Margaret Gatei has been with Family Resource, through thick and thin, for over ten years! And she’s been a caregiver for double that time. It all started when she won the Green Card Lottery in 2008. She relocated from Kenya to Oklahoma and began her journey as a caregiver, training for her license while also helping take care of her daughter’s newborn baby. After the baby had learned to walk, Margaret moved to Washington State and almost immediately got a job at Family Resource. She’s been with us ever since!
In her time with Family Resource, Margaret has almost solely done live-in care. “It’s been good for me,” Margaret said. “It’s a rewarding experience. You are everything when you are living with a client like that. You give everything to them because most of them are not able to do a lot for themselves.” Over the years, Margaret has had many clients. Most of them with dementia, which can be difficult since they often become confused which can lead to tantrums and hostility. But Margaret is ever patient and compassionate. She knows how to speak with her dementia clients and help them feel more at ease.
Margaret has been caring for her current client for 8 years. One would think that working with the same client for that long would get easier as their personality and habits become more predictable. This client, however, has been steadily declining with dementia, and Margaret’s job has become increasingly difficult since the client she works with now is very different than the one she met 8 years ago. But Margaret’s compassion and dedication has never wavered. Even though living with and caring for this client 5 days a week can be very difficult, Margaret has a lot of love for her. “She’s become like a part of me,” Margaret confessed. “I love my work; I like doing it well. I love my client. She is like a mother to me – or grandmother.” This is what keeps her going.
On Margaret’s weekends off, she loves spending time with her daughter and grandchildren, whom she lives with. They used to go to the park before COVID, but now they’ll take walks around their neighborhood in Tacoma and spend quality time playing board games together at home.
Margaret is very grateful to be a live-in caregiver. She appreciates its consistency, the deeper connections it allows her to have with her clients, and the familiarity of the route from her home. Margaret nostalgically recalled her time when she first arrived in America. She hadn’t driven since 1971, and when she started practicing again to get her driver’s license, she found driving entirely different. She would sometimes find herself on the left side of the road, like back home in Kenya. She laughs that she still sometimes gets lost, but is much more comfortable with her surroundings than those early days.
The Family Resource team is boundlessly grateful for Margaret. When asked why she’d been chosen as Platinum Caregiver of the Month, Seattle Branch Manager Laura stated, “We selected Margaret based on our experience of working with her over the past 7+ years with the same client. Margaret has longevity with her client and has demonstrated a level of commitment not only professionally, but built a genuine friendship with her. The client’s guardian speaks highly of Margaret as well. Her client was very challenging all those years ago: combative, resistant, an overall challenge to help. But Margaret did not let that phase her and is still going strong with her to this day!”