A client and friends sent me an article from Monday’s Washington Post written by Petula Dvorak was about an effort undertaken by the residents of the Goodwin House retirement community. Goodwin House is a continuing care community in Fairfax County, Virginia and it happens to be where my parents resided at the end of their lives.
What many may not know is that “One of every four workers in long-term care facilities are immigrants.” These wonderful, caring people provide incredible care for the aging and elderly in our society. I can attest to this personally. When my mother had a stroke in 2014 and was in hospice care at Goodwin House, the nursing staff that cared for her in those final days were like angels for our family. They not only treated my mother with dignity and respect, but they were also there for me and my family as well, telling us stories about their interactions with my parents and providing us with the same comfort and care that they did for my parents. I remember thanking one woman from Ghana for what she was doing and she said “I should be thanking you. It is an honor to care for your mother.” I’ll never forget it.
As our country focuses on the issues with undocumented workers, specifically with the Haitian community at the border right now, many are conflicted about how we resolve these issues. But issues for legal immigration also exist and the article points to one example concerning the costs for applying for citizenship. In 1994, the cost was $95. In 2016, it had increased to $640 and there was a proposal a few years ago to increase it to $1,170 which a judge blocked but the cost did increase to $725. For many of these immigrants who may earn only slightly above minimum wage, $725 may be a prohibitive cost.
At Goodwin House, a resident, Rita Siebenaler, led “an effort that turned nearly 90 employees of the Goodwin Houses in Baileys Crossroads and in Alexandria into nearly 90 new American citizens.” With the help of the Goodwin House administration, “within two weeks, she raised $40,000 from residents.” Residents also stepped up to tutor their health aides, housekeepers and cooks on spelling, the constitution, and the rights of American citizens, which would help them to pass the citizenship test.
It’s a lovely story of the way those caring for others and those being cared for can create a community that improves the lives for both groups. While we tend to hear stories only about the conflicts in immigration, this story was a breath of fresh air.
This week’s selection is:
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.
Achilles, “best of all the Greeks,” is everything Patroclus is not—strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess—and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative connection gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper—despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.