For many who work in healthcare, the desire to work as a caregiver goes beyond a career choice: it’s a calling. This path is more than just a job. It means you are giving back to someone who can never repay you, but all the while you must ensure that they are cared for with dignity and honor.
For Kayla*, becoming a caregiver was a calling, but finding a job was a matter of survival.
“I was a teen in foster care and was in and out of group homes. I was just another person on the caseload, and I slipped through the cracks.”
Despite a difficult upbringing, Kayla describes her story as one of tragedy and great joy.
“I learned from an early age to take care of myself. All things considered, I did a pretty good job for a while.”
Kayla’s resilience and deep desire to give back to the world led her to working as a personal care assistant at an assisted living home while eager to start her training for a career as a Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA).
“I’m drawn to work with the elderly because, the way I see it, we wouldn’t be here without them. They brought up their families, and now, it’s my responsibility and honor to care for them.”
Then, life threw Kayla a curveball. She lost her job and became homeless.
“My husband and I were living in a tent. We didn’t have much – maybe a couple of pairs of clothes, but at the time, shelters had a maximum capacity because of COVID restrictions. So, we traveled from place to place each night to make sure we had a safe, dry place to sleep.”
Despite the circumstances, Kayla was determined to get out of her current situation.
“I remember walking miles at a time looking for a building that had a plug so that I could charge my phone to maintain communication with the world. I was so afraid that if people couldn’t reach me, I’d fall through the cracks again.”
Before becoming homeless, Kayla had a deposit down to start her LNA training with another company, but she had to withdraw to get the deposit money back so that she and her husband had some cash to try to get by.
“I asked those trainers if they knew any grants or programs to assist with getting my license. They saw my passion and helped me with a form for the Medallion Scholarship, which then sent me to NH Needs Caregivers.”
And that’s how it started.
“As soon as I got the information, I used my phone to get on the website and gave my name and number. Within two days, I got a call back from the NH Needs Caregivers team saying, ‘Hey, I want to help you get your LNA license, and this is how I’m going to do it.’ It was surreal.”
Kayla wanted to become an LNA, but first and foremost, she needed a job.
“It all sounds really neatly packaged, but it was scary. I needed a job. It was a matter of survival. I told them I was struggling and needed help immediately, and the team at NH Needs Caregivers stepped up and contacted colleagues to try to help me.”
Within two weeks, Pleasant View in Concord hired Kayla as a screener to take temperatures at the admissions desk so that she could work while she waited for her LNA training class to start.
“The team members at NH Needs Caregivers and at Pleasant View were my cheerleaders. They went above and beyond. This program gave me a second chance.”
Kayla now works as an LNA in long-term care at Pleasant View, and for her, being a caregiver is a personal mission to give back to those who paved the way for her.
“I believe everything happens for a reason. I think that’s where my desire to care for others stems from. I don’t want anyone else to feel abandoned or that they fell through the cracks. You’re not a lost cause. You deserve to feel cared for and to live life abundantly.”
To learn more about the NH Needs Caregivers! initiative, visit NHNeedsCaregivers.org.
*Name changed to maintain privacy