Chattanoogan: John Moon – Mind Your Elders

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - by Jen Jeffrey

Growing up for John Moon meant more than just minding his elders. He learned to respect and care for the older generation – something that would carry on throughout his lifetime.

Chattanoogan born and raised, John confesses that he was an incorrigible child.

The oldest of his siblings, John declares, “I was mischievous. I would go up in the attic, taking boards to go build tree houses. I got in trouble all the time. My parents tried to put a harness on me, but I was very headstrong. I get that from both of my parents.”

John reflects back to the person who made a large impact in his life - his grandmother Essie Gamble… affectionately called “Muh”.

Muh stepped in when John’s parents divorced.

“Muh kept us centered. She sort of raised us. My dad was there for us, but Muh was the one to make sure we had a bath and went to church. She really saved my life. She would wake me up at four in the morning just to make sure I did my homework and she taught me family values. In my adulthood, I have a real appreciation for her and what she tried to do,” John affirms.

Though John attended Bright and Baylor schools and admits to having lived a rather privileged upbringing, he was aware of his mother’s struggles as a single parent and was grateful for his grandmother’s involvement.

Today, John remembers Muh fondly and is very involved with the senior generation; whether it is with the Signal Mountain Lions Club or the business he and his wife, Clare Parker began called Home Helpers.

The couple bought the franchised business eight years ago and John also helps seniors with real estate matters.

After attending college at UTC, John had joined the Army. He worked briefly with Coca-Cola and then became a stockbroker. He and Clare have been married for 25 years. John has a son, Austin who teaches dance for Arthur Murray in Chevy Chase, Md.

“When Clare and I met, she owned a ballet dance wear company, called the Batterie. She was into ballet; I always liked visual arts too. I got out of the stockbroker business because I didn’t feel I was adding anything to the economy,” John says.

“I went into the insurance business and then started a janitorial company - it was a lot of floor work and industrial cleaning. Business grew and I couldn’t handle it alone; we had about 52 employees. Most people don’t go to school to become a janitor so it was not something employees really wanted to do and it was always hard to keep good management. So I started a business with Home Helpers which is a private duty home care agency for seniors,” John states.

He and Clare were part of the session at Second Presbyterian and in charge of the senior committee.

“We’d take a meal to seniors who could not get out. We wanted to do more, but because of insurance purposes, we couldn’t take them anywhere so Clare and I are able to be of more help with our business,” John says.

Home Helpers takes care of seniors on a personal care level, such as incontinence issues and helping them to get dressed, taking them to the hair dresser or simply companionship care.

John has been with the Lions Club for six years. It was a good fit that ties in all of his involvement with the seniors. The Lions Club does more than help seniors, but John’s passion is seeing senior adults get the most out of living.

“As we grow older, you feel less relevant - less involved. Your career and impact on your environment shrinks. You ask ‘Who am I now? What am I doing?’ and socializing is critical in senior health,” John vows.

“The Signal Mountain Lions Club started a senior services committee to provide seniors with meaningful activity. The Lions Club International is the largest organization in the world,” John says.

Volunteering his time to Lions Club events is something very meaningful to John. Every Wednesday, the Lions provide a meal and the group plays bingo and other games.

As seniors played dominos in a room at Bachman Community Center, John was in the kitchen to prepare and serve the meal for the group.

Being significant in his own life has taken a back seat for John. While everyone likes to be appreciated, John’s true purpose in his life has nothing to do with him. He raised his family, he made a living - but today it is about so much more.

For John, it is about acknowledging a great generation and not letting them slip through the sands of time not knowing they are still important. His passion is to once again bring relevance to the ones who set the paths and have the stories.

With his business Home Helpers, he and Clare provide personal and companionship care for seniors in their homes.

“We determine what personality and skills are needed for the client and we will match the caregiver and the client. We really spend time to make sure it is a match,” John insists.

“A caregiver needs to live close to a client. Care ranges anywhere from two hours a day to 24 hours a day. Eighty percent of seniors want to stay in their own home and when they can’t do that any longer for all kinds of reasons they need help. If they live in a two-story house and they can’t walk upstairs and need to downsize, someone has to help with this. Helping them sell their home or figure out the financing to pay for where they are going next, or to find a new ‘senior friendly’ home, that’s when the real estate part comes in,” John says.

With his involvement in the Lions Club, his business and his aiding seniors with real estate needs, it all works together as John gives back to his dear Muh. The time and effort he contributes stems from the love she had once given.

“Elderly is where the wisdom is. Elderly is where the nurturing is; they are the people who have the time to impart the wisdom and to nurture. While moms and dads are working their tails off to provide the funds… I don’t want seniors to become invisible,” John implores.

“There are about four ‘peaces’ to this puzzle,” John says,” lifestyle peace, administrative peace, emotional peace and the memorial peace. Lifestyle is ‘Where are you going to live?’ ‘How are you going to function in your environment,’ Administration is ‘Do I have the money?’ ‘Do I have to refinance?’ Emotional is ‘How do we deal with those fears that our lives are coming to an end?’ And memorial is ‘How do we deal with our death?’” John relates.

John’s father, W.D. Moon Jr., is now 88 years old and he goes to the Y every day. “Exercise is one of the things you can do for your health. Doing what you can to prevent falls - a fall will be the thing that takes ya out of here, and socialization is very important to senior health,” John asserts.

“It is heavy stuff, but we have to deal with it. We’ve got to think about it. And it is important that there is somebody to listen, to care and to understand what it feels like in needing to be helped,” he says.

“I am not a real feely person,” John admits, “but just to be touched… to be seen… to look at somebody and who they are – I love it. It is like giving back in a way.”

For More Information visit the website: http://signalmountainhomecare.com/


jen@jenjeffrey.com


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