Valentine’s Day romance doesn’t always go as planned — I should know. One fateful Feb. 14 a decade ago brought a personal and professional transformation to my husband and me, changing our lives forever.
It is Valentine’s Day, 2003. I’m ready to embrace the night with my husband Lenny — I have been mapping out how we will spend this special evening. Our kids are staying with my brother, so Lenny and I have the night alone.
And then we receive the fateful phone call.
It is a community center calling on behalf of an elderly woman in our neighborhood with no one to take care of her. Family had gone on vacation and the woman needed in-home assistance.
I don’t want to say no, but I am torn because of our Valentine’s plans. But then, the thought of an elderly neighbor spending the night alone tugs at my heart. I discuss it with Lenny and realize what we must do.
We let the community center know that we are willing to provide care for our neighbor care.
And with that act of kindness, Lenny and I began a life-changing adventure, an entrepreneurial endeavor I could never have predicted.
To this day, I tell people that Cupid’s arrow truly struck us in an unforeseen way. We ended up spending Valentine’s in the elderly neighbor’s home helping her out, sleeping on a floor mattress in case she needed assistance in the middle of the night. As a matter of fact, we spent several days with the woman because her family wasn’t there for her. That experience transformed us.
Sleeping on an elderly neighbor’s floor providing care for her changed our perspective on life and what we felt we should be doing with ours.
Both Lenny and I had successful careers, but dreamed of more. So, we worked on a business plan with the help of my brother, Alex, which ultimately led to the launch of our Hackensack, N.J.-based home care company Executive Care.
I continue to oversee much of the day-to-day operations of our company. Executive Care now includes more than 300 caregivers and employees and a satellite office, offering services — everything from assisting with household chores to live-in care and skilled nursing — that help families overwhelmed with the responsibility of providing care to a loved one.
In 2012, we decided to take a giant leap forward and begin franchising our home care brand. Lenny and I are bringing on inaugural franchisees later this month, with plans to add more than a dozen by the end of 2013.
Sometimes I just need to stop and pinch myself. I think, what if we hadn't cared for our elderly neighbor on that Valentine's Day ten years ago? Fate has a funny way of showing us a path. My husband and I decided to walk down ours and embrace it every step of the way.
Mila Feldman is the co-founder of Hackensack, N.J.-based Executive Care, a family-owned home care company in the mid-Atlantic that recently launched a strategic national franchise growth strategy. Mila is heavily involved in management of the company, working alongside her husband Lenny Verkhoglaz and her brother Alex Feldman. The company will be bringing on its inaugural franchisees in early 2013.
More from living