Mary Martinez: Serving Seniors with Kindness and Care
SLFCU Business Member Highlight
Mary's career path was set when she was just a little girl. As she notes, senior citizens always sought her out. “As a kid, the neighbors were always looking for ‘little Mary’ when they needed a hand with something. I always kept an eye on my grandmothers and have been interested in senior wellness for just about my entire life,” she says.
That innate sense of caring morphed into a 30-year career in the senior care industry in New Mexico. Mary’s journey began after earning a degree in gerontology from New Mexico State University. In a ‘trial by fire’ moment, her first job as a case manager for Doña Ana County came with a caseload of 300 clients. “It was definitely a lot!” explains Mary. “I am grateful for that opportunity, though, as it taught me early on how to collaborate with other organizations to get things done.”
Two years later, she was recruited back to Albuquerque to work on the facility opening team of two assisted living facilities. It was then that Joe Sanders, then the head owner of Home Instead, approached her to join the management team of the local senior care company, which places caregivers in homes to assist seniors with daily activities. According to Mary, after just six months they asked her to buy the New Mexico franchise location. It took them a year to convince her. “I had a 3-month-old and a 6-year-old, so buying a business did not make much sense. So, of course I said yes!” laughs Mary.
One of Mary’s first moves after purchasing the business was to establish a business banking relationship with SLFCU. “I’ve had a personal account with SLFCU since the 1980s. I was actually one of SLFCU’s first business banking customers,” she notes. Why has she stayed with SLFCU after all these years? “I appreciate the security, and never worry about any of our accounts,” says Mary. “And I always appreciate the heads up on any changes. I know they are only a quick call away if I have any questions.”
Mary purchased her Home Instead franchise in 2002. And 19 exciting years later, the adventure continues, especially in the age of COVID-19. “The past 18 months have been challenging – particularly in finding caregivers – mostly because I’m picky.”
At Home Instead, Mary views what they do not as a job, but as a mission. With 114 employees and 85 active clients (and many on a waiting list), Mary’s collaboration skills have been put to great use. Says Mary, “One positive thing that has happened in our industry is that while we are competitors, we also have recognized we are stronger together.”
This community mindset has led to several professional acknowledgments, including a New Mexico Ethics in Business Award, and most recently, a New Mexico Humanitarian Award from the Albuquerque Jewish Community Center. “It’s been a wonderful career. They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” shares Mary. “Most days, I feel just that lucky.”
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