A Legacy Built with Care–Elizabeth Cooney Care Network
Betty Jane Tate met her future husband in an unlikely place: a kindergarten class¬room. Young Betty Jane and Creston Tate became fast friends, but neither the young playmates nor their peers could have ever guessed what the future would hold.
Today, sitting in the home the couple has shared for more than 50 years, Betty Jane laughed as she recalled their uncommon love story. “We’ve really been together since kindergarten,” she said. As they grew older, the pair’s friendship deepened. Soon the two were dating, and when they turned 21, Betty Jane married Creston.
The young couple quickly settled into their life together and started a family. Betty Jane was a stay-at-home mother to the couple’s three children. Meanwhile, Creston worked his way up from positions at fertilizer factories to a job as a car salesman. He excelled in his new position and today owns several car dealerships of his own.
Even at the age of 84, Creston is still working nearly full time. However, after Betty Jane fell in their home, he began to fear leaving her alone. “My fall really scared my husband and my family,” Betty Jane recalled.
While Betty Jane was still managing the couple’s home, she had several health issues, including congestive heart failure, which was making daily tasks more difficult. The family all agreed that Betty Jane needed a little extra help.
When Creston started to look into care options for his wife, he quickly turned to Elizabeth Cooney Care Network, an established home care agency that has been in business for more than 55 years. As natives of Baltimore, the couple was already familiar with the agency and their stellar reputation. In fact, Betty Jane recalled meeting the eponymous company founder as a teenager working in Baltimore.
A visionary in the nursing-care industry, Elizabeth Cooney pioneered the concept of providing comprehensive care options for individuals of all generations and need levels. After serving as the primary caregiver for her sister while she was battling cancer, Elizabeth was motivated to help other families with their care needs.
“She understood that there was a need to provide care giving services for all generations, from children to maternity to end of life. She really understood care giving on a very personal level,” explained Elizabeth Weglein, Cooney’s granddaughter, who runs the Elizabeth Cooney Care Network today with her brother, Jeffrey Weglein.
“This was really a very innovative concept,” Jeffrey said of his grandmother’s business model. “Initially, people really didn’t understand what home care was. For many years, we had to explain to people what we did.”
As the oldest full-service home care agency in the country, Elizabeth Cooney Care Network is extremely proud of their legacy. The third generation family business is deeply rooted in the community.
“We have been helping five generations of families and individuals,” Elizabeth said. “We get hugs all the time from people who we took care of, or who we helped with their mom or dad or grandparent. We really have this extended family in the community, and we have been able to touch so many lives.”
Elizabeth and Jeffrey started officially running the family business several decades ago, but they have been involved for as long as they can remember. “I don’t think we ever lived a day without breathing, eating and sleeping this business. The nature of this business is 24-7,” Elizabeth explained.
Elizabeth and Jeffrey both started their careers in the home care industry at the tender age of 12. “We were always responsible for parts of the business,” Jeffrey remembered. “Of course, at 12, we were mostly filing,” he added with a laugh. While the siblings both briefly pursued other careers, they were quickly drawn back to the family business. It’s no surprise then that they both have a seemingly innate passion for the industry and their clients.
“We have had a very strong reputation in the business for 55 years, and we are very passionate about what we do,” Elizabeth said. Despite their longstanding reputation, the Care Network refuses to rest on its laurels, instead always pursuing new techniques and industry advances to help their clients. “We are always striving to educate ourselves about what’s going on in the industry, and we tend to be trendsetters,” Elizabeth said. “We also have a great team, who really love what they do.”
When Creston called the Elizabeth Cooney Care Network for help, he spoke with Care Coordinator Valerie Stepek, who was able to tap into the Network’s immense resources to find the right caregiver for Betty Jane. When she recommended Gladys Coates to the Tate family, she knew it would be a perfect fit. “Gladys has been a caregiver since 1996, and I could tell Mr. Tate with confidence that she was the best person for the job,” Valerie said.
Gladys now helps Betty Jane three days a week for several hours. She provides health management, housekeeping and companionship services. “Gladys is really good company,” Betty Jane said. “I’m not ready for assisted living, but I do need someone for supervision and company, since my husband is out a lot.”
With a little extra help from Gladys, Betty Jane has been able to maintain her independence. “I’ve been really satisfied with everyone at Elizabeth Cooney. I’ve worked with really nice people,” she said.
In addition to making sure that clients are well cared for, Elizabeth Cooney Care Network’s providers offer much-needed respite for family caregivers. “Caregivers need to realize that they have to take care of themselves first,” Elizabeth said. “Bringing someone in and allowing them to help can give caregivers the space they need to take care of themselves and to maintain a loving relationship with the person who needs care.”
Ultimately, the home care services that Elizabeth Cooney Care Network provides allow families to enjoy their time together and to avoid the emotional and physical burdens of care giving. From helping families who are experiencing a short-term crisis to helping individuals manage a long-term illness, Elizabeth and Jeffrey Weglein and their team of experts are always ready to provide care. After all, they are the keepers of a legacy that was built with care.