Health

Making friends and serving residents for 23 years – and counting

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Twenty-three years ago, Jackson Obiri was making microchips for computers. But when he was laid off and the company closed, he decided it was time to start a new career as a CNA. He moved from Texas to Minnesota, completed training, and got a job at the Walker Methodist Health Center in Minneapolis. Ever since then, he’s been a committed and well-loved presence to residents, families, and team members. Jackson’s a friend to everyone he meets.

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“You really get to know residents and their families. You walk with them, feed them, talk with them,” he said. “They tell me their stories, backgrounds, and hardships. They share their dreams.” He hears about grandchildren’s’ tennis meets, favorite memories, and family vacations. With his calm, welcoming demeanor, it’s easy to see why some residents schedule their trips to the beauty salon for times when Jackson’s working and can help them to their appointment. People who were residents or patients years ago will stop by to see him or call just to check if he’s still at the Health Center.

When residents come to the Health Center, they find a kindred spirit in Jackson, someone who’s also been to a new place and faced the unknown. Jackson moved from Kenya in 1985 and still has family living overseas. Part of why he appreciates his job is the flexibility that allows him to spend time with his family. “When my kids were younger, I could help take care of them and spend time together. I was able be with my family when my mom passed away. I can go visit my family in Kenya,” he explained. “It feels good to work at a place where I can care for my loved ones, too. It’s like a family here.”

“If you open up to people, they feel comfortable to share, too. They don’t feel alone,” Jackson shared.

“Working at the Health Center is more than giving care and bringing food. You just become friends. That’s what I am: a friend to people who need a friend.”

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