September 16, 2021

Alesia Simon recognized as Caregiver of the Year by Rosalynn Carter Institute

A host of public officials gathered in Bowdon Tuesday prior to a drive-by parade in honor of 2020 Rosalynn Carter Institute Caregiver of the Year Award winner Ms. Alesia Simon

(Bowdon, GA) — Alesia Simon was honored Tuesday as a Georgia Caregiver of the Year by the Rosalynn Carter Institute.

The Caregiver of the Year Award is designed to recognize selfless acts, compassion, empathy, effort and extraordinary commitment of caregivers toward those who need their care.

A total of three Caregivers of the Year are selected, one for each of three categories: family, volunteer, and paraprofessional.

Normally recognized by a luncheon at the institute, this year’s honorees were instead recognized during a special drive-by ceremony at their homes due to COVID-19.

The annual recognition comes during November’s National Family Caregiver Month, a nationwide celebration of the men and women who support individuals in need of care.

Simon and her family were visited at her home in Bowdon Tuesday afternoon by Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) Director Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Carroll County Commission Chair Michelle Morgan, Bowdon Mayor Jim Chaffin, Pilot Club of Carrollton, representatives from the Three Rivers Regional Commission/Area Agency on Aging, and other elected officials from both Bowdon and Carroll County.

Chairperson Morgan and Mayor Chaffin each presented Simon with an official proclamation honoring her selfless work and care for her parents. She was nominated in the family caregiver category.

Simon provided care to her late mother for many years while she was battling cancer at the same time that her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012.

Alesia juggled caring for her father as well as her mother until her mother sadly passed away from cancer in 2017. She continues looking after her 77-year-old father on a daily basis.

Alesia Simon

Dr. Olsen presented Simon with a personal letter from Rosalynn Carter, a “gilded rose,” and a check for $1,000.

Seniorlink, a national organization that provides professional coaching and financial support for families caring for loved ones, sponsored the 2020 awards.

Brooke Rakestraw from HCBS Case Management Services (Home and Community Based Services) at Three Rivers here in Franklin, nominated Simon for the award based on her exemplary service and dedication as a caregiver.

“Alesia has tirelessly provided unpaid care for her father every single day and never leaves him at home alone,” said Rakestraw in her nomination.

“She proves time and again to be a determined caregiver who works hard to make ends meet and to ensure her father has enough food and items that he needs for him to remain at home.”

Rakestraw says Alesia is a tireless champion for her father, even making sacrifices in regards to her own health and well-being in order to provide care for him.

“Alesia has some health problems of her own and uses a rolator to walk. She is in need of a knee replacement but cannot get one because she does not want her father to be placed in a nursing facility while she recovers because she knows this change would not be good for him as well as she wants to ensure her father is taken care of and has concerns about leaving him in the care of someone else,” added Rakestraw.

Simon says that she is thankful that she is able to take care of her dad so that he doesn’t have to go to a nursing home and can still be with her. She was also very gracious about being honored in such a big way.

“God gives me the strength to do so, I do what I have to do in order for my father to be taken care of,” says Simon. “I am thankful and grateful for the love that was shown to me today.”

“RCI has given out these awards to caregivers throughout the state for over 20 years. What we think is that while caregivers are constantly struggling with challenges, hardships and just trying to get by day-to-day — our job is to recognize them and celebrate them,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Executive Director of RCI following the presentation.

“It is also great to see a community that is so supportive of the work Alesia and other caregivers are doing every day. Caregivers are the invisible frontline of our health care system, and they deserve our recognition and support. ”

Joy Shirley, Aging Director; Emily Rogers, Deputy Director; and Brooke Rakestraw, Case Manager of the Three Rivers Regional Commission/Area Agency on Aging presented Simon with a plaque, gift basket, and a $100 gift card.

Emily Rogers shared some supportive words of gratitude for Alesia Simon on her doorstep.

“As a caregiver, you don’t seek recognition, but recognition is truly due, the City of Bowdon thanks you, Carroll County thanks you, the Three Rivers region thanks you, and the State of Georgia thanks you,” said Rogers.

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