As a self-described “bubble bath specialist,” CNA Yocasta “JoJo” Colangelo strives to make Lake Mary Health and Rehabilitation Center “more of a home than just a rehab” for residents. “When the patient comes in, I clean them, shave them, listen to them, and hear their stories.”
Colangelo began her health care career in 1990 as a CNA. She explained that her mother’s death from cancer helped fuel her motivation to pursue a career in the health care field and dote on others struggling with physical ailments.
Through seemingly simple and mundane hygienic acts of care such as bathing and shaving, Colangelo takes the opportunity to stop and listen to the residents and what they have to say. She explained: “The way I see it, and how I care for them with love, kindness, and respect… I feel that it will come back to me. It will come around. Not everyone sees it that way, but still, we can always try our best. . . through actions, not just words.”
Colangelo said that when assisting residents with bathing, it’s more than a superficial act, and that, “it’s [both] outside and inside [the heart]. I feel for them.” Colangelo’s compassionate care extends beyond patients’ immediate physical needs and reaches to their emotional needs as well. Colangelo achieves this by giving a listening ear. Keeping residents company when they need a calming presence. Giving them a reassuring smile. Offering a caring, nurturing love.
According to Colangelo, striving to “make a difference” motivates her to give her all to the Lake Mary residents each day.
With her soft, kind voice and sweet demeanor, Colangelo explained that many Lake Mary residents arrive at the care center feeling anxious and uncertain, and she said it makes her feel like she’s caring for “birds with broken wings,” and she works hard to improve their current lives. In all of this, she said: “It doesn’t seem like work to me. The time just flies, and then it’s time to go already.”
Colangelo considers compassion the most important Consulate core value. And to Colangelo, true compassion is intertwined with love. “When I make eye contact with a new patient, and I see the fear in their face, I tell them, ‘I’m here for you.’ Their trust in me feels like love. . . The patients remember my name and call me ‘Jojo.’”
Susan Neri, Activities Director at Lake Mary Health and Rehabilitation Center, nominated Colangelo for this honor, stating: “It’s hard to name just one core value for this nominee. Yocasta Colangelo shows a deep compassion for our residents by treating them with love, kindness and patience. She respects each resident by honoring their dignity and valuing their uniqueness. She shows her integrity by coming in everyday with such great care and tenderness in the tasks and service she gives. She is called an ‘angel’ by the residents.”
As for the future, Colangelo said she plans on “staying with Consulate and spreading the love.” Outside her role at Lake Mary, she also cares for her mother-in-law dealing with early-onset Alzheimer’s, with the help of her two sons. “It’s a challenge, but I look on the bright side,” she said.
In her limited free time, Colangelo enjoys walking on the grass by the pond at her home, watching the sunset, reading good books, spotting butterflies, and taking long walks by the ocean.
Thank you, Yocasta (a.k.a. “Jojo”), for your kind and calming presence around our residents! Your service is much appreciated.