Wayne kept helping out. Hugh’s only surviving relative was over a couple of hundred miles away, and Wayne would update him daily while Hugh was in the hospital. Once Hugh was admitted to a nursing home, Wayne even cleaned out his apartment, washed all of his clothes, and delivered his things to the nursing home. Hugh’s brother Dale Adams stated, “He always went out of his way to help Hugh and Hugh views Wayne as an outstanding friend.” Dale went on to say it was such a relief knowing that Wayne was there to look after his brother.
Mayme Obrien of Comfort Keepers of Genesee, also praised Wayne for his dedication, saying, “Wayne did his job and then some. If Hugh called and needed anything, Wayne was there. Even on his days off. Wayne always went above and beyond for Hugh.” Mayme then went on to recognize Jodi Stone at Veterans Care Coordination for the support she gave to all involved, stating, “I truly believe that Jodi Stone has a true passion and a vision like that of Comfort Keepers. I always appreciated the check-in Jodi often did. If I had issues, she was a good listener, and I truly believe she cared so much for him too.”
Becoming a caregiver was never part of Wayne’s plan since he has severe arthritis from a spine injury. He was in a car accident in 1999 that fractured vertebrae in his back and went through two years of rehab to recover. But he insists that his clients are helping him too by keeping him active and moving. Wayne exclaimed, “I’m healthy enough to do the things they can’t, and I thoroughly enjoy it.” He humbly stated, ”I am the lucky one here.” He went on to say, “I just want to give them a better day on the days I am with them.”
Veterans Care Coordination would like to thank you for your dedication to providing not only the best quality of care, but also providing amazing companionship for the Veterans you work with. You are a real example of the definition of a caregiver.