Charity Ntim read the words in a book once and they are now her mantra. They stay with her every day as she cares for people in their homes while they age.
“‘Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.’ I want to make sure they live,” Charity said. “When you walk into somebody’s home and care for them, and they need end-of-life elderly care, many people focus on the end of their lives. They feel they’ve lost their independence and they cannot do anything for themselves anymore. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You could be 90 years old, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to die tomorrow. No matter what stage you are in life, you should still have a life.”
Caring.com recently named Charity one of its 10 Caring Champions. She achieved this ranking out of more than 80 nominees from across the country and was chosen by a panel of judges who relied upon their own expertise and weighed votes and comments.
“I couldn’t believe it. It gives me motivation to do even better because you have to be good at whatever you do. You have to keep going and getting better and better,” she said.
Charity works for the Homewatch CareGivers office in Northbrook, IL, where Suzanne Hosten is the Client Services Director. She first met Charity three years ago and knew immediately she is unique.
“She radiates kindness and compassion. You can see it in her eyes, in her demeanor and the way she presents herself. She’s very genuine and sincere and always puts her clients’ needs above her own. The people and families she helps agree – she’s just a very special person,” Suzanne said.
Suzanne nominated Charity to be a Caring Champion, but Charity was already a champion in her eyes.
“We’re so proud of her to be recognized this way, although to her, this comes naturally. Everybody remembers her because she leaves such an impression of empathy and compassion on those she helps,” Suzanne said.
Charity was born into a large family in the African country of Ghana. She grew up on a medical campus and wanted to be a nurse after boarding school, so she began helping people at the hospital where her father worked. She got married and started a family, but went back into health care after migrating to the United Kingdom in the late 1990s. She spent more than a decade there providing elder care to people living with cancer and other chronic conditions. But she liked being a caregiver more than a nurse.
“You get to know the patient. When I used to work in London, the nurses were so busy they didn’t have time to get to know the patients. But caregivers do – we are the front line and we get to know them better than any other person in the hospital,” Charity said.
Three years ago, she moved to the Chicago area and continues to help people live their lives to the fullest with the time they have left.
“These people need me. They don’t need me to give them pills – they just need me to be there. And sometimes just being there makes a big impact on their lives by listening and communicating with them. My favorite part is being able to make a difference and making sure someone has a smile on their face that matches the smile on my face,” Charity said.
Charity has dozens of stories about the people she helps, so it was hard to pick just one. One recent example is when she walked into a woman’s home and she was crying because her antique dresser had a scuff. Charity reassured the woman it would be OK. Then she went on the Internet and found a restoration company, arranged them to come out to the home, and they agreed to fix it.
“And she was happy and I was happy in the end. It doesn’t take a big thing to change somebody’s day. It takes a very little thing. Those are the little things that make this job so fulfilling,” Charity said. “When you help people, you have to be kind, patient and concerned about what is going on around them in their day-to-day lives. Listening is the best form of kindness – it’s the most important thing in caregiving.”
Charity does not even believe she gets her nature because of her name – it’s just who she is.
“It’s funny because all my clients ask me the same thing: ‘Is that why you are this way?’ I think it’s just a coincidence, but I’m happy with the way it works together,” she said.