Growing up in Richmond, California, during the late 1960s, I had the best childhood any girl could pray for, with mom and dad caring for my seven siblings and me. My earliest memories include long drives throughout the Bay Area on Sunday afternoons with my parents and assorted set of siblings in our 1970 olive green Cadillac DeVille. Sometimes we’d go to Alameda Beach, other times Playland at the Beach or the San Francisco Zoo. The best rides ended with a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin, before heading back to Richmond. Always visible in our background, images of Marin dotted my childhood and I’ve always loved the view of the beautiful county from the East Bay. Seeing it brings me a warmth only rivaled by a bowl of Mama’s chili on a cold school day. I was inspired to live with that view after early exposure to the hills of Sausalito in the early ‘70s. And all because a mariner chose to do good and to do well.
As a student in a predominantly Black public elementary school near our family home, the late ‘60s and ’70s brought a lot of change in the Bay Area. Always an ecosystem of communities that vibe in motion, change was afoot from Berkeley to SF to Marin. In kindergarten, girls were allowed to wear pants and the hope for more diversity thrived in a real way. I am one of the lucky ones where the schools, teachers, parents, business and others collaborated and actively advocated for learning environments where kids like me were taught to believe that with determination, grit, and solid preparation, we could accomplish anything.
For me, diversity truly entered my lexicon when she became my 5th and then 6th grade teacher. Mrs. Gubman was a Caucasian teacher from Sausalito who chose to use her talent to do good and do well. She unknowingly taught me a lifelong lesson that still carries me to this day. She was a mom to a toddler and working as a full-time teacher across the Bridge. Even at my young age, I could see the challenges she faced balancing her career and caring for her son. After two years, she left teaching to stay home and raise her little boy. I understood the sacrifice she made in choosing to care for her family over her career. It’s amazing the unintended lessons children learn just from being exposed to lifestyles and challenges different from their own. At 12, I never imagined that some 30 years later I would face the struggle of managing a husband, home, son and career just like Mrs. Gubman. It was the beginning of a pattern that helped me see there was an unmet need for care by families.
Similarly, throughout my childhood, mom and dad joined field trips and drove us kids to Sausalito — they were ever present caring for me. Woven into our school community like field trips to the woods, mom and dad were always there to guide and lead. The notion of our providing care for them always seemed far away. But “far away” arrives much sooner than we anticipate.
The lessons that I learned during these formative years helped inspire me to build and achieve my dreams in Silicon Valley. What I never imagined was that my own life experiences would create the foundation for my business, Onēva, or that my life experiences would pay forward to help so many other families in similar circumstances through the work we do.
Blessed to attend UC Berkeley starting at age 15 (in 1978) through an early STEM program, I gained life-changing exposure to economics and to a never imagined set of career opportunities available through the university’s Business School. Just like on that visit to Sausalito, I was enriched by so much and so many, heightening and encouraging my drive and passion to thrive and be successful. Again, lessons learned in my early years prepared me to be believe I could do anything — even be a CEO. Leaving Cal 10 years later with a BA and Double Majors in Economics and “Economics in the Black Community,” an MBA from Haas, and an MRS degree, I knew in the back of my mind there was a large number of Baby Boomers ahead of me who would need care. I also realized a whole lot of working moms who would need support for their children. What I never imagined was that I would be one needing both and at the same time.
Challenged in finding trusted in-home care for my son when he was born, and then again for my daughter some twelve years later, I never dreamed how hard it would be to find qualified caregivers for them and for my aging parents. Feeling no other option, just like many women and men, I sacrificed my career and income potential to care for my family.
Fast forward to 2012 as I turned 50. I began thinking about stepping back into my career. As I actively planned a return to work, I looked at available care options in the marketplace in the hopes I would find a solution to help juggle the challenges of the “sandwich generation” — caring for my kids and aging parents at the same time. Blessed to have added kid number two at age 41, my daughter and my mom have a 69-year age difference. With an 8-year-old and a 77-year-old at home, any chance I had at working full time required a trusted care solution. Yet the market offered none.
Today, I have the treasure of operating a technology platform that matches FBI background checked in-home caregivers to customers who need them. The technology is built with enterprise grade security and privacy in mind as protecting children, elders and pets in our care is as important as protecting customer data. My childhood foundation gave me the courage to solve one of the biggest problems facing families, especially women, while caring for my husband, my children and my 86-year-old mother.
I am honored that Onēva Concierge Care is now available in 13 Bay counties, with a patent for “Trust and safety in in-home care.” By being offered as an Employee Benefit that makes FBI background checked caregivers available to employees, we are able to help companies provide real solutions to their employees as they strive to balance work and family responsibilities. Our technology platform was co-developed with Microsoft, based in Oakland, CA, and we are now certified as Minority-Owned by the Western Region Management Supplier Development Council.
Caring for my mom, kids and pets continues, and I remain blessed to juggle it all. Always with an OnēvaPro ensuring mom has had breakfast, her bed and bathroom cleaned, and the knowledge she’s taken her medication, I’m able to breathe easier by being my own customer. In building a technology platform good enough for my mom, I built one good enough for other families.
For more information on trusted, compliant FBI background checked in-care for an infant, child, elder, pet or a housekeeper, please visit oneva.com.
This article originally appeared on marinmagazine.com.
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