Angels Among Us - September, 2011 - Erma Aker of Fort Wayne

By Linda Jackson

September 14, 2011 Updated Sep 14, 2011 at 5:44 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – It often seems that when difficult moments fill your life, that's when you need an Angel the most.

Greg Harrell and his family really needed that Angel several years ago when Greg's son was diagnosed with AIDS.

Enter... Erma Aker.

She's a case manager with the AIDS task force and has been for 15 and a half years.

It's difficult work there but so rewarding. Ask anyone on staff.

And, from the look of some gifts on a couple shelves in her office, Greg isn't the only person who thinks Erma's an Angel.

Greg says his son fought to live but lost that fight in 2005 at age 35.

During the fight and long after, Erma has been there for everyone who needed her.

Greg and Erma's co-workers say that's just the way she is.

Greg Harrell says, "When this disease strikes a family, she will offer a shoulder to cry on. She will offer a hand that will guide and comfort you. She will listen with compassion and understanding in a totally non-judgemental way. This city is so fortunate to have her, and I hope she's around for many many years to come. You can't ask for a better group of people who are so compassionate and understanding and would bend over backwards to help you any way they can possibly help."

Erma Aker says, "He said that he was inspired by me, but I was inspired by his son and his strength and perseverance. We can tell the measure of ourselves by how much we do for others, so. When you deal with someone who has HIV or someone who's sick with anything, really, it's not just their disease. It's also the family's disease and the family's problem to deal with, so I think that's important, too, to get to know them and support them as well."

Erma is humble, doesn't like attention, and prefers to remain in the background.

Every year on December 7th, the anniversary of his son's death, Greg sends Erma white carnations to say "thank you."

Be sure to visit our website and nominate an "Angel."

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