SPRINGFIELD — Joellen Balensiefen of Wyanet, employed by the Henry and Stark County Health Departments as a homecare assistant, recently received the honor of Homecare Aide of the Year by the Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers and was recognized at a luncheon at the Illinois Executive Mansion in Springfield on May 9.
“Joellen is very compassionate about helping her clients maintain a good quality of life, as well as helping make life easier for their families and caregivers. She regularly rearranges her schedule to take a client in her 90s to doctor appointments, so the family doesn’t have to miss work,” said Janell Steffen, director of Home Services with the health departments.
“Of special note, Joellen was literally a lifesaver for one of her clients who had a power issue that caused a surge through his home and started a fire,” said Steffen. “It happened on a Saturday morning, when she was working. The home quickly filled with smoke. Joellen called the fire department and got the client safely out of the home. She contacted his family and assisted with fire department and insurance questions. She spent the rest of her morning helping the client get through the crisis. After the immediate needs were met, in the next few days she also helped him find cheap replacement appliances, etc., for the items that were destroyed by the power surge, fire and smoke.”
Balensiefen has been with the department for more than 12 years. As a trained and certified homecare assistant, she visits area residents in Henry, Stark and Bureau counties in their homes and helps them with such activities as light housekeeping, cooking, laundry, shopping and personal care.
Balensiefen said, “I find my job very satisfying. I enjoy my work each and every day. I guess I love my work because it not only benefits each of my clients, but their families and the community as a whole.”