- Written by Janis Merrell
- Published: 21 February 2020
At the end of February, David Ames, 66 and a resident of Orange, will retire from his role as State Home Care Supervisor at LifePath after over 7 years of dedicated service.
Rebecca J. Bialecki, PhD, LifePath’s new State Home Care Program Director, says, “David's presence as a long-term supervisor for Home Care has lent a great stability to the entire team. He is the ‘go-to’ guy for so many questions. Coming to a very complex system, it was a smooth transition for a new director, largely due to Dave's dedication and knowledge base.”
“That's what I tell them about LifePath, that we help people continue to live as long as they can in their homes, but we’re also there when the time comes to help someone die with dignity, the way they want to die.”
David has had jobs since he was 16 years old, but after one year of college his draft number was 25, and he did not want to go into the Army. He joined the Air Force instead, where he spent the next 21 and a half years and got to see the world. With degrees in education, he thought he would become a Junior ROTC instructor after leaving the military, but in the meantime he got a job as the Community Development Director for the town of Orange, and felt committed to stay. He ended up spending the next 18 years in municipal government, becoming Town Manager for Athol, and working 60 to 70 hours per week.
Because of these roles, David had a lot of experience working with organizations that help people, including the Athol Senior Center. In fact, David helped plan and execute the creation of the new center, and knew quite a few elders who were actively involved in community events.
When David decided he wanted to do something different, his experience working with organizations and elders came in handy, and he joined LifePath as a case manager for the State Home Care program. While at the time some people questioned why he would choose this role after his management experience, in retrospect David says, “It’s the best move I ever made in my life.”
David began at LifePath on August 27, 2012 as a case manager and after just 6 months was promoted to the Case Manager Supervisor position. David says he finds “so many things rewarding” about his job, including “helping senior citizens on a daily basis.”
David describes one time when he and Client Services nurse Andi Baker conducted an intake for a person who was coming home to die. The hospice person at the house said, “You know, you're allowing this individual to die on his terms.”
“That really stuck with me. Because that's what I tell them about LifePath, that we help people continue to live as long as they can in their homes, but we’re also there when the time comes to help someone die with dignity, the way they want to die,” says David, who describes that experience as “a very big, big moment in my thought process.”
David had another conversation with an 80-year-old elder that had a huge impact: “He said that when he first retired, he was in his 60s and he had enough money that he and his wife would take vacations every year. And now, because his retirement was a set amount, he struggles month to month to put food on the table, and to keep his house. And vacation is something that they just can't afford to do anymore. And so that had a big impact on me as far as how people work their whole lives and they plan, and try to make things right, but then, life takes over and with inflation and all the other increases and taxes and everything it just gets to the point that it's so much harder for them to to function. So we need to have good programs that can help those people make ends meet.”
When David is asked what he would tell someone considering home care services, he says, “A lot of times we get consumers or applicants who say that they don't need the services. And at that particular time they may not need them, but most of the time they do; they just don't want to admit to it. So I try to present it in such a way that they understand that this is to help them to stay in their home. As people grow older, things happen. We hear about people falling and breaking a hip, or, getting ill, or having cancer or something. All of those things make it so that people need a little bit of assistance. And the nice thing about LifePath is they can get assistance to stay in their home and be comfortable. They can stay in their home and be miserable and not be able to do things. Or they can stay in their home and have somebody helping them a little bit, and making their life a little bit easier.”
Melissa Sonier, Case Manager Supervisor, says, “Dave has been instrumental in opening hundreds of State Home Care cases and getting the ball rolling for those applicants to receive home care services. We are so thankful for his dedication and advocacy, as well as his kind and genuine nature. He will be missed at LifePath!"
When asked about leaving LifePath, David says he’s “going to miss the people here, employees at LifePath, who to me are the greatest group of people I’ve ever met. It makes it enjoyable to come to work everyday, I’m really going to miss everyone when I leave.”
David’s first retirement priority is to get caught up on his sleep, as his schedule for months now has been to get up at 5:30 a.m. to take care of his thirteen cows, two horses, two miniature horses, six goats, and some chickens before going to work and then repeating the process after returning home. David also enjoys his family tremendously, including his wife, 5 biological children, and, after they grew, numerous foster kids, three of whom he and his wife adopted, for a total of 8 children, ages 13 to 47.
Reflecting on his life so far, David says, “Somebody said that you only live once, and somebody else said no you only die once, you live every day. And I think that that's pretty much the way I look at life. You live every day and you do what you can. You try to make the most of it, and when the time comes that you do die, hopefully you've done enough that you will be known in the world as having made a difference.”