Home Care and Transportation for Seniors, Children, and Adults with Disabilities

Serving Roanoke, Salem, and Franklin County, Virginia
My Companion Home Care Story
by Michelle Belton

I grew up as a minister's daughter and participated in the weekly visits to our homebound church members. I found I had an affinity for the older members. I enjoyed sharing their memories and listening to the stories of their lives.

I understood at an early age the contributions that seniors have made and can continue to make in our communities and for society as a whole. I found that even in religious communities, seniors were often forgotten when they were no longer able to actively participate.

Later in life, I became a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program in Roanoke and have participated weekly for over 18 years. While working with Meals on Wheels I quickly noticed how many requests I received to perform seemingly simple tasks.

After a few visits, I noticed that the few minutes I spent with each senior seemed to improve their self esteem, mood and even appearance. Many dressed up, made gifts, baked cookies and obviously looked forward to my visits.

As I spent more time helping, I was surprised that so many tasks that I take for granted were overwhelming to them. I helped with everything from filing Medicare forms and finding helpful community resources to taking out trash and even changing light bulbs.

In 2004, I realized that my volunteer work took up more time and was more fulfilling than my salaried management job. I decided that helping seniors was my true calling in life and I started Companion Home Care, Inc.

Songs go out to give a lift at Ronald McDonald House

By Marvin T. Anderson, The Roanoke Times




The Roanoke Valley's Ronald McDonald House (pictured), filled with couples who recently had their first child, was silent on the evening of Feb. 5."Unfortunately, that means the parents must have stayed in the hospital later," said Gary Hunt, a volunteer at the house. "The children may not be well." The Ronald McDonald House is a charitable organization for families of children with medical needs who travel to Roanoke for treatment.


The silence didn't stop guitarists Bradford Archer and Donna Pearson from playing music. With guitar cases covered in bumper stickers, the two played songs they had composed. "Sometimes they will hear the music and come down," Hunt said as he listened to the two perform "Rain on Me," a song written by Pearson.


Hunt walked around the house while the couple played and stopped near a board with pictures of children from families that stayed in the 18-bedroom house.


Each child's weight was listed along with his or her picture. One child was listed as 1 pound, 5 ounces, another as 1 pound, 12 ounces, next to pictures of the children smiling, sleeping and others breathing through tubes as they lay in their hospital cribs.


Not everyone in the house comes in relation to a premature birth, Hunt said. The health complications run the gamut. But Hunt said he saw a need to provide an escape for the residents and began the biweekly concerts three years ago to help residents. "This is a form of healing," Hunt said about the music.


Hunt invites musicians from around the Roanoke Valley to perform at no charge. He said he is always in need of more musicians to perform. Children and adults with all different levels of proficiency have played for residents. Archer said expertise isn't as important as providing an escape for the residents. "This is better than therapy," Archer said as he touched his guitar.


During another weekly concert, more residents attended the performance by Michelle Belton and Todd Basham, who sounds similar to Johnny Cash. "I know you like country music," Belton said to a resident who was wearing a West Virginia shirt. He said no and that his girlfriend makes him wear the shirt.


The two played country music for most of the night including "Happy Hour's Over," a song Belton wrote about looking for a man and wanting a relationship."That's the story of my life, honey," a resident called out from a corner as she sang.


Ronald McDonald House resident Ashley Robertson listened to the couple with her fist in her lap and one hand over her forehead. She said thoughts of her newborn daughter, born at 29 weeks, raced through her head. She smiled occasionally as the music played and slowly closed her eyes as she rubbed her head.


"I think it was really nice for them to come and do something," she said as she left for her room. "That's why I come and I listen."


"When I'm here (at the Ronald McDonald house), I feel lonely and bored," said the Danville resident. "But when people are here that I can talk to, I feel better."


To volunteer to perform or for more information, call Gary Hunt at (540) 342-2083.

Estate buyers operating illegally, busted by Roanoke business owner


By Jay Warren (pictured), WSLS Roanoke Channel 10 Anchor
Published March 28, 2008


Talk about a big difference. Wednesday the Ramada Inn was packed with people having their jewelry examined by buyers for Anderson, Carter, Tira and Associates Estate Buyers. Friday, the place was almost empty. Hastily written signs were posted throughout the lobby of the hotel saying “Coins Only” that left customers with jewelry and flatware annoyed.


Jill Greenley said she felt “a little frustrated because we went through the house trying to find stuff that we don’t really use anymore.” Greenley and others couldn’t sell their jewelry because Roanoke City Police admitted Friday morning that they made a mistake. They should not have issued a permit to buy precious metals to Anderson, Carter, and Tira.


They can thank Michelle Belton for figuring it out. Belton owns Companion Home Care in Roanoke, providing in-home living assistance for seniors. Her worry was that groups like Anderson, Carter and Tira would take advantage of older people like her clients.


“I had one that wanted to sell the family silver and I knew they wouldn’t give her enough for it and I knew she would regret it later,” she said. “I felt like it was my mission to protect her.”


So Belton started a mini campaign. Channel 10 got several e-mails from her and so did Roanoke County and City Police. “I started with the county. I went from the county and didn’t get satisfaction from the ground and went to the ceiling until someone would listen to me,” said Belton.


Finally it worked. Her argument based on a provision in Virginia Code that she persistently brought to the attention of authorities. It says “the business of a dealer shall be conducted only from a fixed and permanent location.” Certainly a hotel room at the Holiday Inn and a conference room at the Ramada are not fixed and permanent.

So, the buying of jewelry stopped again for Anderson, Carter, and Tira. Police took back their permit.


Todd Tira, owner of the company, told WSLS that all the permit confusion has hurt business, but he’s not giving up and that they’ve tried to do everything above board and legally. They are now looking for a permanent space to lease so they can possibly come back. Tira said, “We won’t be scared off. It’s not a one time shot. We’re looking to lay the groundwork for the future.”


It is important to note that neither the BBB nor police received any complaints about the estate buying organizations’ fairness or deals.