Maria Dani Frank webMaria “Dani" Frank honored in first-ever virtual recognition event. Maria "Dani" Frank, of Whitehall, Pennsylvania, is the 2020 Home Instead Senior Care North American CAREGiverSM of the Year. For Home Instead, the world’s leading provider of in-home care for older adults, there is no bigger accolade for the organization’s more than 65,000 professional CAREGiversSM. 

“She is the CAREGiverSM everyone wishes to have,” explains Kimberly Koze D’Amico, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Allentown and Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Frank, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1974 from Portugal with only the belongings  her family could fit in their suitcases and $500 in their pockets, has spent her life in consideration of others. In addition to 20 years with Home Instead, she has worked at her local hospital, returned to Portugal to care for her ailing parents and extended family, and even cared for her own husband until he passed away from Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2013. “When I have a client, I always put myself in their place,” describes Ms. Frank.

“I take care of them the way I want to be taken care of or the way I’ve cared for my family. Everything I’ve gone through in my life – losing Mom and Dad, losing my husband – this job gives me the strength to keep going and lets me know that life is truly worth living.” That inspiring, selfless spirit, is not lost on the estimated 100-plus clients Ms. Frank has cared for in her tenure as a Home Instead CAREGiverSM, especially one of her most recent and beloved clients, Mae. Shortly before she passed, Mae shared in her own words what Ms. Frank meant to her when Mae nominated her for this very award. "I knew right away when I met Maria that she was going to help me. Now I wait at the window, watching for her to come in the evening. I don’t ever worry because I know Maria will always be here. When my angel Maria comes floating in the front door, I  know everything will be alright. I’m tired more these days and I’m having a harder time with everything. I don’t want to go to the hospital anymore. Whatever happens to me in the end, I wish I could take Maria with me. I hope she will just stay with me and take care of me. She tells me she will always be here with me. I feel better when Maria is with me and I know with her here, I will be able to stay at home until the end. She helps me to not feel so afraid." Ms. Frank spent Mae’s final hours with her, and keeps Mae’s words from her nomination with her as a treasured gift. “They developed a pretty close personal relationship,” recalls Mark, Mae’s son. “To my mom’s understanding, Maria was Home Instead.” For Home Instead, this event marked the first time since the award’s inception in 1997 that the highly-anticipated announcement of its recipient was made virtually. “While these times have changed how we traditionally celebrate our CAREGiverSM of the Year, it doesn’t change the absolute joy and honor we feel in recognizing Maria,” said Lori Hogan, co-founder of  Home Instead Senior Care. “Maria is a shining example of the tens of thousands of CAREGiversSM like her, who make up the heart and soul of our organization. And today, more than ever, it’s important we rejoice and acknowledge all they do to keep our loved ones safe at home.”

Home Instead CAREGiversSM help seniors remain independent as long as possible in the comfortof their own homes or in care communities as they age, providing services and companionship, from meal preparation
and medication reminders to personal care and Alzheimer’s care. Ms. Frank was selected for the network’s top honor from among eight regional finalists, all nominated for demonstrating compassion and exceptional care to the seniors and families they serve. “I have no words,” Ms. Frank said. “When I found out, I was so shocked. I never in my life expected something like this to happen to me — but this just means so much.”
To watch a video testimonial to Maria on YouTube, go here:

Caregivers Are Heroes! 
COVID-19 has affected people all around the world, and caregivers are no exception. Seniors and those who can no longer easily care for themselves are particularly vulnerable, not just to the virus but to the effects isolation and uncertainty can breed. Consequently, stress levels for caregivers are at an alltime high. What if the caregiver gets sick? Is now a bad time to move our loved one out of the house to a care facility? In ancient days, during severe plagues, families would abandon sick members to the consequences of their illness without any care. Thankfully, those days are gone. Love is stronger than fear, and we realize our loved ones need care no matter what. The caregiver industry is front-and-center in providing care for those who need companionship and attention. Caregivers like Maria "Dani" Frank give selflessly and
forge bonds of love that overcome fears and struggles. They are not reckless, but they go in to fill in the gaps when family is not able to be there for whatever reason. Caregivers are real heroes!

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