The MENTOR Network

Stories of our Mentors

When The Going Got Tough, Lori Was There

Lori Sharpe just has a way of making people feel better. She is always quick with a smile or a welcoming hug, and as a Host Home Mentor with REM Iowa since 2012, she has helped the individuals in her home live life to the fullest. Lori is an advocate, caregiver and friend to each person who comes into her home. Currently, she provides a home for a man named Michael, and together, they have worked through some serious challenges.

Not Just Another Day

July 24, 2017, started as a typical day for Lori and Michael. When Lori woke him up and began helping him get ready for his day, Michael told her he was feeling dizzy. She helped him to the dining room table and went to fetch him a glass of water. While Lori was in the kitchen, she heard a noise and rushed back into the dining room, where she found Michael sitting on the floor, unable to get up.

Lori called emergency services, and Michael was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. Doctors conducted a number of tests, but they were unable to determine what was wrong and were considering discharging him. However, Lori knew Michael, and she knew something was wrong. She fought for further tests. Ultimately, the doctors reached a diagnosis, and Lori stayed with Michael late into the night to make sure he felt safe and comfortable as he was being treated.

Michael underwent surgery, and Lori was there to support him. After the surgery, he faced a number of complications and was unable to walk. Each day seemed to bring a new challenge, but Lori took the time to learn how to care for Michael and help him through this difficult time.

Caregiver and Cheerleader

Each day, Lori drove 20 miles each way to visit Michael while he recovered. “I strived to create the best, most positive vibes I could, every day. That way, when I walked into the room, I could smile no matter what I walked into,” she said. This positivity was critical to Michael’s recovery. Lori and Michael celebrated every milestone during his long, difficult recovery, whether it was picking up a pen or taking his first steps. She sensed that Michael could do these things, but he needed someone to tell him he could.

“I knew I needed to be there for him, and I put all my faith and heart into believing he could walk again, that he would be able to come home to me,” said Lori. She was not only his caregiver but his cheerleader.

Coming Home

Finally, on September 1st, after 39 days in the hospital, Michael was released back home. But Lori’s dedication didn’t end there. Michael required physical therapy multiple times a week and many follow-up appointments with specialists. Through it all, Lori has been there, helping him regain his independence, one small step at a time.

Lori not only put her time and energy into Michael’s recovery, but her heart and soul. Lori and Michael are a testament to the difference one person can make in the life of another. Michael is now walking again and back home with Lori who is still his Mentor. They are exactly where they’re supposed to be: at home together and in the community, living life.­