Aida Kurjack – A Caregiver’s Journey From War-Torn Bosnia to Bowling Green.

by | Oct 2023

IN THE midst of the Civil War, Aida Kurjack and her family left their war-torn homeland of Bosnia in the ‘90s, seeking refuge in Croatia before finding their way to the United States through Austria. Settling in Bowling Green, with virtually nothing, the Kurjack family faced an uphill battle, grappling with a new language, culture, and surroundings. Yet, they embraced the challenge with courage and determination. 

When asked if she was afraid while moving to the United States, Kurjack’s response is a testament to her indomitable spirit: “Scared for what? There was war [in Bosnia]. There was nothing. I lost everything. It was a new life here. I wish more people moving to the U.S. would think like me and my family.” 

Undeterred by the hardship, Kurjack and her family wasted no time getting to work. As she candidly puts it, “It was a very hard start, you know. But you have no choice.” 

Driven by a relentless pursuit of the American dream, they secured jobs and began intensively studying U.S. history, government systems, and the American culture. Their unwavering commitment bore fruit on May 21, 2004, when Aida, her husband, Mago, and their sons were granted American citizenship, a defining milestone in their journey. 

Photographed by Amanda Guy.

Although she still carries a heavy Bosnian accent (it only adds to her charm), after 27 years here, Bowling Green is her home.

“I have nothing there since the war,” Aida said of Bosnia. “Bowling Green is home.” 

Aida worked for Scott’s Tobacco Company and Morningside Assisted Living in Bowling Green for years before Scott’s Tobacco relocated, and she was referred to Charter Senior Living. It was easy for her supervisor at Morningside to give her a glowing referral. 

“She doesn’t miss days, and she doesn’t get sick. She’s a machine,” Charter’s senior executive director, Jim Britt, said. “A wonderful, beautiful machine.”

Growing up in Bosnia, Aida lived with her grandparents, an experience that fostered a special bond with older adults. 

“You know how it is with older people — like little kids, you know,” she said. “They’re close to my heart, like family.”

Aida works six days a week. If she takes a day off, she said she misses her residents. And she’s never late to work, according to Britt. In fact, she’s never late to anything. Why? 

Photographed by Amanda Guy.

“I don’t like people who are late,” she said. 

Not only punctual, resilient, and warm-hearted, Aida is fiercely loyal. As a caregiver, she forms close bonds with her residents, often staying with them until their passing. Even then, her care does not end. 

“I always stay in touch with the family when a resident passes away,” she said. “I get Christmas cards and birthday cards from the family saying they appreciate my care.” 

Aida’s compassion extends far beyond the workplace; she quietly buys residents toiletries and gifts with her own money and visits people in the hospital during her personal time. She treats everyone like family — residents, colleagues, and even random writers calling for an interview. 

You wouldn’t know it by her warmth or contagious smile, but life’s challenges have not spared Aida, even in the States. Two and a half years ago, her husband, Mago, affectionately known as “Big Man,” passed away unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. Despite the heartache, she was back at work seven days later, smiling through her tears and loving on coworkers and our residents, according to Britt. 

Photographed by Amanda Guy.

“That’s life,” she said with a sigh. “I have my kids, my God-kids, and my grandkids. They’re good kids.” 

Now blessed with two granddaughters and a grandson, Aida cherishes every moment spent with her family. One of her sons lives on the same street, and the other is just 12 miles away. She sees them almost every day. And beyond work hours, she devotes herself to caring for people, making food, delivering gifts, running errands, and showering her grandkids with love. 

“I think the hardships in Aida Kurjack’s life helped form her into the amazing woman she is today,” Britt said before presenting Aida with the Kentucky Outstanding Caregiver of the Year award. “Caregiver is more than a job title for Aida; it is who she is to everyone in her life, and to be in her life is a blessing for all of us.” GN

More Good News

Celebrating a Musical Legacy

Celebrating a Musical Legacy

ARTS OF Southern Kentucky announced that Tyrone Dunn and Brick House will perform a tribute to Lionel Richie and the Commodores at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SKyPAC) on Saturday,...

read more