"This is my calling," Terri Lewis says of her job as certified nursing assistant for Mountain Hospice Inc. "I feel as if I've reached the goal God set for me."
Born and raised in Clarksburg with three brothers and eight sisters, Lewis has worked hard all her life. Her mother died at age 53, and her father supported the family by working as custodian at Audra State Park. She attended Philip Barbour High School and married young. She and her husband, Terry, have one married daughter who lives in Florida.
After working as a cook at Posey's hot dog stand in Crystal Springs, Lewis became the cook at Nella's Nursing Home in Elkins. After spending five years preparing meals for 84 people, she decided to become a nurses' aide and stayed at Nellas for 17 more years. Now certified as a hospice and palliative care CNA, she has been with Mountain Hospice for 11 years. Assigned to care for five or more patients in different locations, she travels as much as 65 miles every day, mostly in Randolph County.
Looking back on her childhood, she said, "I was the cook even back then, but I was also responsible for laundry for our family of 14. Imagine-with a wringer washer and no dryer. Before I was old enough to go to school, I'd hide behind the refrigerator and cry when the older kids left. I just loved school and was smart enough to skip second grade. We didn't have much time for playing, but I do remember lining up 50-pound barrels and climbing up on them, walking them down our gravel road. In the winter we used an old car hood for a sled. In the summer we tried to drown each other in the creek, and we played baseball-we had enough for a team and then some."
Asked what has brought this 4'11" blond dynamo to be named Best CNA in the Region in the annual program sponsored by The Inter-Mountain, Terri Lewis said, "I guess it's because of my wonderful husband. He's been suffering from renal disease for 28 years and is on dialysis, but he's a great, good man, and I try to treat my patients just as well as I treat him. My whole life is about him and my hospice people. It's a challenge, but I'm always learning something new, and the rewards are beyond description. It just doesn't get much better than this."
Julie Miller, chaplain and volunteer coordinator for Mountain Hospice, said, "Terri is hard-working, and she responds to every opportunity for fund-raising or special events."
Mike Elza, director of Development and Public Education, echoed Miller's words, saying, "Terri's a wonderful woman. It doesn't make any difference what we ask her to do-she's right there, day and night, with her open hands and her warm heart."
More information can be secured concerning The Inter-Mountain program, Terri Lewis or Mountain Hospice by calling Lewis, Elza or Miller at 304-823-3922.