When Amsterdam resident Ramon Rodriguez retired from the military back in 2000 after 20 years of service, he was ready to put down some roots.
“I was always interested in serving my community,” he said, “but when you’re serving your country, moving every two years, you can’t really settle in.”
For the past dozen years, though, he’s lived and worked to improve the Amsterdam area. His passion and work ethic has done a lot of good and recently landed him a fairly rare honor: Late last month, his living-room-based Home Helpers business received the Shooting Star award for excellence in senior care.
The Shooting Star is awarded each year by the national Home Helpers umbrella franchise for exceptional service. Rodriguez beat out a dozen other businesses in New York and scores of others from Ohio to Delaware to the Canadian border.
“I think it just means we’re doing things right,” he said.
He and his wife, Maria, along with a handful of employees, provide everyday home services to about 40 elderly Fulton, Montgomery and Schenectady county residents. “We’ll cook meals, do laundry, get groceries, take people to the doctor,” he said, “just about everything.”
Rodriguez was pretty surprised when he got the award. In fact, he didn’t bother actually going to the national conference, which took place in Cancun, Mexico. The trip would have been too expensive, and besides, he was too busy running the business.
“We’ve only been operational for a year and a half,” he said, “but that’s what makes this so special; we’re so new.”
When asked, he couldn’t guess why his business was chosen, but it’s most likely based on his lifelong commitment to service.
Rodriguez was born in the Dominican Republic but came to New York City as a young boy and grew up there.
During his time in the Army, his mother and siblings moved to Amsterdam. When he retired from the military, he decided to move to Amsterdam so his kids could be around the family.
“My oldest son was 15 and had never been around family,” he said. “I wanted my 5-year-old to grow up with that.”
While in the military, Rodriguez worked 10 years as a combat medic. Around that time, his grandmother fell ill, and he had to spend a few weeks caring for her at her home in the Dominican Republic.
“I was caring for her 24–7,” he said, explaining how he first heard of home health services. “It was so nice to have someone come in and watch her for an hour or two so I could get a shower.”
A few relatives of he and his wife also needed care in the following years, which kept the idea in the back of his mind.
After a decade working for the Resource Center for Independent Living, he saw a growing need among Amsterdam’s aging population and resigned to start his own business.
“I don’t know exactly why we got the award,” he said, “but we’ve been very open. We have great feedback, and we’re very involved in the community.”
In the wake of the honor, Ramon and Maria are moving their business to an actual office on Tryon Avenue in Glenville, freeing up a room in their own home.
The next phase of their business plan involves getting state certification to provide a higher level of in-home nursing care.
For more information, visit amsterdamhomecare.com.