Danielle Walker was born and raised in Gary, but now resides in Portage where she has lived for about 10 years now. However, Walker left Indiana and moved to Minnesota for a while to find herself after having her first son.
“I waitressed in Minnesota before I took on a personal caregiver position, and that is when I found my passion to help people,” Walker stated.
Walker initially started working as a personal caregiver primarily because she had two children that she needed to support.
“I was a single, 23-year-old mother who had two kids and needed to make money to support them. I had seen an ad for a personal caregiver to care for someone and I was assigned with a woman named Terry. She taught me so much. I helped her and she helped me,” Walker said.
Walker cared for this woman 42 hours a week for three and a half years before she decided to move back to Indiana where she went back to waitressing up until about three years ago.
“I raised my kids solely on a waitress salary… and at this point in my life I had my third child and decided to be a caregiver with FirstLight Home Care for a few hours a week. This is when I saw my passion for people again,” Walker said.
Walker started helping out around the office in addition to caregiving with FirstLight Home Care and the position for Care Coordinator opened up. She applied for the position and it was offered to her in June of 2014.
But she does not look at her career as a job, but instead as a passion.
“I just care so much about helping people, that really just is my passion. I come from a not so pretty life and because of that I have always wanted to help people,” she said. “My hardships have taught me a lot and I have been able to be successful without a college education, and I always tell my children that they can do anything no matter what.”
After working for FirstLight Home Care for three years, she left and will be starting a new position as the Director of Marketing at Belvedere Senior Housing in Merrillville.
“Belvedere Senior Housing will be open in the summer of 2017. We are the first affordable assisted lifestyle complex, which is something that this area has never seen before,” she explained.
Walker has a passion for this kind of work primarily because she loves helping people, but also because she loves senior citizens.
“When you are working in senior health, you are helping with the quality of life,” she said, adding in that you are also learning from people who have lived and experienced life longer than yourself. “I learned from my grandparents and the people that I went to church with. They are the ones that have laid the groundwork and taught us what we know.”
Walker currently lives in Portage with her three children, Xander who is 17 years old, Daijah who is 14, and Edmund who is 3-years-old. She returned to Portage to raise her kids among the rest of her family here.
“Both of my parents are deceased, but my aunt and my family is what brought me back to Northwest Indiana. When you live far away and you don’t have any family near you, you feel like a part of you is gone, and I missed that. I love my community, the Dunes, and the feel of the region,” Walker said.
Throughout Walkers’s adult life, she has been a single mom to her three children. However, later this year, she will be a single mother no more, and is getting married.
In Walker’s free time, she enjoys spending time with her children and family, spending her days at Lake Michigan in the summer, and just making memories. Those memories can be as boring as looking back on a beach-bum day, or the day her third son was born. It doesn’t matter the activity, as long as it is saved her mind and her soul.
“I love making memories. At the end of the day memories are all we have,” she said. “If that is a hobby, making memories is my favorite thing.”