June Etta Ruiz
On May 19, 2014, at age 80, June Etta Ruiz came out of retirement to care for a client who now needed in-home services around the clock. There’s a shortage of experienced caregivers in direct-care, supported living services. And June knew the impact that shortage has on people with developmental disabilities – people who need help.
Fifty years ago June was in real estate and construction, but she was thrust into caring for people with disabilities when her 16-year-old son was paralyzed in a diving accident. He lost the use of his arms and his legs, and June had to learn how to care for him.
June comes from a large family of police officers and firefighters. Service and helping others seems to be in her blood. After she lost her son, June took her experience, added additional training and eventually became a licensed nurses’ aid. Over the decades since, her training, her experience, her caring nature would bring her into the homes of countless clients who depended on others for care.
The work she does is demanding. Shifts last up to 16 hours. But even today, at 85 years old, June has relentless energy. She takes care of herself so she can take care of others. She’s learned that to keep going, she needs to constantly exercise her body and her mind. She works out at the gym regularly and, for mental exercise, she turns to crossword puzzles.
Over the course of 85 years, you see a lot and you learn a lot. June has learned that as long as you can help others, you should. And she’s learned that helping others keeps you young. About retirement, June says: “I didn’t want to just sit around. That would kill me faster than anything. So I went back to work. I can’t wait for the next day.”
June Etta Ruiz … Peoples Health Champion