As though they were Ed McMahon and the rest of the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes crew, St. Andrew’s At-Home Services showed up at the doorstep of Elizabeth Simmons in South St. Louis last week.

Simmons was honored with St. Andrew’s 1st Annual Caregiver Recognition Award prize package. The prize was awarded for her selfless dedication to providing the needed care to enhance the quality of life for her aging mother.

“I am so surprised, thank you very much. Every caregiver is deserving of special notice for their dedication – everyone needs to be recognized,” Simmons said.

Simmons was selected from almost two dozen submissions that highlighted the responsibilities, struggles, hurdles and challenges caregivers from throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area face in an effort to provide voluntary care for their aging loved ones.

“Caregivers are incredible people who are dedicated to serving others, and they frequently are so focused on meeting the needs of their loved one, they forget to allow for time to pamper themselves,” stated Ann Bannes, vice-president of St. Andrew’s At-Home Services.

“This program was designed as a means for our organization to express our admiration for their efforts and make it easy for them to be on the receiving end of a little attention in honor of National Family Caregivers Month.”

Simmons, 37, quit her high-paying job at the Missouri Conservation Department a year and a half ago and relocated with her three children in an effort to team up with her siblings to provide the 24-hour care her mother, Patricia Rodgers, needed due to her failing health. Simmons instantly became a voluntary full-time caregiver, working to help her mother with bathing, transportation, medication, cooking, cleaning, ROM exercises, grooming and countless other daily activities.

She has worked in this capacity for more than 10 hours per day, everyday, for the last 18 months.

“Simmons has given and continues to give of herself selflessly,” stated Bannes. “Her family has made a lot of sacrifices, which includes relocating, living with family friends for a period of time and giving up a high paying career. But, Simmons does it all gladly. She is a shinning example of the type of love and dedication caregivers bestow.”

As the winner of the 1st Annual Caregiver Recognition Awards program, Simmons was awarded with a certificate for her dedication and a gift basket equipped with more than $400 worth of goodies designed to pamper the caregiver. Included in this basket were gift certificates for Sam’s Steakhouse, groceries and the movie theatre, as well as a free in-home massage, five hours of respite care, an Entertainment Book, free attorney services, Bissingers chocolate and a magazine subscription.

The contents of the basket were provided by Renaissance Financial Services, The Rice Law Firm, L.L.C., Julie Berkowitz Attorney at Law, KelDon Medical, Inc., The Travel Company, Devereux & Company, American Red Cross, Mercy Hospice, HbL PharmaConsulting, and St. Andrew’s At-Home Services. These companies are all part of St. Andrew’s Select Provider Network, which is a one-of-a-kind network made up of quality providers who are committed to excellence and service to older adults and their family members.

Simmons was nominated for the award by Melissa Cynova-Glantz who is an employee at Paraquad, a company where her mother gets some of her medical equipment. Simmons was unaware that she had been nominated until she received the call that she had won.

St. Andrew’s At-Home Services received almost two dozen entries for the Caregiver Recognition Awards program. All of them reiterate the type of issues faced by caregivers and emphasize how loving, caring and selfless caregivers are. Caregivers represent a large segment of our community’s population and as our older adult population continues to increase, this segment will only continue to expand.

St. Andrew’s At-Home Services is a division of St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors, a private, non-profit Episcopal-Presbyterian organization that has provided nurturing care and lifestyle choices to older adults and their families since 1961.