Maranda Harris reflects on five years with Azalea—and what it means to “care”

June 15, 2022
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Recently, Azalea Home Care recognized Maranda Harris, our Director of Operations, for five years of exemplary work. In addition to her plaque, Maranda will head to Texas this October to root on her beloved Dallas Cowboys at the fifty-yard line.

For Maranda, her time at Azalea Homecare has meant a lot.

“I applied to this position five years ago to be a part of a team, and I’ve gotten so much more. In these last five years, we went from less than twenty clients to an average of about three new clients every few weeks. We’ve built a strong team of nurses and are proud to be able to pay them more than the national and local average. I’m grateful that there are now opportunities to keep loved ones in the home through the home care and respite services we provide. I deeply understand that our clients and their families are looking for people they can trust. We work hard to build that.”

Maranda, also the mother of seven through marriage, loves seeing people happy and believes that addressing the long-term needs of both clients and colleagues is key to retaining our nurses and keeping our clients with the highest levels of comfort and quality of life. This is why Maranda looks for ways beyond day-to-day operations to give everyone the best experience—from filling in for their CNAs so that they have a weekend off to hunting down resources for everyone, whether they be high-need clients looking for affordable medical supplies or members of her own CNA team members looking for summer camps for their children.

“What love about working at Azalea is our sense of community, and of ‘family.’

Anish is not only our CEO, he has also become one of my closest colleagues and friends. We have both taken care of family members, understand the importance of mental health care, and understand what our clients and our families need from us, beyond “checking a box” and showing up.  I believe that this served us well through the pandemic. We were able to trust and depend on each other, and we made it work— even stepping in ourselves at moments to train or fill in for our team.”

At an early age, Maranda Harris was introduced to the importance of caring for others. Growing up on a farm in a small town in Curryville, GA, where close family members served as sheriff, and even of the town’s first gas station, she always knew two things: that she would dedicate her career to two things: teaching and caring for others.

She wasted no time embarking on her career journey. By the time Maranda was a teenager, she already decided to work as a candy striper at the local hospital and spent her senior year working as a special education paraprofessional. This would be the beginning of many years spent working with children in the IDD community. Before later becoming a CNA, and—eventually—a home care team administrator, Maranda also obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management.

Even though Maranda is a Director, she still has the opportunity to play the role of the caregiver from time to time. Maranda believes this allows her to keep sight of the importance of their work and the realities of their clients. She also appreciates that getting to know clients’ stories is transformative and creates bonds that last a lifetime.

“Most of us need that interaction with others. But what happens when you have none of that, and you have to choose between going into a nursing home or staying in the comfort of your own home? Home care can be a life changer—and a lifesaver.”

Recently, a client of Maranda’s, Ellen, passed away after many years of care from Miranda and the Azalea Homecare team. She recalled that their relationship began because Ellen was actually difficult to care for—even rude at times—to some of the other CNAs.

Maranda saw past Ellen’s rough exterior pretty quickly, also noticing that Ellen had no close family to care for or spend time with and was scared of what was ahead for her. So she decided that Ellen would be her client. She continued to care for Ellen for many years.

Over the years, Ellen shared with me a lot of the mistakes and disappointments she made and experienced in her life. A lot of her pain and loneliness were the result of that. But in this season of her life, she was not alone. For the eight hours at a time I was with her, she could know that she was cared for, seen, and loved.”

For new caregivers, she shares that this is the most essential part of the job:

“Beyond how well you can execute technically, it is important to figure out a way to handle the client’s personality. What do you do in difficult situations and moments? What can you offer clients as they are just beginning to need help with things they used to do on their own? Many clients have deep needs beyond helping them move from one place to another—they need to be understood, respected, and heard.”

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