SLICE OF RYE:
Angel in Our Midst
Just as Kate Moynihan was wondering what to do with the next phase of her life, she had an epiphany.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Just as Kate Moynihan was wondering what to do with the next phase of her life, she had an epiphany. She saw a TV commercial for Visiting Angels, the national network of home care agencies, and became a believer. So much so that she made it her mission to establish her own franchise here in Westchester.
“I hit the trifecta with the Visiting Angels. I knew I wanted to help people, do something I enjoy, and conduct a business,” she said. “Life’s too short and I saw there was a need. I loved the name and I loved their philosophy of providing an angel to take care of an elderly senior.”
Having cared for her ill father, Moynihan had already become aware that seniors yearn to stay in their homes and maintain their independence. Although he lives in Florida, which has an expansive senior demographic, she recognized that the need for elder care services is essential to the well being of families everywhere. She knew she could make great strides from her home in Rye, where she has a long history.
Except for having lived in Massachusetts for six years and in Indiana for a short span while her husband Tim was in the Air Force, she has always lived in Rye. As a matter of fact, while Tim was fighting in the First Gulf War, she recalled, “I moved back to Rye from Indiana and enrolled our three children in the Rye Schools. I’ve always loved Rye. It’s my home.”
Her father Bob Lynch grew up here before her. Rye residents will recognize Lynch as the author of “A Letter Marked Free,” an autobiographical compilation of the letters he wrote during World War II as an infantryman, later awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Today, the Moynihans live in the house where Lynch grew up. It has also become home base for her Visiting Angels franchise.
Not one to let moss grow under her feet once she made up her mind, Moynihan paid a visit to the Visiting Angels headquarters in Havertown, Pennsylvania. Upon discovering that New York requires a license for the “personal touch” division of living assistance (programs that provide more hands-on aid, i.e. hygiene assistance), she applied for a license that takes two years to acquire and moved full steam ahead with the companion piece.
“I wasn’t going to get discouraged. I believed in it, so I made a commitment to see it through,” said Moynihan, who opened the companion care division of the franchise with ten caregivers she vetted and hired in June. Now, she oversees the agency’s homecare needs in all of Westchester County, outside of Yonkers.
“I meet with every potential client and their children, who often work full-time or don’t live nearby. I make assessments and match caregivers and clients. Each has the opportunity to interview and select the caregiver I’ve referred,” she explained. “One of the most important points is that I’m the person you contact and I’m the person held accountable.”
Moynihan’s confidence and competence is not surprising, considering her longstanding professional track record. While raising three children, she earned her MBA. Working on the financial side of the corporate world, she dealt with hundreds of millions of dollars and global systems implementation. For 12 years, she was CFO of Reader’s Digest.
“I traveled overseas every other week. On weekends at home, I’d be on a conference call late on Saturday night and catch our youngest daughter walking in after her curfew,” she recalled laughing. “I would have been asleep otherwise and wouldn’t have known.”
After her departure from the consumer magazine company, she decided to offer her services to non-profits instead. Having always been a donor to Food For The Poor, she decided to take a more tangible approach and lent her support to Haiti. She led volunteers to Haiti four or five times a year for six years. Ultimately, she became the Director of Development at the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation.
“Throwing myself into Haiti was a life changing experience because the poverty is so extensive. There is no infrastructure, no sanitation, no investments. It’s hard to believe Haiti is only a 60-minute flight from Miami,” she remarked.
Currently, Moynihan continues to spread her wings closer to home. She feels strongly about providing our elderly with compassionate, reliable companions, who can walk with them for exercise, accompany them to the grocery store, run errands or make a meal for them once or twice a week.
“My heart breaks for them. It’s all about caring and listening and being open to people,” she said. “We want to build a relationship between our caregivers and our clients, not just for the three or four hours they spend with them.”
Visiting Angels also provides respite for primary caregivers, as well as peace of mind. In her role as liaison, Moynihan is equally vigilant about providing children with valuable feedback regarding their elderly parents’ nutrition, daily medications, and safeguards for the home to prevent injury.
“Every family and senior situation is unique,” she noted. “I knew I was going to like what I did, but I didn’t expect that it would be so fulfilling.”
For more information, log on to www.VisitingAngels.com/ westchester/ny or call Kate Moynihan at 696-4200.