It’s no accident that new owners of the Sequim franchise of Home Instead — Kathleen Amazona Schmidt and Isaac Schmidt — have “kapuna” in their business title.
The Hawaiian term means grandparent or ancestor, and is “said with endearment,” Kathleen says, drawing on those ancestors’ wisdom and experience.
While the couple has less than a year operating the Sequim-based PNW Kupuna Care, LLC (dba Home Instead) — a company geared toward keeping seniors in their homes by offering a variety of services — the change is a homecoming of sorts for both of them.
Isaac Schmidt is a 1993 Sequim High graduate who took a circuitous career route from the peninsula to Seattle, to Hawaii, back to Seattle, and finally back to the peninsula with Kathleen and their two children.
“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to come back,” he said.
Kathleen returns to the small-town feel she had growing up in Hawaii.
“Then this opportunity came up, and it came up in Sequim,” Kathleen said. “I love that … our girls (now 10 and 12) get to grow up where my husband grew up.”
The Schmidts officially took charge of the Sequim Home Instead business from Brian Jackson in July 2020, and have been adjusting to life as business owners in Isaac’s hometown since.
Isaac has deep roots in the area. A Sequim native for his entire youth except for one year, he fondly recalls fishing trips, hikes and small town life, some of the things that eventually drew him back to the Olympic Peninsula. His father was a City of Sequim employee for 30 years, Isaac said, while his grandmother Betty Schmidt-Parsons was owner of the Lamplighter Restaurant.
“All family is here, basically, (and) a lot of my good friends never left,” he said.
After attending Peninsula College, Isaac transferred to Seattle Community College and worked as a diesel mechanic for about nine years. While in Seattle, he met Kathleen through a friend.
Kathleen, who grew up in Hawaii, was studying cellular molecular biology as she pursued a pharmacy degree at the University of Washington.
After she earned her degree, the couple moved back to Hawaii and had two daughters.
Years later, Isaac had an opportunity for work in Seattle along with a chance at some better school opportunities for their girls, so they moved back to Washington state. Kathleen worked some in the retail world of pharmacy and then shifted toward more clinical services.
Kathleen said she saw both a significant need and a calling for the same thing: To assist seniors who could live on their own with a little help. And while life was good in Seattle, Isaac said, the peninsula came calling.
Home Instead offers a number of services to assist seniors in staying in their homes, a service fitting for the demographics of Sequim, Isaac noted.
“Our goal is to keep our seniors in homes as long as possible,” he said.
Service, offered through a team of caregivers, ranges from personal (bathing, grooming, mobility, medicine reminders, etc.) to home help (meal planning, cooking, grocery shopping) to companionship and transportation services.
Home Instead, which has a Port Townsend office as well for its staff, matches caregivers with their clients, Kathleen said.
A lot of people come out here to retire but their family is not here, he said, and Home Instead gives them assurance their older family members are taken care of.
“I’ve always had a connection with seniors; a lot of that us from growing up with seniors (in Sequim),” Isaac said.
Isaac said Jackson, the previous owner, left the business well off and that despite the additional health-related requirements spurred by the COVID outbreak the transition was fairly seamless. It helps that the home office, headquartered in Omaha, is supportive of its local branches.
“I realized the franchise is huge (but he) ran it like a family,” Isaac said. “Brian left us with such a solid crew. (And) kudos to our caregivers; they’ve been awesome.”
Sequim’s Home Instead had about 80 clients currently, the Schmidts said.
The Schmidts would like to possibly add a pharmaceutical consultation service to its services in the future if possible.
They’d also like to get involved in community events, Kathleen said.
“Isaac always wanted this to be a mom-and-pop kind of business,” she said.
For more about PNW Kupuna Care, LLC (dba Home Instead), see homeinstead.com/location/650 or call 360-681-2511.