Do you have a developmentally disabled child or an elderly parent? What about a niece with a mental illness or a cousin with a physical disability?

Then you probably know a home health care worker. You see how much they assist your loved ones, the care and compassion they dole out, but have you stopped to wonder if they get a real, living wage?

We all work very hard as home health care workers, many of us for agencies that see their workforce and your loved ones as nothing more than numbers and dollar signs. Most agencies do not offer health insurance, even though workers are in such close proximity to their clients. And many agencies don’t offer paid sick leave, putting both workers and clients at risk.

Home health care workers, and everyone, can be helped greatly by raising the minimum wage. Some earn a few dollars more than minimum wage; many others do not. Raising the minimum wage benefits all home health care workers. That would get us closer to a living wage.

I deserve better than needing a second job to pay for heating oil and bills. I love my job; I stand by my client and poor pay because my client means the absolute world to me.

I am lucky to have met such a lovely young woman as a client and to know that we have enriched each other’s lives. I am unlucky that I’m not paid what my time and effort is really worth, like many of you reading this now.

Leighann Gillis

Portland