Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick (left) attends the ribbon cutting for LaTonya Rutledge’s (right) business, Amazing Grace Caregivers, LLC. Photo courtesy of The Chamber.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Families seeking attentive assistance for their loved ones find solace in Amazing Grace Caregivers, LLC, a business that evolved from the kindness abounding in one local woman’s heart.
As Amazing Grace Caregivers owner LaTonya Rutledge writes consolation and hope into the new chapters of life individuals experience each day, her own story begins with a person whose lineage illuminates Amazing Grace’s mission.
Compassion is a characteristic Rutledge considers her legacy – a trait she gleamed from admiring a relative whose benevolent nature blessed all around her. Rutledge’s nurturing spirit branched from a childhood rooted in impressionable moments, garnering life lessons with her grandmother as an exceptional teacher.
“I’ve seen her [help people] all my life,” said Rutledge. “My grandmother is the reason why I know how to love people. I learned comfort and respect from her. I learned patience, and how to give. She was always a godly example [in my life]. I’ve seen people be rude to my grandmother and she still didn’t budge. She’d just say, ‘It’s okay, baby. Just pray for them.’”
Rutledge clung to her grandmother alongside her cousins, who sat atop her lap or huddled at her feet, listening with wide-eyes to her ceaseless wisdom. They clustered in the kitchen, sneaking bites of raw cabbage as their grandmother peeled vegetables and sang hymns. They piled in the car on Sunday mornings driving to church and observed as their grandmother bought gifts, clothes and food for others – even at times when she herself could not afford it. They cherished hugs and endless affection from the woman who cared for them each day, illustrating a true representation of righteousness. Through countless memories, her grandmother’s mantra still reigns in Rutledge’s heart, even four years after her passing: “My bills are paid and we ain’t promised tomorrow. You can help somebody else.”
Rutledge witnessed firsthand her grandmother’s dedication to service when her grandfather grew ill. Her grandmother diligently ministered to her husband until he passed, taking care of him in their home. Rutledge apologized to her grandmother afterward, confiding in her that she wished she could have helped her. Her grandmother gave her an answer that would become a life-altering catalyst in Rutledge’s life.
“You can learn to help other people,” she said.
Rutledge’s interactions and indissoluble bond with her grandmother proved the inspiration for her profession. For over 20 years, Rutledge has committed herself to aiding others in the medical field, beginning with her position as a certified nurse assistant. She worked at McGuffey Healthcare in Gadsden, becoming a patient care technician and transferring to DaVita Boaz Dialysis, serving as a phlebotomist. While she strove to provide essential and efficient care for all her patients, the course of Rutledge’s career veered toward a new route almost a decade ago.
Rutledge connected with a family whose loved one required in-home care. After Rutledge’s initial experience, the grapevine grew and word of mouth of her remarkable service surged. One family referred Rutledge to another and another, sparking a chain reaction throughout Etowah County and growing a series of clients Rutledge soon discovered were too vast for one person to tend alone.
“I didn’t ever want to tell people no because I care so much about people,” said Rutledge. “I ended up calling my friends, who I worked with for 15 years. I knew these ladies and they worked as good as me and they cared. I trusted them [to work as I would.] I didn’t look at it as starting a business…I didn’t plan this at all.”
What sprouted as Rutledge pairing families with like-minded caregivers soon flourished into a thriving business, almost seven years ago. As the numbers of coworkers seeking positions and families needing service magnified, Rutledge officially established Amazing Grace Caregivers, providing private and professional in-home care for residents countywide.
All caregivers at Amazing Grace, who Rutledge knows personally, are experienced professionals in the medical field like Rutledge herself. When a family contacts Rutledge, she consults with them to assess their needs and gain full understanding of the situation. Rutledge then couples the family with an appropriate caregiver best suited for their circumstances, personalizing each relationship and ensuring that all puzzle pieces align seamlessly to make each experience the best for all parties involved.
“I have the most amazing coworkers,” said Rutledge, sharing that she discusses with her caregivers the types of patients they feel most qualified to serve. “I know how to separate the list, to match them with families. I want them to be comfortable doing something they love.”
Unlike other similar companies, Amazing Grace stands apart in its provision of 24-hour service. The in-home care addresses all cases, serving a plethora of patients from the elderly to those with disabilities, for what Rutledge notes as the lowest price in town. Yet while Amazing Grace’s affordable service begins at $15 an hour, Rutledge refuses to compromise quality for monetary savings. She emphasizes that she wants people to receive the care they need, mindful of each family’s differing budgets and extending the notion that she remains open and willing to work with people whatever circumstances might arise.
“I want people to afford healthcare at home,” said Rutledge. “I’m not going to overcharge, because I have the heart to say everybody can’t afford that price. I’m also not going to undercharge or underpay the workers. You have to learn to be professional.”
Establishing her presence in the community evolved over time, with Rutledge now receiving recognition from other businesses and even celebrating Amazing Grace with a ribbon cutting via The Chamber of Gadsden and Etowah County. She is currently speaking with local hospice agencies about assisting their services. When workers cannot attend clients, Amazing Grace’s 24-hour care can provide families with the comfort of knowing that their loved one is receiving the utmost assistance when needed most.
“Comfort and professionalism are the two things I practice most,” said Rutledge, sharing that the peace of mind her business provides for families in knowing their loved one is safe, loved and treasured proves paramount. “I’ve had a couple family members say, ‘I haven’t gone to work comfortable in so long.’”
A natural born caregiver as her grandmother before her, Rutledge believes that Amazing Grace Caregivers emerges as a vessel of ease and security for families, patients and caregivers alike – building upon the foundation her grandmother laid with loving hands, outstretching generosity and comfort to all.
“I know every part of me that wants to help others is my grandmother,” said Rutledge, discussing that all patients she treats as her own grandparents. “She just had so much God in her. If I didn’t have her as a grandmother I wouldn’t be where I am.”
For more information about Amazing Grace Caregivers, LLC, contact LaTonya Rutledge at 256-485-3072 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.