By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Philadelphia company which provides in-home care for more than 500 people each year celebrated 20 years of operation today with a group hug for its hardworking staffers.
Home Care Associates recognized its more than 250 home care aides today at the Shops at Liberty Place with citations from the City of Philadelphia and the governor of Pennsylvania, and with a hug to say "job well done."
"I don't like to see people suffer or want or need stuff, I just step right in," says Janie Dixon (below), who has worked with the company since day one, helping the elderly and disabled, and is now a trainer. She adds it's not about the money.
"I have a caring heart -- it's just something about people," Dixon says. "It's almost like I have a calling. People pick me out at my church, in my community to help."
"We basically help people stay in their homes and not have to go into nursing homes," says Karen Kulp, president of Home Care Associates. "She or he is the one who knows what's going on, is the eyes and ears of the physicians."
Kulp says the company is employee-owned, which makes hitting the 20-year mark a great accomplishment.
"It's a great model," she tells KYW Newsradio. "It gives people a little more than their wages to think about, and gives them a stake in it. If we do well, it's because of our workers."
Kulp says each employee can buy a share after working at the company for three months. She says so far there are 65 employees who own shares.
"They are also on the board of directors, elected by their other worker-owners," she notes.
Kulp says many people are caregivers whether or not they get paid to do it. So, she points out, "Hug a Caregiver Day" is a great opportunity to show a little love to those who give so much to others.
Keith Love (right), who works as a home care aide, says he doesn't need recognition for his work. He told the story of a client with multiple sclerosis who always smiles when Keith walks in the room.
"Whenever he sees me his spirits come up," says Love. "But I don't need anything in return. It's not necessary. As long as I see you smile, that's good enough for me."
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