Star City Six: Natalie Leon
Visiting Angels (www.visitingangels.com/lincoln), one of the nation’s leading providers of assisted living services for seniors, is now serving clients in the Lincoln community with the recent opening of a local franchise. Natalie Leon is the owner and executive director of Visiting Angels in Lincoln.
Tell us a little about your business.
The services we offer help the elderly continue to live in their homes. Working families are struggling; their days are longer, they barely have time to eat dinner together, and they have even less time to spend caring for their aging parents. Visiting Angels helps ease the daily load by providing non-medical in-home care. This includes helping with basic chores, light housekeeping, personal hygiene, dressing assistance, medication reminders, Alzheimer’s/dementia care, meal preparation, shopping, joyful companionship, or simply providing respite for family caregivers.
How did you get started in the business?
I’ve been in the healthcare industry for over 10 years now, dating back to high school when I started as a CNA and Medication Aide. My first job was working with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Prior to that, I’d never known anyone with a form of dementia. I fell in love working with the patients and family members, and knew at a very early age it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After graduating with my undergrad at Nebraska Wesleyan University, I helped open an assisted living and memory care community. My most recent experience was with the Alzheimer’s Association, where I went back to my roots and helped provide enhanced education and support to individuals with dementia, their families, health care professionals, and the community. I discovered Visiting Angels while exploring opportunities to open my own business. Through my research, it was evident that with the combination of a rapidly growing senior population, the rising costs of nursing homecare and depleted retirement funds, there’s an urgent need for in-home elderly care.
What has been your most important achievement professionally?
Starting my own company has now topped the list. I’ve been blessed to be able to find my passion and mission in life at such a young age. The icing on the cake is to be able to make a career out of it. I get a sense of meaning and purpose in my life by helping others in need as much as I can, and by being the best person that I can be every day. I’ve devoted my life to assisting the elderly and look forward to helping my clients and their families experience the best quality of life possible.
Tell us a little about your family.
I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support of my loving family, including my wonderful husband, Shane, and my parents, Dan and Diane Nickel. My family has always been an enormous part of my life and an inspiration to me. They’ve made me who I am today and I can always count on them.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know?
Earlier this year, I was able to meet the President of the United States. I was in Washington, DC for the National Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum. A volunteer, Ann Tillery, and I chose to eat dinner at the Trump International Hotel-DC in hopes of being able to see the President. Lo and behold, the opportunity presented itself to actually sit down with President Donald Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner and talk with them about Alzheimer’s disease.