Everyone knows that Charlie and Gaytha Hillman founded GrandCare Systems (before innovation in aging was even cool.) They started the company back in 2005, before the industry was even yet to be. They blazed the trail, and educated people on why technology was a good idea, any technology, and not just GrandCare. They weathered the storms of a young and fragmented aging and healthcare industry, and came out better for it. The GrandCare technology became one of the most robust, tested and comprehensive technologies out there, perfect for the senior and disabled population.
Here’s what you might not know about Charlie and Gaytha. Busy as they are with their company, they spend a lot of time giving back to the community. And recently, they were nominated by members of the community for the Champions of Change award, to celebrate their commitment to volunteering throughout the community. We wanted to share with you this other side, the side that originally drove the passion behind starting a holistic and helpful company such as GrandCare.
Here’s their story:
Charlie and Gaytha Hillman are a couple who have been giving back their entire lives, and who make giving back part of everything they do. They’re multi-talented people, busy with their business, and their hobbies, and their family, but they are deeply generous with their time and energy, volunteering in a wide range of activities. And they don’t just show up and pitch in, they have a long history of thoughtful, committed leadership.
Education is important to them, and their service reflects it. Charlie was elected to the school board, and served as president. Gaytha is a longtime board member for Columns, the organization responsible for raising thousands of dollars for college scholarships each year. An engineer who is good at math and science, Charlie is a volunteer tutor for students struggling to prepare for the ACT, and Gaytha serves on the Ambassador Council for UW-Washington County.
They’re also committed to the environment. Gaytha has served on the board of RiverEdge Nature Center, and of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. When she maxed out her term of board service, she continued to volunteer. You may not think of her as the techie one of the two, but she designed and developed OWLT’s first database, and has since been back to design upgrades as the organization has grown.
If you know anything about Charlie and Gaytha, you know that they’re musicians. And that’s another area in which they give back. They both sing in the church choir, and frequently prepare special music programs for their church. After church, Gaytha offers free guitar lessons to anyone in the congregation interested in learning. When their children were young, Gaytha organized the McLane Talent Show. More recently, she performs in the Moraine Chorus, and in a quintet that frequently donates its talents to events hosted by non-profits. She has performed in community theater with Spotlight Productions and Musical Masquers, as well as volunteering with the Kettle Moraine Youth Symphony, and the West Bend Children’s Theatre, where she always seems to be cast in a male role.
Speaking of Church, Charlie has been president of his Church Council, and the church retired its debt under his leadership. He also donates his technical expertise to the church as head of their Tech Team.
Charlie grew up in West Bend, and the couple has lived here most of their married life. Our community is important to them. They’ve been active in the Chamber of Commerce, and Gaytha has served as its chair. She and Charlie are among the first people to support new businesses in town, enthusiastically trying out new shops and restaurants, and recommending them to friends. Gaytha has also served on the board for the Volunteer Center, and Charlie has served on the city’s Economic Development Corporation. He was also a longtime member of the Sunrise Rotary and served as its president. And the year they co-chaired the United Way campaign, they not only exceeded their fundraising goal, they set a record that took years to beat.
If you know Charlie and Gaytha, you also know that they’re serial entrepreneurs. Even by their work you can see the spirit of giving that burns so brightly in these two. One of their earlier ventures, HNet, was the first internet provider in West Bend. In addition to providing access to the Internet, the Hillmans educated businesses on the benefits of email, and donated websites and service to local non-profits. Their current venture, which keeps them busy, is GrandCare Systems. It’s a software system designed by Charlie to help elderly people stay in their homes safely. He was inspired to create it as something that would help his own great-aunt Clara. But he realized it could help many more people.
They were ahead of their time, and so part of their job in the early days was to help the country create and build the market for technology designed to help seniors. They were invited to participate in the White House’s first conference on aging to help educate the market on what was possible. And as high tech as their venture is, every chance they get, they hire their employees through Workforce Development, another way they offer a hand to someone who might need a little extra help to make a success of themselves.
Many people in their hometown know Charlie and Gaytha, and many people in town call Charlie and Gaytha friends, and it’s no surprise. They’re everywhere. And everywhere they go, they’re giving back.
GrandCare Systems, founded by two people who have dedicated their lives to caring about others, and who care deeply about the lives of their customers.
Thanks Charlie & Gaytha for your service to the community, to your family, to our families, and to an industry that needs you.