This month’s Platinum Caregiver award goes to Kathy Rusk, who works out of our Tri-Cities branch. A Tri-Cities native, Kathy earned her Nursing Assistant Certification (NAC) during her senior year of high school. She began her caregiving career in 1996 at Today’s Nursing and also worked in an Adult Family Home. She has been with Family Resource Home Care since May 2017. Jackie Zakrajsek, Tri-Cities Regional Manager, describes Kathy as “a versatile caregiver who can go into any situation and perform like a true professional. Kathy has a great willingness and desire to help others and has been the Tri-Cities go-to person for staffing short notice call-offs.”
Kathy got her start working for Family Resource Home Care in an unusual way. In 2010, three years before the Wiberg family became owners of Family Home Care (now Family Resource Home Care), Dell Wiberg and Irene Finlinson, moved into independent apartments in an Assisted Living community. Dell and Irene were the paternal grandparents of Family Resource Home Care CEO, Jeff Wiberg; CFO, Jason Wiberg; and Inland/Northwest Regional Manager, Jared Wiberg. Dell needed some assistance with ADL’s, and as luck would have it, his great niece, who also lived in Tri-Cities, was CNA Kathy Rusk, who accepted the job of working as Dell’s private caregiver. For many years Kathy worked caring for Dell, and later cared for both Dell and Irene. When Dell passed, Kathy continued working for Irene until January 2017, when she too passed away. Over the years Kathy got to know Dell and Irene’s granddaughter, Jackie Zakrajsek, who was not only her second cousin but would later become Regional Manager of the Family Resource Tri-Cities Branch! Five months after Irene’s passing, both Kathy and Jackie came to work for Family Resource Home Care.
Kathy says that some of her favorite clients are the ones for whom staff has struggled to find a caregiver with the right “fit.” Kathy makes it her priority to get to know her client’s routine and their likes and dislikes. By focusing on her client and what she can do to help them maintain their lifestyle, habits, and schedule, she typically wins them over. Kathy says that she loves serving others, and her greatest joy is making clients smile. Tri-Cities Regional Manager, Jackie Zakrajsek, says “Kathy is a very special caregiver who always finds a way to get through to even the most challenging clients.”
Not only does Kathy spend her days caring for Family Resource clients, but her caring also extends to her immediate family as she lives with and helps care for her aging parents. She also has 6 siblings, 22 nieces and nephews, and 1 great-niece. When she is not working, Kathy enjoys genealogy, her church callings, reading, hiking and spending time with her family.
In 2018, while working for Family Resource Home Care, Kathy earned her M.A. “We were so proud of Kathy when she earned her degree,” says Jackie, “but we were scared that we might lose her as a caregiver.
We are grateful every day that she has stuck by us and continues to help us carry out our mission and values of caring for others with kindness, integrity, respect, and compassion.”
Jeff Wiberg, CEO of Family Resource, was delighted to share his thoughts about Kathy. “Shortly before my ‘graham cracker’ (which is what I called my grandmother, Irene) passed away, I interviewed her on camera and asked her to express her feelings about my cousins, including Jackie and my second cousin Kathy, who we are honoring today as Platinum Caregiver. My grandma spoke about her appreciation and love for all of them, and for what they had done, but expressed special gratitude for the positive daily impact Kathy had on her life and the life of my grandfather, Dell.
“Kathy did for my grandparents what every one of our caregivers do every day,” continued Jeff Wiberg, “which is to improve the quality of life of those for whom we care. But for me, to have heard it directly from a woman I loved still brings tears of appreciation to my eyes. It brings home the immense impact of what we do.”
“Thank you, Kathy, for caring for our clients, and a special thanks for the many years that you cared for our grandma and grandpa, two of the most important people in my life!” concluded Jackie Zakrajsek.