The value of connection and caring for one another in community

By Giorgio Moretti

Annie’s Place is a professional health, home and community services collective. They are specialize in client-centred, custom services to meet your everyday needs. We are interviewing today Dena-Kae Beno and Lina Fronzo, co-owners of Annie’s Place.
MARCO POLO Which part of Italy your parents emigrated from?
Dena Beno: My Benigno and Marone families are from Belmonte Mezzagno, Sicily and near Tropea, Calabria.
Lina Fronzo: Abruzzo.
MARCO POLO How did Annie’s Place get started?
Dena has been working in the community services, health and housing sector for over 27 years and often has seen the gaps in service for people, who are vulnerable or in need of care.
Lina had a personal care experience with her mom, which included receiving many different care providers with no consistency. This was very stressful for her mom, who only spoke Italian and had complex health and care needs.
From Lina’s experience with her mom and Dena’s work in the community, they both recognized the need for care and services that were based on relationship and genuine care, providing matching of health care aids that can speak Italian or understanding the needs of the clients and families, who they support.
We researched the concept of the company with a collective of women health and social service professionals, who also recognized the gaps in home care service. We wanted to focus on providing quality, wrap-around support to foster health and well-being in our client’s lives, as well as, to give back to the communities that we serve in. Annie’s Place is a living wage employer.
MARCO POLO How many Italian-Canadian seniors use your company?
Dena Beno&Lina Fronzo: Annie’s Place launched in August 2017 and has been providing care for individuals from ages 6 years to 92 years old across the Lower Mainland. We cater to the Italian-Canadian community, because we are able to offer Italian speaking care aids, prepare traditional meals, and can provide services that are familiar and comfortable to many of the Italian-Canadian seniors in the area. We have had several Italian clients and families who have utilized our services.
MARCO POLO: What services do seniors need most?
Dena Beno&Lina Fronzo: Seniors often require assistance with their activities of daily living; such as, cleaning, cooking, bathing, shopping, appointment accompaniment, navigation of services and companionship. We aim to walk alongside our clients to support them to maintain their independence as much as possible. We encourage family involvement and work with our clients and families to create custom, client-centered care plans that can adapt and change as our client’s needs change. We don’t require a four-hour minimum for our service nor do we focus on only tasks, rather we understand the value of relationship-centred care that feels comfortable and supportive. Our rates for service are very reasonable. We also offer a $100 referral fee and currently are offering a 15% discounted Winter special.
MARCO POLO: What skills do you need to work with the elderly?
Dena Beno&Lina Fronzo: We recognize the value of ensuring our staff team is caring, compassionate, are good listeners, and are highly-skilled and competent in older adult care. Annie’s Place has a strong value on ensuring our team is well supported to do their best work in the field with our clients to provide holistic, wrap-around care. Many of our team members are working towards further advancement in their health education training and are supported through Annie’s Place Community of Integrated Practice and employment development programs. We want our clients to receive value for the care that we provide- this matters to us! Annie’s Place is also aligned with an allied health network that includes Edmonds Medical Clinic, Pharmacy Apoteka, Point 8 Training and Development, and Murrayville Physiotherapy. Together, we are able to support our client’s quality of life.
MARCO POLO: Have you always had an interest in entrepreneurship?
Lina Fronzo: Yes, Dena grew up on her family farm and was active in agri-business at a very young age. Her dad would often take her to the livestock sales and would purchase young animals that Dena would nurse back to health and would keep the proceeds that in the future would be utilized towards her university education.
Dena Beno: Lina has been actively involved in the construction, renovation and home design sectors for a very long time. She even oversaw the construction of her own home.
Both, Lina and Dena come from strong work and family values. So, they both wanted to ensure that they were creating a business that would make a positive difference in the community, their employees lives, and for the clients they serve.
MARCO POLO: What will your next project or focus be?
Dena Beno&Lina Fronzo: We are focusing on diversifying our company and expanding our services. The senior care industry is growing and is increasing in demand for our type of service. We don’t believe in warehousing seniors or for offering services that don’t put the person first. So, we feel that we have much to offer to this growing sector.
MARCO POLO: Looking back, what if anything would you do differently?
Dena Beno&Lina Fronzo: We would’ve started our business years earlier. We have enjoyed getting to know our clients and their families, so much, and we see the difference we are making in people’s lives. It makes our work so meaningful. Work done with purpose is never just a job. Looking back, we have so much to look forward to.
MARCO POLO: What advice do you have for small business owners?
Dena Beno&Lina Fronzo: Lina would say that there are no obstacles. You turn negative into positive and you keep working through them. Dena would say, do your research before you start your business and always believe in yourselves. Lina adds, that the core to a successful business is a strong foundation. Dena concludes, that one should always remember to laugh, smile and enjoy every moment of life possible. And, life is too short not to understand the value of connection and caring for one another in community.

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