IBA SUCCESS MAGAZINE Issue 2 Volume 5 - Page 28

WOMEN IN BUSINESS Mary Ellen Philbin Share the Care, Inc. I n January, Mary Ellen Philbin celebrated her 30th anniversa- ry as the leader of Share the Care, Inc. Share the Care is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide services and support to family caregivers, allowing them to delay or eliminate the need for institutional care. When she started in 1989 she was 28 years old. “I had a degree in Gerontology, the study of aging, and a personal mission to do good work as a public servant. While I was committed to serve those who were older and their caregivers, I was neither old nor had I ever been a caregiver. Oh my, the things I have learned in these 30 years…”, says Philbin. In recent years Ms. Philbin has realized that she has changed and evolved. “I am no longer too young to personally identify with the needs of caregivers. In fact, I joined the “club” myself several years ago when I cared for my mother through her bat- tle with terminal colon cancer. This experience brought me to a new level of understanding about why families care for those they love and why there are so many emotions involved. I can now say I have been there.” A long-time resident of College Park, Mary Ellen loves living in Orlando. All of her now adult children were born and raised here. Four years ago she married the “man of her dreams”, Pat- rick. “When we were dating I said to him that because of our ages, then 54 and 57, we were not just choosing a life partner we were choosing our future caregiver.” She and her husband have downsized but continue to live in College Park. Thirty years is a long time, but also a time of personal evolution according to Philbin. “My personal circle of life. I have learned so 26 IBA Success Magazine n VOL 5, Issue 2 much from so many over these years. I have been enriched by knowing hundreds, possibly thousands, of caregivers who have shown me what love is. I have been privileged to work with hun- dreds of the most caring and professional staff in the world. I have been given the opportunity to help to build programs that enhance quality of life for so many. And I’m not done yet!” The biggest lesson of all has been that people are, for the most part, good, she says. They want to do the right thing. They care for people out of love not just responsibility. As her favorite feel good song, Nature Boy concludes, “The greatest thing, I ever learned, was just to love and be loved in return.” Now to spend the next 30 years living out that lesson! Family caregivers in Orange and Seminole County should con- tact Share the Care to learn about services available to them. State and Federal funding may be available to those who quali- fy. Services are also available on a private pay basis. Check out the website at www.helpforcaregivers.org or call (407) 423-5311 for information. AND COMPANY, “In the early years I learned that people don’t want you to fix all of their problems or challenges. They just want a little help and to feel connected to a community of people like themselves. Getting a break to take care of themselves may seem a small thing to people looking from the outside in, yet, so many times over the years I have heard that it made all the difference,” she says. For family caregivers connecting with others either through support groups, educational forums and retreats cre- ates the opportunity to support and learn from others while gaining the strength to face the future. Share the Care provides these opportunities as well as their most well-known services; adult day health centers and other forms of respite. “I have seen lifelong friendships develop between caregivers who were sur- prised and grateful to learn they were not alone.”