Tricia Mullaney first met Guerline Jean-Pierre, a home health aide of Haitian descent, in 2004. At that time, Tricia’s ailing father, Thomas, was placed in Hospice care. Mary Jane, Tricia’s mother, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000. Tricia said, “Guerline outlasted all care givers that came and went with my dad who was home with Hospice for seven months. My mom was in the nasty Alzheimer’s stage and made it very difficult for care givers to work with my dad. But Guerline knew how to deal with her so she was the only aide that made it through the seven months.” Guerline’s skilled and caring presence made a big difference for Tricia and her family, who soon found themselves grieving.
Guerline’s connection to Tricia’s family did not end after Thomas passed away. Guerline continued to pop in to keep in contact with Mary Jane, Tricia’s mother. In 2006, Mary Jane fell and broke her wrist and that’s when Guerline came back to the family on a full time basis. Eventually, Mary Jane was moved to an assisted living facility in 2009, but Guerline remained on as her primary care giver and still is today, working 12 hours per day, five to six days per week. Guerline and Mary Jane have formed a beautiful bond.
“Guerline treats my mother just like her own. She is so kind and extremely patient, which is a must for dealing with an Alzheimer’s patient,” Tricia said. “Guerline has been a Godsend to my family. She is our guardian angel, giving me peace of mind about my mother’s care.”
Tricia and her husband have a family of their own, two children (teens now) who were only two and four years old when Mary Jane’s health issues deteriorated to the point where she needed full-time care. At that time, juggling back and forth between raising her young family and the responsibilities of caring for her mother became difficult for Tricia to manage. When Guerline was hired full-time, she relieved much of the worry and stress for Tricia and her family. Alzheimer’s patients have unique needs and Guerline has always understood how to care for Mary Jane’s safety and well-being.
Through the years, Tricia has become very close with Guerline and her husband, Carl, and learned about Franciscan Charities through them. Carl has been a volunteer at St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen since the inception of the charity over a dozen years ago. He is the captain of one of the soup kitchen volunteer teams, but he can also be found pitching in on many other projects. Carl is always ready to lend a helping hand. Most recently, he helped facilitate the pick-up and delivery of furniture to a family in need.
In learning about the critical work of Franciscan Charities, Tricia became involved as a donor, giving furniture, clothing, and monetary donations throughout the years. Recently, Tricia donated a generous $10,000, helping Franciscan Charities to target the crucial needs of families living in poverty in Newark, NJ.
Carl and Guerline came to the United States as young adults from Haiti. They have built a life of giving that positively impacts everyone they meet. Their lives have not been without tragedy, having lost one of their sons, Carl. Jr., killed by a drunk driver while walking. Tricia’s $10,000 donation was made in memory of Carl Jr., as a way to honor Guerline and Carl, two people who continue to give to others.
This beautiful circle of giving is an inspiration to all.
Thank you to Tricia Mullaney for sharing her story and for the personal photographs accompanying this post.