PRINCETON – Bernadette Kelleher has a passion for volunteering and taking care of people.
That’s why she decided to become a care aid.
She worked in various positions at a care home called Ridgewood Lodge and at the Princeton Regional Hospital for more than two decades.
The 62-year-old loved what she did but she was forced to quit after a non-work-related fall.
“I had an accident over six years ago and I tried to come back to work and it just didn’t happen so it just devastated me, it absolutely devastated me,” says Kelleher.
She spent almost two years recovering but her shattered wrist has never fully healed.
She now receives a disability pension but the busy grandma still spends time volunteering, on an almost daily basis, at the care home where she once worked.
“I love it plus I’m not a person to sit around. I just could not sit around and do nothing. I need to be doing stuff,” says Kelleher.
“Some people come in volunteering for specific things but Bernadette is one of those people that I can call at a moment’s notice,” says Ridgewood volunteer coordinator, Barb Gagnon.
Kelleher spends one-on-one time with care home residents, serves food and feeds those who can no longer feed themselves and she has a singing voice that’s loved by many. She also volunteers at the local Legion branch.
“Wherever they need me, whatever they need me to do, I do it,” says Kelleher.
Her dedication led her to become this year’s recipient of the Legionnaire of the Year award, which was presented to her last week.
“She was very shocked when we presented her with her award,” says Legion branch president, Barb MacKay. “She was almost in tears.”
Marilee Walden who works at the care home and has known Kelleher for several years tears up as she describes Kelleher’s selfless nature.
“I think because she is so caring, she really gives herself without expecting anything in return and she will tell you that she loves what she does,” says Walden.
Kelleher says she’ll continue volunteering at the care home, Legion and wherever else she can help out her community for as long as she can.