Mike and Sharon Perez, owners of BrightStar Care Santa Barbara, wear masks with the BrightStar Care logo on the left and an American flag on the right. When asked if it was across all of BrightStar Care’s locations, they smiled.
“Yes, it’s nationwide, and we’re very proud,” Mrs. Perez said. “We’re very happy to wear the flag on our masks.”
Mrs. Perez’s dad was in the Navy, and Mr. Perez was too. They joke that the military connection is what earned her father’s approval.
It was cute and gave the warmth of a mom-and-pop shop, though their award-winning home care branch is part of a large franchise.
In their first year in the business, BrightStar Care awarded them “Rookie of the Year,” calling them one of the fastest startups in the company’s history.
The two had a background in-home care prior to opening their business in 2017. Mrs. Perez has 30 years of experience in the medical field, and Mr. Perez was the sole caregiver for a loved one.
It was overwhelming being the only provider, and he saw the importance of in-home care.
“There are a lot of veterans that work in this field because they have a lot of compassion,” he said.
He served four years in the Navy as a cryptologic technician, and he loved it. (Tuesday was the anniversary of his enlistment.)
He joined in 1972, inspired by the slogan “Join the Navy, see the world.” And his favorite part of the experience was the travel.
His ship, the U.S.S. Little Rock, was part of the ceremonial convoy for the reopening of the Suez Canal in 1975. It was a historical moment and one of the highlights of his time.
When he retired from service, he started working in sales.
Mrs. Perez said what he does now is “sales from the heart.”
They focus on supporting caregivers and were thrilled when one of their staff members, Rafael Benavides, won BrightStar Care’s 2020 National Caregiver of the Year.
“We’ve continued to grow as a company but really, we’ve always felt caregivers are the most important part of our company,” Mr. Perez said. “That’s the biggest award we’ve ever won.”
He says in-home care is the future of medicine, and he tries to reach a variety of clients, from pediatrics to elderly.
He doesn’t put a minimum number of hours on a visit. If a client just needs help a couple hours per week, they’ll schedule it, which isn’t commonplace in the industry.
He thought he’d be able to serve more veterans, but he doesn’t see many sent through the Veterans Affairs program.
Mrs. Perez adds that in-home care isn’t covered by many healthcare plans or organizations.
“We’re hoping a lot of programs will support veterans because they really deserve a better deal,” she said.
She always liked serving veterans when she was a caregiver.
“They all have a history and a story to tell,” she said.
Mr. Perez likes to stay in touch with veterans’ organizations locally and is part of a national program that connects veterans to care.
He and Mrs. Perez both have a parent receiving in-home care. They sympathize with their clients’ children and enjoy being a partner in the community.