SANTA ANA, Calif. (January 17, 2017)—It was after her mother suffered a stroke that Laura Harpster realized she had the skills and innate desire to care for others. Patience, empathy and helping patients adjust to their new lifestyle came easily to her. After her father‘s health declined, Harpster became his primary caregiver, finding it most rewarding when she saw how her efforts helped him be more independent, self-sufficient and happier overall.

In 2010, when the manufacturing recession hit, and Harpster lost her job, she knew it was time to put her newfound passion to good use and became a full-time caregiver at Senior Helpers, an organization providing dependable care to improve the quality of life of elderly clients and their families. Her kindness and endless devotion to the Orange County seniors under her care made her the perfect recipient for Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary’s January/February Oliver Halsell Care Award.

“Laura possesses the qualities inherent in an Oliver Halsell Care Award recipient,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven. “Throughout her life she has shown endless empathy and kindness toward the people she has cared for, family and patients alike.”

The Orange resident has been caring for the same client for over six years, helping her through her decline due to Alzheimer’s disease. Her day-to-day tasks range from housekeeping, hygiene care and meal preparation to social activities, including playing cards and going on outings. One of their favorite activities is to read from a memory book filled with anecdotes and stories of Harpster’s client, which they collected together when they were first matched.

When not working, Harpster volunteers her time at the Art Alliance of Yorba Linda. Harpster also creates whimsical greeting cards featuring photos of her own cats that she sells online. Her work as been featured in various arts and crafts festivals throughout Orange County. 

"I’m very proud to be recognized with this award. Caregiving gives me the opportunity to make a huge difference in someone’s life,” said Harpster. “Being a good caregiver requires a delicately balanced set of skills to develop that very intimate relationship with your patient built on trust, patience, knowledge and gentle care. I am my clients’ eyes, ears and voice and they can always depend on me to be there for them.”

Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary, which has facilities in Santa Ana and Mission Viejo, introduced the Oliver Halsell Care Awards honoree program in 2012 as a way to spotlight local residents who are making a positive impact in Orange County by showing care and compassion through work or volunteering.

In November 2017, Harpster will be presented with her award at Fairhaven's Oliver Halsell Care Awards ceremony at its Mission Viejo facility. The Care Award banquet will recognize six honorees’ accomplishments awarded during the coming year. Additionally, Fairhaven will make a donation on her behalf to her chosen charity, the Alzheimer’s Association.

Fairhaven is accepting nominations for the 2017 Oliver Halsell Care Awards. For more information and to nominate an outstanding citizen, call 714-633-1442 or email

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