Whether it’s her regular ritual that comforts her residents, her guidance for new staff, her welcoming presence or her drive to go above and beyond, Linda Fazenbaker is a champion for residents at ManorCare’s Donahoe Manor in Bedford.

The nationwide company has bestowed one of four of its “Champions of Caring” honors upon Fazenbaker, who has embraced her position as certified nursing assistant for more than 23 years.

Officials from the corporate office visited Donahoe Wednesday to present the award to Fazenbaker, of Hyndman. She also will be honored during a trip July 15 and 16 to the headquarters in Toledo, Ohio.

ManorCare adopted the “Champions of Caring” two years ago. Fazenbaker and three others were selected this year out of more than 70,000 employed by ManorCar across the country.

Fazenbaker was nominated first for a regional award and then went to a divisional level for consideration. At that point, the name of the CNA who was described by her boss at Donahoe as “an exceptional leader with our new staff and very influential to our new CNAs,” was sent on to the corporate office in Toledo where a committee selected her as one of its “Champions.”

“It’s just amazing,” Fazenbaker said of the honor.

Before she became a CNA in the 1990s, she worked in a sewing factory. But she attended the then-Bedford County Vocational-Technical School’s nursing program. She joined Donahoe in 1995.

“I just love taking care of the elderly. I like the after-effect of how it made me feel that I helped somebody,” Fazenbaker said Wednesday.

Nancy Lingenfelter, director of nursing at Donahoe, chief composer of the nominating letter for Fazenbaker, called her the definition of “helpful, caring and responsive,” ManorCare’s motto.

“If everybody was like Linda, my job would be a breeze,” Lingenfelter said.

In her nominating letter, Lingenfelter noted that Fazenbaker managed to maintain her work hours in the days following the days of the Aug. 2, 2017, train derailment in Hyndman.

She and her family, who live on Clarence Street in the town, not far from the derailment, were evacuated after a train went off the tracks, causing an explosion and fire.

“Although her personal life was turned upside down … Linda came to work so our patients would continue to receive quality care,” the letter said.

Fazenbaker said she was sitting in her recliner watching TV when the train wreck happened.

“I heard this big boom and saw the fire and I got my family up,” she recalled. It wasn’t long before state police were informing them they had to leave their home because of the possible danger.

She said she left, grabbing her purse and her badge for work “so I could take care of my patients. Even though I was down and out, they still had to be taken care of.”

Fazenbaker and her family were displaced for several days, but she maintained her work schedule.

Lingenfelter said Fazenbaker is a favorite with the residents, some who ask for her though she may not be working in their part of the facility.

Those who are her patients are treated each evening to the Fazenbaker ritual.

“I give them a hug around the neck, kiss on the cheek, tell them ‘I love you’ and ‘goodnight.’ Then I know I’ve done a good job to make them comfortable.”

Fazenbaker said she convinced her daughter, Ashley, also a CNA, to join Donahoe as well.

Linda is married to Terry Fazenbaker. They have three daughters, Ashley, Kelly, Sherry, and a son, Shawn.

Fazenbaker said the joy of her work is in the interaction with the residents and knowing she helps them.

“Seeing the joy in their face, it just makes your day,” she said.

Contact Elizabeth Coyle at ecoyle@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 105.

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