Monthly case histories about the real guardianship experience
Guardianship Spotlight:
Sherri Graham, FSGA Board Member
How I Became Involved in Guardianship
Sherri Graham, FSGA

When my step-mother passed away in Shawnee, Oklahoma, it left my  father alone. He had Alzheimer's disease, but my well-meaning step  mother, trying to protect us all,  didn't tell me or my sister how  advanced it had become. We knew about the Alzheimer's of course, but  we weren't there to see him getting lost while driving and  other unfortunate circumstances.

When we did become aware of the seriousness, I brought my father  down to live in my town, Ft. Myers, and took care of him. A nurse  noticed that I was a good caregiver and suggested that guardianship  might be my calling. It was something I never thought about  previously as I worked in the banking and title insurance industries.

So I began the process of transitioning from white collar professional  to real hands-on work that is now my passion. I found a class and  other guardianship educational resources in the community. Now, I  have been working my dream job for seven years and am nationally as  well as state certified. I serve on the Board of the Florida State  Guardianship Association because being a guardian is my life and I  have to stay on top of what i s happening with the profession. It helps  me serve my clients better. I can update answers to questions when people contact me. The education never stops and my passion  for this work continues to grow.
Guardianship
A Guardian's Special Influence

"If these walls could talk" went through my mind as I  got to know the life story of my  new client, a widow with no children living alone in her 80s in  Southwest Florida. As I was searching for items that told the  story of just who this client was, I found a treasure trove of music  history.

There were autographed photos of my client, a photo album of different bands she had played with and autographs of the  band members. There was also a handwritten song book  of her material.

As a young girl, Texarkana Rose had  been put up for adoption by her mother, and was taken in and raised by  her grandmother in the New England area. (We are protecting the client's identity by utilizing a different stage name.)

From Tough Childhood to Fame

She was loved by her grandmother, but not by her mom.  But we never talked about that.  That's not why I'm here as a  guardian.  I want to talk to my clients about happy things as much as  possible.

As Rose was growing up, she was captivated by something on the radio,  the lost art of yodeling. Before long, she was getting paid to perform  it as a means to get through college. However, it got her much further  than that.  All the way to the Grand Ole Opry!

Fast forward to October of 2015, when my sister and I were  taking our mother on a birthday trip to Nashville. I  thought of Rose and called the Grand Old Opry "on a mission."  The Opry referred me to the Country Music Hall of Fame and before  long, my mission was fulfilled. I had helped get Texarkana  Rose registered with the Country Music Hall of Fame.

It's not often that a guardian has the opportunity to achieve  something as special as that.

The timing was right, because Texarkana Rose passed away the next month.

In Rose's last years, I had many special, happy moments with her. She had overcome  being put up for adoption to make her mark  in country music.

We had conversations about yodeling, guitar playing and the artists  she played with. I am very  thankful that I was able to help her in her golden years and proud  that I got to know somebody who played in the Grand Ole Opry.
What question do I get asked the most?

"How do you do what you do as a guardian?"

Keeping the vunlerable and incapacitated safe from those who would do them harm and from making critical financial mistakes drives my passion. It's a way I can help serve the community at the same time.
What is a good tip for those selecting a guardian?
Light Bulb

Take the time necessary to research the guardian's reputation, work ethic and whether the person is respected in their profession. See if they are active members of their local and statewide guardianship associations because that is a measure of whether they stay up to date with professional development.

- Sherri
We hope these articles are informative for you. Please keep in mind  that some of the views expressed are not necessarily the opinions or  philosophies of other FSGA members. We recommend hiring a guardian  that is a good fit for you.
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