“My life is completely changed”

Three years ago, Aynalem Bedaso left Dubai to join her family in Minnesota.

Born in a small city in northeast Ethiopia, Aynalem (pronounced Eye-NAHL-um) grew up attending school and working odd jobs, but career opportunities were limited. When she was in her late twenties, she moved to Dubai, where she supported herself by babysitting and working in shipping and cargo for six years.

Woodbury Senior Living resident Marjorie and Eye dancing.

After her parents passed away, Aynalem – most folks call her “Eye” for short – left Dubai to join her sisters, brother, niece and nephew in Minnesota. After the heat and busyness of Dubai, Eye fell in love with Minnesota’s cold climate and calm.

“I felt right at home here,” Eye says, now 36.

Soon, Eye began working at Woodbury Senior Living in housekeeping, cleaning residents’ rooms and washing laundry.

“What we noticed when saw this woman cleaning the rooms is she has this smile that just draws you in,” says Margaret Wachholz, the campus marketing director. “One day, I approached our chaplain and told him, ‘Eye is something really special.’”

The chaplain agreed with Margaret, saying Eye always seemed to know which residents needed extra comfort.

Because of her natural connection with residents, Eye was encouraged to become a home health aide, where she thrives today. She says her residents remind her of her late mother and father.

Eye dances with Kayleen, a resident at Woodbury Senior Living.

“I like to take care of residents because it’s my family,” Eye says. “I like to listen. I love the residents – I give them time.” She adds that no matter how busy she is, she always makes a point to talk with residents and ask how they are and how their day is going.

“When I go to a resident’s room, I just pray at the door,” Eye says. “When I open the door, I give them sunshine face. Maybe they don’t know my name, but the smiling lady, she comes!”

Eye also encourages her residents to dance, sing and have fun. One resident’s son cried and told Eye, “Thank you – my mom has never danced before.”

“It makes me happy, you know,” Eye says. “You have to make memories. When I’m dancing, residents laugh. When you laugh, you look like a kid forever. Your age doesn’t matter.”

Sometimes, even when she is not working, Eye will stop by to cheer residents who are not feeling well or celebrate a special occasion with them. “The shift is done, but you do extra things from yourself,” Eye says.

Often, Margaret receives comments and emails from staff members and adult children of residents expressing their appreciation of Eye. “Eye is not just an employee – she’s an investor in the residents,” says Margaret. “The love speaks louder than anything.”

Eye and Woodbury Senior Living resident Lois.

Eye grieves when one of her residents passes away. “One woman, after I prayed for her, she died in my hands,” says Eye. “I always remember.”

“Sometimes in my life, I’m sad,” says Eye, “but when I come to work, they make me happy. The people ask me, ‘What do you have inside?’ It’s God. I love this work.” Eye laughs, adding, “My family asks me – do you stay here or do you sleep there?”

Eye also attends night classes twice a week in Cottage Grove to improve her English. Margaret would like to see Eye receive a scholarship to continue her education and grow in the caregiving profession. Eye appreciates the encouragement and looks forward to advancing in her career as a caregiver.

“When I come here, my life is completely changed,” Eye says. “I love to be here.”

8 thoughts on ““My life is completely changed”

  1. Great post. Eye was very helpful to me one day when i was stressed trying to get Mom ready for an appointment. She just stepped up and helped us. Thank you.

  2. What a great story. What a even greater human. Eye is so cheerful all the time. When walks in a room she lights it up…
    Thank you Eye for all that you do. I am blessed to know and and work with you.

  3. Eye makes my mom laugh all the time. She was leaving one night when I was and asked how my mom was doing. I said she was unusually sad that day. Eye was ready to go right back up and try to cheer her up. I insisted she go home! She is a gem!!

  4. Wow, I am so touched! I, being a coworker of Eye only knew part of her story and impact she has had at Woodbury Heathcare Center. What a beautiful story-thank you Margaret for highlighting her. She is always so joyful at work and is even an encouragement for coworkers when they are having a bad day. She genuinely cares for people and it shows. She is definitely a jewel to have around.

  5. I am very glad to say that Aynalem is deserved to be recognized by her office. She is so friendly and kind person who needs to give her kind heart for any person to help with. Even though she has her own problems in life, she is always happy whenever she meets her friends.

  6. Hi Ms. Margaret please extend my greetings to Aynalem..thank you in advance.. 😊 i don’t know if she still recognized me…i am a friend of her from Philippines…good to see she is enjoying her life with you and her job as well…keep safe every one…God bless…

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