Ceca Award recipient Ashley Crawley holds check. Photo: Focus Healthcare Solutions and Ceca Foundation.

The creation of the Ceca Foundation, which comes from the phrase, “Celebrate Caregivers,” was a product of personal experience. Founders Matt and Rosemary Lawlor, in part, were inspired by the exceptional care Matt’s mother, Mary Lawlor, enjoyed in her later years, according to Ceca Foundation president, Nate Hamme.

“[Mary’s] circle of loved ones came to include many of the folks who were serving the meals and cleaning up the floors and the folks in the clinical side of things, the CNAs, the nurses who were helping to care for her and in a different way,” Hamme told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse.

The Lawlor family wanted to find a way to say thank you to the caregivers, he continued. But they also thought that so much of what happens in care communities and home care are quiet, personal interactions between a caregiver and a patient.

“So let’s make it possible to share those touching, inspiring stories about what caregiving looks like that might otherwise go unrecognized,” he explained.

Recently celebrating its 10th anniversary, the foundation is located in 16 states; 15% of its partners are in the home care space. The foundation provides an online software for partners to document and collect stories of exceptional employees for award consideration. The foundation then distributes Ceca Awards, which include a $250 monetary prize for each recipient and public recognition during an award ceremony and on CecaTV digital signage. 

While entering home care is a relatively new development for Ceca, Hamme sees it as a chance to help the industry build a support infrastructure for its workers. 

“Initially, we weren’t sure if what we were doing was a great fit for home care because a lot of it was [based] around wanting peer recognition and wanting to create a sense of teamwork and belonging in care facilities,” Hamme said. “We felt like there was an opportunity to recognize a lot of people who were doing this important work of going into people’s homes. In some ways, it works better for home care organizations because the challenge is building teamwork and a sense of belonging. It’s hard to do that from a home office without the right tools and supports.”

In total, Hamme says he’s collected over 45,000 Ceca Award anecdotes but never gets tired of reading them. He hopes to keep expanding the foundation’s national footprint so more workers can receive some deserved recognition. Hamme recounts the story of a CNA in a nursing home who helped a resident put on makeup and provided jewelry so the resident would be presentable for family coming to visit.

“It really is those small things that make the world go around because it’s inspiration in the moment,” Hamme said. “It’s not that you’ve been put in some unique heroic situation, it’s that you see an opportunity to make somebody smile.”

Home Sweet Home is a feature appearing Mondays in McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. The story focuses on a heartwarming, entertaining or quirky happening affecting the world of home care. If you have a topic that might be worthy of the spotlight in Home Sweet Home, please email Special Projects Coordinator Foster Stubbs at [email protected].