Small biz of year Synergy

Brittani Matthews, left, and Kylee Shane work Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, at Synergy HomeCare in Champaign, which the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce named as Small Business of the Year for 2019.

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CHAMPAIGN — A fast-growing home-care company is the Small Business of the Year, as named by the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce.

Gaye and Jim Aaberg are franchise owners of Synergy HomeCare, which they first opened in Bloomington-Normal in 2013.

“We were growing so fast and getting calls from folks in the Champaign-Urbana area, so we expanded to Champaign in 2015, to Decatur in 2017, and we’re opening in Springfield hopefully around November 1,” Gaye Aaberg said.

For both its success and contributions to the community, Synergy HomeCare will be honored at the local chamber’s annual meeting today at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Laura Weis, chamber president and CEO, said Synergy was chosen by a committee that scores local businesses in various categories.

“We had several nominations this year, and all of them were definitely businesses worthy of the award, but as we went through the process, Synergy rose to the top,” Weis said. “One of the things that bumped them over was the numerous testimonials from their customers, their clients, in terms of the good work that they do.”

Synergy provides non-medical home care, such as transferring patients to and from bed, assisting with bathing and taking them to doctor’s appointments.

“We can assist with all activities of daily living,” Aaberg said. “Sometimes, we’ll have somebody who has MS and they need our help to transfer them out of a chair and into a shower chair.”

“We’ll attend church with them. We’ve attended wedding ceremonies,” she said. “We do light housekeeping and help them get organized if they’re faced with a move.”

They’re restricted from providing medical care, so while they can’t give insulin injections, they can help read the glucose monitor or give reminders about when to take medications.

“We work 24/7, 365 days a year,” Aaberg said.

For the couple, starting a Synergy franchise was personal — after taking care of their own ailing relatives in recent years.

The Aabergs both used to work in the insurance industry in California, but after Jim’s sister was diagnosed with mesothelioma and his mother showed memory issues, they moved back to Bloomington in 2003.

“You want to help, but sometimes you don’t have the skill sets to do that,” Aaberg said. “After Jim’s sister passed away in 2011, we started thinking about a second chapter of our lives and how did that look, not in the insurance industry. ... We thought we may able to help families in caregiving and read about Synergy HomeCare,” which was founded in 1999 in Arizona.

Since the Champaign branch opened at 2213 S. Neil St., its number of clients and billable hours has increased each year, the local chamber said.

Aaberg said they aim to “help people maintain independence and dignity in their home, where they call home, for as long as they can.”