Grace Omwega walks purposefully down a wide hallway, listening for familiar voices or chiming alarms.
As a certified nursing assistant at the Good Samaritan Society's location in Windom, Minnesota, it’s Grace’s job to help nursing home residents with anything they need — reaching a drink, stretching to put on socks or getting up to take a walk around the center.
But as someone who deeply cares for residents, Grace thinks of her work as more of a gift than a job.
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"When I was hired here, I was thinking, 'Oh, I can work one or two years and I can go somewhere else,'" says Grace, who came to the United States from Kenya nine years ago.
"But now, I have finished seven years, and I will finish more, too!"
"You know, if there is a resident, and you go to them and say, 'Get up,' even I won't get up for that," says Grace. "I want to be asked, 'How are you?' first. So like me, I have to make sure I'm cooperating with them, with everybody."
From the heart
Thinking back through her life, Grace says she can't remember an incident or person who shaped her belief that it is important to keep on trying, to keep on smiling.
"Trying is automatic," she says. "It is good to get up and do some things. That makes the blood circulate, and then life becomes longer."
Grace always has a smile on her face. When she comes down the hallway, people say, 'Oh, Grace, you're here!'" — Shelley Lovell, Grace Omwega's co-worker
The people that Grace works with make her feel at home, but they've also given her a glimpse into her own future: a time of returned love.
"Before, I didn't know where I'm going. But now I understand," she says. "They need my help, and I will need someone's help, too."
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