Jan. 19, 2018 -- The highlight of each weekday for Annette Parmantie takes place at 5 a.m. That's when she arrives at the Marklund Wasmond Center, in Elgin, to help some of the residents start their day.
As a part-time employee, the 53-year-old Elgin resident assists staff with feeding breakfast to those who will be heading off to school. She gets their school bags and lunches ready, and entertains them while they wait for their school buses.
"While we wait in the lobby, I keep them engaged by singing and talking with them about what they'll be doing that day," Annette said.
The first school bus arrives at 6:30 a.m. Annette accompanies the resident to the bus, tells them to have a good day at school, and waves to the student as the bus drives off.
"The clients are like my family," Annette said. "I love them like they were my own kids. The highlight of working here is seeing their bright little faces each day."
Annette has worked for the Marklund Wasmond Center, formerly known as Little Angels, since 1982, when she was 18-years-old. Throughout her entire tenure, she served in a direct-care role, assisting clients with grooming, feeding, taking medication and other activities of daily living.
Ten years ago, Annette transitioned from working full-time to part-time, due to her worsening symptoms of cerebral palsy. Today, she has difficulty walking, and uses a cane or a wheelchair to navigate the hallways of the Wasmond Center.
"It was important for us to maintain our relationship with Annette," explained Shelley Lewis, administrator of the Wasmond Center. "Annette has a passion for what we do here. She has such compassion and a huge heart."
Despite her own physical limitations and health challenges, Annette maintains a cheerful attitude and works hard to make sure residents feel special, by remembering their birthdays, singing to them, and making them laugh.
"The relationships she has with residents is priceless," Lewis said. "Everyone loves Annette. She is part of the family. We love having her here."
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