Former educator develops venture as a way to assist seniors
By Shannon Wells
The Gresham Outlook, Sep 15, 2010
If there is one word to describe Christie Duncan’s life in the past year or so, it is transition.
As the Gresham resident navigated through uncharted waters of mid-life career change, she found her parents were struggling to live independently . . . “Recognizing their needs at this transitional time in their lives made me aware there must be other families going through what we were,” she says from the living room of her Gresham home. “I was in transition myself . . . and interested in returning to social services – this seemed like a great way to do it.”
“This” became “My Heart & Hands, LLC,” an elder and family services business that Duncan launched in March.
Duncan combines her background in education with the experience she’s gained caring for her parents, to provide a bevy of services to seniors seeking to remain as independent as possible – medical advocacy, home assessment, shopping and errands, transportation, event planning, among them.
As her first solo business venture after years working for others, Duncan, 54, credits Mt. Hood Community College’s Small Business Development Center with helping to bridge the gap from employee to entrepreneur. From discovering the training and licenses she might need, to learning the finer points of building a website, Duncan found the center’s guidance invaluable in launching her homespun endeavor. “It’s been an exciting process,” she says.
Duncan says her independent, proactive approach helps her relate to clients’ needs. “I’ve always been a very independent woman,” says Duncan, a former longtime employee of the David Douglas School District. “Someone like myself can be a great relief to families. And they might be able to save money in the long run.”
Gerri Raisanen, Program Assistant for the Mt. Hood Community College Small Business Development Center, says Duncan is one of an increasing number of people they serve, who left the traditional work world and came up with a plan of their own. Raisanen praises the resourcefulness and originality behind the ‘My Heart and Hands’ concept. “She’s a real go-getter,” Raisanen says of Duncan. “The way she’s going about the business . . . is very different, very unique.”
A Portland native, Duncan worked in a variety of roles at David Douglas School District, to include running a computer lab. At David Douglas High School, her role in the Careers Department’s “School- to-Work” program was reminiscent of the business connection services Mt. Hood Community College provides. “I was a liaison between the high school and business community,” she says. “I arranged for students to have job shadow, internship and mock interview experiences.”
The mother of four daughters says she draws from both life and career to inspire her new venture.
Christie Duncan facts
Student of Gerontology, Certified Geriatric Wellness Instructor, professionally trained in mediation and certified in CPR and First Aid. Duncan offers personal references through the My Heart and Hands, LLC website and provides a free, initial consultation. She’s adjusted her auto insurance to accommodate for the transportation of clients.
. . . Duncan says she’s enthused to be part of something of her own creation and parameters. “I’ve always had traditional jobs. I feel I have stretched myself by embarking on this venture. But that’s always a good thing,” she says. “It helps us to grow.”
My Heart and Hands, LLC
What: My Heart and Hands, LLC – Elder and Family Services, including medical advocacy, home assessment, transport, shopping and errands, event planning, computer basics, resource information and transition assistance.
Who: Director Christie Duncan, a Gresham resident