Linda Barton makes miracles happen every day
As a restorative aide at Via Christi Village on McLean, working with empathy and compassion, she has brought renewed mobility to countless elders.
"Linda is a Godsend," says Betty, a former health care resident who was confined to a wheelchair. Linda convinced her that she could get stronger, but she would have to work extra hard, and eventually Betty was able to move to assisted living.
Inspired by Linda sharing her own life story, Betty says: "She taught me that the hard times do not have to get me down. She gives me hope. I have the goal of being able to walk without a cane. I really want to walk up and down the stairs - unassisted! Linda is a good, good friend; no, she is a dear friend, and I am so thankful for her."
Linda knows and understands hard times. As a child, she knew she wanted to help others. Handicapped with a learning disability that prevented her from learning to read or spell, she wasn't sure how she could accomplish her goal.
Her first job in long-term care was in housekeeping, a position she took in 1974. Although she could help the nurse aides, she couldn't become one.
Then a miracle entered her life in the form of a 90-year-old retired professor from Wichita State University."He was a volunteer tutor and he worked with me for a year, teaching me to read and spell," Linda says.
Linda went on to become a certified nurse assistant, a career she has proudly held for over 35 years. In her 28 years as a nurse aide at Terrace Gardens, she only missed one day of work. In 1995, she was honored as Nurse Aide of the Year for the State of Kansas. In 2010, she was named the Caregiver of the Year by the Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
In 2000, she joined the staff at Via Christi Village. Linda was responsible for launching the village's restorative program, and currently devotes her days to assisting residents in regaining their skills.
"Around here we call Linda a miracle worker," laughs Zahra Pourmirza, director of nursing. "When working with residents she encourages them to set their own goal, and she doesn't rest until they have achieved it." Zahra explains that Linda rewards each resident with a celebration of his or her accomplishments, and "that's what sets Linda apart from anyone else. We are truly blessed and credit most of our residents' success stories to her hard work and dedication."
She ministers to their spiritual and emotional needs as well. Each resident that she provides care for becomes richer for the experience of just being with her. She is truly a blessing to all. Linda's deep spirituality led her to complete a minister's course through Oral Roberts University, where she became an ordained minister.
She pastors to the congregation at Joy Fellowship Church in Wellington on Wednesday nights, and leads Bible study at the village every other Thursday. She also teaches youth Sunday School classes.
Linda has gone on to achieve certification as a physical therapy assistant, providing her with additional skills to serve others. A former construction worker, Linda's husband Charles broke his back in a work-related accident and was forced to retire in 1991. Linda serves as his caregiver before and after work, a chore she gladly and willingly assumed in addition to her caring for so many others.
"I truly believe I was led into this career," she reflects. "With the help of others, I overcame my reading disability. Helping others every day is a good feeling - the fact that I can help them helps me. I've always had caring for people in my heart. Without God I couldn't have done it. He put everything in place.
"This is my life," she adds. "I don't think I would be happy doing anything else."