The New Year has just arrived and now is the time many revaluate life and career. Most people think about their careers as an occupation but few view their careers as a vocation.
Occupation seems to lack heart and determination. True to its root meaning, an occupation is a means to an end that takes up time and energy. But a vocation suggests that one has a higher calling and their career poses as a pathway to fulfilling a dream.
The three stories below illustrate how just one life-altering experience can change a person's outlook and path. These experiences became a guiding light in choosing their careers and, perhaps, could be just the inspiration someone else might need to find a better purpose.
Gary Kneller - president
and co-founder of CareMinders Home Care
"The preciousness of life is never fully understood until faced with its fragility. I came to this understanding a few years back when I was diagnosed with stage three non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. No one is ever prepared to hear the words, 'you have cancer.' Being a health conscious individual, I never thought I would be on the receiving end of this diagnosis. My initial reaction was shock and then came anger.
I was angry that I was dealt such a bad hand, frustrated that my life had been turned upside down and scared. The future was so unknown and I knew I was about to embark on a turbulent journey with endless visits to doctors' offices and hospital rooms. What I did not realize was that this journey would provide me with such an in depth look into human nature.
Determined not to let this illness define me, I decided to accept the situation and play the cards I was handed. This newfound recognition opened many doors on my road to recovery. My own experience allowed me to see the many shortcomings in the home health care industry.
Throughout the course of my treatments I met many individuals - nurses, doctors, and care providers, among others. However, I felt these individuals never took the time to meet me. I felt that they saw me as just another cancer patient and nothing more. It was upsetting to feel like just a number when facing such uncertainty. My experience as a patient who received care from home was anything but comforting. I decided to develop a home care model that would include compassionate and personalized care so that individuals in need of treatment and companionship would be treated with respect and not as just another patient.
I designed CareMinders Home Care to deliver quality home care that goes beyond what I ever received as a patient. This included customized care and the recognition that we were treating human beings with individual needs and not just an illness. To ensure that every caregiver employed was of a higher caliber I decided to partner with The Joint Commission. Their stamp of approval is synonymous with excellence among health care professionals and reflects my commitment to personalized service and quality care.
The quality and empathy behind the CareMinders brand takes a holistic approach to treating a patient and I attribute this defining factor to the franchise's success.
Bruce and Abby Mann - Children's Lighthouse Learning Center franchisees (Cypress, Texas)
"A life-altering personal experience motived my husband Bruce and I to move forward with our investments in opening a new Children's Lighthouse Learning Center. About a year ago, I had gone into premature labor giving birth to a 14-ounce little boy and a 1lb 4-ounce little girl. What was supposed to be a happy time had turned into a time filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
My husband and I spent countless nights in the neonatal intensive care unit and praying that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. Regrettably, our beautiful daughter did not make it - although cut short, every moment with her was a blessing. Our son needed extra care and support throughout his early stages but he continued to fight and was eventually able to come home after 271 days in the hospital.
This experience made us realize how precious human life is and how important it is to protect. We decided to invest in a Children's Lighthouse Learning Center so that families in our community would have a safe, secure, and reliable place to drop off their children while they were at work, running errands, etc.
We felt a need in our community for a childcare service that had a strong values-based educational system. This service is something parents could trust and feel safe leaving their children."
Juan Martinez - Kona Ice franchisee
(San Antonio, Texas)
"As a young boy growing up in El Salvador I witnessed and experienced many heartbreaks. My home country had been torn apart by the civil war and I even found myself being held hostage for over 24 hours. During those hours in captivity - I knew I had to escape this situation and seek freedom.
I came to America in the spring of 1980 with some work experience - I have a degree in industrial engineering and had worked for a huge industrial complex where I managed roughly 5,000 employees. However, my inability to speak English combined with living in an unfamiliar area inhibited me from finding employment. I was forced to accept a low paying job - but all was not lost.
I began to live the American Dream and soon I found myself climbing to the top. I found my success as a business owner and became the newest member of the Kona Ice franchise organization, a mobile supplier of gourmet shaved ice. I chose to launch a Kona Ice in my community because I saw this franchise as a very giving company. I was blessed with my new life in America and I wanted to give back some of those blessings to my community. That is why I donate a percentage of my proceeds to charitable organizations, clubs, and leagues around town."