Leora Kopchia was nominated for the 2018 Dr. Donna Wilson Caregiver Award by her daughter, Brittany. Inspired to pursue her own career in nursing after witnessing a lifetime of her mother’s selflessness and altruism, Brittany’s own words express Leora’s experience:
Our family has been tragically affected by a high level of mental illness, sickness and death. 500 words is too short to explain everything my mother, Leora, has done for those affected; she has been there for every individual through it all.
She is not only a mother to five young children but was a guardian angel to many others including her mother, father, aunt, mother-in-law and currently still uncle. Beginning at the age of five her selflessness showed as she gave up her bed and slept on the floor for over two years, so her sick grandmother would have a place to sleep. 30 years later, this care and love for others has continued. I have never witnessed an individual act as selflessly and altruistically as my mother Leora; growing up with a hero like this in my life has inspired me to step into the path of nursing.
After the passing of her mother at the age of 23, Leora took over full care of her Aunt Helen who was special needs throughout her adulthood life. Ensuring Helen continued to have the best level of care, my mother allowed her to stay in her apartment because Helen wished to be independent. My mother would buy Helen groceries and bring her meals to ensure she was well cared for. Throughout the next 20 years this did not stop. Although my mother got busier, had five children and was required to take care of many other seniors in palliative care, she never stopped ensuring Aunt Helen had the utmost best life. She took Helen to every appointment from medical to hair. She extended weekly invitations to family dinners, never forgetting to have Aunt Helen over for holidays. She bought Christmas and birthday gifts for not just Helen but also for her friends – so Helen could give them out to her friends at her apartment, taking part in the community events to maintain her dignity, enjoyment and independence.
As Aunt Helen’s health deteriorated, my mother moved her to a place that would provide her with more in-home care. Problems with this occurred; because of Helens mental disability, it was very difficult for many caregivers to communicate with her and take care of her properly. At this time, my mother was also caring for her terminally-ill father but she continued to visit Helen regularly. She would often assist Helen with bathing, other caregiving activities and advocating to improve her care. She would spend over 30 hours a week just caring for others with no expectation for any type of compensation and always having to come home after her long days only to look after her five children. Her strong desire to alleviate the suffering continued, as Helen got sicker more and more hospital trips and stays were required my mother always there. Sadly, on December 27, 2017, Helen passed away. Since then, my mother has continued to care for her terminally-ill mother-in-law, mentally ill uncle, and is always there for her children, family members and friends. Going the extra mile is an understatement for what Leora has done for others, she will forever be my inspiration for who I want to be like in my career and for my family.
AHPCA is honoured to present Leora Kopchia with the Dr. Donna Wilson Caregiver Award for 2018.