Providing ‘service with heart’ during difficult times

George Brown
Ruth and Norma retired this year. Both worked for Clermont Senior Services as home health aides.

Ruth served for over 30 years, and Norma for almost as many. I use the word “served” because Ruth and Norma did not approach their work as jobs to be performed. The served each older person with dignity, respect, and compassion. At Clermont Senior Services we call this Service with Heart.

We have a lot of employees who have been providing Service with Heart for 10 to 20 years or more.

They deliver meals-on-wheels, transport seniors to medical appointments, care for Alzheimer’s patients in the adult day services program, and serve in supportive positions in the office. When we conduct the annual customer satisfaction survey almost all of the comments are about how much the seniors love the employees who serve them. It’s not hard to figure out that this is because the employees love them.

The last few years have been really tough for our employees. They have not had a pay raise in over three years, and they pay 25 percent of their health insurance premiums. You would expect them to be discouraged and that morale would be low. Just the opposite is true.

Despite the absence of pay raises, they have maintained a positive attitude and have remained unwavering in their commitment to providing Service with Heart.

As I’ve been visiting with groups around the county the last few weeks talking about the Senior Services Levy, I’ve been surprised by the number of people who think Clermont Senior Services is a county agency.

We have a great relationship with the Board of County Commissioners and they have entrusted Clermont Senior Services with administering the Senior Services Levy for the past 20 years, but Clermont Senior Services is not part of county government. We are a private nonprofit agency governed by a volunteer board of trustees.

As a private nonprofit agency, our employees do not participate in the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). We do have a modest retirement plan for employees, but Social Security is their primary retirement plan.

We do not have a union with collective bargaining, and our employees do not receive step raises for years of service. Raises, when they can be given, are based on merit.

My purpose in sharing this information is for you to be aware of the sacrifice our employees have made, all the while remaining firm in their commitment to provide Service with Heart.

The Senior Services Levy on the November ballot is a renewal levy, which means it will not raise your taxes. I urge you to help make it possible for our employees to continue providing Service with Hear for the next five years by voting for the Senior Services Levy.

George Brown is the executive director of Clermont Senior Services.