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What Black History Month Means to Me

By: Angelique Riley

Meet Angelique

My name is Angelique Riley, and I have been at Grane Hospice Care, King of Prussia (an Abode Healthcare and BrightSpring Health Services company), for a little over two and a half years. I joined Grane after spending twenty years managing Life Enrichment in Continuing Care Retirement Centers. Although I found Life Enrichment rewarding, it was time to hang up that hat and move on to another venture.

I chose to work in Hospice Care to share my natural gift of helping people during the most difficult time of their lives, and also sharing compassion, support, and a great deal of care with our patients. It is a great honor to be spotlighted in our employee newsletter and to share what Black History Month means to me.

What Black History Month Means to Angelique

Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African American History Month. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. Now that you have the Wikipedia definition of Black History Month; let me tell you what Black History Month really means…

Black History cannot be contained or limited to a single month. I grew up in a family where we honored and embraced our heritage year-round. My siblings and I were educated by our father on the rich history of African Americans. He taught us about inventors, writers, educators, musicians, and other notable Black figures.

It was important to my father that we had knowledge of our own history. We grew up as military children and were exposed to many different cultures and environments. My father prided himself in educating us on African American studies because he knew our schools and society, would more likely teach us an inaccurate version of our history, if they mentioned African Americans at all.

During Black History Month, American schools teach students about Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and the enslavement of African American people in the US. Those are important topics to cover, but that barely scrapes the surface of African American contributions to our society. Sparse lesson plans fail to mention the large numbers of African American scientists, physicians, attorneys, and professors who have made huge contributions to American progress.

A Personal Story

A quick funny story: When I was in World History Class my junior year in High School in Lawton, Oklahoma, the teacher presented a lecture about religion in the African American community. I remember cringing in my seat, my spirit stirred with frustration because the lesson was filled with errors about my history and my culture. I could not remain silent.

Each time that the teacher mispronounced a name, gave an inaccurate date, or worse, attributed an accomplishment to the wrong person, I spoke up and corrected him. After I contradicted him four or five times, the teacher grew so frustrated that he shouted,

DO YOU WANT TO TEACH THE CLASS?”. I rose to my feet and said, “Yes, I do”.

It did not end well for me that day. I was sent to the office immediately and punished with an In-House Suspension. Despite the repercussions, I never regretted what I did.

My experience confirmed my father’s prediction that the school was not going to teach the proper information on African American History. Since my father took the time to teach me, I knew my history and had the conviction to share it with my peers.

I shared this story to illustrate the importance of teaching African American History and embracing it as an ongoing celebration in the African American Community. I am grateful to see schools, businesses and the community recognize Black History.

Black Is Love

The month of February is a time to honor our ancestors and their hidden or overlooked contributions. It is a time to reflect on the work still needed to be done.

Black History Month is a reminder that Black Is Love. I love being an African American woman and getting to reflect with others who are also proud to be African American. Black History Month is an invitation for others to join in the ongoing celebration of black excellence. It is unity in its highest form.

Employee Spotlight: Natasha Vakili

Natasha Vakili found her passion for hospice very early in her career.  After personally utilizing hospice services for her grandparents, she quickly saw the value hospice has for patients and families.  She strives to ensure all patients and families benefit from hospice care in the same positive way as her family.  Natasha’s focus is on maintaining financial stability so patients and families may receive the best care possible. Not only is she a Certified Hospice Administrator, she has her BBA in Business Administration and a BA in Psychology.  Natasha joined Apreva Hospice in early 2011 and has since been dedicated to providing the highest service to Apreva patients.

Employee Spotlight: Danish Farook

Danish Farook is the Chief Business Officer for Apreva Hospice. His background as a Physician MBA allows him to focus on the transformation of healthcare in the Hospice arena, including development of patient focused teams, outcomes-based models, and business development. Danish strongly believes in a “Patient First” model of care.  He is an alumnus of University of Xochicalco Medical School with post graduate training in the art of surgery. Danish is a member of the American College of Surgeons, Latino-American Federation of Surgery, American Society of Bariatric Physicians, American Association of Physician Leadership, and National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization.

Employee Spotlight: Leigh Ann Grass

Leigh Ann Grass, RN, BSN, PHN maintains focus toward creating a culture of treating patients and families as if they were our own family members.  She places concentration toward the ultimate goal of patient-oriented healthcare and finds each day a blessing in doing so.  Her career consists of 13 years of emergency, trauma and flight nursing; with the last 15 years in hospice and palliative care.  Every day her professional objectives include using her skills, knowledge, and theory to improve the quality of life and comfort level of her fellow San Diego County community members. In addition to her important career at Apreva, she also sits on a local hospital Board of Directors.

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