Butterfly Award Recipient

LARITHA BURKS- The Tale of a Caregiver who Truly Knows What Caregiving is All About

Laritha Burks is the initial recipient of the Butterfly Award-- an award given in honor of Sandra K. Gates who respected caregivers’ responsibilities. Laritha was nominated by Samantha Barton, publisher of Seniors Blue Book after listening to a presentation about Metamorphosis-3 at one of their networking luncheons. We received a nomination shortly thereafter nominating this fine young lady. I too, have had the honor of speaking and listening to her story and am honored that she became our first recipient.

Laritha Burks currently holds her CNA license and is employed at Encompass Health and Rehabilitation Center in Sarasota. In addition, she serves as a private caregiver in the Lakewood Ranch neighborhood. Viveca “Vikki” Altobelli stated that she knew Laritha for 10 years when she began her career for her best friend who lived on Longboat Key in Sarasota. She describes her as a first-class professional who is also loving, kind and funny; not to mention over the top qualified. She said she goes above and beyond being just a caregiver. Laritha becomes their friend and takes control of running their household; should they need that, as one of her clients living alone desperately needed.

It was apparent to me that Laritha absolutely loves her role as a caregiver and it shows in the enthusiasm in her voice. When asked what she loves about her job, she replied “I love being my patient’s support system—it can be as simple as lending an ear or helping hand or simply a phone call to check in on them since their family is out of town. It’s the little things, like grabbing their favorite pastry while I am doing my own shopping or something as small as complimenting their outfit or hair can go a long way and brightens their day.”

Ten years ago, Laritha’s life dramatically changed. She was diagnosed with a sarcoma (a form of bone cancer) and was told that she needed a hip replacement at the young age of 27. Upon listening to her story, I found that she was originally told that she did not have cancer and it was nothing to worry about by her primary physician. Laritha shared that her intuition told her she needed to get a second opinion and dig deeper. It was then that she was told after several tests that indeed it was cancer. To this day, Laritha is grateful she listened to that tiny voice that she credits God for, that saved her life. After her surgery, she now needed to become the patient. She had the experience to see everything from a patient’s eyes. “I knew from that point on that my nursing skills would change. I learned so much from being a patient in a rehabilitation facility. When I did return to my role as a caregiver, I had a whole new perspective that changed the way I treated a patient.” She continued to say “God has a way of making things happen, so you reevaluate what may be happening in your life. I learned a lot from my experience, and I can now say that I am grateful”.

Laritha’s future goal is to own her own business catering to the senior market. When asked what her mission would be, she simply stated, “To make sure my patients have the support, comfort and security needed to enjoy the latter part of their life.”

Laritha was awarded a “Spa Day” at a local spa. She was humbled and grateful and shared that she spent time going through the Metamorphosis-3 website and loved Sandy’s blue eyes.Laritha will now share our programs with the seniors whom she meets.Personally, I cannot think of a person who is more deserving of the initial Butterfly Award.I am sure those blue eyes are smiling from above.

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