Jenni Ekletsion feels strongly that she was put on Earth to help others.
“Sometimes you don’t know what you’re created for. I am created for taking care of others,” she said. The married mother of two, who immigrated from Ethiopia to the U.S. 20 years ago, has already achieved a lot since moving to Columbus, Ohio. She was holding down a good job in banking while also working toward her doctorate.
Yet her desire to connect with other people inspired Jenni to become an Uber driver on the weekends. She enjoys chatting with her passengers about everything from spirituality to parenthood, and feels good about helping them get where they need to go.
In March 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenni picked up an 88-year-old man named Paul Webb. Little did they know this short ride to the cellphone store would wind up changing both of their lives!
Paul lives alone since his wife passed away years ago, and his adult children were worried that he was spending too much time alone in his house. He was diagnosed with dementia in 2017, and like many others, the isolation caused his health to rapidly decline during the pandemic. On the day he got into Jenni’s Toyota, they both felt an instant connection.
“She was very personable, easy to talk to,” Paul said. Right away, Jenni sensed that he needed more than a ride to the store. “I could tell how lonely he was,” she explained. “I had a feeling that he needed help. I told him I live nearby his house, so I said, ‘From now on, when you need a ride, just call me.’”
The next day, Paul did just that.
Soon Jenni was coming by Paul’s house every day after work to check on him or take him out to eat. They always alternated who paid the restaurant check, and eventually Paul’s children got over their skepticism and realized she was genuinely interested in helping their dad. When Paul fell ill in April 2021, they considered sending him to a nursing home, which Paul vehemently opposed. That’s when Jenni decided to take the incredible leap of quitting her full-time job to care for Paul every day.
“There are people in this world that really care,” said Paul’s son, Keith Webb. “She is the real deal. She’s been there through everything. I’m just so grateful.”
Jenni regrets not being able to care for her own father since she left Ethiopia, so stepping in as Paul’s caretaker felt totally natural for her. Now, the two share a relationship that’s like father and daughter.
“It’s marvelous,” Paul said. “I don’t even want to think about losing her friendship. She is like a daughter to me.”
While Paul’s children think Jenni’s appearance in their lives is nothing short of a miracle, Jenni insists she’s the lucky one. “A lot of people with a lot of wisdom, they are dying at home alone so the rewarding part is changing his life. Changing his last days. He’s 88. You don’t deserve to be alone,” she said.
“How lucky am I to get to spend my days with Paul?” Jenni continued. “It was the best decision I ever made.”
Share this beautiful story of friendship with others to encourage more acts of love and compassion like Jenni’s.
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