Superheroes- they’re all the rage these days. From films to bedsheets, you can find a caped crusader just about anywhere. Sometimes, they’re all some fans can talk about. However, how often do you think the topic of “parents of superheroes” comes up in those conversations? I’m guessing not very often. Well, AAT is here to talk about the subjects nobody else is! Yes, today we’re talking with the mother of Elko’s very own Captain America turned true US hero (you can read the full article on him here: Kristian Jones: Elko’s Captain America ). Moreover, what’s fascinating about this featured person is that she may be known as quite the hero to many in our community, herself.
Today, we’re talking with ToniJo Caetano! ToniJo is not only the mother of four children and grandmother to six grandchildren (one of which she has full guardianship over), she is also the owner and operator of Helping Hands Services which was established in July of 2017. Helping Hands aims to provide personal assistance to the elderly, injured, disabled, and overwhelmed members of our community. From house cleanings to grocery shopping, you can think of Helpings Hands as the personal assistants for the everyday person! Traditionally, you may hear the words “personal assistant” and think of someone who aids prominent executives or movie stars; however, even if you’re living on less than paycheck to paycheck, ToniJo is here to help.
Thank you for joining us Tonijo; it’s interesting to see that you’ve built a business around the idea of helping people. What lead you down this entrepreneurial path? “I’ve always been a person people would come to when they needed help. I’ve always been a server. It all started in October of 1998 when I moved here; I immediately got a job as a phlebotomist at the Elko Clinic, and I was working as a single mom. The job lasted a couple of years, and I worked in different jobs throughout the community, but it always came back to me helping people. In 2012, I was working at Coach USA as a driver when I got really sick. The diagnosis was disabling; I was bedridden from 2012 through 2014. It was bad. I went to Western medicine doctors for quite a few years, but I could not find anybody to help me. I eventually found a naturopathic physician in Boise, Idaho and finally started to get my health back. By the time I had received my diagnosis, I was back to being a single mom; I had no help and was almost completely disabled. I wish, at that time, there was a business that I could have called on, similar to my own.”
“It was so overwhelming; I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was failing my entire life. It took a couple of years to get my medications right, but I focused on getting healthy, and I regained my health! I couldn’t drive a bus anyone, so I went back to school and took business classes where I realized I could help a lot of people! I knew I needed to use my mind, because sometimes our minds can be stronger than our bodies, to help so many people. The minute I realized I could bootstrap a business, was when I told myself I was doing this. If I could just get outside and help people, I would keep feeling better; I would continue to feel like myself.”
ToniJo, your business could be a huge necessity in our community! As Helping Hands does move forward in growth, what are your next couple of steps as you continue to get established? “I have been asked by the State’s Health and Human Services Department, both here and in Reno, to come in and talk with their entire group; they need more people doing what I’m doing! One person is not enough. I need to expand and expand big, all over Nevada! I would like to go non-profit with the business; I’ve already spoken to the State, and everyone is on board. I would also love to have some investors come in and help spur the movement forward a little bit because the community needs this. I see this as big; I could take this globally if need be, but definitely for Nevada for sure. Also, I want to find people with the same mindset so I can hire them! I’m looking for someone with empathy, love, kindness, and compassion for the elderly and disabled.”
Going back to your story, it seems like your journey through your obstacles has fueled a lot of your passion for what you do. Would it be fair to make that statement? “I was a single mother, off and on, throughout most of my kids’ lives. So, my heart really goes out to single mothers or anybody, really, that is overwhelmed. Single parents have a huge part of my heart because I’ve been there! Also, a couple of years ago, my mother was diagnosed with dementia and was put into a home; I wanted to go down and take care of her before she was. Things didn’t really work out, but my family has since broken her out of that home, and now she’s living with my brother. I bring this up because the things I’ve seen my parents go through are things I don’t want anybody else to have to go through. I want the elderly in our community to know there’s help out there, and they don’t have to give up their homes. We should want them to have all the dignity and respect that they deserve, especially in their last days. I want to be there for them!”
As we look to wrap up this conversation and let you get back to assisting people, would you like to share your final thoughts on Elko and what you want its people to know about you? “Elko is one of a kind. I had lived in so many places that when I moved to Elko, it was a bit of a culture shock; however, it quickly became home. It became home so quickly because the people here are awesome; they’re really here to help. We’re hardy people that know how to survive. This is where I’ve been planted, and I’m going to keep growing here. I want Elko to know that I’m coming from the point of empathy when it comes to my business. I’ve totally been where many of my customers are at, so I’m authentic when I say I’m here to help. I’m here no matter how horrible your position is in life; I’ll do my best to be there with you through it.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Helping Hands, or if you would like to speak with ToniJo about getting involved, you can reach her through these means of contact- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 775-385-9537 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelpingHandsServicesSpringCreekNV/
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See you around, Elko!