Being a great care professional requires a balance of professional skill with personal empathy and flexibility. We are always touched as we read Host Family submissions for our annual Care Professional of the Year award. We encourage you to read and be inspired on how an Apex Social care professional can make a difference for your family, as Special Needs Care Provider Ole L. (26, Prisdorf, Emil Molt Academy) did for Laura & George and their family:

The pandemic has upended our lives in ways imaginable only a few months ago. When Ole signed up for a year as a care professional, he knew he'd be helping our family with the care of Ian, our 16-year-old son with Down Syndrome, and to a certain extent, his brother Luke, 15. As a social worker with extensive training in caring for young adults with developmental disabilities in group settings in his native Germany, Ole embarked on this American adventure with purpose and excitement. Not only did he evolve to be Ian's best companion, but he became an integral part of our family. As our first male care professional (after 8 wonderful female care professionals), it surely was not an easy task for him to find his place. But with his quiet demeanour and infinite patience, he succeeded in doing so and won our hearts in the process. 

Traditionally, care professionals help getting kids ready for school in the mornings, drive them to their after-school activities, perhaps assist them with homework, or in the case of younger children, take them to a park and do after-school arts and crafts. In the past 16 months, Ole’s responsibilities have shifted from being an after-school buddy to becoming Ian’s school aide when connecting to his various zoom classes, while keeping him engaged throughout the day with life-skills activities. 

Besides his developmental delay, Ian has a speech disorder, as well as a dairy allergy that requires monitoring his GI tract. But he is mostly an athletic young skier, who swims and trains weekly, and loves to beat Ole in badminton and ping-pong! Ole is always full of ideas to enrich Ian’s life, by playing a board game, starting a snowball fight or baking an “Apfel Strudel'' with him. 

When we had to switch Ian to remote learning, Ole was up for the challenge, and  now our family relies on him to provide the many educational experiences he needs to grow into an independent young adult. We wouldn’t have been able to weather the  changes brought upon us this year without Ole’s help. 

From the time last March when we went into lockdown to the quiet winter days of  January, this past year has been an adjustment. But it has also been a joyful year,  full of local hikes, jumps into the Long Island Sound, and kayak rides during the dog days of summer, centered around family life and our children’s emotional well-being. For individuals with Down Syndrome like Ian, who can develop a more severe form of  Covid, it is all the more essential to limit community exposure in order to minimize the  risks associated with the disease. As a result, staying safe can be quite isolating. But  Ole is making sure that Ian is living his best possible life every day! 

One can imagine that it was challenging for a young man like Ole to start this  experience in New York only to find himself with our family 24/7! At a time when all  his plans were changed, Ole had the fortitude to stay committed, and he made a life  for himself here. Last October, he decided to extend for a second year, giving us  much needed respite at a moment when international arrivals were banned. For all these reasons, we can unequivocally say that Ole is a wonderful addition to our family. Our lives have been enriched by Ole’s presence and we would like to  nominate him for the Care Professional of the Year award!