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Hailee Kurtz

Hailee Kurtz

Position: Caregiver

Organization: Senior Helpers


What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Hailee grew up in Yorba Linda and has two younger sisters. She loves to dance, read, and has dabbled in writing (In fact she has even started writing a novel). Growing up she earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Doe, spent time with her grandmother learning to sew, and fell in love with the sport of lacrosse.She is currently working on a "Super Hero" quilt the will showcase her not only beloved Marvel and DC comic book characters, but also some of her personal favorite hero's such as firefighters, police officers, and the men and women who are and have served this great country in the armed forces of America.
When Hailee was a little girl she was surrounded by family members and close friends who served this country. Hailee wanted to serve, she wanted to be a soldier. Her mother told her "guns aren't for girls" and talked her out of it. Hailee went to Reno, NV to study Kinesiology, but didn't feel it was her fit. A woman in her English class told her that she was serving in the army and going to school at the same time. This intrigued Hailee and she wanted to be a soldier yet again. On February 1, 2016 she enlisted. She shipped off to basic training in Missouri shortly after enlisting. When asked about basic training, she explained it as a cross between what prison might be like and the best summer camp you could ever imagine. She felt that the Army was definitely her fit. But it was short lived as after graduating basic training she was in a training accident where she broke her hip. That disqualified her from doing her designated job and she was unable to deploy with her unit. She is extremely proud to have served in the U.S. Army and would do it again in a heartbeat.
When Hailee was 11 years old a new girl moved into her neighborhood, Brielle. They became immediate best friends. Brielle had Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that attacked the nerv in her face. They spent a lot of time together as they were both home schooled, and Hailee was the only friend that would go visit Brielle in the hospital. The two of them were inseparable for 3 years, until Brielle's time here was done and she went on to live in Heaven. Hailee's heart was broken.
After Brielle's passing, she could not find it in herself to go to the hospital to visit other sick kids, as she did when she used to visit Brielle. So she started visiting the retirement home near her (Brielle's grandfather lived there in the memory care). She would visit there multiple times a week for many years, she really enjoyed spending quality time with seniors and bringing happiness into their lives. She had no idea that one day she would end up working doing what she loved so much.

Why should this person be nominated
Hailee is 21 years young, and has done a lot in her few years, and knows there is much more she can do and learn. She is very compassionate and truly cares about the senior community. What she lacks in age, she makes up for in integrity.
She loves to ask her clients about their secrets, not the dirty laundry kind of secrets, a much more important secret. Hailee said "seniors are like vaults, each is different on the outside. Some have weathered the storm, some have sadly been forgotten about, some are fireproof, some are easy to open, and others are exceptionally guarded. But they all have their own very special and very unique lock on the outside. Some require a combination, a key, a fingerprint. But one thing they all have in common is that if you give them enough love, time, and effort to understand how the lock works, you will get to see inside, and what lies inside is priceless. It's not money or jewels, but rather the secrets of life that can only be discovered through time spent living it. And those are the most valuable things this world has to offer.If I can learn even a drop of knowledge about love, self worth, hard work, courage, family, history, trust, or even how to make someone smile, it has been worth it. I love my job". That was a quote from a 21 year old, she is remarkable!
Hailee's first client was a 94 year old Vietnamese Vietnam Veteran who served in the U.S. Army. They would play pool together for hours. As his Alzheimer's worsened, pool became less traditional and more about who could get the ball in the pocket the fanciest. He lost his ability to speak English due to the Alzheimer's, but they never had a problem communicating, they had a bond. She could see the purity, the patriotism, and the love in his eyes with everything he did. Her favorite memory with him was while they were driving to go play pool. Michael Jackson's "Beat It" came on the radio, and the two of them sang every word together. He sang the whole thing...in English! They truly connected at that time. Even though there was 75 years different between them, they both got caught up enjoying the same moment.
When another of her clients was put into skilled care, she was his only visitor. One day she took him cheesecake, because it was one of his favorites. When leaving, she told him she would come back, he asked her if she could bring him brownies, the square kind, not the circle kind. Apparently he didn't like the ones she put in the muffin tins. He had no family, never married, no kids. Hailee and her sisters even spent Thanksgiving visiting him, they were his family that night. She used to cook for him. Before Hailee came along he lived on frozen meals. She even took her truck to help him evacuate when he was near one of the OC fires.
Hailee is definitely an Outstanding Caregiver in my book. She goes above and beyond for her clients and I know that they truly appreciate her, as so we at Senior Helpers.