Hello! My name is Connie Begger. I am one of the two owners of SYNERGY HomeCare of Billings. I’d like to share with you why I chose to buy my SYNERGY HomeCare franchise in 2011. In order to do that, we need to take a step back in time.
I was born and raised in Western Montana, and have been a lifelong resident of this great state ever since. My earliest childhood memories were always spent with my grandparents. Camping trips, catching my first fish (and 100’s after), family reunions, playing cribbage, snow mobile adventures, hunting trips and my religious upbringing, all had a part in the person I’ve become today, thanks to my grandparents. My role models growing up were not just my hard working ethical grandfather, but my 2 grandmothers who were strong minded, independent and compassionate women. It was only in 2013 that my now 87 year old grandmother shot her last bull elk along the Madison River in southwestern MT. Let me also share with you, that she is only 4’9” tall and weighs probably 110 pounds!
I was fortunate enough to live with my maternal grandparents while attending high school. I was the envy of my 4 cousins, although I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have that relationship, until my grandfather was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer in 1992. He was the first person close to me with cancer and I was scared. My heart broke every day that I spent with him, until his passing just 4 months after diagnosis. He was also the first person I would see die right before my eyes, not in the home he built himself, but in a cold sterile nursing home. He was buried with the cribbage board we used and fly fishing rod he taught to fish with.
My paternal grandmother was diagnosed with early onset macular degeneration when I was 12 years old. I watched her struggle to “fit blindness” into her life, adapt her home to it and finally accepted it. She always had a smile, and even though she couldn’t see the life she was living in the moment, I loved listening to her stories of her childhood and that of my father’s, and it was as if she was seeing her past with clarity and sight.
My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1998. It was a devastating realization into the life of what was ahead. My father had been in law enforcement most of my younger life. My dad was and still is my pillar, my supporter, my hero and has been my inspiration in everything I do as an adult. Whenever I see or speak to him, I ask “how ya do’n big guy?” and his response every time is “Never had a bad day.” Can any of us say that? Not me. In 2014, the side effects from PD have given another setback, that of Lewy body dementia, the second most common form of dementia. Because of these two evils, my 2 sisters and I had to make the tough decision to sell his home and move him and his wife of 40 years, into an assisted living facility, 230 miles from me.
Just recently has cancer struck my family once again. My only remaining living grandparent was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Over the last year, she’s also been diagnosed with an aggressive form of dementia, showing the progression into Alzheimer’s. My angel has decided not to seek treatment, otherwise deciding to live her remaining days saying goodbye to friends and family, and is awaiting the day she and my grandfather can be reunited again.
This brings us to 2011, and my decision to do what I can to help the lives of seniors in our community and those that live in Montana. I’ve been in the healthcare industry since 1996 and I don’t see an end in sight. I’ve witnessed firsthand what nursing homes do to someone’s will to live, to their independence and their dignity. I’ve seen the look in someone’s eyes when they are scared and don’t know what to do next. I’ve held the hands of those with Parkinson’s and dementia, and not being able to recognize my hand, let alone their own hands. I’ve cried with families when their only choices come down to selling not just a house, but a home filled with dreams, laughs and memories.
I have made it my life’s mission to be an advocate and resource for anyone who needs an answer. I’ve been an active member with our local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, acting as event chair for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2013 and 2015. I have become a support group facilitator for Alzheimer’s disease, not only for those with AD, but for family members being affected. I’ve been a board member for the MT Gerontology Society since 2012 and have been elected President of MGS for the 2015-2016 sessions. I lead a Senior Coalition on Aging group in Billings and I also sit on 2 other planning committees involving cancer research and transitional care to include hospice and advanced directives. Most recently I successfully completed the Certificed Senior Advisor exam and am proud to be a member of the CSA.
I believe in not only care, but quality of care. Quality of life. Quality in end-of-life. I know there comes a time in every family when decisions are tough, but have to be made. I want to be a resource to not only our current clients, but to our future ones. I want you to know that placing someone anywhere but home, isn’t always the answer. We at SYNERGY HomeCare can make living at home a safe option. Together, we can do more, because we C.A.R.E.
Hi, my name is Shanna Tourtlotte and I am the co-owner and Director of Operations at SYNERGY HomeCare of Billings. I am a graduate of Montana State University-Billings and have a professional background in accounting and insurance.
I was born and raised in Eastern Montana and my husband, Matt, and I have 3 children, Olivia (10), Drake (8) and Colton (4). In addition to spending time with my family, I enjoy golfing, water skiing, camping, hiking, traveling and following my children in sports.
Like most families, my family is quick to bring out the game board or the cards at a typical family gathering. I remember sitting with my grandma while she taught me the game of pinochle. While teaching me the nuances of the game, she also instilled in me the richness and value of spending time with loved ones in the family home.
Now more than ever, people value the ability to stay in their own home. In 2009, I joined the SYNERGY HomeCare family and have been involved in every aspect of the business since that time. Over the years I have had the pleasure of helping people of all ages navigate the challenges in life that can lead to additional care needs in a variety of settings.
A successful home care agency requires compassion, organization and commitment. I bring all three of these attributes to the table and the approach of SYNERGY HomeCare of Billings utilizes these in every care plan we create. My promise to you is that I will do everything possible in order to assist you in maintaining the peace and dignity one experiences while living in the comfort of their home. I invite you to call us today to let our team help you design a care plan that fits the needs for you or your loved one.