Associate Spotlight – A Caring Couple

Nurses make better life for family in US

Man and woman posing for photo outdoors

For Henry Masembe, the decision to go into nursing was an easy one. He grew up in Uganda where there is a cultural expectation that children care for their parents and other family or friends.

“It’s just second nature,” he said. “We know how to take care of people.”

His wife, Edith, also from Uganda, was focused on getting a master’s degree in business when they arrived in the Unites States in the late 1990s. Ultimately, she decided healthcare was the right choice for her, as well.

The couple embarked on a multi-year program to improve their lives, and those of their three children, by seeking nursing education – alternating schooling as the other worked. Today, both are Benchmark Senior Living nurses: Henry at Robbins Brook in Acton and Edith at The Falls at Cordingly Dam in Newton.

For a year, Henry worked as an Uber driver, their children went to day care, and Edith went to Greater Lowell Technical High School for her LPN training.

“We flipped the following year,” Edith explained. She went to work at a nursing home while Henry attended classes at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School.

“It sounds hard, but it’s not that hard when you’re doing it,” she said.

Henry agreed.

“You kind of take it day by day,” he said. “If you analyze it, there’s not enough hours in the day.”

Henry had just received his LPN license and was hired by Benchmark when COVID-19 hit the region – including their home.

Edith, who was still working at a nursing home, tested positive for the virus. Soon after, so did Henry. Everything was put on hold and the entire family had to quarantine.

Edith was hesitant to return to work at the nursing home, where she said she likely had contracted the virus. Each night, Henry came home and shared with his wife how much he felt safe and liked working for Benchmark.

“I told him, ‘Okay, I’m coming!’” Edith said. She applied and was hired at The Falls.

Henry and Edith now work in both the assisted living and memory care neighborhoods of their communities.

Edith works the night shift. Henry works days.

Family posing for photo outdoorsNow that they are both vaccinated, things seem to be getting back to normal at home. Their two boys and a girl – aged 8, 6 and 4 – are back to school and the family is able to go to church again. They also bought a house in Westford.

In addition to job security, Henry said working for Benchmark has made him realize that having a good team makes a real difference.

“If you work hard and show your competency, you can go up,” Henry said. He and his supervisor, Kerry LeBlanc, the resident care director at Robbins Brook, often talk about career development.

For Edith, her move to Benchmark and assisted living has been more fulfilling than she imagined. Most of her time at the nursing home she felt like she was “just passing out pills.” Now she feels part of the decision-making process at the Falls.

“You’re valued more,” said Edith, whose journey has not ended. She is now working on an associate degree at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Edith shares her enthusiasm about nursing with others.

“Most of our community stops at CNA” when it comes to career growth, Edith explained, adding that often some friends just don’t know how to go about becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse. “We tell them, ‘Just go and take the course!’”

Henry said he has no regrets. “We love the profession. We’re grateful.”