Caring for people is the center of Joyce Butterman’s life. This Waldo native started working at Marion General Hospital at 16. After 52 years as a nurse, including 20 years in the emergency room and many years with hospice, Butterman retired. Never one to slow down, she works as a supervisor at Marion Pointe nursing home on the weekends.
Butterman’s work in hospice and a casual conversation highlighted the need in our community for affordable home health care.
“I was sitting at a team meeting for hospice and I heard one of our pharmacists say, ‘I wish I had someone to help my mom!’” Butterman recalls. “I knew someone who could help.”
Butterman found someone to assist the family. Word of mouth grew. People kept calling. In 2013, Joyce’s Angels was born. Butterman screens the workers which she calls “angels.” She meets with every client and their family to evaluate their needs, from someone stopping in a few times a week to arranging around-the-clock care. Butterman tries to find workers who will be a good fit for the clients’ needs and personalities.
Clients pay workers directly: $11 an hour for people in Marion for at least two hours. Some clients do just need someone to take them grocery shopping or prepare a meal.
Grace Teel of Marion has called Butterman twice. A year ago, her husband Galen needed round-the-clock care. This year, he fell and broke his hip. Teel needed support when Galen came home from the hospital.
“A lot of people prefer in-home care to nursing care. Joyce has gone out of her way to find help. My husband appreciates all of them,” Teel said.
“Joyce just stepped in when I really needed someone. She has so much experience. I would recommend her to anyone who needs that kind of help,” Teel said.
Butterman’s daughter, Julie Richardson, was the first angel. She enjoys helping people stay in their homes and maintain or regain their independence.
“A lot of people do better in their homes, whether they are recuperating or in hospice,” Richardson said. “People are happy with the service. We get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals. It’s really snowballed.”
Richardson has worked with more than 40 clients. “I have some people who may have a broken hip. You watch therapy work and they become independent again. I’ve had some forever clients who I stay with until they pass,” Richardson said.
Joyce’s Angels perform a variety of tasks, including transportation to medical appointments, making meals, assistance showering and dressing, and providing respite care.
“I get calls from adult children to ask for help checking in on a parent,” Butterman said.
Patty VanSickle has been one of Joyce’s Angels for four years. She finds her work important for both the clients and their families.
“Some of our clients’ families are in other states, and we are their connection to their loved one. We help clients stay in the home and give families the assurance their loved one is being cared for,” VanSickle shared. “It’s great seeing that you are making someone’s life easier. When they smile, you have the feeling of accomplishment. “For Butterman and her angels, it’s about the people they serve.
“Joyce’s Angels is just like a dream. It’s so fulfilling. It’s a God thing,” Butterman said.
COVID-19 has not stopped Joyce’s Angels. Workers take precautions to protect themselves and their clients. Memorial contributions to Joyce’s Angels at Chase Bank provide flowers for funerals, gloves and protective gear for the angels, holiday gifts for workers, and gas cards for Butterman as she drives to dozens of clients around Marion County.
“Mom is a very unselfish person and she does this out of the goodness of her heart,” Richardson said.
“Joyce is a good Christian woman,” Teel said.
This spry 76-year-old said she might consider cutting back when she turns 79. Until then, Butterman’s schedule is packed, though she still finds plenty of time to spend with her great-grandchildren.
“I love what we do. I love working with the patients at Marion Pointe, ”Butterman said.” I love communicating with patients. It’s nice to just be with people.”