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Daily Journal
     January 30, 2020      #43-30 KDJ
 
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Kay Jurica, of Home Helpers, is the Daily Journal’s Female Citizen of the Year.

Daily Journal/David Volden

Citizen of the Year: Jurica's true calling was

By Chris Breach
cbreach@daily-journal.com


For the past dozen years, Kay Jurica’s Home Helpers health care services company in Bourbonnais has provided a peace of mind for many families throughout the area.

The service filled a huge void in the area and, in part, was why she was named the Daily Journal’s Female Citizen of the Year.

Home Helpers, a franchise business, provides personal care, companion care, 24-hour care and more to clients who may be suffering from illnesses or are recuperating from a recent or long-term hospital stay. It takes a huge weight off the shoulders of family members who can’t to do it themselves.

“She’s amazing,” said Jackie Bruhn, who worked as a trust officer at a local bank and directed clients to Home Helpers. “She manages the company and has a great staff. She chooses an amazing staff that makes what they do work. They accentuate her. ... It’s an amazing company and a great staff to work with.”

It was Jurica’s own personal experience that gave her the idea to delve into an industry that wasn’t being offered in the Kankakee area.

“It was almost like it was meant to be,” Jurica said.

Jurica, of Manteno, was working full time in respiratory therapy at a hospital and was also trying to provide care to her terminally ill mother.

“I was trying to make sure Mom was taken care of, and then I’d get real tired at the hospital,” she said. “It was just so much, and it was ‘This would be ideal.’”

After Jurica’s mom passed away, she looked into Home Helpers.

“I worked in a hospital for 30 years,” she said. “I didn’t understand the ‘I just want to go home.’ I noticed there was something about staying in your own home [for care].”

Jurica, 57, started Home Helpers in 2008 out of her basement in Manteno, and it has grown into a business with 70 employees, including 25 full-time employees.

Her husband, Dr. John Jurica, a longtime physician, knew she was a natural for providing the care offered by Home Helpers.

“She came from a background of working in a hospital, and she really didn’t know a lot about starting a business,” he said. “She looked into and checked things out. She looked at some different options, learned what they were about and decided on [Home Helpers].

“She’s done an excellent job,” he said. “She was kind of born for this.”

She can empathize with her clients because she knew the pain of caring for a loved one in the final days of life.

“There was nobody I could call,” Jurica said. “We could call people, we had her friends and relatives to help us. Basically, [Mom] needed care around the clock. She moved in with me, and it was the simple fact that if I had to go somewhere, I needed somebody to watch her.

“If everybody was busy, which happened — everybody has got lives — there was nobody to call. We didn’t need a nurse. ... We needed something different.”

Most of Home Helpers’ clients are elderly, but they also provide services to those who are mentally challenged.

“It’s so easy now to get help for the elderly or someone who might need help,” Bruhn said. “... You make the call, they come out and do an assessment, match the caregiver with the client with the hours and days they need help. It’s less than 24 hours.”

Home Helpers provides a wide range of services.

“We do meals,” Jurica said. “We help plan the meals, grocery shopping. We do things like laundry. ... We do things like personal care if they need some help bathing. A lot of times they’re afraid to get in the bath because that’s when most accidents happen. Even if we’re just standby, we do that.”

John Jurica said it gives someone a choice of where to live as they age.

“Kay likes to say, ‘Aging at home, aging in place,’” he said.

Jurica is humbled with the honor, and she said it wouldn’t be possible without all the help she’s received from her staff and supportive family.

“My office staff and my caregivers are wonderful people,” she said. “They’re just so caring. They’re the reason I’m employed. They just care. I have caregivers that would do anything for their clients.”

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Christopher Breach
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