What is your occupation?

I manage the Marin branch of a non-medical home care organization, Hired Hands, the first home care company in Marin. We provide in-home assistance for aging adults. Our Marin office is our home office and we have branches in Sonoma, Napa, and Pleasanton.

Hired Hands contrasts with most home care companies which are part of a national organization or a franchise. The Winter family has owned and operated Hired Hands for 23 years, and our clients value its local and family-run nature. When someone calls us, the person they talk to on the phone may be the person who comes to visit the client, which is a very different experience from the national chains.

I oversee the Marin branch and handle all of the initial client inquiries; I personally make the initial visit to customize the care to the client. We try to create a connection with the client to find a caregiver that will be a good match. We manage clients who are just starting to need assistance all the way through clients who may be on hospice and require end-of-life care. One of the reasons we are so successful is that we spend so much time on this process. Many clients are resistant to having care in their home, and I specialize in finding solutions where the client can maintain their independence and their dignity.

I also sit on the board of the Marin Home Care Association, whose mission is to educate the consumer regarding home health care. In 2016, The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act became law and required home care to be licensed in California through the Department of Social Services. The law really changed things and has been pivotal in protecting consumers.

How did you enter this career path?

I came to this career about seven years ago from the hospitality business—running restaurants for the prior 21 years with my husband. One of our loyal patrons reached out to me for help finding assistance for her husband and I stepped in and assisted him myself. After that, I worked at Merrill Gardens in Sonoma for three years and then was recruited to Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa, which was the first LGBT retirement community in the country. Whenever I needed to hire an outside agency, Hired Hands was my preferred provider. When they approached me to run the Marin branch, it was an easy decision.

How have the recent Sonoma and Napa County fires impacted you?

I live in Glen Ellen and the fires burned right to our door. I do not know how my house is still standing while many of my neighbors were not as fortunate—one out of three neighbors lost their homes. My family was evacuated for 15 days—husband, twin adult daughters, two cats and two dogs. Both our Santa Rosa and Napa branches had to shut down because they had no power; they both operated out of the Marin branch during that time. Many of our Santa Rosa and Napa clients were displaced and some are still in local hotels and are hoping to return home soon or find alternative housing. The smoke and air quality forced many seniors who were some distance from the fires out of their homes. We are extremely proud of how everyone came together to ensure our clients’ safety as well as that of our caregivers. In other words, our home, office, clients and caregivers were all affected but I am one of the lucky ones.

Tell us about your family.

I was born and raised in San Francisco (third generation). I met my husband, Pete, when we were both seniors in college. I was studying international relations at SF State and he was studying business at Golden Gate University. We were both hired at Masa’s Restaurant within a week of each other and worked there for three years before moving to Sonoma to open a breakfast restaurant in Glen Ellen in 1988.

Pete grew up in Marin and his mom, Jeannette Stewart, was the Executive Director of MCBA for ten years when he was growing up. After we decided to retire from the restaurant business, I really wanted to do something in health and wellness—my mother was a nurse and my father-in-law was a physician who used to practice at Marin General. Pete really wanted to stay in the food and wine industry. He sells wine for the Estates Group, which specializes in fine wines, for Young’s Market. He calls on chefs and manages about 80 clients in Sonoma County. We have twin girls—Anna just graduated from UCLA, and Lindsay just graduated from USD. Both are starting full-time jobs. Anna is working for a special events company based in Marin and Lindsay is working for an educational software company. They are moving out soon but we appreciated having them home this past year, especially after the fires.

What do you do love to do when you are not busy working?

We spend most of our free time hiking and biking. My husband is a surfer but I am not that brave. We feel blessed to live in paradise and usually like to be outdoors.

What inspired you to join MCBA?

I joined MCBA about a year and a half ago because I partner a lot with different referral sources, such as estate planning attorneys and fiduciaries. I try to be a resource for attorneys and clients not just with respect to health care but with all the resources we need as we age. I have really enjoyed MCBA’s events and am hoping to attend more Estate Planning Section meetings in particular.

Would you recommend MCBA to other non-attorneys and why?

I would absolutely recommend MCBA. I really think it takes a village; there are questions that come up daily when dealing with a vulnerable aging population. It is important to collaborate with experts in their fields.