Lifelong caregiver turned business owner celebrates National Caregivers Month
Fran Bonner is not your average small business owner: She has been a caregiver for more than 67 years. When she was just 11 years old, her grandmother and great aunt both suffered from strokes, and Fran would spend her days going back and forth from school to home in order to make sure her loved ones were fed and taken care of. To many, this might sound like a difficult responsibility to take on at such a young age, but for Fran, it was how she found her true calling in life.
She explains, “I am thankful that I had this responsibility because it made me a better person. I have been a caregiver for practically my whole life. I believe it is my God-given gift.”
As Fran’s life progressed, she found herself on a career path to caregiving. In the 60s she worked in several nursing homes. She was appalled to see the way that residents were treated and the conditions in which they were living. She hoped to improve these conditions as much as she could by pouring compassion and empathy into her work. She continued to work with the elderly population in Fort Worth, Texas throughout her career, carrying these ideals with her everywhere she went. But, she has found that there is a serious lack of support for both our ailing population and our caregivers.
She says, “Caregiving is a dauntless and tiresome job. Even if you love the person you are caring for, it is still an incredibly difficult job that doesn’t get enough recognition.”
Fran believes there needs to be better facilities to relieve the responsibility of caregiving from the family. That’s why she opened Christian Tender Loving Care (CTLC Inc.) in 1991 to care for the elderly and others in need and eventually also opened Candleridge Estate Senior Living under the umbrella of CTLC Inc. Later, she founded her nonprofit, ATLC Corp., which was set up to address the housing crisis in her community.
At 78-years-old, Fran is still providing care for residents in her care facility and has dreams of expanding her nonprofit to include a low-income housing apartment complex. Over the years, she has learned to start delegating tasks to her employees but still takes great pride in the personal attention she gives to each patient.
In order to support caregivers like herself and our elderly population, Fran says she would like to see more funding for care facilities, better training for nurses and more affordable prescription drugs.
Fran concludes, “I am so proud to be a caregiver. I am lucky that my passion and my career have been so intertwined. You have to love what you do if you are going to do it as long as I have.”