When someone compliments Peggy Antosh about the work she does to take care of others, she is quick to brush away the accolades.
When she was nominated for National Caregiver of the Year by the Comfort Keepers Corp., she was "embarrassed," the Bethel Park woman said. The company provides in-home caregivers to senior citizens and the disabled in Pittsburgh and its southern and eastern suburbs.
- AGE: 56
- HOMETOWN: Bethel Park
- OCCUPATION: Caregiver for Comfort Keepers, working 50 to 60 hours a week
- EDUCATION: Yough High School
- FAMILY: Fiance, David Niedbala; son, Carl; daughter-in-law, Danae; and grandsons, Hayden, 12, and Logan, 9
- WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU? "My family and making sure that I can give my clients the best care possible."
- AND WHEN YOU WERE A KID YOU WANT TO BE ... ? "I had a pretty tough childhood with 10 brothers and sisters, so we didn't think too much about what we wanted to be."
- FIRST JOB: Cashier in a grocery store
- HOBBIES: Time with grandsons; reading
- READING MATERIAL ON NIGHTSTAND: History books
- WHAT'S PLAYING ON TV? "Antiques Roadshow"
- FANTASY CELEBRITY DINNER DATE: Sean Connery
- WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE? Susan Sarandon
- FAVORITE SPOT IN THE WORLD: Lover's Key on the Gulf Coast
- PROUDEST MOMENT SO FAR: "Raising my son and seeing what a terrific father he has become."
- WHAT'S ON YOUR BUCKET LIST? "To travel throughout the country and visit my 10 brothers and sisters."
Those Ms. Antosh cares for and those she works with think she deserves the honor as one of eight people recently recognized as National Caregivers.
DeBorah Madden, human resources manager for Comfort Keepers South and East Office, said there were 20,000 caregivers nationwide eligible for the honor.
"She is in a class of her own. She approaches each task with enthusiasm and is never discouraged," Mrs. Madden said.
As a caregiver, Ms. Antosh provides a variety of services to those who need assistance with daily activities such as housekeeping, personal care, recreational activities and errands.
"She never lets an oppositional or difficult client get her down," Mrs. Madden said.
"I just look at it as my mission to make them laugh," Ms. Antosh said.
Challenges aren't new to Ms. Antosh. As one of 11 children growing up, she had been placed in foster homes and didn't have much of a traditional home life. Later, she faced challenges as a single parent raising her son.
"Maybe that is where some of my skills of coping and making the best of a situation came from," she said.
Ms. Antosh has what she refers to as her "Triple A" approach to a job, explained Mrs. Madden.
"She arrives on time, assesses the situation and accommodates her clients to the best of her ability," she said.
While some people look at caregiving as a job, Mrs. Madden said Ms. Antosh is a caregiver.
Ms. Antosh is quick to compliment fellow caregivers and other award recipients that she met at a national ceremony in Dallas.
"There are a lot of other people who deserve this award," she said. "When DeBorah told me she was going to nominate me, I said, 'Get out of here. You have to be kidding me.' "
Ms. Antosh works long hours caring for her clients, with a typical work week often 50 to 60 hours.
"I just enjoy my work. If someone is reluctant to do something, I just try to make it fun," she said. "For example, if someone is reluctant to take a shower, I just start singing Gene Kelly's song 'Singin' in the Rain' while getting them in."
That's what makes her an outstanding caregiver, Mrs. Madden said.
"It is just who she is, what she radiates," she said. "She is the definition of a caregiver."
For more on Comfort Keepers, call 412-653-6100.neigh_east - neigh_south
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.