THE STORY: I am from northeast Atlanta and live in Canton. My mother, Viola, was from Wrightsville, Georgia and my father, Rafael, was from Valparaiso, Chile. I went to Cross Keys High School, Georgia State University, and DeKalb Community College.
I have been a singer all of my life. My mother had a beautiful voice and we would always sing together. Eventually, I sang in church choirs and loved the sound of multiple voices. In south Atlanta, there was a nursing facility that needed support for their weekend program. Along with a few other choir members, I began to sing for the residents at the center. Singing at that little nursing home on Cleveland Avenue showed me that living my dream was possible. I found a job shortly after as an activities director in a senior living community. Looking back now, it has been 20 years since the first time I sang in a nursing home. I have so many fun experiences that keep me singing and helping in the senior communities.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Seniors are so easy to love and when I start to sing to them, their pains and frustrations of aging momentarily disappear. For example, there was a man named Joe from New York who loved to sing with me when I performed in a center in Cumming, Georgia. When I sang songs from the 1940’s, he was transported to a former time when he was young and in love. He would sing loudly with an enraptured expression on his face. Just before he passed away, I spent a few precious hours singing only to him. I’ll never forget him and his enthusiasm for the music.
I started a networking group for professionals who have a zeal for excellence in service to senior adults. The Cherokee Senior Professional Network is a resource that I’ve been growing for four years. We meet monthly and talk about how we can better serve our communities. I recently retired from senior living sales and I’m now a Medicare benefits specialist. Older adults everywhere need help transitioning from independent living to the next phase of their lives. They are the “greatest under-served generation” in the United States. Being an independent Medicare agent allows me more freedom to serve seniors. I represent all the major Medicare insurance carriers and provide my expertise at no cost to my clients. My goal is to find the Medicare solution that best serves their needs with no interruption in coverage.
LEISURE TIME: I love food, live music, and travel. Earlier this year, my husband and I saw Puccini’s opera, “Turandot,” in Viareggio, Italy.
BEST ADVICE: Educational opportunities are plentiful to help seniors navigate their future. There are professionals such as elder law attorneys, personal care agents, and Medicare insurance specialists. Prepare early for the future and have conversations with family before decisions are made for you. There is comfort in knowing that you are prepared and made your own choices.
WHAT’S NEXT? I will continue to put my imagination to work helping seniors. Support groups and community education seminars are closest to my heart. I’m fortunate that while singing will open some doors for me, once I’m there, service is my goal.
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