A Note from the VP, Jim Greatorex: November 2021

Published in Home Modifications on November 22, 2021

As we get to the holiday season, we tend to take some time to reflect on what’s important to us in our personal lives and our work lives. I also think it’s a great time to just spend some time thinking about our purpose in both, and for many of us, our work life is important because of personal life.

My purpose is to bring great services to people of all ages who need their home modified so that they can live in it safely and independently as long as they wish. We do that here by working with great members and manufacturers and service partners who have the same goals. 

To define my goal on a personal level, I think back to when I was a kid growing up in rural Maine. Every Saturday night we would go up to "Grampa" and "Grammy's" house for a baked bean dinner and after would watch the Newlywed Game and The Lawrence Welk Show. I may have bagged out on many of the Lawrence Welk programs, but that family tradition remained in place until my grandfather passed away at age 91. My two sisters and I used to work for my grandfather as he grew crops well into his eighties that he would sell in what we called a "roadside stand" during the summer and fall months. Before we left each Saturday night, they would get the money bowl down from the top shelf, and my sisters and I would get our pay for that week’s work. I remember that my grandmother would give us any 50 cent pieces and silver dollars pieces they had because she thought we might save them instead of spending them. I would save mine for about two weeks and then could not help myself and would go after that shiny object. This family tradition is a memory that I will always treasure, and it was exceptionally meaningful to my grandparents.

We had a similar instance with my mother and her sister, my Aunt Lorna, who ended up living together the last 25 years of my mom’s life. When my mom was in her mid-eighties, it was not safe for them to still live in her house. Not knowing what we know now, we didn’t have the knowledge or skill set needed to make the modifications to her home. The last three years of my mom’s life were spent in an assisted living place with my aunt. We thought the place was fantastic, but to them they were living in someone else’s building. This was not their home.

My aunt then lived another eight years after my mom passed and the last three years, we were left with no choice but to place her in a Medicaid-funded assisted living, which is a glorified name for a nursing home. Her existence was in a small room with a roommate not of her choice. The lady she was living with demanded that the shades be pulled down all the time and kept her TV on 16 hours a day on a cable news network. My sweet aunt, as always, made the best of that situation but wow, what an eyeopener for me. After visiting her I would always walk away with a knot in my stomach thinking that I should have done things differently and that we as a country have got to come up with a more dignified and humane means of living conditions for our elders that allow them to live the end of their life with the ability to preserve their legacy and dignity, and perhaps some choice on who they live with. My aunt outlived her savings by about 12 years, and our options were limited. 

Why am I sharing this story? Because we as an industry have a chance to have a role in changing this dynamic for the next generation entering elder-hood. By becoming experts in the age-in-place market, we are not only looking at a great business opportunity, but if not more importantly, we are giving that senior a chance to keep intact the family traditions that generations below will keep as cherished memories. We can connect people to financial resources in a way that allows them to afford to live in their home if they choose. We can work with our government officials to create tax breaks for those who choose to or need to make modifications to make their house livable for them. Let’s play our part in making the end years' of peoples lives some of their best years instead of, in many cases, not so much.

In this season, I am grateful to have the privilege to work with great members who have their own purpose and stories* for being in this industry. I’m also grateful to work with corporate partners who are true partners working with similar purpose. I am so lucky to work for a company that has given me the opportunity to find great purpose in this business opportunity and ability to make a difference in the communities in which we all work.

Next year, we will be putting focus on defining the industry, professionalizing it, and growing public awareness of the great work you all do. We can only do that with the help of our members. If you have strong purpose in the work you do, consider looking at our Select Member program and help us build a national network of certified, vetted home access companies that people can trust to do the job right with high ethics. Come to one of our events and network with your peers. Let’s unite as a group and together build an industry that makes a difference,

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for your membership.

*We love sharing our members' stories and successes. As a reminder, if you would like to share your own story about your company, a recent success story, etc., we would love to feature you! Please reach out to us and share your experience with us for an opportunity to be featured as our member spotlight.


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