DHI Media Correspondent

When Phoebe Vajen sees the hands of residents under her care at Vancrest of Convoy, she often feels like she is looking at the hands of her mother.

Vajen, a nurse’s aide at the home, is doing what she is doing today as a tribute to her mother who she cared for through much of her high school days. “I started taking care of my mother when I was 12-years-old,” said Vajen. “She was in and out of hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis centers. I really fell in love with people during that time. All I’ve wanted to do since she passed away four and a half years ago is help taking care of others.

“She was full care; I did everything for her, dressed her, toileted her, fed her and gave her pills,” continued Vajen. “I read to her and took her to the shop.”

Vajen said that her mother suffered from a severe kidney disorder and was deeply diabetic. “I gave her insulin. Everybody else was busy working and it was my responsibility to take care of her,” noted Vajen. “I was a single mother with two children at the time and taking care of my mother. She couldn’t help it that she was sick. I learned a lot of things I needed to know to be an aide. I understand the frustration and discouragement of both the ones who are sick and their families. I feel for the families of the ones I am taking care of.

“I know I feel more for the people. I get sad at times when I see their hands. I wish that it was my mom, but I know that she is in a better place,” added Vajen. “I am glad that I can be there for that person. I like putting smiles on their faces or bringing them relief and comfort.”

These days, in addition to working at Vancrest, she is attending Northwest State Community College in preparation for a registered nurse’s degree. She noted that her husband (Kyle) and she chose a home close to Vancrest so she can work at the home and take college classes in Van Wert. Kyle works at a local factory. The Vajens have three children, Hayden, Steven and Jacob.

Vajen said that when she was in high school, she was in a cosmetology program. During that time, she would go into area nursing homes to do nails. “I decided that wasn’t what God wanted me to do,” observed Vajen. “I learned so much through my mother’s illness that I felt like God was leading me to help others. When she was sick, at first I would take her personally, but then I realized that I was dealing with the illness, not her. She was a social worker and foster mother. She couldn’t have children so she took us in. I was so thankful that she gave me such a wonderful home that the least I could do was take care of her,” said Vajen.

“God guided me through all of this. I found Christ before mom passed and this is where He led me. I make sure that everything is prayed up before I do it,” added Vajen.