2017 Nominees Section
Position: Healthcare Outreach Specialist
Organization: Alzheimer's Orange County
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Why should this person be nominated
There are so many caring individuals in the Senior Care Industry who really care about seniors and there is this young lady. Not many of us go back to our previous place of employment and spent our days off with our past clients. Well, she does. She goes back to Alamitos Belmont Rehab and spends her days off and weekends visiting her seniors, many of whom she's cared/known for close to 8 years.
I interview some of them and they all had amazing things to say about her, but there was one lady in particular. I wish you could see her smile and expression when she was talking about her hero. This is what she said;"I love when Jennifer comes and visits me. even though she goes down the hall visiting other people, she makes me feel like I'm her only friend. I don't have that many friends, or people that visit me. She makes me feel special, I hope she wins"
Let me introduce you to Jennifer Funez, a brilliant young lady who has been making a difference in senior's lives since she was 16 years old. She is an example for every one of us and to every young teenager trying to figure out his or her life.
She comes from very humble beginnings, a daughter of immigrants, first generation American and first one in her family to attend and graduate from college. At 16 she started to volunteer with seniors in a skilled nursing facility in the activities department and she was so loving and caring that the Activities Director decided to hire her at the age of 17. She worked full time while she finished up her senior year in high school then went on to Cal State Long Beach for her undergrad where she had to work hard to pay for school, there was no other help so she had to stay focus and she did.
In her role as the activities assistant she quickly blossomed and the seniors there adored her. She presented such good work ethics that the Social Services department hired her as well where she made a bigger impact in her seniors, it was amazing to see her interact with every single one of them. So real, so genuine in her care that in her days off seniors were sad because she wasn't there. Her caring didn't stop there, when one of her seniors needed her support she even visited them on her days off. Who does that? Not many of us do!
Her dedication didn't stop there, she started volunteering at other locations and going to school. She graduated with a Bachelor in Human Development, Minor in Sociology and Certificate in Gerontology from Cal State Long Beach and her hard work ethic and passion for seniors got her a promotion to full time Social Services Assistant. As her passion grew she continued to pursue her education by going into the Master's Degree program in Gerontology at Cal State Long Beach and growing her volunteering opportunities.
She started to intern with Alzheimer's Orange County two to three days per week while working full time, volunteering and going to school full time to pursue her passion. So Alzheimer's OC hired her in the Outreach & Advocacy Department and this opened more opportunities for her to do what she does best ,helping and making a bigger impact not only in the seniors lives but their families and caregivers. With Jennifer it doesn't stop there she hasn't forgotten her seniors at the skill nursing facility so she makes time off her busy schedule to visit them every other week.
She is currently working on her thesis and working full time and yet still makes time to help her family and friends without forgetting her beloved seniors. Jennifer is a hero. A hero to many people, not only the ones she helps, but she is a hero to us. She is a hero to me and she is destined to do amazing things.