When asked what the word “gratitude” means to her, Jela Maretic, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gratitude Homecare, responds, “It is an appreciation for life and all that it encompasses.”
Learning gratitude at a young age
As a refugee from Yugoslovia (now Croatia) at the age of just four, Jela recalls how different life was—and could have been. “Those living in our country were not allowed to freely practice religion or exercise personal freedoms,” she shares. With a determination to experience a life of liberty, Jela’s parents decided to leave the country—and her family called a refugee camp in Italy their interim “home” for nearly one year until they were hopefully permitted to immigrate to the United States.
According to Jela, the refugee community was filled with apartment buildings that had seprate housing for families in certain sections—and areas for singles in others. “It was a well-oiled machine in the sense that every person had a job there,” Jela says. “It is what made the community function.” In fact, her father was a mailman, her mother worked at a bodega-like store and Jela attended pre-school.
Jela shares that she “was very lucky” to have had an uncle and other relatives living in America at the time of her immediate family’s stay in Italy—making the immigration process a bit easier to navigate. Eventually, Jela and her parents were approved to gain citizenship in the United States.
“There are a lot of things that happen when you leave literally everything behind,” Jela comments. “It was pretty traumatic, but my parents reassured me that one day I would be grateful.”
“I also learned the importance of family at a very young age and the sacredness of such bonds,” she adds.
Jela and her parents moved to New Jersey in June near her other relatives. “I spoke no English and was immediately placed in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes,” she remembers. By the time that Kindergarten rolled around in September, Jela remembers that she was ready for school and had basic fundamentals of the English language.
With America as her new home, Jela was inspired at a young age to care for the people who, too, call this country home.
Inspired to enter the medical field
“I thought I wanted to become a nurse,” Jela says. In due course, Jela went to college and became a certified registered nurse (RN). When she started exercising her skills in the clinical environment, though, Jela recalls that “the actual bedside interactions” didn’t engage her as much as she anticipated. Jela then started applying to positions in case management, worker’s compensation and even consulting.
“At a certain point, I realized that nothing interested me quite like coordination and networking of services to get seniors the healthcare that they need,” she comments. “Seniors taught us all that we know and love, and yet they seemed to be neglected in certain aspects.”
Jela worked at a leading inpatient rehabilitation hospital as a liaison—and then at a subacute nursing home. Eventually, she was recruited as the Director of Sales at a senior homecare and healthcare organization.
With more than 30 years of experience in the hospital and healthcare industry, Jela came to a realization: “Every step that I have taken has taken me further away from the patient—but when looking at the whole picture I see the entire coordination more globally.”
Dedicated to helping seniors
In talking to many seniors and their families, Jela says, “I noticed that families were not really given the right amount of time to discuss things, the right instructions or the right education to make the best care decisions.” Jela decided to found her own company, Gratitude Homecare, to provide the right support to caregivers, clients, their families and their care teams. “I believe that if everyone is treated equally and if that whole attention and support is distributed equally, then I feel that clients will be successful at home,” she adds.
Jela now talks to individuals with unique problems and scenarios—and provides solutions for aging loved one to receive personalized home healthcare needs.
“I eat, breathe and sleep homecare,” the CEO says. “I believe in it strongly as a mission to give seniors exactly what they want and need in the comfort of their own homes.”
Building a culture of gratitude
“I don’t know if anyone truly understands what a gift it is live a life with the freedom of choice,” Jela remarks. “And with a choice as challenging and emotional as deciding on homecare services, I am committed to providing a personalized care plan to address the specific physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of each senior in the most caring and compassionate of ways.”
If a client chooses to partner with Gratitude Homecare, Jela expresses that it’s a decision that she “does not take for granted.” In fact, she adds, “I am literally living the American Dream and I have gratitude for many things—it’s a philosophy that I have created for not only my team, but for our clients and their families, too.”
To learn more about Gratitude Homecare, visit Gratitudehomecarenj.com or call 551-284-3777