The 2023 Apex Care Professional of the Year Award goes to Nurse Paula Ewald who was nominated by her host family in North Wales, Pennsylvania. She was honored by her host family for her outstanding work, dedication and love.
“I can do it. I love it!” I think after five months together, I can safely say that this is Paula’s motto. Paula Ewald, our Nurse Extraordinaire from Germany, became part of our family in September 2022. She brought with her an open mind, amazing work ethic, patience, and maturity beyond her age of 21 years.
When we brought Paula into our family, we intended for her to devote most of her energy to Shay, our 7 year old son with special needs. It quickly became clear that Paula was not only capable of caring for him and nuturing his growth but also caring for our other three children, ages 1, 3, and 10 years with ease and grace. Shay may be non-verbal, but it did not take long for Paula to understand him. She patiently sits with Shay night after night at the dinner table, often times for more than an hour, helping him eat course after course as he signals with his eyes or hands the next thing he wants to eat. She doesn’t lose her patience during this mealtime guessing game. And when asked if my husband or I can take over, Paula says “It’s okay. I can do it. I love it!”
Paula also has an ability to anticipate our family’s needs. She quickly noticed that I needed help getting breakfast together for 6 people and within a few weeks she had taken over the chore with utmost efficiency without ever being asked. She also enjoys cooking our Hello Fresh meals most nights, again, without being asked. There’s nothing more welcoming when you get home from work than your happy children, a smiling caretaker, and a warm fresh meal.
She has won the hearts of our other children as well. Our 3 year old princess, Lucky, loves everything beauty. We hear them painting nails and giggling together about it! When schedules changed and we needed help picking up Lucky and her little brother, Zev, from school, Paula without a moment of hesitation, uttered her motto “I can do it, I love it!” She noticed that Zev liked to climb into the dishwasher after school…and before school…and, well all the time. So for Hannukah, she bought him his own little toy dishwasher. Wouldn’t you know, Zev has perfected his toy dishwashing in just one month! Our oldest child Tova, loves to spend time with Paula making brownies, shopping at Target or watching movies. When Paula juggles all four kids on a day off from school, she keeps them busy with Pinterest crafts, visits to the park and snuggles. They are always content when we get home.
Paula enjoys new experiences and exploration. She does not hesitate to put herself in new situations and meet new people. This was the case when she told me she was going to swim in the ocean with some friends in New Jersey on New Year’s Day! It may have been only 40F, but she did it! She will invite new friends to join her on trips without hesitation. She is always inclusive which is a quality not everyone her generation possesses.
I know Paula cannot live with us forever, but in the short time she has been with us she really feels like she has always been part of our family. We will all be sad when she has to return to Germany, but we know she will touch the lives of so many other people who need her help as a nurse, friend, and family member. I hope that my kids will live by Paula’s motto, that they can do anything and love it.