Ann Arbor area caregiver recognized with Midwest Caregiver of The Year award

Ypsilanti caregiver surprised with regional honor

Tyja Owens (holding her BrightStar Care Midwest Caregiver of The Year Award) and her family at a small celebration held on Aug. 20. (BrightStar Care Ann Arbor)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Tyja Owens had no idea that there was a BrightStar Care Midwest Caregiver of The Year Award, let alone that she was receiving it.

On Aug. 20, Owens was surprised with the honor by family members and BrightStar Care Ann Arbor owners in the home healthcare and medical staffing agency’s Ann Arbor office.

“I wasn’t even aware that there was an award, “Owens said over the phone. “It was very much a surprise.”

In any other year, Owens and the other recipients would travel to Houston for an award ceremony. She said she didn’t realize at the time just how important the award actually was, but it finally dawned on her that the acknowledgment extended beyond the Ann Arbor area.

She is one of four caregivers across the BrightStar Care network in the U.S. to receive a regional award. It also puts her in the running for a national award that will be announced in the fall.

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“For me, this is my job. This is what I do, and at the end of 13 years with no recognition and now getting it -- for that to happen, it was really a surprise,” she said, adding that it meant a lot to see how proud her family members are.

It also means a lot to Owens that the nomination came from her current client, who is based in Ann Arbor. She said that knowing her client and their struggles, for them to put themselves “out there” by writing the nomination letter means a great deal to her.

Tyja Owens (middle) with BrightStar Care Ann Arbor owners Sarah and Kelvyn Williams. (BrightStar Care Ann Arbor)

Owens has worked in home healthcare for 13 years, but only for a year with BrightStar.

“It surprising to be with a company for one year and for them to say ‘in this one year, we know what you are able to do and what you mean to someone.’ And for them to put me forward like that means a lot.”

For Owens, the best part of working in home healthcare is the one-on-one aspect. She gets to help clients achieve their goals and focus on teamwork.

She worked with her first client for eight years and took a break after their death. After starting work with her current client, Owens said that things “just clicked” and that home healthcare was what she was meant to do. The BrightStar Care award demonstrates just that.

Related: New program aims to connect Washtenaw County caregivers to individualized support

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.